What Gay Marriage Teaches About the History of Marriage


Hendrik Hartog is Class of 1921 Bicentennial Professor in the History of American Law and Liberty at Princeton University and the author of MAN AND WIFE IN AMERICA: A HISTORY.


In the past few years, however, as issues relating to same-sex marriage have bubbled along — in Hawaii, Vermont, Canada, Massachusetts, San Francisco, and, of course, in the nation’s capital — I have come to realize how wrong I was to demarcate a sharp split between the compulsory heterosexual marital practices characteristic of the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries and the world of marital expectations and practices that define us in the early twenty-first century.

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