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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/17320

Title: A White Wedding? The Racial Politics of Same-sex Marriage in Canada
Authors: Lenon, Suzanne Judith
Advisor: Razack, Sherene
Department: Sociology and Equity Studies in Education
Keywords: Lesbian and Gay
Legal
Critical Race
Issue Date: 26-Feb-2009
Abstract: In A White Wedding? The Racial Politics of Same-Sex Marriage, I examine the inter-locking relations of power that constitute the lesbian/gay subject recognized by the Canadian nation-state as deserving of access to civil marriage. Through analysis of legal documents, Parliamentary and Senate debates, and interviews with lawyers, I argue that this lesbian/gay subject achieves intelligibility in the law by trading in on and shoring up the terms of racialized neo-liberal citizenship. I also argue that the victory of same-sex marriage is implicated in reproducing and securing a racialized Canadian national identity as well as a racialized civilizational logic, where “gay rights” are the newest manifestation of the modernity of the “West” in a post-9/11 historical context. By centring a critical race/queer conceptual framework, this research project follows the discursive practices of respectability, freedom and civility that circulate both widely and deeply in this legal struggle. I contend that in order to successfully shed its historical markers of degeneracy, the lesbian/gay subject must be constituted not as a sexed citizen but rather as a neoliberal citizen, one who is intimately tied to notions of privacy, property, autonomy and freedom of choice, and hence one who is racialized as white. The critical race/queer analytic also attends to the temporal and spatial registers framing this legal struggle that re-install various troubling racial hierarchies in a “gay rights” project often lauded as progressive. This analysis of the discursive terrain of same-sex marriage reveals the race shadow that lies at the heart of this equality-rights struggle. The conclusion of this thesis provides reflections for developing an ethics of activism that dislodges and resists the (re)production of racialized relations of power in lesbian and gay equality rights activism. In so doing, I seek to provoke, question and re-draw the landscape of our thinking, not only about same-sex marriage but also about the terms with which we conceive, articulate and practice racial and sexual justice.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/17320
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education - Doctoral theses

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