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DOMA Down

posted: 8.1.13 by Barclay Barrios

As a gay man living in a state that constitutionally bans gay marriage and partnered to a man living in a state that does allow it, I am of course rather pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  Not everyone is, nor should they be.  I’ve been thinking about how to teach this issue in a way that allows everyone—no matter their political views—to come to the table.

Kwame Anthony Appiah’s essays are a good start. In “Making Conversation” and “The Primacy of Practice,” Appiah discusses gay marriage explicitly if briefly. But his larger point is that we not live in a world where we can’t isolate from difference, a world in which we must find a way to get along.  That call for dialogue is, I think, a good starting point for discussing DOMA.

Kenji Yoshino is a good follow up.  He, too, discusses gay marriage in “Preface” and “The New Civil Rights,” but he also suggests that the next wave of civil rights needs to come not from the courts but from conversations—a concept quite similar to Appiah.

I think both of these authors would be useful in helping student to learn civil and civic discourse.  DOMA is a great way to start practicing those skills.

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