Untying the Knot

The Wilson Quarterly, Winter 2011 | Go to article overview

Untying the Knot


THE SOURCE: "A Right to Marry?" by Martha C. Nussbaum, in California Law Review, June 2010.

WHAT ROLE SHOULD THE state play in marriage? The answer depends on what you think marriage is. According to University of Chicago law professor Martha C. Nussbaum, marriage is an institution with three distinct aspects--religious, civil, and expressive--and the state currently has a hand in all of them. Especially in light of today's disputes over gay marriage, she suggests that the state's presence ought to be more limited.

The state's role in the religious aspect of marriage is pretty straightforward. Lots of people want to have their weddings take place within a spiritual tradition, and the state endows religious figures with legal authority to perform these ceremonies.

What Nussbaum sees as the civil function of marriage is also cut-and-dried. Wedded couples get tax breaks, insurance benefits, and inheritance rights. They receive preference in adoption and custody decisions. The list of government benefits is long and well known.

It's when it comes to marriage's expressive aspect that the appropriate role of the state gets murky. When a couple gets married, they express their love and commitment to each other, and "society, in response, recognizes and dignifies that commitment." (This unique status in society is one reason why many same-sex couples consider civil union a half-measure and insist on full marital rights.) But there is "something odd about the mixture of casualness and solemnity with which the state behaves as a marrying agent," Nnssbaum says. It does nothing to investigate whether the couple deserves this privileged status. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Untying the Knot
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.