Thinking Anglicans

New book on Same-Sex Marriage published: Legally Married

Edinburgh University Press is about to publish a book which examines Same-Sex Marriage from a political and historical viewpoint: Legally Married.

This is available now in the UK, and in the USA is distributed by Oxford University Press.

Here is some information from the press release:

Legally Married: New Book Separates Fact from Fiction to Examine Arguments from Both Sides of Same-Sex Marriage Debate

In their compelling new book, Scot Peterson and Iain McLean look at same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom and United States in the context of the history of marriage law. Picking through the emotion and rhetoric to give readers a vital insight into the numerous assumptions and arguments surrounding same-sex marriage, the book is poised to resonate with readers on both sides of the Atlantic.

United Kingdom – While the institution of marriage is a common global bond, the laws surrounding who can marry and how they can do it are rarely consistent from one country or one generation to the next. With the debate on same-sex marriage gripping twenty-first century society and its media, arguments from both sides work tirelessly to make their points heard.

However, same-sex marriage is rarely examined in its historical context, leading two UK authors to collaborate on a unique literary project – the first book to examine same-sex marriage in the context of the history of marriage law.

Synopsis of Legally Married: Love and Law in the UK and the US by Scot Peterson and Iain McLean

From English teenagers eloping to Gretna Green to tie the knot without their parents’ permission, to whether a wife can own property, it’s clear that marriage law is different depending on where you live and when. Now, the main debate centres on whether the law should be changed so that same-sex couples can marry.

The Scottish and UK governments, plus a number of US states, are to legislate to allow same-sex marriage, prompting both celebration and outrage. Some argue against it on religious or cultural grounds, others support it on grounds of equality and human rights, and still others disagree with the institution of marriage altogether. But amongst all the assumptions, there are few facts, and the debates about same-sex marriage in the UK and the US are taking place in an informational vacuum filled with emotion and rhetoric.

Legally Married combines insights from history and law from the UK and Scotland with international examples of how marriage law has developed. Scot Peterson and Iain McLean show how many assumptions about marriage are contestable on a number of grounds, separate fact from fiction and explain the claims made on both sides of the argument over same-sex marriage in terms of their historical context.

As one of the authors explains, unravelling the same-sex marriage debate has never been timelier.

‘Marriage matters to people. That’s why states in the US have been approving same-sex marriage at an increasing rate in the past decade. This summer same-sex marriage became available in four states in the US (California, Delaware, Rhode Island and Minnesota); last week, same-sex couples in New Jersey became the latest group to join the club, so that 33% of the US population now lives in a jurisdiction that permits same-sex marriage. And the issue is a live one in other states like Illinois, Hawaii, Pennsylvania and Ohio. The UK Parliament also voted this summer to permit same-sex couples to marry in England and Wales. Scotland will be considering it next,’ says Peterson.

Continuing, ‘Yet the debates about same-sex marriage have often lacked a sound basis in theory or fact. And important interests are involved once it is allowed, including religious freedom and human rights. This debate needs to recognise that both sides, those who oppose and those who support same-sex marriage, have important contributions to make.’

About the Authors

Scot Peterson is the Bingham Research Fellow in Constitutional Studies at Balliol and in the Department of Politics and International Relations, Oxford University. A former attorney, he practiced law in the United States before coming to Oxford, where he earned a doctorate in politics in 2009. He teaches British politics, comparative government and US politics at Oxford, where he specializes in constitutional theory and history. He has written extensively on church-state relations in the US and the UK.

Iain McLean is Official Fellow in Politics, Nuffield College, Oxford and Professor of Politics, University of Oxford. He is the author of more than 100 papers and 15 books. He is a Fellow of both the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Iain McLean is co-author of Scotland’s Choices: The Referendum and What Happens Afterwards, which gained review and feature coverage in the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Scottish Review of Books and more.

Notify of

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Revd Laurie Roberts
Revd Laurie Roberts
10 years ago

This timely, comprehensive book, sounds like just what is now needed. And from such stellar authors.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x