Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage: Valuing All Families under the Law


Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage: Valuing All Families under the Law


Michael Bronski


Publication Date



Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage reframes the family-rights debate by arguing that marriage shouldn't bestow special legal privileges upon couples because people, both heterosexual and LGBT, live in a variety of relationships-including unmarried couples of any sexual orientation, single-parent households, extended biological family units, and myriad other familial configurations. Nancy D. Polikoff shows how the law can value all families, and why it must.




Nancy Polikoff is a Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law, where she teaches Sexuality and the Law and has taught Family Law for more than 20 years. Previously, she supervised the family law programs of the Women's Legal Defense Fund, and before that she practiced law as part of a feminist law collective, where she specialized in family law. For more than 30 years, she has been writing about, speaking about, and litigating cases involving lesbian and gay families. Professor Polikoff's articles have appeared in many law journals, including those at University of Chicago, Georgetown, Harvard, Hastings, and Hofstra. Her history of the development of the law affecting lesbian and gay parenting appears as a chapter in the 2000 book, Creating Change: Sexuality, Public Policy, and Civil Rights, edited by John D'Emilio, William Turner, and Urvashi Vaid. Professor Polikoff was successful appellate counsel in the case that the established the right of lesbian and gay couples to jointly adopt children in the District of Columbia, and in a Maryland case overturning a visitation order prohibiting any contact between a gay noncustodial father's children and his life partner. Visit her website at

Table of Contents

The changing meaning of marriage -- Gay rights and the conservative backlash -- Redefining family -- The right and the marriage movement -- LGBT families and the marriage equality movement -- Countries where marriage matters less -- Valuing all families -- Domestic partner benefits for all families -- Coping with illness : medical care and family and medical leave -- When a relationship ends through dissolution or death : distributing assets and providing for children -- Losing an economic provider : wrongful death, workers compensation, and social security.


Beacon Press


Boston, MA

Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage: Valuing All Families under the Law