This article addresses an important concept theme in family law scholarship: that of belonging. This paper will address the boundaries of belonging, the need to preserve boundaries to preserve communities, particularly the community of marriage, and to protect and maintain the opportunity and value of belonging to such communities. One of the paradoxes of belonging is that the need to belong also creates a need to exclude; in order for belonging to occur, there must be boundaries, standards defining the relationship, and criteria separating members of the group from nonmembers. The boundaries of marriage must reflect the key purposes of the community. This article explains why allowing same-sex couples to marry would seriously undermine the basic legal and social institution of marriage. This article seeks to establish five basic points about the boundaries of marriage. First, boundaries and exclusion are necessary for all communities, including the community of marriage. Second, boundaries must reflect, protect, and reinforce the core principles of the community. Third, gender integration is a critical, core purpose of marriage. Fourth, legalizing same-sex denies and undermines the core gender-integrative purposes of marriage. Finally, in setting the boundaries of basic social institutions such as marriage, it is especially important to follow the legitimate process of democratic self-government, and not abuse or circumvent, evade or cut off those important political processes which help society learn, grow, unite and heal.
© 2011 BYU J. Reuben Clark Law School
Lynn D. Wardle,
The Boundaries of Belonging: Allegiance, Purpose and the Definition of Marriage,
25 BYU J. Pub. L.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.byu.edu/jpl/vol25/iss2/7