Beyond Straight and Gay Marriage

Beyond Straight and Gay Marriage

Valuing All Families Under the Law

Book - 2008
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Random House, Inc.
The debate over marriage equality for same-sex couples rages across the country. Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage boldly moves the discussion forward by focusing on the larger, more fundamental issue of marriage and the law. The root problem, asserts law professor and LGBT rights activist Nancy Polikoff, is that marriage is a bright dividing line between those relationships that legally matter and those that don't. A woman married to a man for nine months is entitled to Social Security survivor's benefits when he dies; a woman living for nineteen years with a man or woman to whom she is not married receives nothing.

Polikoff reframes the debate by arguing that all family relationships and households need the economic stability and emotional peace of mind that now extend only to married couples. Unmarried couples of any sexual orientation, single-parent households, extended family units, and myriad other familial configurations need recognition and protection to meet the concerns they all share: building and sustaining economic and emotional interdependence, and nurturing the next generation.

Couples should have the choice to marry based on the spiritual, cultural, or religious meaning of marriage in their lives, asserts Polikoff. While marriage equality for same-sex couples is a civil rights victory, she contends that no one should have to marry in order to reap specific and unique legal results.

A persuasive argument that married couples should not receive special rights denied to other families, Polikoff shows how the law can value all families, and why it must.

Houghton
Part of the Queer Ideas series, edited by Michael Bronski QUEER IDEAS—a new series of LGBT hardcovers that address important intellectual questions facing the movement.

The debate over marriage equality for same-sex couples rages across the country. Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage boldly moves the discussion forward by focusing on the larger, more fundamental issue of marriage and the law. The root problem, asserts law professor and LGBT rights activist Nancy Polikoff, is that marriage is a bright dividing line between those relationships that legally matter and those that don’t. A woman married to a man for nine months is entitled to Social Security survivor’s benefits when he dies; a woman living for nineteen years with a man or woman to whom she is not married receives nothing.

Polikoff reframes the debate by arguing that all family relationships and households need the economic stability and emotional peace of mind that now extend only to married couples. Unmarried couples of any sexual orientation, single-parent households, extended family units, and myriad other familial configurations need recognition and protection to meet the concerns they all share: building and sustaining economic and emotional interdependence, and nurturing the next generation.

Couples should have the choice to marry based on the spiritual, cultural, or religious meaning of marriage in their lives, asserts Polikoff. While marriage equality for same-sex couples is a civil rights victory, she contends that no one should have to marry in order to reap specific and unique legal results.

A persuasive argument that married couples should not receive special rights denied to other families, Polikoff shows how the law can value all families, and why it must.

"A much-needed intervention in the contemporary debate about marriage and family. Polikoff's argument is provocative, illuminating, and original." —John D'Emilio, author of Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin

"Polikoff mobilizes an impressive array of legal history and contemporary court cases to show how marriage, whether same-sex or heterosexual, has ceased to be the only place where people incur long-term obligations. She argues vigorously that our society needs to find new ways of determining when legally-enforceable responsibilities and entitlements have accrued in interpersonal relationships." —Stephanie Coontz, author, Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage

“This book really matters. It is brilliant and thoughtful, not simply about a set of laws, but as a manifesto to transform the way we understand, recognize and respect the reality of our diverse and complex family compositions. Polikoff grounds her arguments in the 35 year history of social change activism in this country to construct a passionate and nuanced argument for expanding our same sex marriage activism to include all of the ways people love, form families and build community.” —Amber Hollibaugh, Senior Strategist, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and author of My Dangerous Desires: A Queer Girl Dreaming her Way Home

“Passionate but completely grounded in reality, Polikoff challenges LGBT rights advocates to see beyond gay equality arguments and question the fundamental fairness of limiting family recognition based on marriage, gay or straight. It is a powerful call for social justice.” —Nan D. Hunter, founder of the American Civil Liberties Union Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project and Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School

"A provocative and perspicuous intervention in one of the most devilish recent debates in U.S. law and politics…In a principled yet pragmatic analysis, Polikoff mounts a compelling case against the continued grip of ‘conjugalism’ on our family law and policy. Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage challenges us to imagine and build a political consensus that respects the realities of contemporary American kinship and family life, in all its ccomplexity.” —Kendall Thomas, Nash Professor of Law, Columbia University



Baker & Taylor
A study of the fight for marriage equality furnishes an effective argument for why married couples, whether they are gay or straight, should not receive special rights under American law that are denied to other families, analyzing the larger political, social, and economic issues of marriage and family law as they pertain to unmarried couples, single-parent households, and other family relationships.

Book News
Polikoff (law, American U. Washington College of Law) takes issue with the concept of marriage and argues that it makes unmarried couples of any sexual orientation, single-parent households, extended family units, and others unable to reap the benefits of the law. She asserts that marriage is not the cure for the disadvantages faced by same-sex couples, but that married couples should not have rights that other family forms do not. She argues that the law should not give marriage more value, as it is not a family form that is more important than others. Topics addressed include feminism and gay rights, the marriage-equality movement, countries where marriage matters less than in the US, domestic partner benefits, medical care and family and medical leave, distribution of assets and providing for children, wrongful death, worker's compensation, and Social Security. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Baker
& Taylor

A study of the fight for marriage equality furnishes an effective argument for why married couples, whether they are gay or straight, should not receive special rights under American law that are denied to other families.

Publisher: Boston : Beacon Press, 2008
ISBN: 9780807044322
0807044326
Branch Call Number: 346.73016 Polikoff 2008
Characteristics: ix, 259 pages ; 23 cm

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