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An Argument for Same-Sex Marriage

Religious Freedom, Sexual Freedom, and Public Expressions of Civic Equality

Emily R. Gill

Publication Year: 2012

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.

Published by: Georgetown University Press

Series: Religion and Politics series


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pp. c-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

This book germinated in my thinking about United States Supreme Court decisions centering on Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s endorsement test, proposed in Lynch v. Donnelly (465 U.S. 668 [1984]). O’Connor’s endorsement test says that when the government makes or allows policies that seemingly...

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Chapter 1: Religion and Sexuality: Setting the Stage

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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...

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Chapter 2: The Impossibility of Neutrality

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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...

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Chapter 3: Same-Sex Marriage: Social Facts and Conflicting Views

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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...

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Chapter 4: Religious Establishment and the Endorsement Test

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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...

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Chapter 5: Free Exercise and the Right to Conscience

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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...

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Chapter 6: Establishment and Free Exercise: Who Should Be Outsiders?

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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...


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pp. 241-256


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pp. 257-276

E-ISBN-13: 9781589019218
E-ISBN-10: 1589019202
Print-ISBN-13: 9781589019201
Print-ISBN-10: 1589019202

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Religion and Politics series
Series Editor Byline: John C. Green, Ted G. Jelen, and Mark J. Rozell, series editors See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 849447575
MUSE Marc Record: Download for An Argument for Same-Sex Marriage

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Subject Headings

  • Same-sex marriage -- United States -- Religious aspects.
  • Same-sex marriage -- Law and legislation -- United States.
  • Religion and politics -- United States.
  • Religion and state -- United States.
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