Beyond Beyond Conjugality
(2017) 30(2) Canadian Journal of Family Law 227-263
38 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2018
Date Written: 2017
In 2001, the Law Commission of Canada released its report Beyond Conjugality: Recognizing and Supporting Close Adult Relationships. The Report questioned whether marriage and conjugality should have any relevance as legal categories, and considered whether the state should get out of the business of regulating marriage altogether. The Report advocated a systematic rethinking of the way in which close adult relationships are regulated and recognized. In particular, it argued that conjugality - long used as the criteria for recognizing and regulating relationships - is ill-suited to achieving governmental policy objectives. The Beyond Conjugality report has been extensively debated and cited in the past fifteen years. Even though it is too early, from the Law Commission’s long-term perspective, to come up with a final assessment of the success of the Beyond Conjugality report, our paper assesses its impact on scholarly and political debates thus far. We consider whether the assumptions and methodology underlying the report remain valuable. By stopping short of recommending that the state cease to regulate marriage altogether, and by not recommending the repeal of conjugal offences such as polygamy, did the report not go far enough? With the benefits of hindsight, would we write the Report differently now? To what extent did the recognition of same sex marriage in Canada in 2005 limit further reconsideration of adult personal relationships? Is the model of conjugality that the Report criticized more entrenched today? Is there a way that we would write the report differently today that would give further political and legal resonance to alternatives to conjugality? Specifically, how might we have better looked beyond the dyadic couple to consider multiple party relationships as well?
Keywords: conjugality, marriage, family, poly relationships
JEL Classification: K14, K36, Z18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation