In the UK in recent years, a dramatic growth in media concern with same
sex relationships has led to the suggestion that the resulting visibility is
indicative of the extent to which the intimate lives of non-heterosexuals
are becoming more acceptable. In this article we question this using data
drawn from the Families of Choice Project, a qualitative research project
based on interviews with over a hundred non-heterosexual women and
men, which highlight the ways in which they are prevented from participating
as full citizens in civic, political, economic, and legal society. Using
Plummer's (1995) notion of intimate citizenship, we discuss first how
respondents talk about the ways in which their intimate relationships are
not recognised or validated legally, economically, politically or socially.
We then analyse the respondents, ideas about what policy options could
be considered to include their ‘families of choice’. Finally, we argue that
the family model on which most legislation and policy is based is too
narrow, exclusive and inflexible to include families of choice.