Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Relationships: New Possibilities for Research on the Role of Marriage Law in Household Labor Allocation
8 Journal of Family Theory & Review 10 (2016); DOI:10.1111/jftr.12123
Posted: 28 Jul 2016 Last revised: 11 Apr 2017
Date Written: 2016
Research comparing the relative significance of earning power and gender norms on parents’ division of income-producing and domestic responsibilities often fails to consider sufficiently the role that marriage may play. This article, written for social science family studies journal, reviews the existing literature on household labor allocation by both different-sex and same-sex couples. It then shows that, in the United States, numerous aspects of state and federal law relating to marriage encourage spouses to specialize in distinct breadwinning and caretaking roles. Same-sex marriage offers new opportunities to assess the importance of marriage in household labor allocation decisions while controlling for gender. For any data gathered before June 2015, however, it may be distorting to characterize same-sex couples as simply “married” or “un-married”; rather, legal recognition during the past 10 years is better conceptualized as discrete bundles of rights and tracked accordingly. This article provides substantive legal analysis that is integral to developing a research agenda in this area.
Note: This article received the 2016 Feldman Award from the Groves Conference on Marriage and Family; this award recognizes a scholarly publication that has made a significant contribution related to ethnicity and/or gender in families.
Keywords: child care, division of labor, gender, housework, marriage, same-sex marriage
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