Same-Sex Marriage and the Future of the LGBT Movement: SWS Presidential Address

Gender and Society 29 (3):321-337 (2015)
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Abstract

In this article, I respond to queer critiques of the pursuit of same-sex marriage. I first examine the issue of normalization through a consideration of the everyday lives of same-sex couples with children, a subject about which queer critics are strangely silent. Children force same-sex couples to be out in multiple areas of their lives and recent court cases explicitly challenge the idea that same-sex couples do not make fit parents. Second, I examine whether same-sex marriage will address structural inequalities or will mainly benefit white, middle-class people. Access to marriage has disparate benefits depending on people’s structural locations, but is a movement goal supported by a broad array of LGBT people. Third, I examine the relationship between marriage, regulation, and the state. I argue for a broader understanding of the relationship between the state and different types of relationships, suggesting that it is impossible to escape regulation. If we consider marriage and family forms cross-nationally, we see a variety of possibilities for state recognition of various family forms. I conclude by assessing the impact of same-sex marriage on the future of LGBT politics, arguing that achieving marriage equality may allow the space for new political possibilities to emerge.

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