Fitting Under the Marriage Canopy: Same-Sex Weddings as Rites of Conformity in a Canadian Liberal Jewish Context
AbstractThe topic of same-sex marriage continues to be a source of controversy, yet the publicly recognized commitments between lesbian and gay partners is an emerging reality in the twenty-first century, especially in North America. This thesis focuses on the ritual aspects of same sex marriage by exploring the ways in which weddings are adapted to accommodate the needs of a lesbian or gay couple, particularly within Judaism, a tradition in which the components of a wedding ceremony are historically and culturally significnat. Drawing from participant observation and fieldwork interviews with Jewish lesbians in Toronto, this work examines how wedding ceremonies are thought about, performed, and received within a legally tolerant environment. I argue that ceremonies are more likely to conform to traditional norms due to the legal status of same-sex marriage in Canada, emphasizing that innovations to language, symbols, and ritual performance incorporated in the United States that draw attention to difference and disempowerment are no longer necessary.