Families We Choose? Visions of a World Without Blood Ties

59 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2011 Last revised: 7 Aug 2011

See all articles by George W. Dent

George W. Dent

Case Western Reserve University School of Law

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Date Written: July 18, 2011


The traditional family comprising a married woman and man and their biological children has been so common across the globe and throughout history that it can reasonably be called the “natural family.” The privileged legal and social status of the natural family is under attack by a movement that favors “families we choose.” The family would be defined as any group of people that at the moment chooses to be treated as a family. Under the mandate of “equality,” government would be neutral about family structure. Blood ties would be irrelevant.

Since no society has ever adopted this program, we cannot determine empirically what it would look like. However, there are many works in literature in which the natural family is dethroned or eliminated, including Plato’s Republic, Heather Has Two Mommies, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. These works still leave gaps in our picture of a world without blood ties, so I offer several stories to fill out the portrait. The article ends with a discussion of the ramifications of “families we choose” as informed by this literature.

Keywords: traditional families, biological families, blood ties, “families we choose”, same-sex marriage, free love, parents and gender, artificial reproduction, Plato, The Kids Are All Right, Brave New World, The Handmaid’s Tale

JEL Classification: K19, K39

Suggested Citation

Dent, George W., Families We Choose? Visions of a World Without Blood Ties (July 18, 2011). Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-12. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1888400 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1888400

George W. Dent (Contact Author)

Case Western Reserve University School of Law ( email )

11075 East Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44106-7148
United States
216-368-3311 (Phone)
216-368-2086 (Fax)

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