Sexual Orientation and Human Rights in American Religious Discourse

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Sexual orientation is a topic of intense debate within America's religious traditions. Debate about sexual orientation has had a significant impact on the formation of public policy, as spokespersons who locate themselves squarely within religious traditions have articulated positions both pro and con in recent discussions concerning gays in the military, civil rights protections for gays and lesbians, gay marriage, parenting and foster parenting, and even benefits for partners of gay and lesbian employees of major corporations and institutions. This volume, which stems from a 1995 conference at Brown University, is intended to promote both academic and public understanding of the different positions that exist on sexual orientation and public policy dimensions within four major American religious traditions. In the first part of the book, writers from the Jewish community, the Roman Catholic church, Mainline Protestant churches, and African-American churches explore the history and tradition of their communities on same-sex orientation, discuss the moral stance they advocate, and consider the legal and public policy implications of that stance. For each of these traditions, two opposing views are represented, and a respondent frames the issue in a larger context. Included are papers by such distinguished writers as David Novack, Judith Plaskow, Charles E. Curran, and Margaret Farley. The book concludes with essays by Michael McConnell and Andrew Koppelman exploring how our society might find a modus vivendi in a state position of neutrality on the moral status of homosexuality.