The Queer Joys of Sexless Marriage: Coupled Citizenship's Hot Bed!

Published: January 1, 2009

The Queer Joys of Sexless Marriage: Coupled Citizenship’s Hot Bed!


A “sexless marriage” seems a most joyless and banal union to many, old as
matrimony itself. Yet the new sexless marriage championed in this paper does not
concern cold-bedded companionships, but the legal union of two citizens whose
sexed bodies remain unspecified, unsignified and unimportant … in legislation (their
importance in bed is left to participating citizens to determine). This article considers
the recent changes to marriage legislation in European countries through the frame of
Queer Theory. It particularly reflects on the introduction of the sexless marriage in
Norway and Sweden, in the context of other models. It applies Judith Butler’s notions
of gender performativity to the policisation of partnerships, applying her concepts of
Overplay, Transference and Erasure in the disruption of the heterosexual matrix
within coupled citizenship. It considers the varying value of marriage models to Queer
projects in “opening up” citizenship, offering new perspectives on “gay marriage”

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