marriage, same-sex marriage, policy, social purpose


The current debate over the definition of marriage is typically portrayed as a decision to "expand" or "extend" the boundaries of marriage to include same-sex couples. This argument, however, rests on the assumption that the basic nature off marriage will remain largely unchanged by granting marriage status to same-sex partnerships and that all this policy change will do is absorb same-se partnerships within the existing boundaries of marriage and emend the benefits of marriage to a wider segment of society. Indeed, the very term "same-sex marriage" implies that same-sex couples in committed relationships are already a type of marriage that should be appropriately recognized and labeled as such. But this understanding, which lead to the recent legalization of same-sex marriage by the United States Supreme Court, is flawed in that it fails to recognize how defining same-sex partnerships as marriages signifies a fundamental change in how marriage will be collectively understood and the primary social purposes for which it exists.

Original Publication Citation

Carroll, J. S.& Schumm, W. R. (2017). The Fall of Fertility: How Same-Sex Marriage Will Further Declining Birthrates in the Unites States. Ava Maria Law Review, 14(1), 123-139.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Ave Maria Law Review




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor