Same-Sex Marriage: The Moral and Legal Debate

Overview

On May 17, 2004, Massachusetts began performing marriages of same-sex couples. That state's Supreme Judicial Court had ruled in Goodridge v. Massachusetts Department of Public Health that "barring an individual from the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex violates the Massachusetts Constitution." Fearing that courts in other states would follow suit, President George W. Bush called for a federal constitutional amendment defining ...
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Overview

On May 17, 2004, Massachusetts began performing marriages of same-sex couples. That state's Supreme Judicial Court had ruled in Goodridge v. Massachusetts Department of Public Health that "barring an individual from the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex violates the Massachusetts Constitution." Fearing that courts in other states would follow suit, President George W. Bush called for a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. More than a decade ago, the Hawaii Supreme Court came to a decision similar to Goodridge in Baehr v. Lewin, which prompted the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act.

The issue of same-sex marriage has attracted the attention of the nation and has become one of the most heated social controversies. This completely revised and updated second edition of Same-Sex Marriage presents a balanced selection of the latest, the most diverse, and the most clearly argued positions advocated by academics, politicians, journalists, attorneys, judges, and activists. Divided into three sections, the first section covers the Massachusetts decision and reactions to it. Section 2 explores the emotional dimensions of the debate. Section 3 examines the philosophical arguments for and against officially sanctioning same-sex marriage.

Should government sanction gay marriages? Same-Sex Marriage offers a balanced group of essays by those involved in the struggle, as well as social commentators, scholars, and others who have addressed what could be one of the most significant debates in history. 250 pp. Buyer's Choice

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Although it is clear from his introduction that Sullivan (Virtually Normal: An Argument About Homosexuality), a senior editor at the New Republic, is in favor of same-sex marriage, he presents here an astonishing variety of readingsfrom the Bible and legal decisions to Hannah Arendt, James Q. Wilson, Katha Pollitt, William Safire, Montaigne and Platothat offer points of view on both sides of the argument. Of particular interest is the chapter on same-sex marriage throughout history, which makes it apparent that bonds between homosexuals that were similar to marriage were accepted in many cultures: unions between women and unions between men existed in traditional Chinese society; upper-class women could take girls as wives in parts of Africa; and marriage, or "making of a brother," ceremonies occurred between men in medieval Europe. The author believes that homosexual marriage can be discussed on many levels, and thus he includes statements from religious and political figures, conservatives, liberals, legal scholars and, of course, gay men and lesbians. Sullivan argues that societal acceptance of same-sex marriage would mean complete equality for homosexuals. This impartial anthology will encourage debate on all aspects of the topic. Author tour. (Apr.) FYI: Some of these writers (Sullivan, Safire, Richard Posner) appear in a more academic collection, Same-Sex Marriage: The Moral and Legal Debate, edited by Robert M. Baird and Stuart E. Rosenbaum (Prometheus, $16.95 paper, 242p ISBN 1-57392-129-7, Apr.)
Library Journal
Late last year, the Hawaiian circuit court ruled that the state had no compelling justification for denying gay and lesbian couples the right to wed. The decision opened up what may be the social debate of the decade, and these two titles help to bring the arguments into sharper focus. Same-Sex Marriage, Pro and Con begins with an historically enlightening essay by Sullivan, fomer New Republic editor, whose book on gays and the gay rights movement (Virtually Normal, LJ 9/15/95) shot one of the first broadsides about the same-sex marriage issue. Sullivan explains how this latest "assault" on family values is simply the latest in an ongoing evolution of the marriage institution, from ancient real estate deals to the present-day spiritual bonding of intimates. Other essayists discuss the various arguments from historic, religious, legal, and public-policy points of view. From Plato to Ann Landers, society's experts and pundits, academics and politicians present their views. By contrast, Same-Sex Marriage: The Moral and Legal Debate is authored mainly by professors and journalists, giving this title a drier, more academic tone. Oddly, the book also exhibits more polar oppositions and extremist views on the subject. The focus strays somewhat from the marriage theme and includes articles on counseling same-sex couples and even making the case for discrimination based on sexual orientation itself. For smaller collections that may need only one title on the subject, Sullivan's work is by far the better choice, given the depth and breadth of its coverage. Academic and larger libraries will probably want both titles.Jeffery Ingram, Newport P.L., Ore.
Charles Yarborough
[A] fascinating new book. Same Sex Marriage provides a generous selection of impassioned, philosophical and technical essays, and does so with great evenhandedness...This is one book you won't want to pass by. After all, as contributor Ed Fallon writes, same-sex marriage is "the defining civil rights issue of the decade."
Alternative Family
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591022749
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 1
  • Product dimensions: 5.39 (w) x 8.34 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert M. Baird (Waco, TX) is a professor and chair of the Philosophy Department at Baylor University.

Stuart E. Rosenbaum is a professor of philosophy and director of graduate studies in philosophy at Baylor University. He is the editor of Pragmatism and Religion.

Together Baird and Rosenbaum edit the Contemporary Issues Series.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 9
Pt. 1 The Defense of Marriage Act
1 The Text 17
2 The Hon. Henry A. Waxman: In Opposition 19
3 The Hon. Jesse Helms: In Support 21
Pt. 2 The Emotional Dimensions of the Debate
4 A (Personal) Essay on Same-Sex Marriage 27
5 Adam and Eve, Not Adam and Henry 30
6 A Lesbian Family 32
7 I Left My Husband for the Woman I Love 37
8 Marriage from God, Not Courts 42
9 Counseling Same-Sex Couples 44
Pt. 3 The Philosophical Arguments
10 The Morality of Homosexual Marriage 57
11 Is It Wrong to Discriminate on the Basis of Homosexuality? 72
12 The Case for Gay Marriage 84
13 The Stakes in the Gay-Marriage Wars 105
14 How Domestic Partnerships and "Gay Marriage" Threaten the Family 108
15 Marriage's True Ends 122
16 Virtually Normal 126
17 The Marrying Kind 132
18 Against Homosexual Marriage 137
19 Bless the Tie That Binds: A Puritan-Covenant Case for Same-Sex Marriage 146
20 Since When Is Marriage a Path to Liberation? 164
21 Gay Marriage 169
22 Time Has Come to Make a Case for Polyandry 180
23 I Have Anguished 182
24 Relations between Consenting Adults: Sodomy Laws and Homosexual Marriage 186
25 Making the Family Functional: The Case for Same-Sex Marriage 192
Pt. 4 The Hawaii Case
26 Baehr v. Lewin: An Edited Version of the 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court Decision 205
27 Report of the Hawaii Commission on Sexual Orientation and the Law, Including the Minority Report and the Majority Response 211
28 Baehr v. Lewin: A Step in the Right Direction for Gay Rights 227
29 Hawaiian Aye: Nearing the Altar on Gay Marriage 236
List of Contributors 241
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