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Marriage and the Elephant: The Liberal Democratic State's Regulation of Intimate Relationships Between Adults


Maxine Eichner


University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - School of Law

April 25, 2006

UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 898740

Abstract:     
This essay discusses the current debate in legal theory over the state's proper position toward intimate relationships between adults. In it, I argue that scholars involved in this debate have reached diametrically different conclusions from one another because they have focused on only a few of the range of goods at issue in these relationships. And to complicate matters still further, these goods stand in tension with one another - some militating in favor of, others militating against, state recognition and support.

The essay contends that a workable approach to the issue of intimate adult affiliations can only be fashioned through recognizing the diversity of goods at stake and seeking to ameliorate the tension among them. It then offers one example of such an approach. In it, the state continues to provide a civil route to formalize relationships among adults, as well as to provide particular, albeit limited, privileges to members of these relationships. Yet it requires, as well, that the state actively seek to forestall the negative consequences that can result from recognizing and subsidizing these intimate relationships between adults, including increased gender and economic inequality.

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Date posted: April 25, 2006  

Suggested Citation

Eichner, Maxine, Marriage and the Elephant: The Liberal Democratic State's Regulation of Intimate Relationships Between Adults (April 25, 2006). UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 898740. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=898740 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.898740

Contact Information

Maxine Eichner (Contact Author)
University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - School of Law ( email )
Van Hecke-Wettach Hall, 160 Ridge Road
CB #3380
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380
United States
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