Course Description



The United States Supreme Court in its landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in June 2015 recognized a constitutional right so same-sex marriage. This course will spend some time exploring the legal, moral, and religious debates that led to that result. But it will also focus on the host of important questions that remain in the wake of Obergefell, including (1) how to work out the details of the legal rules and principles governing same-sex marriage, including rights of parentage, (2) whether or under what circumstances to accommodate the claims of religious or conscientious objectors to same-sex marriage, (3) to what extent, if any, a constitutional right to same-sex marriage implicates the continuing constitutional debate over polygamy and similar issues, and, most broadly, (4) whether and how Obergefell, along with other developments in law and culture, have transformed “traditional” legal and cultural conceptions of marriage or, ironically, actually reinforced them.

The course will also look at background materials on the history of marriage and consider various ancillary topics. And the course will use the debate over same sex marriage as a prism through which to discuss important questions regarding sexuality and the law, gender and family, constitutional liberty and equality, the judicial role, federalism, and the interaction of religious and secular categories and ideas.

Final examination.

Optional writing credit (W) or intensive writing credit (WI) by arrangement with the instructor.