A Georgetown University professor who advocates same-sex marriage and has compared supporters of traditional marriage to racists will teach a course this fall called “Law, Ethics, and Politics: The Case of Marriage.”
Michael Kessler, associate director of Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and visiting assistant professor of government, wrote in 2009 on the Washington Post’s On Faith blog about same-sex marriage, “we… cannot tolerate limiting access to legal protection or enjoyment of rights because a traditional minority (or even a tyrannical majority) thinks that some group is acting against God's will.”
Kessler then compared traditional marriage supporters to racists. “Substitute the words ‘racial integration’ in for ‘gay marriage’ or ‘same sex marriage,’” he wrote. “This exposes the thorny issue for religious exemptions. …I am not convinced that those who call for religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws have differentiated themselves from the parallels to racial discrimination.”
The syllabus for Kessler’s marriage class, which he also taught in fall 2012, suggests five books for purchase in addition to a variety of other readings on same-sex marriage, pro and con. Of the five suggested books, four attack traditional marriage. One is dissident theologian Sister Margaret Farley’s book Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, which was condemned by the Vatican last summer as “not in conformity with Church teaching on sexual ethics.”
Also included is Stephanie Coontz’s book Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy or How Love Conquered Marriage, which was described in National Review as giving only “superficial treatment to Christian teaching on sex, marriage,and family;” Public Vows by Harvard historian Nancy Cott, who according to the Harvard Crimson not only advocates same-sex marriage but actually testified against traditional marriage in the Proposition 8 court case; and George Chauncey’s pro-same-sex marriage book, Why Marriage: The History Shaping Today's Debate Over Gay Equality.
The course description on Georgetown’s website states:
The meaning of marriage is hotly contested today. Does the state have a role in supporting particular goals for marriage (is marriage about contractual assurances or companionship or social stability or procreation or something else?). Can the state legitimately exclude some types of relationships from the status of marriage? Do "civil unions" provide an acceptable alternative to marriage for same-sex couples? On what grounds are other modes of relationships excluded from "marriage" status (e.g. polygamy)? Are the substance and goals of marriage a public issue at all, or a purely private religious/moral issue? This course will explore the historical, theological, philosophical, and legal dimensions of these the Western traditions of marriages and study how individuals, moral and cultural communities, and political institutions seek to find a way to balance conflicting demands about what constitutes a legitimate marriage.
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