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Volume 30 • Number 4

October 2016



Political Liberalism, State Neutrality, and Same-Sex Marriage

by Eric Reitan

Several opponents of state-conferred same-sex marriage (hereafter SSM) have argued that key tenets of political liberalism, a perspective typically thought to support SSM, actually offer a reason to prohibit it. An early argument for this view, advanced by Jeff Jordan, invokes the ideal of state neutrality with respect to public moral dilemmas, holding that such neutrality is best preserved when the state permits private consensual homosexual behavior but withholds SSM. More recently, Francis Beckwith has argued that legalizing SSM would, at least granted current legal and judicial realities, result in state-sponsored coercion and marginalization of SSM opponents, including those opponents whose position is grounded in a reasonable comprehensive conception of the good. Since political liberalism can justify such coercion and marginalization only by public standards of rationality that according to Beckwith, donít exist in the present case, he concludes that political liberalism offers reason to oppose SSM.

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ISSN: 2152-0542