We are delighted to welcome this guest post from Dr. Nicola Barker; a lecturer in law and director of the LLM programme in Gender, Sexuality and Human Rights at Keele University, UK. She is author of Not the Marrying Kind: Feminist Critiques of Marriage and the Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Relationships (forthcoming, 2011).
I was recently at an academic conference in Vermont, which was a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Vermont Civil Union and 1st anniversary of same-sex marriage in the state. Most of the conference participants were happy to celebrate marriage as an achievement of equality and access to numerous important legal rights (and responsibilities) of marriage. I can understand those sentiments, particularly in a country where access to health care may be dependent on the person one chooses as a spouse having employment benefits and spousal coverage, but I cannot join in the celebration. Likewise, I can understand the celebrations in Ireland following the introduction of civil partnerships but I do not share the jubilation.