A Rawlsian Argument for Extending Family-Based Immigration Benefits to Same-Sex Couples

36 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2007


In this paper I argue that anyone who accepts a Rawlsian account of justice should favor granting family-based immigration benefit to same-sex couples.

I first provide a brief over-view of the most relevant aspects of Rawls's position, Justice as Fairness. I then explain why family-based immigration benefits are an important topic and one that everyone interested in immigration and justice must consider. I then show how same-sex couples are currently systematically excluded from the benefits that flow from family-based immigration rights. Next I argue that people in the constitutional and legislative stages of Rawls's original position would act to protect family-based immigration rights for themselves and show how these rights are rights of the current citizens of a state to bring in certain outsiders and not rights of outsiders seeking to enter. Importantly, this argument takes place entirely within the bounds of Rawls's domestic theory of justice and does not make reference to his more controversial views found in his account of international justice. I then show that there is no acceptable reason to restrict these rights to opposite-sex couples and good reason to extend them to same-sex couples.

Finally I consider two objections to my account and show why they do not threaten my conclusion.

Keywords: Immigration, Rawls, Justice as Fairness, homosexual rights, family-based immigration, political philosophy, legal philosophy

JEL Classification: F22

Suggested Citation

Lister, Matthew J., A Rawlsian Argument for Extending Family-Based Immigration Benefits to Same-Sex Couples. University of Memphis Law Review, Vol. 37, Summer 2007, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=979225

Matthew J. Lister (Contact Author)

Deakin University School of Law ( email )

221 Burwood Highway
Building BC, 6th Floor
Burwood, Victoria 3125

HOME PAGE: http://www.deakin.edu.au/law

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