Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Conscientious Objection to Same Sex Marriage?

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Argentina passed the same sex marriage law. The debate is now on whether public officials would be allowed to claim conscientious objection against same sex marriage. In informal interviews, some judges have said that they would not marry same sex couples. This is a very old and always interesting topic. To my mind, there seems to be a difference between, say, a doctor claiming she will not participate in an intervention that goes against her religious views and a public official not willing to marry a couple under the civil law.


  1. Martin,
    I agree this is an interesting question. Here's my question to you. You say there's a difference between a public official and a doctor, and I would like to hear your opinion about the following points:
    1. What if the doctor works in a government owned hospital and is receiving his pay from the state. Does that make him a public official in your mind?
    2. Why do you make a distinction between public officials and non-officials? Do you think that the constitutional obligations of officials are greater than those of citizens? And if so, why exactly?

  2. Adam, many thanks for your comment. I wasn´t clear on what my intuition - that is, my point of departure to think about the issue, but no more than that - is that I find that the issue to one is consciously objecting to may be important - so that there is a difference between marrying two individuals, regardless of their sex, and, say, collaborating in euthanasia procedures. This is just an intuition. I will look more carefully into this. Any suggestions?

  3. I think the intuition you have is interesting. I didn't think about it in terms of the nature of the issue according to its moral gravity. It seems to me that that would be difficult. Different people have different values, and even if they have the same values, they prioritize them differently, so it's going to be hard to rank them. A less complicated distinction would be to think about what distinguishes officials, and by extension the state, from private citizens.

  4. Thanks, Adam. I will think about this more carefully.


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