Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy
Obergefell v. Hodges, same-sex marriage, LGBTQ, religion, morality, Judaism, Old Testament, Torah, Bible
In Obergefell v. Hodges, 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 to 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 debate.
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 the City of Sodom (after which the dreadful term "sodomy" was coined), and the Levitical prohibition on same-sex intimacy. All three have reached near-axiomatic level over the years.
This Article, however, offers a fresh look into these axioms, questioning their very validity. 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.
Religious objections to same-sex marriage are not merely academic. They have inflicted tremendous injury on members of the LGBTQ community. It is time to put those behind. The "open and searching debate" the Court has called for should instruct us all to move towards a more just, fair, and open society.
Kalir, Doron M., "Rethinking Religious Objections (Old-Testament Based) to Same-Sex Marriage" (2019). Law Faculty Articles and Essays. 987.