An Argument for Same-Sex Marriage

An Argument for Same-Sex Marriage: Religious Freedom, Sexual Freedom, and Public Expressions of Civic Equality

EMILY R. GILL
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2tt3n5
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    An Argument for Same-Sex Marriage
    Book Description:

    The relationship between religious belief and sexuality as personal attributes exhibits some provocative comparisons. Despite the nonestablishment of religion in the United States and the constitutional guarantee of free exercise, Christianity functions as the religious and moral standard in America. Ethical views that do not fit within this consensus often go unrecognized as moral values. Similarly, in the realm of sexual orientation, heterosexuality is seen as the yardstick by which sexual practices are measured. The notion that "alternative" sexual practices like homosexuality could possess ethical significance is often overlooked or ignored. In her new book, An Argument for Same-Sex Marriage, political scientist Emily R. Gill draws an extended comparison between religious belief and sexuality, both central components of one's personal identity. Using the religion clause of the First Amendment as a foundation, Gill contends that, just as US law and policy ensure that citizens may express religious beliefs as they see fit, it should also ensure that citizens may marry as they see fit. Civil marriage, according to Gill, is a public institution, and the exclusion of some couples from a state institution is a public expression of civic inequality. An Argument for Same-Sex Marriage is a passionate and timely treatment of the various arguments for and against same-sex marriage and how those arguments reflect our collective sense of morality and civic equality. It will appeal to readers who have an interest in gay and lesbian studies, political theory, constitutional law, and the role of religion in the contemporary United States.

    eISBN: 978-1-58901-921-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. CHAPTER 1 Religion and Sexuality: Setting the Stage
    (pp. 1-31)

    The current controversy over the legitimacy of same-sex marriage reveals a number of fault lines both in our conception of citizenship and also in our thinking about the relationship of church and state in a modern liberal democracy. Marriage is in many ways a private, consensual relationship, yet its contours are defined by public policy. It is entered by a civil contract, yet it may also be religiously sanctioned by clergy invested with civil authority. In the United States the First Amendment prohibition against establishment of religion implies that the nature of the institution of marriage should not be dictated...

  5. CHAPTER 2 The Impossibility of Neutrality
    (pp. 32-60)

    What unites conflicting viewpoints on same-sex marriage is the implied conviction that the definition of civil marriage makes a statement about who is—and who is not—an equal citizen of the liberal democratic polity. As Jyl Josephson puts it, marriage is viewed as “the holy grail of gay politics by opponents and proponents alike” (Josephson 2005, 269). Participation in this institution offers certain rights and material benefits, to be sure, but this is not all it does. “Marriage posits a specific desirable form for intimacy and family life—despite contemporary reality—and reinforces that form through legal, economic, political,...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Same-Sex Marriage: Social Facts and Conflicting Views
    (pp. 61-106)

    The impossibility of defining neutrality and of instantiating policies that embody this quality reveals itself in conflicting views engendered by the topic of same-sex marriage. Although one might expect that traditionalists oppose same-sex marriage and that liberals support it, the landscape is more complex. Traditionalist opponents link their opposition to the maintenance of a long-established morality among citizens, as one might predict. However, there are also traditionalist advocates of same-sex marriage, who believe that including same-sex couples in the institution of marriage will smooth the apparent rough edges of same-sex relationships, promoting stability and the welfare of both individual participants...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Religious Establishment and the Endorsement Test
    (pp. 107-144)

    The confinement of civil marriage to traditional couples at the expense of same-sex couples who wish to marry is analogous to a religious establishment that denies the free exercise of religion. In a persuasive account Gordon Babst argues that the continuing ban on same-sex marriage in most of the United States can be attributed to a de facto “shadow establishment,” defined as “an impermissible expression of sectarian preference in the law that is unreasonable in the light of the nation’s constitutional commitment to all its citizens” (Babst 2002, 2, emphasis omitted). The prevailing understanding of the value of marriage is...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Free Exercise and the Right to Conscience
    (pp. 145-209)

    In chapter 4 I argue that confining civil marriage to opposite-sex couples performs a function akin to religious establishment. It promotes a particular vision of intimate relationship and family as the preferred model for all, privileging those who participate in it to the exclusion of those who adhere to a different vision. Although denial of the material benefits accompanying civil marriage is a tangible expression of civic inequality, what is equally if not more crucial is the symbolic distinction between insiders and outsiders that this exclusion promotes. Just as the display of the religious symbols of only one religion in...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Establishment and Free Exercise: Who Should Be Outsiders?
    (pp. 210-240)

    Chapter 1 compares national citizenship and civil marriage as institutions that have lessened in importance as sources of rights and benefits. Participation in each case is consensual; both noncitizens and unmarried persons must consent if they are to attain these statuses. In the consensual model, however, both citizenship and marriage rest not only on the consent of the individuals seeking them but also on the consent of the state in whose eyes individuals want to be treated as citizens or as married persons. Those who wish to become citizens may not primarily desire the accompanying material benefits. Instead they may...

  10. REFERENCES
    (pp. 241-256)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 257-276)