An Argument for Same-Sex Marriage

Religious Freedom, Sexual Freedom, and Public Expressions of Civic Equality

Emily R. Gill

"This smoothly written work does an extraordinary job of presenting a breadth of previous normative arguments for and against same-sex marriage and then placing its arguments in the context of existing literature on the subject."
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The relationship between religious belief and sexuality as personal attributes exhibits some provocative comparisons. Despite the nonestablishment of religion in the United States and the constitutional guarantee of free exercise, Christianity functions as the religious and moral standard in America. Ethical views that do not fit within this consensus often go unrecognized as moral values. Similarly, in the realm of sexual orientation, heterosexuality is seen as the yardstick by which sexual practices are measured. The notion that "alternative" sexual practices like homosexuality could possess ethical significance is often overlooked or ignored.

In her new book, An Argument for Same-Sex Marriage, political scientist Emily Gill draws an extended comparison between religious belief and sexuality, both central components of one’s personal identity. Using the religion clause of the First Amendment as a foundation, Gill contends that, just as US law and policy ensure that citizens may express religious beliefs as they see fit, it should also ensure that citizens may marry as they see fit. Civil marriage, according to Gill, is a public institution, and the exclusion of some couples from a state institution is a public expression of civic inequality.

An Argument for Same-Sex Marriage is a passionate and timely treatment of the various arguments for and against same-sex marriage and how those arguments reflect our collective sense of morality and civic equality. It will appeal to readers who have an interest in gay and lesbian studies, political theory, constitutional law, and the role of religion in the contemporary United States.

Table of Contents


1. Religion and Sexuality: Setting the Stage

2. The Impossibility of Neutrality

3. Same-Sex Marriage: Social Facts and Conflicting Views

4. Religious Establishment and the Endorsement Test

5. Free Exercise and the Right to Conscience

6. Establishment and Free Exercise: Who Should Be Outsiders?



"This book has a broad potential audience, due to its subject matter and the wide range of subtopics that Gill touches on under the rubric of advocating for same-sex marriage. For political philosophers, her reliance on John Stuart Mill’s ‘On Liberty’ will prove rewarding. For those more concerned with the contemporary cultural climate, her concluding chapter highlighting the culture wars will be particularly apt. Gill’s close reading of Supreme Court decisions such as Thomas v. Review Board and Romer v. Evans will intrigue legal scholars. And for the general reader energized by the recent rulings in Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor, Gill offers a clear, succinct, and reasoned argument in support of same-sex marriage."—Political Science Quarterly

"This smoothly written work does an extraordinary job of presenting a breadth of previous normative arguments for and against same-sex marriage and then placing its arguments in the context of existing literature on the subject."—Choice

"Emily R. Gill offers all Americans an object lesson in constitutional essentials, teaching us something fundamental about the relationship between religion and the law. Through a detailed, searing analysis of the conceptual and practical issues in play in the debate over same-sex marriage and civic equality, readers’ comprehension of the demands of justice in a liberal-democratic society will be markedly enhanced and they will be convinced that the only legitimate outcome is civil recognition of same-sex marriage."—Gordon A. Babst, associate professor of political science, Chapman University, and author of Liberal Constitutionalism, Marriage, and Sexual Orientation

"This book is a thoughtful and thought-provoking look at one of the more contentious social issues of our time. Readers on either side of this issue will find their views treated with sensitivity and respect. While Gill’s position will not please everyone, it is the fruit of deep thinking on the theories and practices that undergird our institutions. I learned a great deal from this book and recommend it to anyone interested in the intersections of religion, culture, sexuality, and politics."—Andrew Murphy, associate professor of political science, director Walt Whitman Center for the Culture and Politics of Democracy, Rutgers University

"[This] brilliant and sane book reminds us that the religion clauses of the First Amendment were the most radical and profound contribution of our founders to understanding and giving effect to the enduring values of our political liberalism. This book is a major contribution both to liberal political theory and constitutional law, and shows how the contemporary struggle for gay rights, including marriage equality, is at the very heart of the birthright of all Americans, our democratic constitutionalism, protecting, as it does, the basic human rights of all Americans."—David A.J. Richards, Edwin D. Webb Professor of Law, New York University


Supplemental Materials


Winner of the 2013 Gladys M. Kammerer Award of the American Political Science Association. The 2014 Notable Publication of the Bradley University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

About the Author

Emily R. Gill is Caterpillar Professor of Political Science at Bradley University. She is the author of Becoming Free: Autonomy and Diversity in the Liberal Polity and coeditor of Moral Argument, Religion, and Same-Sex Marriage: Advancing the Public Good.

288 pp., 6 x 9

Aug 2012

288 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-1-58901-920-1
Aug 2012

288 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-58901-921-8
Aug 2012

Religion and Politics series
John C. Green, Ted G. Jelen, and Mark J. Rozell, series editors

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