Marital Status and Privilege

24 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2013 Last revised: 22 Sep 2015

See all articles by Laura A. Rosenbury

Laura A. Rosenbury

University of Florida Levin College of Law

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

Suggested Citation

Rosenbury, Laura A., Marital Status and Privilege (June 3, 2014). Journal of Gender, Race and Justice, Vol. 16, No. 769, 2013, Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 13-09-02, Available at SSRN:

Laura A. Rosenbury (Contact Author)

University of Florida Levin College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 117625
Gainesville, FL 32611-7625
United States

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