Nussbaum on Same-Sex Marriage and Con Law

A Right to Marry? Same-sex Marriage and Constitutional Law
Martha C. Nussbaum
Dissent
June 30, 2009

Marriage is both ubiquitous and central. All across our country, in every region, every social class, every race and ethnicity, every religion or non-religion, people get married. For many if not most people, moreover, marriage is not a trivial matter. It is a key to the pursuit of happiness, something people aspire to—and keep aspiring to, again and again, even when their experience has been far from happy. To be told “You cannot get married” is thus to be excluded from one of the defining rituals of the American life cycle.

The keys to the kingdom of the married might have been held only by private citizens—religious bodies and their leaders, families, other parts of civil society. So it has been in many societies throughout history. In the United States, however, as in most modern nations, government holds those keys. Even if people have been married by their church or religious group, they are not married in the sense that really counts for social and political purposes unless they have been granted a marriage license by the state. Unlike private actors, however, the state doesn’t have complete freedom to decide who may and may not marry. The state’s involvement raises fundamental issues about equality of political and civic standing.

Same-sex marriage is currently one of the most divisive political issues in our nation. In November 2008, Californians passed Proposition 8, a referendum that removed the right to marry from same-sex couples who had been granted that right by the courts. This result has been seen by the same-sex community as deeply degrading. More recently, Iowa and Vermont have legalized same-sex marriage, the former through judicial interpretation of the state constitution, the latter through legislation. Analyzing this issue will help us understand what is happening in our country, and where we might go from here.

Read the rest of the article at Dissent Magazine's website.

Faculty: 
Martha Nussbaum

Comments

Manyok Mabiei (Opinion and Right of Individual Under the Law)

It was an amazing and interesting about how our country is currently divided. I believe that it is bad ideology if we allow it to cloud our judgment and divide us into fractionalized groups, while weakening us all as a nation in result. I believe we people of this great nation, in order to form a perfect union under one law, without dividing ourselves, should live as a peaceful nation without such tenuous doubt of mind. I do believe we are in a peaceful nation now, for the most part, but there is a lot of changing that has come along as a result of the divisions we’ve created amongst ourselves. Martha Nussbaum, I came across and I like the way you describes same sex marriage as being respectful of individual rights, while some people really don’t like the idea, and some very strongly do. Social conservative generally believes that the two genders need to stay together and bring up the children together as one family, with love and support as one family. In my humble opinion, we were created as two genders, woman and man, to join in marriage to each other and stay together as one, preserving that bond as a sacred union. An important truth to take into consideration is that it requires the two opposing genders, man and woman, in order to procreate and produce children. But same sex marriage is claimed by social liberalism to share same values and same obligations. Admittedly however, I do think it may be the right choice for individuals of same sex to marry, but one has to peel back the strong political ideologies that mire this important issue in order to finally arrive at such an opinion. This conclusion was not an easy one for me to arrive at, and took considerable thought and honest contemplation to finally get to. I would say the same sex could marry, if they believe in the concept and desire to live together and revere each other appropriately as their wedded partner as any other type of marriage is expected to do, and with a mutual respect. I also believe that the Bill of Rights in our nation, and the Fourth Amendment, tell us the right of the people in this nation should be respected. So, why can we not allow or permit the consenting adult individual to desire and pursue what they personally choose in this free society. The only thing I couldn’t support is something that will harm others or take life away from another, and same sex marriage simply does not fall within this category. I am absolutely committed to supporting every individual’s right to do what they want in our nation, as long as it does not harm or impede others in their personal safety or ability to pursue their individual choices. Same sex marriage, in my opinion, falls squarely within these parameters. It is also my truehearted conviction that as a community of laws, it is our responsibility to look honestly and unabashedly into same sex claims and their related inquiries, and to share our expertise of what we learn as one nation, united. There is nothing immoral to fret about over an adult individual’s right to make their own choices in this nation. Manyok Mabiei University of Illinois

I strongly disagree on the

I strongly disagree on the same sex marriage since it violated the traditional marriage. As a result, marriage is between a man and a woman thus nothing called a same sex marriage which created immorality in our society.

Ayuen B. Mum, Senior Business Administration student at the University of Illinois.