Divorcing Marriage from Sex: Radically Rethinking the Role of Sex in Marriage Law in the United States

27 Pages Posted: 29 Dec 2016

Date Written: December 28, 2016

Abstract

English Abstract In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court required all states to permit same-sex couples to marry. Many people assume that marriage equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people has been achieved simply by eliminating the requirement that two individuals entering a marriage must be of different sexes. However, family law in the United States has traditionally required not only that married people are of different sexes, but also that they perform heterosexual intercourse. This focus on heterosexual performance threatens to undermine the legal marriages of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. It also threatens the dignity, privacy, and legal validity of some heterosexual couples’ marriages. Contrary to current practice, the law should make no assumptions about the existence or type of sexual behavior between spouses that is necessary to create and sustain a marriage.

Spanish Abstract: En 2015, la Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos obligó a todos los estados a permitir que las parejas del mismo sexo se casaran. Muchas personas asumen que se ha logrado la igualdad de matrimonio para personas gays, lesbianas, bisexuales y transexuales simplemente eliminando el requisito de que dos personas que contraen matrimonio deben ser de diferente sexo. Sin embargo, el derecho de familia en los Estados Unidos tradicionalmente ha requerido no sólo que las personas casadas sean de sexo diferente, sino también que mantengan relaciones sexuales heterosexuales. Este enfoque en el comportamiento heterosexual amenaza con minar los matrimonios legales de personas gays, lesbianas, bisexuales y transexuales. También amenaza la dignidad, privacidad y validez legal de los matrimonios de algunas parejas heterosexuales. Contrariamente a la práctica actual, el derecho no debe hacer suposiciones sobre la existencia o el tipo de comportamiento sexual entre los cónyuges que es necesario para crear y mantener un matrimonio.

Keywords: Same-sex marriage, transgender, heterosexuality, family law, annulment, Matrimonio de personas del mismo sexo, heterosexualidad, derecho de familia, nulidad

Suggested Citation

Goldfarb, Sally F., Divorcing Marriage from Sex: Radically Rethinking the Role of Sex in Marriage Law in the United States (December 28, 2016). Oñati Socio-Legal Series, Vol. 6, No. 6, 2016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2890997

Sally F. Goldfarb (Contact Author)

Rutgers School of Law-Camden ( email )

Newark, NJ
United States

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