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Lesbian couples who break up will find themselves in an awkward position under the law for two separable but related reasons. The first is that, because they were unmarried, they are subjected by the law to much the same uneven and ambivalent treatment to which unmarried heterosexual couples are subjected. The second, of course, is that they are gay or lesbian and thus regarded with special disfavor even in some states that have become more tolerant of unmarried heterosexual relationships. As a law teacher who is gay and who writes about family law issues relating to gay men and lesbians, I have prepared this brief piece, drawing in part on an earlier article of mine (Chambers, 1996), to elaborate on the legal issues raised by Morton (1998, this issue). In nearly all respects the points made here apply in full to gay male couples who are separating, but, like Morton, I will use lesbian couples in my examples.


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