Why should the state's refusal to recognize a union as marriage mean that the union is not a marriage? In Love's Rite Ruth Vanita asks this challenging question in order to emphasize that mutual consent and family and community recognition validate a marriage- and this support frequently extends to same sex or sexuality is not intrinsic to that right, although social prejudice makes it appear so. Moreover, it cannot be denied that a multitude of events and depictions in vastly different cultures, times and places, all point to the possibility of same sex love and commitment being recognized and accepted. Marriage is a universal rite of passage that can, in the right circumstance, become the perfect ceremony of love's rite.
Vanita examines the twin phenomena of same sex weddings and same sex joint suicides that have been reported from many parts of India. She argues that these couples, when they choose to marry or die together, invoke long standing but fluid Indian legal, religious, and literary cinematic traditions to declare their love to the world. Using her intimate knowledge of ancient Indian textual history, the author demonstrates that same sex love and relationships are deeply rooted in Indian Culture- and compares the cultural and legal implications of same sex marriage in India with those in the West.
The international debate on same sex marriage is relevant to all democratic societies today. Ruth Vanita brings a fresh perspective to this debate, suggesting that same sex marriage dwells at the heart, not on the margins, of culture.
About the Author
Ruth Vanita is Professor of Liberal Studies at the University of Montana, and former Reader of English at Delhi University. She was a founder of Manushi and co-edited it from 1978-90. She is the author of Sappho and the virgin Mary: same Sex Love and the English Literary Imagination, and co author of Same sex Love in India: Readings from Literature and history; a collection of her essays on gender and sexuality and her translation of some Hindi fiction by Ugra will appear later this year.
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