Document Type



THE MARRIAGE DEBATE IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE: CHANGING NORMS AND THE EVOLUTION OF CIVIL MARRIAGE, by Charles Kindregan, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Law, Suffolk University Law School, Boston. A work in progress. Continuing a study first written shortly after the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled that marriage licenses must be issued to qualifying same-sex couples and published in the Family Law Quarterly in 2004, the author now reviews additional developments affecting changing attitudes about marriage and its equivalents. These include both American developments such as civil unions and registered domestic partnerships and the American Law Institute’s proposal to treat certain long-term cohabitations as having the same consequences as marriage unless the partners opt out of it. It also examines the growing acceptance of same-sex unions in other countries. Other historical developments discussed in the earlier article are further developed. The conclusion of these studies is that marriage is not now and never has been truly static in American law, and that throughout history attitudes about civil marriage have constantly undergone change.

Date of Authorship for this Version

October 2006


Family Law, Same-Sex Marriage, Domestic Partnership, Civil Union, History of Marriage