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A Commentary on the Old Saw that Same-Sex Marriage Threatens Civilization

15 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2010  

Ronald L. Steiner

Chapman University, The Dale E. Fowler School of Law

Date Written: March 2, 2009

Abstract

Discussions of same-sex marriage frequently entertain the notion that civilization is somehow at stake were a society to award legal sanction to it, and to gay rights more generally. Typically, those who express concern for negative civilizational consequences have in mind Western civilization, and more specifically Christian civilization. This civilizational concern will often be amplified by the implication that opposite-sex, or opposite-sex monogamous marriage is a timeless human universal. Any other marital regime is presumed to be an aberration, most likely the result of grave moral depravity of a sort supposedly facilitated by the modern rights-based society. This chapter subjects these civilizational concerns to empirically review and provides counterexamples to any claims regarding hegemonic and universal norms against same-sex relationships and homosexuality more generally. In light of that empirical survey, the chapter suggests that western civilization, and modern liberal-democracies in particular, are realizing their core moral and political values of equality and respect for the dignity of each individual human being when they extend legal recognition to same-sex couples, rather than reject or denounce their claims to full inclusion.

Keywords: same sex marriage, marriage, identity, gender, gay, lesbian, homosexual, gay and lesbian rights, sexuality and the law

Suggested Citation

Steiner, Ronald L., A Commentary on the Old Saw that Same-Sex Marriage Threatens Civilization (March 2, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1703166 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1703166

Ronald L. Steiner (Contact Author)

Chapman University, The Dale E. Fowler School of Law ( email )

One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866-1099
United States
(714)628-7356 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.chapman.edu/our-faculty/ronald-steiner

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