Libby Nutt Williams
Annual Colloquium - 2007
Hitched: Marriage in America
Emma Goldman Professor of Philosophy
University of Wisconsin
Claudia Card is the Emma Goldman Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, with courtesy appointments in Women's Studies, LGBT Studies, Jewish Studies, and Environmental Studies. Her books include: The Atrocity Paradigm: A Theory of Evil (Oxford 2002); The Unnatural Lottery: Character and Moral Luck (Temple 1996); Lesbian
Choices (Columbia 1995). She currently holds a Senior Fellowship at the Institute for Research in the Humanities (Madison) and is at work on two more books, an introduction to feminist philosophy and a work on responding to atrocities.
Advocates usually pose the issue of marriage for same-sex partners as one of recognition, as though such marriages already existed and the only issue were whether the law should acknowledge them. "Recognition" has a positive ring. Yet what is at stake is not just recognition the regulation by the state, including the power to determine what counts as a marriage. Card defends the position that the law should no more declare which durable intimate sexual unions between freely consenting adults are legitimate and which are not than it should declare which newborns are legitimate and which are not. Her objection is not to durable intimate unions as extra-legal relationships between consenting adults. In "Gay Divorce: Thoughts on the Legal Regulation of Marriage" she will describe, instead, the target of her criticism -- the vague, open-ended, state-enforceable legal marriage contract, rarely entered into voluntarily by any who are adequately informed of its consequences.