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Peaceful Penetration: Proxy Marriage, Same-Sex Marriage, and Recognition


Kerry Abrams


University of Virginia School of Law

February 7, 2012

Michigan State Law Review, p. 141, 2011
Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2012-13

Abstract:     
This Essay is a contribution to a symposium, “Modernizing Marriage through E-Marriage,” that focused on “E-marriage,” an idea developed by Professors Adam Candeub and Mae Kuykendall in their article Modernizing Marriage, 44 U. Mich. L. Reform 735 (2011). E-marriage, as Candeub and Kuykendall acknowledge, would be the latest instantiation of the ancient phenomenon of proxy marriage. In this Essay, I aim to complicate Candeub and Kuykendall’s claim that E-marriage would represent a positive step forward in the recognition of marriages by same-sex couples by providing a partial genealogy of proxy marriage in our country. In particular, the Essay offers some historical observations about how proxy marriage flourished for a time among immigrants to the United States and was then abolished by the National Origins Act of 1924. There are some striking parallels between E-marriage and these earlier forms of proxy marriage, and my hope is that the historical examples will provide us with a richer backdrop for understanding the complex legal and cultural dynamics surrounding proxy marriage. The story of how proxy marriage became popular and was ultimately banned as a basis for immigration tells us a great deal about marriage’s cultural valence in times of social upheaval.

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Date posted: February 8, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Abrams, Kerry, Peaceful Penetration: Proxy Marriage, Same-Sex Marriage, and Recognition (February 7, 2012). Michigan State Law Review, p. 141, 2011; Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2012-13. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2000963

Contact Information

Kerry Abrams (Contact Author)
University of Virginia School of Law ( email )
580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
434-924-7361 (Phone)
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