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Citizenship, Same-Sex Marriage, and Feminist Critiques of Marriage

  • Jyl Josephson (a1)

The debate over same-sex marriage in the United States is fundamentally a disagreement about the nature of democratic citizenship and the meaning of full inclusion of adult citizens in the polity. The facts that marriage has both private and public dimensions, and is described by policy makers as natural and unchanging even as they write laws to define it create confusion among those who publicly contest same-sex marriage. The feminist critique of marriage provides insight on the issue; its critique, along with the questions raised by same-sex marriage, indicates a need to rethink many aspects of the legal regulation of families and intimate life as they affect democratic citizenship.Jyl Josephson is an associate professor of political science and director of women's studies at Rutgers University, Newark ( She is coeditor, with Sue Tolleson-Rinehart, of the second edition of Gender and American Politics; coeditor, with Cynthia Burack, of Fundamental Differences: Feminists Talk Back to Social Conservatives, and author of Gender, Families, and State: Child Support Policy in the United States. The author thanks Jennifer Hochschild for her editorial guidance. Thanks also to the three anonymous reviewers, and to Cynthia Burack, David Foster, and Stacy VanDeveer, whose questions helped me to clarify my arguments.

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