ABSTRACT

In her newest book When Gay People Get Married, M.V. Lee Badgett describes her experience interviewing lesbian couples in The Netherlands about marriage. When she fi rst explained her project to them, many responded with claims such as, “Oh-marriage. That’s a patriarchal institution for heterosexuals. I’m a feminist and don’t believe in marriage” (2009: 2). Badgett shows that despite these proclamations, many of her interviewees ended up getting married because they, their partners, or even their parents and family wanted to participate in a public wedding ceremony celebrating the couple’s love. This anecdote raises several questions with which my analysis will grapple: why have feminists considered marriage a patriarchal institution? Why do women, and even feminists, continue to get married despite the patriarchal nature of marriage and the nuclear family? Why do gay and lesbian couples want to participate in these institutions, and what are the implications of the “gay marriage equality” battle for feminist politics? And fi nally, what does love have to do with all of this?