Over four thousand gay and lesbian couples married in the city of San Francisco in 2004. The first large-scale occurrence of legal same-sex marriage, these unions galvanized a movement and reignited the debate about whether same-sex marriage, as some hope, challenges heterosexual privilege or, as others fear, preserves that privilege by assimilating queer couples.
In Queering Marriage, Katrina Kimport uses in-depth interviews with participants in the San Francisco weddings to argue that same-sex marriage cannot be understood as simply entrenching or contesting heterosexual privilege. Instead, she contends, these new legally sanctioned relationships can both reinforce as well as disrupt the association of marriage and heterosexuality.
During her deeply personal conversations with same-sex spouses, Kimport learned that the majority of respondents did characterize their marriages as an opportunity to contest heterosexual privilege. Yet, in a seeming contradiction, nearly as many also cited their desire for access to the normative benefits of matrimony, including social recognition and legal rights. Kimport’s research revealed that the pattern of ascribing meaning to marriage varied by parenthood status and, in turn, by gender. Lesbian parents were more likely to embrace normative meanings for their unions; those who are not parents were more likely to define their relationships as attempts to contest dominant understandings of marriage.
By posing the question—can queers “queer” marriage?—Kimport provides a nuanced, accessible, and theoretically grounded framework for understanding the powerful effect of heterosexual expectations on both sexual and social categories.
"This very interesting, informative, and well-written book presents many fascinating interviews, and provides a window on one of the most contested subjects in the U.S. today. Essential."
"Queering Marriage is remarkable for its highly thoughtful insights into the real meaning of same-sex marriage. By telling the compelling stories of same-sex couples who participated in marriage ceremonies that played a powerful role in the movement toward marriage equality, sociologist Katrina Kimport brilliantly adjudicates competing contemporary views regarding the influence of same-sex marriage on both 'traditional marriage' and the gay and lesbian community. This beautifully written book is a must-read for any serious scholar of family, gender, sexuality, and social movements."
—Brian Powell, Indiana University
"Queering Marriage is a careful, fair, and compelling analysis of how same-sex couples navigate the multiple and often conflicting meanings of marriage; impressive, tidy, and accessible, it will also appeal to an audience unfamiliar with sociology."
—Jaye Cee Whitehead, author of The Nuptial Deal: Same-Sex Marriage and Neo-Liberal Governance
"A smart, sensitive account of what marriage meant to, and did for, San Francisco’s 'Winter of Love' participants, Queering Marriage demonstrates how same-sex marriages subvert heteronormativity even as they shore it up."
—Joshua Gamson, University of San Francisco
Author / Editor Bio
KATRINA KIMPORT is an assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco. She is the coauthor of Digitally Enabled Social Change.
Table Of Contents
1. The Winter of Love
2. Marrying for the Movement
3. Marrying for Rights
4. Marrying for Love
5. Gender and Parenthood
6. The Persistent Power of Marriage
7. Exposing Heteronormativity