While affirmative action programs exist for a number of groups, little serious consideration has been given to the establishment of such programs for gay men and lesbians. This essay argues that many of the conditions that justify current affirmative action programs would also justify their extension to gay people, both in terms of compensation for injuries suffered and in terms of benefit to both individuals and society generally. It is argued that anti-discrimination policies are hard to enforce and, in any (...) case, would be inadequate to redress many of the wrongs suffered by gays and lesbians. It is concluded that programs favoring gay visibility are morally justified. (shrink)
In his book Homosexuality, Michael Ruse argues that the state does not have any obligation to provide affirmative action benefits for gay people (beyond the obligation to have anti-discrimination laws). I believe that Ruse's stated reasons do not justify this conclusion. I also believe that the conception of affirmative action he deals with is far too narrow to guarantee that if there is no obligation to provide affirmative action benefits (on that narrow conception) then there is no obligation to provide (...) positive benefits not provided to all (the wider conception of affirmative action). Moreover, I think the attempt to use the narrower, rather than the wider, conception in this case indicates a considerably less than complete sensitivity to the plight of gay people in the context of present day Western societies. In this article I attempt to justify these beliefs. (shrink)
This paper explores conservative Christian demands that religious-based objections to providing services to lesbians and gay men should be accommodated by employers and public bodies. Focusing on a series of court judgments, alongside commentators’ critical accounts, the paper explores the dominant interpretation of the conflict as one involving two groups with deeply held, competing interests, and suggests this interpretation can be understood through a social property framework. The paper explores how religious beliefs and sexual orientation are attachments whose power has (...) been unsettled by equality law. But entangled with this property is another—that held in workers’ labour and public bodies’ resources. Arguing against the drive to balance competing interests, the paper uses social property to illuminate the agonistic character of the stakes. At the same time, it questions property as a normative framework for sexual orientation and religious beliefs. (shrink)
Recognizing that GLBTI individuals are often barred from visiting their partners in hospitals or from acting as health care surrogates for incapacitated partners, President Obama directed the Department of Health and Human Services to address these issues. In response, the department amended its rules to prohibit hospitals from restricting, limiting, or denying visitation privileges on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. But the changes do not affect the designation of a health care surrogate, a matter largely governed by (...) state law. Therefore, subject to state law, same-sex partners can still be legally barred from making health care decisions for their incapacitated partners, and it remains essential that they execute advance directives and appoint one another as their health care proxies. (shrink)
In the United States and Europe, an increasing emphasis on equality has pitted rights claims against each other, raising profound philosophical, moral, legal, and political questions about the meaning and reach of religious liberty. Nowhere has this conflict been more salient than in the debate between claims of religious freedom, on one hand, and equal rights claims made on the behalf of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, on the other. As new rights for (...) LGBT individuals have expanded in liberal democracies across the West, longstanding rights of religious freedom -- such as the rights of religious communities to adhere to their fundamental teachings, including protecting the rights of conscience; the rights of parents to impart their religious beliefs to their children; and the liberty to advance religiously-based moral arguments as a rationale for laws -- have suffered a corresponding decline. Timothy Samuel Shah, Thomas F. Farr, and Jack Friedman's volume, Religious Freedom and Gay Rights brings together some of the world's leading thinkers on religion, morality, politics, and law to analyze the emerging tensions between religious freedom and gay rights in three key geographic regions: the United States, the United Kingdom, and continental Europe. What implications will expanding regimes of equality rights for LGBT individuals have on religious freedom in these regions? What are the legal and moral frameworks that govern tensions between gay rights and religious freedom? How are these tensions illustrated in particular legal, political, and policy controversies? And what is the proper way to balance new claims of equality against existing claims for freedom of religious groups and individuals? Religious Freedom and Gay Rights offers several explorations of these questions. (shrink)
Chris Meyers takes the reader on a careful, rational, sustained criticism of arguments about the immorality of homosexuality. Meyers refutes anti-gay arguments by showing that they are based on unreasonable or demonstrably false ideas about the nature of morality. Working through the morality arguments against homosexuality, Meyers shows how the nature of morality demands impartial, overriding reasons to act, and that it is not grounded in visceral feelings of disgust, commands from the scriptures, or mysterious Platonic essences. In clear, convincing (...) discussion, Meyers examines morality to promote the moral logic of granting rights to all people, no matter their sexual orientation. (shrink)
This paper defends a legal and political conception of sexual relations grounded in Kant’s Doctrine of Right. First, I argue that only a lack of consent can make a sexual deed wrong in the legal sense. Second, I demonstrate why all other legal constraints on sexual practices in a just society are legal constraints on seemingly unrelated public institutions. I explain the way in which the just state acts as a civil guardian for domestic relations and as a civil guarantor (...) for private property and contract relations—and thereby enables the existence of legally enforceable claims. Throughout the aim is to demonstrate that Kant’s relational conception of justice entails that legally enforceable claims regarding sexual deeds are fully justifiable only insofar as they are determined and enforced by a public authority that we may refer to as a liberal democratic welfare state. (shrink)
In this book, Chris Meyers takes the reader on a careful, rational, sustained criticism of arguments about the immorality of homosexuality. Meyers refutes anti-gay arguments by showing that they are based on unreasonable or demonstrably false ideas about the nature of morality.
Richard Mohr emphasizes the importance of dispelling false beliefs about lesbians and gay men, and establishing legislation that protects the rights of sexual minorities. He argues that homophobic policies originate in the belief that gay men and lesbians are categorically less morally valuable than others, rather than deserving of unequal treatment because of their behaviors or actions. In response, I show that homophobic panic over lesbian or gay sex acts is actually quite influential, and argue that Mohr fails to (...) take account of the political and philosophical significance of sexual freedom, and the inextricability of sexual being and sexual doing. (shrink)
Despite a paucity of psychological research exploring the interface between lesbian and gay issues and human rights, a human rights framework has been widely adopted in debates to gain equality for lesbians and gay men. Given this prominence within political discourse of human rights as a framework for the promotion of positive social change for lesbians and gay men, the aim of this study was to explore the extent to which rights?based arguments are employed when talking (...) about lesbian and gay issues in a social context. An analysis of six focus group discussions with students showed that when lesbian and gay issues are discussed, rights?based reasoning is employed intermittently, and in relation to certain issues more so than others. The implications of these findings for moral education aimed at promoting positive social change for lesbians and gay men are discussed. (shrink)
This case note discusses the case of Baczkowski v. Poland in the European Court of Human Rights. The Court ruled that, where an elected mayor makes comments disapproving of homosexuality, and officials subsequently ban a Gay Pride march, then courts may be able to infer that the ban was discriminatory under Article 14 ECHR.
: Gay marriage highlights a contradiction in American national identity: if gay marriage is supported, the normative status of the heterosexual nuclear family is undermined, while if not, the civil rights of homosexuals are undermined. This essay discusses the feminist dilemma of whether to support gay marriage to promote these individual civil rights or whether to critique marriage as a part of the patriarchal system that oppresses women.
Gay marriage highlights a contradiction in American national identity: if gay marriage is supported, the normative status of the heterosexual nuclear family is undermined, while if not, the civil rights of homosexuals are undermined. This essay discusses the feminist dilemma of whether to support gay marriage to promote these individual civil rights or whether to critique marriage as a part of the patriarchal system that oppresses women.
This article deals with the issue of resignification to advance a hypothesis on the way in which social practices are transformed with recourse to the language of institutions. It first discusses the transition from gay liberation to same-sex marriage equality by exploring the trajectory of homosexuals’ rights claims. The article continues by providing a theoretical interpretation of what brought this shift about, that is, what the author calls a movement ‘from the street to the court’: in both civil law (...) and common law jurisdictions, legal means are increasingly being used by individuals and groups to make their claims audible to political institutions and to society at large. Then, an analysis is offered of the shape that social struggles take when socio-political claims are articulated with recourse to the legal language. The conclusion is that reliance on the law as a device to achieve political goals and construct same-sex group identity risks producing but a feeble resignification of the conventional heterosexual matrix. In light of that, a more effective way to defy this matrix is to create awareness of what is gained and what gets lost in becoming legally visible. (shrink)
: Although the exclusion of LGBTs from the rites and rights of marriage is arbitrary and unjust, the legal institution of marriage is itself so riddled with injustice that it would be better to create alternative forms of durable intimate partnership that do not invoke the power of the state. Card's essay develops a case for this position, taking up an injustice sufficiently serious to constitute an evil: the sheltering of domestic violence.
Although the exclusion of LGBTs from the rites and rights of marriage is arbitrary and unjust, the legal institution of marriage is itself so riddled with injustice that it would be better to create alternative forms of durable intimate partnership that do not invoke the power of the state. Card's essay develops a case for this position, taking up an injustice sufficiently serious to constitute an evil: the sheltering of domestic violence.
Some commentators indirectly challenge the ethics of using synthetic gametes as a way for same-sex couples to have children with shared genetics. These commentators typically impose a moral burden of proof on same-sex couples they do not impose on opposite-sex couples in terms of their eligibility to have children. Other commentators directly raise objections to parenthood by same-sex couples on the grounds that it compromises the rights and/or welfare of children. Ironically, the prospect of synthetic gametes neutralises certain of (...) these objections, insofar as they would ensure that children have parents whom they can know as their genetic parents, which outcome is not always possible when same-sex couples involve third parties as the source of gametes or embryos. Not all commentators in bioethics throw the use of synthetic gametes into doubt as far as same-sex couples are concerned, but even these commentators put parenting by gay men and lesbians at the conclusion of an argument rather than presupposing parental legitimacy from the outset. Synthetic gametes do raise questions of ethics in regard to parenthood for gay men and lesbians, but these are largely questions of access and equity, not questions of parental fitness and/or child welfare. (shrink)
This pioneering new book suggests how different traditions of sociological thought can contribute to an understanding of the theory and practice of rights. Rights: Sociological Perspectives provides a sociological treatment of a wide range of substantive issues but without losing sight of key theoretical questions. It considers some varied cases of public intervention, including welfare, caring, mental health provisions, pensions, justice and free speech, alongside the rights issues they raise. Similarly, it examines the question of rights (...) from the point of view of distinctive population groups, such as prisoners and victims, women, ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples, and lesbians and gays. It also contains two specifically theoretical chapters, which provide a critical overview of the existing approaches to the construction and implementation of rights. Rights: Sociological Perspectives offers a diverse and detailed exploration of the contribution sociological thought can make to this increasingly important aspect of social life and will be an invaluable aid to students. (shrink)
This article investigates the often cited and dismissed, but rarely examined, relationship between legalizing same-sex marriage and polygamy. Employing a comparative historical analysis of U.S. and South African jurisprudence, ideology, and cultural politics, we examine efforts to expand, restrict, and regulate the gender and number of legally recognized conjugal bonds. South African family jurisprudence grants legal recognition to both same-sex marriage and polygyny, while the United States prohibits and resists both. However, social and material conditions make it easier to practice (...) family diversity in the U.S. than in South Africa. Our analysis of the very different histories of polygamy and same-sex marriage in the two societies suggests the centrality of racial politics to marriage regimes, yielding paradoxical narratives about the implications of legal same-sex marriage for the future of polygamy and sexual democracy. If there is a slippery marital slope, we argue, it does not tilt in a singular or expected direction. (shrink)