Faculty Author Type

Current Faculty [Bruce MacDougall]

Published In

Ottawa Law Review

Document Type


Publication Date



Same-Sex Marriage


This article explores the nature of discourse about equality, in particular homosexual equality, and situates the current debate about same-sex marriage in that discourse. The author explores the idea that legal discourse about equality moves among sites that may be labeled condemnation, compassion, condonation and celebration. Achievement of real (as opposed to formal) legal equality requires advancement at each of these sites. In Canada, legal discourse about equality for gays and lesbians at the first three sites has been largely successful and contention now is at the site of celebration. Marriage is a profoundly symbolic institution, representing state celebration of particular (heterosexual) relationships. According to the author, the opening up of the institution of marriage to gays and lesbians would be a form of legal celebration of homosexuality and an indication that gays and lesbians are closer to a position of real legal equality. Such equality, however, would raise new and difficult political and legal questions for group members, necessitating much introspection for those members.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.