The Strange Pairing: Building Alliances between Queer Activists and Conservative Groups to Recognize New Families

78 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2018 Last revised: 3 Mar 2019

Date Written: August 15, 2018


This Article explores some of the legal initiatives and reforms that were pushed forward by opponents of same-sex marriage in Canada and the United States. Despite being animated by a desire to dilute the protections for same-sex couples into a bigger basket of couples, these reforms resulted in “queering” family law, in the sense that they functionalized the notion of family to the point of including cohabiting relatives and/or friends – yet not assemblies comprised of more than two persons. The central claim of this Article is thus that new families should build alliances with conservative fringe groups and capitalize on their common interest in alternatives to marriage.

Part I of the Article will provide a primer on the legal remedies available to non-normative relationships. Part II will engage in a comparative analysis of conservative reforms in the United States and Canada that ended up extending eligibility requirements to new families, or that, although currently restricted to conjugal couples, could constitute a viable model for protecting all new families, if their eligibility requirements were amended. Part III tries to operationalize legal recognition by analyzing the potential paths to gain it. There, I first anticipate and respond to criticism surrounding recognition of new families, and then lay the ground for rethinking queer activists’ political action. To this end, I offer some recommendations on (a) the best model for implementation and (b) the power of forming alliances with conservative groups.

Keywords: nonconjugal, non-normative, queer, family, polyamorous, Canada, United States, Europe, designated beneficiaries

JEL Classification: K36

Suggested Citation

Palazzo, Nausica, The Strange Pairing: Building Alliances between Queer Activists and Conservative Groups to Recognize New Families (August 15, 2018). Michigan Journal of Gender & Law, Vol. 25, No. 2, Fall 2018, U of Michigan Public Law Research Paper No. 615, Available at SSRN:

Nausica Palazzo (Contact Author)

Nova School of Law ( email )


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