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Sébastien Chauvin, Manuela Salcedo, Timo Koren, Joël Illidge (2019)

Class, mobility and inequality in the lives of same sex couples with mixed legal statuses

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 2019

Seeking to overcome the heterosexual bias in marriage-migration scholarship and move beyond individualistic approaches to queer mobility, this article focuses on the lives of same-sex couples that hold unequal residence statuses. In a twofold context marked by the increasing legal recognition of same-sex families combined with heightened hurdles facing certain categories of immigrants, we examine what those simultaneous trends mean for these couples.Based on 42 interviews conducted in France, the Netherlands and the United States with people from a variety of class backgrounds, we show how higher resource levels moderate
the impact of constraining legal frameworks without suppressing them. We distinguish between low-resource homogamous, heterogamous, and high-resource homogamous couples. The first configuration often results in forced immobility and separation. In heterogamous couples, conjugality becomes a major pathway to legal status for the migrant spouse – potentially feeding suspicions of instrumentality. In contrast, privileged migrants in a
homogamous couple tend to relate to law in less of a binary way and experience regulations as more easily surmountable. Yet, for them, securing permanent residence represents but one objective among several (including their careers and studies), an investment often disconnected from their matrimonial relationship and at times in competition with it.