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Must equal mean identical? Same-sex couples and marriage

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 January 2014

Robert Leckey
Faculty of Law and Paul-André Crépeau Centre for Private and Comparative Law, McGill University
E-mail address:


This paper pushes against the successful rhetoric of formal equality by which same-sex couples are the same as different-sex couples and opening existing regimes of marriage to them best recognises their equal moral worth. Drawing on social science research that indicates differences in the economic organisation of same-sex couples, the paper explores the possibility that a different marriage regime for the spouses' reciprocal duties might combine recognition of their equal moral worth with sensitivity to their needs. The study sharpens the understanding of contemporary investments in marriage law for everyone and offers a better justification for formal equality: same-sex couples may be treated identically to different-sex couples not because they are the same, but despite their differences.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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