Rethinking Religious Objections (Old-Testament Based) to Same-Sex Marriage

47 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2018

See all articles by Doron M. Kalir

Doron M. Kalir

Cleveland State University, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law

Date Written: June 6, 2018


In Obergefell, the Supreme Court closed the door on one issue only to open the floodgates to another. While recognizing a constitutional right for same-sex marriage, the Court also legitimized religious objections for such unions, practically inviting complex legal challenges to its doors. In doing so, the Court also called for an “open and searching debate” on the issue. This Article seeks to trigger such a debate. Indeed, for millennia objections to same-sex marriage were cast in religious and moral terms. The Jewish Bible (“Old Testament”), conventional wisdom argues, provided three demonstrable proofs of the Bible’s abhorrence of same-sex intimacy: Genesis’ Story of Creation, the tale of City of Sodom (after which the dreadful term “sodomy” was coined), and the Levitical prohibition on same-sex intimacy. All three have gained a near-axiomatic status over the years.

This Article posits, however, that these axioms merit a fresh look. The conventional interpretation, it argues, fails to read the text in its proper context. It also fails to acknowledge the basic premise – the three “organizing principles – on which the entire Jewish Bible is founded. Accordingly, a new, narrower and more congruent interpretation is offered, which properly recognizes the dignity, equality, and empathy of the original text.

The damage caused by religious objections to the LGBT community is unfathomable. It is time to put these conventions behind. The “open and searching debate” the Court has called for should be short and precise. It is time to move on towards a more just, fair, and open society.

Keywords: Same-Sex Marriage, Religious Objections, Old Testament, LGBT Rights, Statutory Interpretation, Obergefell

Suggested Citation

Kalir, Doron M., Rethinking Religious Objections (Old-Testament Based) to Same-Sex Marriage (June 6, 2018). Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy, Vol. 33, 2018, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Doron M. Kalir (Contact Author)

Cleveland State University, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law ( email )

2121 Euclid Avenue, LB 138
Cleveland, OH 44115-2214
United States

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