in Equality for Same-Sex Couples

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2002 | ISBN: 9780226520315
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226520339 | DOI:

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Although the United States provides partial recognition to same-sex couples—with the exception of the state of Vermont, which comes close to equating the status of gay couples with that of married couples—the Nordic countries and the Netherlands have adopted a model that is the closest alternative to marriage currently available, the registered partnership acts. With few exceptions, these acts place same-sex couples on an equal footing with opposite-sex married couples, and as soon as the exceptions that currently distinguish registered partnership from marriage are abolished, complete formal equality will have been achieved. By providing gays the freedom to marry, the Netherlands has taken the next step and has fully placed gays and lesbians on an equal footing with opposite-sex married couples. However, even the most comprehensive acts of the Nordic countries, as well as Vermont's civil unions, maintain a “separate but equal” status of same-sex couples, and are thus not only unsatisfactory but also inherently unequal and therefore objectionable. This chapter contends that the most comprehensive model of recognition that gays and lesbians should aspire to is their inclusion in the institution of marriage.

Keywords: same-sex couples; registered partnership acts; Netherlands; institution of marriage; gay and lesbian; model of recognition

Chapter.  1749 words. 

Subjects: Family Law

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