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Marriage Proposals: Questioning a Legal Status

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ISBN-13: 978-0814799291
ISBN-10: 0814799299
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Editorial Reviews


“Bringing together insights from law, anthropology, and political theory, the rigorous essays in Marriage Proposals strip away easy assumptions about marriage. Readers will emerge from the volume inspired to bring the national conversation on these issues to a deeper and more interesting level.”
-Suzanne B. Goldberg,author of Strangers to the Law: Gay People on Trial

“One of the curious features of the early twenty-first century has been the noisy presence of ‘marriage’ in the public culture. The result has been a public dialogue that often marries bad social science and homophobia, with understandable public anxieties about how children grow up in our world. We deserve better and Marriage Proposals provides it. Anita Bernstein’s collection draws on the best work by some of the smartest and most thoughtful participants in the recent marriage wars. The authors ask the reader to think hard about how marriage can be justified today. And the result is a book that confronts some of the hardest and deepest questions that face us as a society.”
-Hendrik Hartog,author of Man and Wife in America: A History

“Enjoyable and provocative. . . . This collection nicely reveals and sorts through a host of exciting and complex questions about marriage.”
-Martha McCluskey,co-editor of Feminism, Media, and the Law

Marriage Proposals brings new insights to the marriage debates by discussing the provocative idea of getting the government out of the business of marriage recognition altogether. Anyone seeking to think clearly about the nature and function of marriage in our society should read this collection.”
-Brian Bix,Frederick W. Thomas Professor of Law and Philosophy, University of Minnesota Law School

About the Author

Anita Bernstein is Anita and Stuart Subotnick Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814799299
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814799291
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,205,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Although abolishing marriage as a legal institution would eliminate favoritisms the law affords to heterosexual persons who are able to form and maintain marriages, Emory University law professor Anita Bernstein's new book, Marriage Proposals: Questioning a Legal Status (NYU Press), concludes that marriage should remain a legal status.

"Overall, changes in marriage law during the last few decades have made it a more enlightened institution and eliminated much of the oppression it used to contain. If we stay this course, marriage will continue to improve, and its benefits can be expanded to encompass other types of relationships," said Bernstein, Sam Nunn Professor of Law and senior fellow in the Center for the Study of Law and Religion (CSLR) at Emory.

Amidst current contentious public debates over same sex unions and polygamy, Bernstein wanted to step back and examine the more fundamental question of why a person's private life with a partner should be of state concern. Why, she questions, should married people be entitled to tax breaks, health insurance and pension plan benefits, and immigration privileges, among many other perks, while other people are not? In allowing married couples to file a joint return, the federal government forgoes billions more than it loses through the `marriage penalty.' "The money still has to come from somewhere -- married people receive a subsidy that non-married people have to fund," she said. Yet in some other respects, being married can make a person worse off than being single.

Bernstein enlisted prominent scholars and activists to explore the issue in two parts. The book's first section examines challenges to the legal status of marriage.
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