UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"You are real citizens and you have the right to love" : exploring political frames in same-sex marriage debates in Canada Broderick, Julie


In 1984, Gayle Rubin introduced her influential concept of the ‘charmed circle.’ Rubin noted a dividing line between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sexuality, and argued that those who enact ‘good’ sex are often rewarded in society, while others occupy the outer limits of acceptability. Namely, Rubin notes that within the ‘charmed circle’ are heterosexual, monogamous, procreative couples. In Rubin’s original conception, homosexuality resided on the outer limits of acceptability. However, in the current social and political context of Canada, lesbian and gay citizens have become integrated into civil society and have more freedom to live openly. This may represent emerging sexual values that complicate the sexual hierarchy. Within this political context, I ask whether, or to what extent, Rubin’s concepts of the ‘charmed circle’ and the ‘outer limits’ can be revised. I utilize frame analysis and examine data from the final debates of Bill C-38 in the House of Commons, a bill that granted same-sex couples the legal right to marry. In the debates, I discover emerging sexual values and norms that, at the level of law and state, point to an increasing valuation of coupledom, regardless of sexual orientation. In light of these emerging values and norms, I re-conceptualize Rubin’s concept of the ‘charmed circle,’ accounting for the ways that coupledom is framed as not only a private good, but as a moral good for Canada.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada