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Lesbian and gay parents' sexual citizenship: costs of civic acceptance in the United Kingdom

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This article draws upon research with 60 white lesbian and gay parents from working-class and middle-class backgrounds, to consider the significance of class in the struggle for sexual citizenship in the context of the UK Civil Partnership Act (2004). While parenting is distinct from issues of partnering they are clearly related, not least in the ways that such policies themselves materialise families, offering new possibilities for societal recognition, legal recourse and access to welfare services. The issue of economics is significant, resourcing – or denying – various possibilities; class and sexuality also intersect in the construction of ‘normal’, ‘ordinary’ citizens now ready for inclusion. Many interviewees experienced this shifting terrain ambivalently, though a consequential classing of this figures in the erosion or consolidation of ‘worth’, ‘normality’ and ‘entitlement’, through which claims are made, families are (un)done and citizens are materialised. Both working-class and middle-class interviewees expressed varied uncertainties but the material and subjective ‘costs’, rather than benefits, of civic acceptance work to disadvantage working-class parents. The advantages of middle-class parents are re-constituted and re-embedded in changing legal contexts. The classing of sexual citizenship has potential implications across different international contexts, where public policies materialise parenting, spatially situating and legally producing the ‘costs’ and benefits of civic acceptance.

Keywords: ciudadanía sexual; civil partnerships; clase; class; lesbian and gay parents; padres y madres lesbianas y gay; sexual citizenship; uniones civiles

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, 5th Floor Claremont Bridge BuildingNewcastle UniversityNE1 7RU

Publication date: 2011-10-01

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