Reconstructing Marriage in a Changing Legal and Societal Landscape : Challenges of New Cohabitation Models in Sweden
Sammanfattning: What is marriage? From a legal point of view, marriage is a contract which establishes a civil status. However, marriage is no ordinary contract. There is also a symbolic dimension to marriage, which cannot easily be understood from a strictly legal perspective. The symbolic dimension of marriage was highlighted in 2009, when the concept of marriage was extended to encompass same-sex couples in Sweden. This reform was not about accessing the legal effects attached to the marriage “contract”. The Registered Partnership Act already provided same-sex couples with rules largely equivalent to those applicable to spouses. The 2009 enactment was about accessing the symbolic dimension of marriage.This thesis explores the essence of marriage. In order to understand what marriage is in the 21st century, it is necessary to identify and analyze the form and function of marriage in Swedish society during the last three hundred years. Comparisons with the Dutch and Spanish legal developments toward adopting a gender-neutral marriage concept are included, as well as an overview of the legal development concerning cohabitation models, and the impact of human rights issues at EU level and in the jurisprudence of the Strasbourg Court. Swedish society has undergone considerable changes, particularly during the last century. How have these changes influenced the essence of marriage? How has the legal recognition of new cohabitation models, cohabitation without marriage and registered partnership, influenced the essence of marriage? What role should the institution of marriage have in Sweden in the future?
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