Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Title

LGBTQ Relationships

Publication Date



Perhaps nowhere in family law is this evolution more dramatic than in the burgeoning recognition of rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning (LGBTQ) couples. Within the past twenty- five years courts, legislatures, and international bodies have addressed the extent to which rights and obligations formerly reserved to heterosexual married spouses should be conferred on other partners.

Most western democracies now recognize same- sex unions, assuring the partners in such unions a range of rights and benefits, similar to but distinct from the rights and benefits enjoyed by married couples. Part A of this Chapter describes the legal mechanisms which recognize and protect same- sex unions, some of which are also open to heterosexual couples. Part B focuses on the minority of states that have opened civil marriage to same- sex couples. This Part includes same- sex “marriages” which may differ from opposite- sex marriages in their treatment of children born or adopted into the marriage. Part C addresses intimate partnerships, which may or may not be same- sex, involving transgendered, bisexual and questioning people. This Part considers the growing reliance on human rights instruments to expand the rights of LGBTQ couples, including the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.



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