, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 285-289
Date: 22 Nov 2012

Elizabeth Brake: Minimizing Marriage: Marriage, Morality and the Law

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In 2001 the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage. Since then several countries have followed suit. Others, including the United Kingdom, have permitted same-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships. The debates surrounding same-sex marriage have led to increased interest in the meaning and purpose of marriage among philosophers and political theorists. Some have suggested that, just as gender is an irrelevant factor in deciding who can marry, there is no reason to hold that individuals should be limited to marrying only one partner, and so polygamy should be de-criminalised (e.g. Calhoun 2005). Elizabeth Brake’s book, Minimizing Marriage: Marriage, Morality and the Law, and the paper that preceded it (Brake 2010), call for an even greater widening of the definition of marriage to allow any caring relationship to be recognised as a ‘minimal marriage’ and to be supported by the state. She argues not only against defenders of traditional marr