The Celebration of Same-Sex Marriage

34 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2016

See all articles by Bruce MacDougall

Bruce MacDougall

University of British Columbia (UBC), Faculty of Law


This article explores the nature of discourse about equality, in particular homosexual equality, and situates the current debate about same-sex marriage in that discourse. The author explores the idea that legal discourse about equality moves among sites that may be labeled condemnation, compassion, condonation and celebration. Achievement of real (as opposed to formal) legal equality requires advancement at each of these sites. In Canada, legal discourse about equality for gays and lesbians at the first three sites has been largely successful and contention now is at the site of celebration. Marriage is a profoundly symbolic institution, representing state celebration of particular (heterosexual) relationships. According to the author, the opening up of the institution of marriage to gays and lesbians would be a form of legal celebration of homosexuality and an indication that gays and lesbians are closer to a position of real legal equality. Such equality, however, would raise new and difficult political and legal questions for group members, necessitating much introspection for those members.

Suggested Citation

MacDougall, Bruce, The Celebration of Same-Sex Marriage. Ottawa Law Review, Vol. 32, No. 2, 2001, Available at SSRN:

Bruce MacDougall (Contact Author)

University of British Columbia (UBC), Faculty of Law ( email )

1822 East Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z1

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