Same-sex Partnership and Marriage

The Success and Costs of Transnational Activism

Authored by: Kelly Kollman

The Ashgate Research Companion to Lesbian and Gay Activism

Print publication date:  August  2015
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409457091
eBook ISBN: 9781315613147
Adobe ISBN: 9781317042914


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By the beginning of 2015, 1 more than 30 countries had national policies that recognized same-sex couples in law. In 1990, less than a quarter of a century before, only one country had such a law in place (see Table 20.1). Today few observers question why lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) 2 activists have made partnership issues and same-sex marriage a core focus of their campaigns. Thirty years ago, however, legal relationship recognition was not on the agendas of most national LGBT rights groups, let alone that of elected politicians. The idea of agitating for the right to participate in state-sanctioned marriages, of course, is not new. Court cases challenging the prohibition against same-sex couples in civil marriage laws were heard and summarily dismissed in the US and several European countries throughout the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. In addition to these legal and political barriers, many sexuality and gay liberation activists of the era expressed little interest in lobbying for piecemeal legal change and had particular contempt for campaigns aimed at “aping” bourgeoisie and oppressive institutions like marriage. What changed?

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