Fierce and often ugly battles are being waged, especially in the United States, over who is allowed to marry, what marriage signifies, and where marriage is headed. Kathleen Hull examines these debates, and data from interviews with over seventy people in same-sex relationships, to explore the cultural practices surrounding same-sex marriage and the legal battle for recognition. Arguing that the cultural and legal dimensions of marriage are closely intertwined, she shows how same-sex couples use marriage-related cultural practices, such as public commitment rituals, to assert the reality of their commitments despite lack of legal recognition. Though many same-sex couples see the law of the state to hold a unique cultural power to legitimate their relationships and identities, Hull finds that their opponents equally look to the law to re-establish a social normalcy that excludes same-sex relationships. This is a timely look at a contentious issue.

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