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

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  124 ratings  ·  18 reviews
The debate over marriage equality for same-sex couples rages across the country. Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage boldly moves the discussion forward by focusing on the larger, more fundamental issue of marriage and the law. The root problem, asserts law professor and LGBT rights activist Nancy Polikoff, is that marriage is a bright dividing line between those relationsh ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 1st 2008 by Beacon Press (first published January 1st 2008)
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Jul 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism
I highly recommend this book to college students, law students, attorneys, religious leaders, and policy makers - gay or straight - anyone who is searching for a better way to conceptualize family values in this country. The author provides an in-depth history of the LGBT rights movement juxtaposed against the rise of the Christian Right and delivers a very moving argument for why we should start to untangle sex-based relationships from the civil institution of marriage and move to a model based ...more
Jan 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: marriage, non-fiction
What an eye-opening book! It takes you through all of the history and cases that illustrate the problem with giving marriage "special rights." The author instead calls for a "valuing all families" approach that looks at the INTENT of laws to decide who should benefit from them. And I completely agree with the statement that just because you CAN marry doesn't mean you should HAVE to get married in order to have the same benefits as other people. And people should have the right to stay unmarried ...more
May 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
In general, a well-thought-out, thorough book. It begins a nice discussion of current family/relationship law (particularly in the United States), and finishes with proposed methods to fix such laws by valuing all families, instead of the currently dominant marriage/marriage-like approach.

However, the book could have been more radical in the types of families addressed. The book rarely discusses families with more than two adults (even the non-conjugal families it mentions are often pairs + chi
Dec 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: personal-canon
Loved, loved, loved this book. Like other reviewers, I feel like someone has finally, academically clarified what has fundamentally bothered me about the LGBT movement's focus on Marriage as the solution to all of our problems. The problem is not simply that gays are denied marriage. The problem is that the law provides special rights to married couples at the expense of all the diverse family forms sustaining each other in today's society.
This was very, very good. American-centric (and boy did it show - her section on Australian law showed a marked lack of understanding as to how much less significant state law is here), but still good.

Polikoff's key arguments were as follows:

1. That equal marriage rights do not and will not guarantee protection for a wide range of family structures, and that many LGBTetc folk will continue to be excluded if, for instance, their peers can marry but an LGBT person caring for a niece or nephew will
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is very well-written and engaging and makes a strong argument for dismantling marriage as a dividing line between relationships that are supported by the government and those that are marginalized. There are many kinds of families and they all need to be honored.
Oct 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
I think my multiple years of working at law firms is starting to rub off on me, because I'm much more interested in the nitty, gritty of the law now (rather than just big picture "issues").

This book is by an American University law professor (DC represent!) and it's much more about how the law, particularly family law, works than other books that touch on the issues of gay marriage. It was very eye-opening to me - because it went beyond the basic argument that gay people should be able to get ma
Jul 31, 2013 rated it liked it
As other reviewers have mentioned, this invokes a paradigm shift on marriage rights and marriage as an institution. Well-written, succinct, easy-to-understand for those of us who are not experts on law. Overall, it is certainly worth reading.

However, some problems to keep in mind:
- Constant language like "gay and lesbian rights" and "gay and lesbian access to marriage" erases the fact that bisexual people (46% of the LGBT population) experience same-sex partnerships too, and they do not become g
Jun 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
"Over the last few years, there has been wider resistance to gay marriage in the queer community. Many among us have argued that marriage shouldn’t be the guarantor of something as basic as health care, and that queer commitment is no more special than the worlds that the uncoupled have created for themselves. They can now resort to Nancy Polikoff’s detailed book for supporting counterarguments against the gay marriage crowd, as well as ways in which to craft a system that guarantees basics like ...more
Jun 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I read this book for a report in a Social Problems class I took this past quarter. While it started out as just another book for school, I became fascinated by the narrative. The author introduces the history of the gay rights movement in a manner that makes an already interesting time fascinating while juxtaposing it against the rise of the conservative Christian rights rise. The topics discussed don't simply affect members of the LGBT community, but everyone. This book brings to light how the ...more
Oct 31, 2012 rated it liked it
Half the ideas were great and should be implemented, half were just not feasible and/or wouldn't be helpful. Interesting read if you want a critique of the marriage equality movement, but the thesis wasn't very compelling to me. (I know this is all very vague, but I just don't feel like digging back through it to give any actual examples. You must exercise blind faith in this review--or none at all. Sorry.)
Jul 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
WOW!!!!! This is an important book-- one that really matters! It's brilliant- very well written & should be read by EVERYONE!!!! I'm probably going to be buying several copies of this book- one to keep and others to give away. Seriously- this is one of the most important books I've read in a long time. A definite must read
Dec 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbt, nonfiction
This was a good book, and I'd recommend it to anyone involved in LGBT rights in the United States.

A few short anecdotes in early chapters seems strangely ignorant of trans issues. (They tended to misgender the person and say they had a "sex change".) Which was weird, because trans issues around marriage law were discussed explicitly in later chapters.
Nov 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is making a very good point about how families and marriage are perceived by our society and by the law. Gaining the right to marry for gays and lesbians will not solve the problems that others face - i.e. extended family units, cohabitating couples, etc. Those who choose to "marry" shouldn't be given more rights than the rest of us.
Feb 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A complete paradigm shift for what family, marriage, sexuality, gender, and personal rights and dignity MEAN. No person should be allowed to marry or vote for OR against Prop 8 without reading this book.
Jan 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Interesting argument that marriage is not actually a good dividing line for how we measure and value families.
Jun 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2013, lgbtqi
An interesting book, but extremely out of date.
Feb 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Excellent case for anti-marriage perspective on civil rights.
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