Justice from Four Perspectives: Family, Community, State, and Nation. In Chapter 2, the author urges students to “look at justice through the lens of reason” by developing “frameworks that permit careful analysis and evaluation of competing views” (Dreisbach, 2013, Section 2.1).
He provides an example of such a framework by analyzing how the concept of justice varies when viewed from the different perspectives of family, community, state, and nation.
In this discussion, you will apply this framework to analyze justice issues arising from demands for the legalization of a traditionally prohibited behavior in the United States – same-sex marriage.
Before responding, carefully read the discussion question below:
According to the revised 2010 Census, in the United States there were 131,729 same-sex married couple households and 514,735 same-sex unmarried partner households. As of December 2012: justice issues
a. Thirty-eight states have state constitutional provisions or other laws restricting marriage to one man and one woman; justice issues
b. Nine states and the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples; justice issues
c. One state recognizes marriages by same-sex couples legally entered into in another jurisdiction;
e. Two states provide some state-level spousal rights to same-sex couples within the state (e.g., domestic partnerships, designated beneficiaries).
Consequently, in at least 30 states same-sex couples are denied the many legal and economic benefits that are available to married heterosexual couples. Additionally, in 1996 Congress enacted and President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which:
a. Defines marriage, for the purpose of receiving federal legal and economic benefits, as the legal union of one man and one woman; and
b. Permits a state not to recognize a marriage legally entered in another state between persons of the same sex.
Analyze both the distributive and commutative justice of this complex situation from each of these different perspectives:
a. A same-sex couple who was legally married in one state but whose private sector jobs require them to live in another state that legally restricts marriage to traditional hetero couples.
b. The highly urbanized and socially liberal community, in which that same-sex couple lives, where the city government grants city employees who are registered domestic partners (regardless of sex) the insurance and other fringe-benefits it grants to legally married (heterosexual) couples.
c. The mostly rural state where they live, which some observers characterize as being part of the “Bible-belt”.
d. The nation of the United States of America which is governed by President Barack Obama who has instructed his Department of Justice to not defend DOMA when its constitutionality is challenged in the federal courts (several of which have held parts of the law to be unconstitutional).
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