Entertainment :: Books

License to Wed

by Kitty Drexel
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Wednesday Mar 5, 2014
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This is the second publication on same-sex family law for Kimberly D. Richman. Her previous book, "Courting Change: Queer Parents, Judges, and the Transformation of American Family Law" was released in 2010, also by NYU Press. In "License to Wed: What Legal Marriage Means to Same-Sex Couples," Richman takes on the legal ramifications of marriage for same-sex and queer identifying couples in Massachusetts and California. In 2004, the Supreme Court found that same-sex couples had the right marry. After the glow of equality wore off, lawyers and couples in California and Massachusetts were left with questions about how far their rights extended. This book looks to answer those questions.

In this, Richman dissects the reasons people obtain marriage licenses beyond the immediacy of love. She notes that the reasons couples sought marriage fell into several different categories: status, security and rights, and as a protest against legal restrictions (The Man). While referencing her own research and that of her contemporaries, she strikes an interesting, sometimes confusing, balance between technical lawyer-speak and storytelling. She has written a book that purposefully directs her audience (lawyers) to tap into their humanity when interpreting law. To stereotype, this is a pleasant change.

While not an easy read for the beach, it is quite meaty for a book about the specifics of same-sex marriage rights.

"License to Wed" fluctuates between sympathetic wedding stories and complicated legalese. The title is both accurate and misleading. This book does examine marriage equality, but it does so within the scope of federal and State law. Richman uses her book to highlight the extent and applications of the rights available to same-sex couples within the changing legal system. It is the kind of book that graduate students at Harvard will find in their family-law syllabi. Hobbyists may have fun with this one, but it is not the sort of book that only tells heart-warming stories about couples working the system. While not an easy read for the beach, it is quite meaty for a book about the specifics of same-sex marriage rights.

"License to Wed: What Legal Marriage Means to Same-Sex Couples"
Kimberly D. Richman
NYU Press
www.nyupress.org/‎
$39.00

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