The Public Family: Exploring Its Role in Democratic Society.
By David J. Herring. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003.
272p. $49.95 cloth, $19.95 paper.
In the name of the family, the state has tried to encourage marriage
for poor, single mothers yet denied marriage to homosexual couples. By
terminating parental rights, the state denies certain adults the
opportunity to raise their children, but the state has imposed parental
obligations on others through measures such as child support
enforcement. The state acknowledges the responsibility to educate all
children but refuses to provide to all minors other important social
goods, such as public assistance. Our policies toward families indicate
any number of conundrums. In order to think more clearly about family
law and policy, David Herring argues that we need to develop a deeper
understanding of the public functions of the family, one with a healthy
regard for the ways in which the family challenges and undermines the