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The Gay Rights Question in Contemporary American Law$
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Andrew Koppelman

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780226451008

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226451039.001.0001

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Why Discriminate?

Why Discriminate?

(p.72) Chapter Four Why Discriminate?
The Gay Rights Question in Contemporary American Law
University of Chicago Press

This chapter discusses the moral arguments that have been offered for and against unequal treatment of gays. The importance of the idea that marriage is inherently heterosexual was recently shown dramatically in a series of cases in which state courts attempted to mandate legal recognition of same-sex couples. In Hawaii and Alaska, judicial decisions that seemed likely to require recognition of same-sex marriages prompted amendments to those states' constitutions that passed by overwhelming margins. In Vermont, however, a decision that offered gays exactly the same benefits, but not the honorific “marriage,” not only did not produce any such amendment but was met with prompt cooperation by the state legislature. Evidently, many Americans share the intuition that marriage is inherently heterosexual, and that intuition plays a powerful role in determining the changing legal status of gays.

Keywords:   same-sex couples, legal recognition, legal status, gays, state courts, same-sex marriage

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