Argues that cultural conceptions of children – and childhood – played a key role in legalizing gay marriage
Legally Straight offers a critical reading of the legal debates over lesbian and gay marriage in the United States. The book draws on key judicial opinions to trace how our understanding of heterosexuality and marriage has changed. Upon closer inspection, it seemed that the cultural value of marriage was becoming tarnished and the trouble appeared to center on one very specific issue: reproduction.
As opponents of lesbian and gay marriage emphasized the link between marriage and accidental pregnancy, the evidence mounted, the arguments proliferated, and resistance began to turn against itself. Heterosexuality, it seemed for a moment, was little more than a set of palliative prescriptions for the worst of human behavior, and children became the victims. It thus became the province of the courts to reinforce the cultural value of marriage by resisting what came to be known as the “procreation argument,” the assertion that marriage exists primarily to regulate the unruly aspects of heterosexual reproduction. Cultural conceptions of children and childhood were being put at risk as gays and lesbians were denied marriage, so that writing lesbian and gay families into the marriage law became the better option.
About the Author
Joe Rollins is Professor of Political Science at Queens College and the Graduate Center, CUNY. His research interests emphasize gender and sexuality as they are negotiated in the American legal system. He has also served as Co-Editor of Women’s Studies Quarterly.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Marital Business 1
1 The End of Heterosexuality? 9
2 Old as the Book of Genesis 39
3 Children by the Carload 67
4 The Nearest Hippie 94
5 A Union Unlike Any Other 123
Conclusion: Marital Jeremiad 143
About the Author 193