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Will Marriage Change Gay People?

Will Marriage Change Gay People?

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Published by NYU Press
An Excerpt from M. V. Lee Badgett's classic "When Gay People Get Married" released in celebration of the historic legalization of gay marriage in New York.
An Excerpt from M. V. Lee Badgett's classic "When Gay People Get Married" released in celebration of the historic legalization of gay marriage in New York.

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Published by: NYU Press on Jun 28, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Something New
Will Marriage Change Gay People?
Up o his poin in his book, I have mainly considered he impac o same-sex marriage on he larger culure. Tis chaper and he nex urnhe causal arrows around and explore wha we know and migh reasonably predic abou he eecs o marriage on lesbian and gay people, lookinga Europe and he Unied Saes or insighs. Tis chaper ocuses on heimpac o he righ o marry on lesbian and gay people as individuals andas members o same-sex couples. When my Duch riends Sephanie and Ingrid married wihou inviingSephanie’s aher, he reaced wih anger and a deep sadness. Even houghSephanie and Ingrid claimed o have married purely as a pracical materon he advice o heir accounan, hey could no conrol how oher peopleinerpreed heir ac. “Teir” marriage was no longer heir own privae ma-er. o Sephanie’s aher, his daugher’s marriage was a signican lie evenha he should have been invied o and involved in. Te Duch sae wouldalso now rea hem dierenly, giving each inheriance righs, reducing in-heriance axaion, and creaing righs o join propery and alimony i herelaionship ends. Even hough marriage appeared o change nohing inheir day-o-day lives, a simple bureaucraic ac ransormed wo individu-als ino a married couple in he eyes o he law and heir amilies. Analyzing how marriage maters or individuals like Sephanie or In-grid and or couples’ relaionships will help us undersand how a gay com-muniy ha was creaed and shaped by legal inequaliy will adjus in anera o legal equaliy ha was almos unimaginable even a decade ago. Teevidence suggess ha a poliical vicory in he marriage debae migh wellcome wih some radeos or lesbians and gay men. However, I also believeha o he exen hese radeos exis, hey are very much oversaed. In-dividuals migh lose some personal auonomy bu gain in erms o healhand social inclusion. Same-sex couples will nd ha he sae and largerculure have somehing o say abou how hey orm and end relaionships,
116 Something New
 bu hey will also have a clear legal ramework or hose ransiions anda culural ramework or dening heir commimen o one anoher. Tecriics o gay marriage underesimae he posiive gains o he communiy  while oversaing he poenial downsides, as I will argue laer.
Why Might Marriage Change Gay People?
Some peculiar aspecs o he marriage debaes emerge when looking a heull range o paricipans in he debae, which includes boh conservaives who oppose gay marriage and gay people who oppose prioriizing he goalo gay marriage and someimes oppose he insiuion o marriage isel.(In he nex chaper, I call hose gay people he “marriage dissidens.”) Alhough hey reach dieren conclusions abou wheher marriage willchange gay people—“I will,” say he gay marriage dissidens; “I won’,”insis religious conservaives—he dissidens and conservaives are, oddly,more alike han hey rs seem. Conservaives have an idealized picure o heerosexual marriage ha ocuses on he old breadwinner dad/careakermom/muliple children ideal marriage, wih marriage as an insiuion haames he baser insincs o men. Some gay marriage dissidens also as-sume an old-ashioned view o heerosexual marriage: wo people givingup heir individualiy o become one undiereniaed couple ha is guided by a sric gender code, wih marriage “domesicaing” gay men and lesbi-ans—in shor, he conservaives’ marriage dressed up in ancier language.Tis hisorically rozen perspecive conrass sharply wih he dynamic view o marriage skeched ou in he work o demographers, sociologiss,hisorians, and economiss who sudy marriage and modern amilies. Te broad range o modern amily orms, including marriage, remarriage, co-habiaion, blended amilies, and single parening, sugges ha marriagehas a very dieren social and personal meaning oday han i did a hun-dred—or even y—years ago.Te inense ocus on wheher gay people will be changed in some way  by marriage migh seem odd o some academics who sudy marriage or aliving. For mos o hose social scieniss, he issue o same-sex marriagehas barely made he inellecual radar screen, much o my surprise. Oneexcepion is he noed demographer Andrew Cherlin. He argues ha mar-riage has become “deinsiuionalized” in he sense ha here are no lon-ger any “shared undersandings o how o ac,” ha is, social rules, embed-ded in marriage now o ell married people wha o do.
In his view, heindividual couple now largely sands alone o negoiae roles and behavior

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