Marital Status and Privilege
24 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2013 Last revised: 22 Sep 2015
Date Written: June 3, 2014
This essay challenges the privilege attaching to marriage as a distinct form of relationship. Responding to Angela Onwuachi-Willig’s new book, According to Our Hearts: Rhinelander v. Rhinelander and the Law of the Multiracial Family, the essay identifies the legal and extralegal privileges flowing not just to monoracial marriage but to marriage. States recognize and support one form of relationship between adults to the exclusion of all others, creating privilege that flows outside of the home into the workplace and beyond. Instead of arguing that such privilege should be distributed more equally between monoracial and multiracial couples, this essay seeks to disrupt the marital ideal itself. This challenge to the marital ideal strives to acknowledge more diverse forms of personal relationships at home and work, but it also has the potential to do more. Indeed, given marriage’s role in the construction and performance of race, a challenge to the marital ideal also has the potential to disrupt limited understandings of race in employment discrimination law.
Keywords: marriage, race, multiracial families, employment discrimination
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