Marriage and Mass Incarceration

10 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2013 Last revised: 27 Aug 2013

See all articles by Gabriel Arkles

Gabriel Arkles

Northeastern University - School of Law

Date Written: March 1, 2013


In considering marriage litigation, it is critical to consider its impact on the most vulnerable members of LGBT communities and on other marginalized communities. The skepticism in this article about the struggle for “same-sex” marriage is grounded in the author's work against criminalization and imprisonment, particularly as they affect transgender people of color.

The author argues that at worst, marriage can aggravate mass-incarceration. Reinforcing the dignity attached to one particular form of state-sanctioned, normative relationship may further the marginalization and criminalization of those people who continue to fall outside of those norms, including many low-income trans people of color. At best, marriage is a diversion of resources desperately needed elsewhere. While marriage may have some marginal benefits for those incarcerated trans people who seek to marry legally and who do not encounter other impediments to doing so, it will not address the greatest threats to their survival, self-determination, life chances, and dignity.

Suggested Citation

Arkles, Gabriel, Marriage and Mass Incarceration (March 1, 2013). New York University Review of Law & Social Change, Vol. 37, No. 1, pp. 13-21, 2013; Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 151-2013. Available at SSRN:

Gabriel Arkles (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - School of Law ( email )

416 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

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