The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 on Wednesday that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 law that denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples, is unconstitutional. The Court also declined to rule on Proposition 8, a California case that banned same-sex marriage, on technical grounds, deciding that the case was improperly before the Court. The following roundup presents a range of reactions from both sides, with a focus on the religious aspects that have long influenced this debate.
Posts Tagged ‘gay marriage’
Should the state be in the business of marriage, or is it inherently a religious union that should be performed solely by religious groups? Will the religious exemptions to recent same-sex marriage laws influence their viability in the long run? Last week, The New York Times posted a debate on its website, in which five public figures, scholars and writers, argue about the ways in which the religion and marriage debate draws out perennial questions about the appropriate relationship between religion and the state.
A vote before the Presbyterian Church’s (U.S.A.) General Assembly in Minneapolis this past Thursday allows gays in a committed relationship to serve in the clergy but limits the definition of marriage to that between a man and a woman.
Citing her belief that the debate over civil unions should settled by referendum and not through the state legislature, Hawaii governor Linda Lingle vetoed a bill Tuesday that would have granted same-sex and unwed heterosexual couples the same legal rights as married couples. Lingle, a 57-year old Republican — and the first female governor in the Aloha state’s history — explained that her decision was based purely on the merits of the legislation, not on her own moral beliefs.
The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) was introduced in 2009 to close a loophole in immigration law that discriminated against homosexuals. As Sarah Posner documents at Religion Dispatches, this provision has become more controversial as the democrats have reached out to religious organizations to help in their fight for immigration reform.
Bloggingheads.tv has recently put up two “diavlogs” on issues related to religion and sexuality.
In the latest issue of Studies in Social Justice, an open-access e-journal, Ada S. Jaarsma addresses the “post-secular turn” in feminism with regard to the question of same-sex marriage.
Mike Huckabee just might be Jon Stewart’s favorite conservative Christian politician. Back in December of 2008, Huckabee and Stewart had a lively yet civil debate about gay marriage. Last June they sparred on abortion. Last night Huckabee made yet another Daily Show appearance. Once again, television’s odd couple had an amicable, funny, and productive conversation.
How did the same people who elected Barack Obama President last Tuesday vote to pass Proposition 8 in California, the state ballot measure to ban same-sex marriage? My liberal friends in Massachusetts and across the country are organizing protests and hanging their heads. “We expected more from California,” they mutter under their breath.
Following the recent California Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, National Public Radio offered a report on “the coming storm” between two “titanic” legal principles: “equal treatment for same-sex couples” and “the freedom to exercise religious beliefs.” The report gave several examples of this “collision,” which opponents cite as proof that same-sex marriage is a threat to religious liberty. The idea of an impending collision may overstate the intensity of impending legal conflicts. Still, the current portrayal of this conflict does foreground the complex relationship of marriage, religion, and the state to promote one form of marriage (white, heterosexual, monogamous).
There are many important implications to the California marriage ruling, but my particular concern is with the implications of this decision in terms of the function of marriage in a neo-liberal context. Having spent a couple of years doing ethnographic work with marriage equality activists and analyzing state court decisions, legislative hearings, and policy briefs regarding same-sex marriage, I have amassed a great deal of evidence to confidently argue that the constitutional “freedom to marry” is a neo-liberal wolf in culturally progressive sheep’s clothing. Before you write this off as a party-pooping, Debbie Downer rant by some over-educated queer who is never really satisfied with small steps toward intimate freedom, I urge you to keep reading so you can find answers to the following questions.
The recent California court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage has elicited a new round of warnings about the threats to “traditional” marriage. Marriage, say foes of the ruling, has always been a union of one man and one woman, with procreation as its central purpose. Compelling either church or state to accept the validity of same-sex unions would force these institutions, in defiance of tradition, to condone marriages of which they disapprove. But these arguments rest on a misunderstanding of the unique legal and religious history of Western marriage.
Democratic citizens cannot determine in advance of actual public deliberation the reasons upon which their political decisions ought to be based. In order to be legitimate, their decisions ought to be based on those reasons that have survived the scrutiny of political deliberation in the public sphere.