Marriage and Civil Partnership: Law’s Role, Feminism’s Response

Authored by: Rosemary Auchmuty

The Ashgate Research Companion to Feminist Legal Theory

Print publication date:  October  2013
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409418597
eBook ISBN: 9781315612973
Adobe ISBN: 9781317043423


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Marriage cannot be spoken of as a fixed legal concept since it has meant different things at different times and in different places. Today, even within a single country, there may be different cultural conceptions of marriage and people may have very different motives for marrying. Nevertheless, politicians, churches and courts tend to speak of ‘marriage’ as if we all understand and all agree on what is meant by the term. Take, for instance, the pronouncement by the President of the Family Division in England and Wales in Wilkinson v Kitzinger [2006] EWHL 2022:

It is apparent that the majority of people, or at least of governments, not only in England but Europe-wide, regard marriage as an age-old institution, valued and valuable, respectable and respected, as a means not only of encouraging monogamy but also the procreation of children and their development and nurture in a family unit (or “nuclear family”) in which both maternal and paternal influences are available in respect of their nurture and upbringing. (para. 118)

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