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Lecture 19

SOC271 Lecture 19: March 28- Chapter 11(Lecture and textbook)

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Robin Willey

Chapter 11- Intellectual Debates, Testimonials, and Changing Social Values: Same- Sex Marriage in Canada - To view marriage as an institution is to step back from viewing it as a relationship between 2 people and rather, view it as a relationship between 2 people and the state o In this view, less interested in the specificity of any one couple and more interested in which couples fit into state regulations that define and protect family relations What is Marriage For? - Marriage’s changing status based on changing economic and social needs o In earlier historical periods, marriage was viewed as a contractual business relationship based on money matters for the family unit o In later periods of industrial and post-industrial capitalism, less emphasis was placed on money and property for the basis of marriage, and an increased emphasis was placed on psychological relationships and the importance of feelings ▪ However, there continues to be economic interdependence o The de-emphasis on money as the central factor has been followed by the erosion of other historical underpinnings that have been viewed as immoral practices, such as premarital sex - There has been a departure from religious and legally formalized marriage, and an increase in unmarried couples cohabiting in common-law relationships o Similar, but marriage is taken more seriously in ways that have both legal and social ramifications - Different couple relationships are marked by a citizen’s relationship to the state and to each other Same-Sex Marriage and Sexual Others - Canada became the 4 country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage o While in some parts of the world, people continue to be persecuted, tortured, and/or murdered if caught in a same-sex relationship - Even in Canada, since same-sex marriage was legalized, debates have arisen that have the potential to undermine same-sex marriage laws, especially given that the federal government at the time did not systematically review all the laws and policies that might need adjustment o In result, legal problems for same-sex married couples have persisted in administrative areas such as immigration - Struggles over who has the right to marry are embedded in social constructions of how we’re located in society – identities are key to those constructions and in the case of marriage, focus is on sexual identities o Sexual identities are multiple and marked as different and marginal through notions of racialization and sexual difference o When non-heterosexual relations are considered for legitimacy within the institution of marriage, normalization needs to be discussed ▪ Normalization- a complex process by which concepts, social practises, identities, or ideas are assumed to be normal. This assumption of “normal” is based on beliefs informed by moral discourses of right and wrong, rather than contextualized through specific political, cultural, and social histories that represent a wide array of values and beliefs - Human rights claims- rights are entitlements to do something without interference from other people. They belong to everyone by virtue of being human, although only some members of society have access to certain rights. When people contend that they are denied entitlements to rights they believe are owed to all humans, they fight for laws and policies to ensure they have access to them - Whiteness- a subordinate term is always defined in relation to its dominant counterpart. Identifying “whiteness,” usually the dominant, unmarked term that serves to subordinate racial terms, destabilizes the non-visible minority (ex. those of European ancestry are the dominant One that defines all Others) - Identity is marketed in national capitalism as a property – identity is something you can purchase a relation to or something you already own that you can express - Some have argued that sexuality is the modern form of self-intelligibility – it’s this very notion of identity being fundamentally sexual that creates the conditions of possibility fir national identity to be viewed as heterosexual - Normalized heterosexual images regularly make their way into the public sphere – it is in this way that we can understand how private issues of sexual identity are indeed public issues of national identity, in this case, identities represented by heteronationalism Experts and Experience: Changing Canadian’s Views - Same-sex marriage didn’t simply appear as a good idea out of the blue – years of political struggle led up to it - 3 reasons for same-sex marriage: o Immigration – to bring a non-Canadian partner to live in Canada o Citizenship – to have same-sex relationships and families fully acknowledged in every way that heterosexual relationships are o Social legitimacy – in the eyes of family, friends, colleagues, etc. - Queer folks are just ordinary people and this is something we must acknowledge - Accounts of same-sex couples reflect the reasoning provided by “experts” and at the same time, provide experience of such reasoning - Bodies of literature the both support and oppose same-sex marriage o Literature that supports it stem from an equal rights perspective – focuses on freedoms and inclusion Intellectual Debates: For Same-Sex Relationships and Against Same-Sex Marriage - A central critique of same-sex marriage from supporters of same-sex relationships is that rights-claims serve to simultaneously include some and exclude others and thus cannot be relied on to fundamentally shift the dominant centre of heteronormativity - Those who strongly support same-sex relationships but oppose same-sex marriage on the basis that such political gains are limited, reinforce individualism in the current neo-liberal climate, and rather than destabilize the patriarchal and oppressive institution of marriage, same-sex marriage reaffirms it o
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