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From Functional Family to Spinster Sisters: Australia's Distinctive Path to Relationship Recognition

44 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2007  

Reg Graycar

The University of Sydney Law School

Jenni Millbank

University of Technology, Sydney, Faculty of Law

Abstract

"Gay marriage" is often used as a short-hand in popular discourse to stand for any and every form of same-sex relationship recognition. Yet even in some jurisdictions that have now opened marriage to same-sex couples, marriage was not first, and is not the primary, form of relationship recognition. Same-sex relationship rights are in a state of enormous flux with considerable variation apparent among the models, strategies, and substantive effects of recognition around the world.

This Article reflects on the approaches that Australia, and to a lesser extent New Zealand, have taken to relationship recognition, focusing in particular on the ways in which they have differed profoundly from what has happened in the United States. Specifically, the relationship recognition debate in Australia through the 1990s was characterized by the absence of any real interest in marriage and instead focused on developing more functional and adaptive models of relationship recognition, primarily through presumption-based models.

Keywords: same-sex relationship recognition, lesbians, gay men, same-sex couples, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, de facto relationships, interdependency, family law

JEL Classification: K11, K19

Suggested Citation

Graycar, Reg and Millbank, Jenni, From Functional Family to Spinster Sisters: Australia's Distinctive Path to Relationship Recognition. Washington University Journal of Law and Policy, Vol. 24, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1005548

Reg Graycar

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Jenni Millbank (Contact Author)

University of Technology, Sydney, Faculty of Law ( email )

Australia

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