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Queer(y)ing consummation: an empirical reflection on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 and the role of consummation

Date:17 JUN 2021
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Alexander Maine, Lecturer in Law, Leicester Law School, University of Leicester

Keywords: Consummation – adultery – marriage – empirical research – LGBTQ

Consummation and adultery were omitted from the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. This article explores the issue of consummation (in particular) and offers empirical evidence in support of reform. Assessing the functioning and role of relationship recognition to LGBTQ people, this article will assess the implications of the exclusion of consummation from same-sex marriage. It draws on semi-structured, in-depth interviews conducted with a group of 29
LGBTQ people following the 2013 legislation to argue that the current law contributes to a sexual hierarchy that maintains and privileges heteronormativity, and that this system should be reformed by either abolishing the consummation requirement or redefining it to include same-sex consummation, accommodating a wide range of sexual expression. Reforming marriage law to disestablish consummation’s current role would contribute both to the ongoing

transformation of marriage instigated by no-fault divorce and to the queering of marriage by deconstructing heteronormativity.


This article has been accepted for publication in Child and Family Law Quarterly in Issue 2, Vol 33, Year 2021. The final published version of this article will be published and made publicly available here 24 months after its publication date, under a CC-BY-NC licence.


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