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Book Review

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University of Texas School of Law




When Judge Posner, in Baskin v. Bogan, expressed incredulity -- given actual demographic trends in family formation -- that state marriage laws excluding same-sex couples furthered interests in “channeling” procreative sex and addressing accidental pregnancy, he brought together two conversations about marriage, family law, and family life that too often proceed independently. In the first, same-sex couples challenging marriage laws and the courts who rule in their favor emphasize the high stakes of exclusion by characterizing marriage as an incomparable institution and a signal that one’s intimate commitment is worthy of equal respect and dignity. To be left out of marriage is to experience a second class form of family life. Similarly, the channeling argument assigns marriage an unrivaled role as the social institution designed to anchor parental investment in children. A second conversation sounds alarms about the disappearance of marriage in a growing number of communities in the United States and the evident drifting by many young adults into sex and parenthood unintentionally and outside of marriage. This conversation warns of the consequences for children of the growing class-, race-, and gender-based marriage divide. Policy analysts debate whether it is possible to close the marriage gap or whether they should instead focus on responsible parenthood

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