Theme Panel: Transforming Marriage and Religion in American Political Thought


Theme Panel: Transforming Marriage and Religion in American Political Thought

Fri, September 2, 10:00 to 11:30am

One of the most significant political, social, and ideational transformations in America in recent decades is the legal establishment, and fairly wide social acceptance, of a new definition of marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) clearly marks one of the big transformations of our time, per the Theme Statement for the 2016 APSA Program. This panel encompasses three papers and two respondents who hold diverse views about what the transformation means in itself; and, about what the political, social, and legal struggles are that might ensue. These questions include the significance of the transformation’s enactment by a sharply divided Supreme Court, as the culmination of a legal campaign in state and federal courts to mandate change as a question of fundamental constitutional rights. The initial legal, political, and social reactions to Obergefell suggest that it will not be as controversial or perpetually contested as the Roe v. Wade (1973) ruling on abortion; however, debates and legal actions already are under way regarding polygamy and polyamory claims, so, it might be early days. Moreover, the question of what this marriage transformation means for religious liberty is already being sharply debated. That issue was raised by the Obergefell dissenters, and those civil society institutions that claim a fundamental religious objection to participating in or recognizing the new conception of marriage wonder whether the legal and institutional landscapes, and the social and/or normative landscapes, will be so strongly altered by the legal change that their claimed constitutional rights will be demoted, or transformed. Alternately, defenders of the transformation argue that claims of protected religious status on this issue would violate or transform accepted principles of separation of church and state, by establishing particular religious beliefs. The panel features papers by the prominent authors of recent books (Anderson and Macedo) who substantially disagree on answers to these and other significant questions, and a paper by a distinguished professor of constitutional law and American political thought (Baber). The two respondents (Hall, Stoner) are professors who have published on these questions and closely related issues, and they, too, were chosen to ensure a panel encompassing divergent views on this range of questions. The aim is to foster a civil, serious, but candid debate about the contending definitions of what this marriage transformation is or means, and what it portends or could produce regarding views of law, liberty, equality, religion, and politics in American political thought.

View in the 2016 Online Program.

Paul Carrese, U.S. Air Force Academy

Lauren Hall, Rochester Institute of Technology
James R. Stoner, Louisiana State University

The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom after Obergefell
Ryan T. Anderson
Obergefell, Public Reason, & Anti-gay Pride
Sotirios A. Barber, University of Notre Dame
Just Married: Same-Sex Couples, Monogamy, and the Future of Marriage
Stephen Macedo, Princeton University