I just finished Nancy Polikoff’s recent book on her “valuing all families” approach to family law. It’s an interesting thesis, but rather than talking about the book at the minute I’d like to share an observation. One of the thing the book does is briefly traced the history of the marriage institution and how family structures have changed in the past thirty or forty years. I started thinking about the people I know who are in some sort of serious relationship and how a legal system that didn’t make heterosexual marriage so legally significant might benefit many of them. Here’s a sample of relationships among my friends and family as food for thought. Try thinking about the people you know, and I bet you’ll come up with similar family diversity:
- A heterosexual couple in their late twenties who plan to spend their lives together but don’t want to marry and own a home together
- A married heterosexual couple in their late fifties who have never wanted to have children
- A married heterosexual couple in their late forties with two young children
- A divorced man and woman who are best friends, have a child together, and list each other as health care proxies and sole inheritors
- A lesbian couple in their fifties who were recently able to marry in California and have no children
- A lesbian couple in their thirties/forties who plan to have children, one of whom is here on a student visa and is afraid of deportation after ten or so years with her partner
- A heterosexual married couple in their their mid-twenties with a two year old child
- A heterosexual couple in their late fifties who don’t want to marry but may have to for health insurance reasons, in which case one member of the couple would lose subsidized housing despite not living together
When I think of all these people I love, and of my own lack of a desire to marry, it’s easy to understand the “valuing all families” approach. I think doing away with marriage as a legal entity is unlikely, but she has a point.
Posted on September 20, 2008, in queer, reviews, same-sex marriage and tagged Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage, books, family, gay marriage, marriage, Nancy Polikoff, relationships, same-sex marriage. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.