Betwixt and between Recognition: Migrating-Same-Sex Marriages and the Turn Toward the Private

23 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2008

See all articles by Brenda Cossman

Brenda Cossman

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law


The paper explores migrating same sex marriages - that is, same-sex marriages or civil unions entered in one jurisdiction that migrate to another and seek recognition, calling upon the private law of conflicts. These migrating-marriage cases have not been particularly successful in obtaining legal recognition. But, the paper argues that these migrating-marriage cases cannot be measured in terms of the legal outcome of the conflicts dispute alone. Rather, these cases can be seen through the cultural lens of New York Times wedding announcements, and in particular, through the lens of a mock announcement that appeared advertising the pilot of HBOs drama Big Love about a polygamous family. Like the wedding announcements, these migrating marriages are produced as culturally real, even when legal recognition remains elusive. These migrating marriages and their turn to conflicts place same-sex marriage in a kind of state of liminality, betwixt and between recognition and nonrecognition. The paper explores the rise of conflicts as a site of same-sex-marriage politics and the way in which these migrating-marriage cases are implicated in the politics of recognition, producing same-sex marriage as culturally - if not always legally - real, in the here and now.

Suggested Citation

Cossman, Brenda, Betwixt and between Recognition: Migrating-Same-Sex Marriages and the Turn Toward the Private. Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 71, Spring 2008. Available at SSRN:

Brenda Cossman (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
416-978-6658 (Phone)

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