Marriage and other unions in the US

Foto: Natalie Glatzel

Interview with Professor Ralph Richard Banks

For a long time the US have been discussing gay marriage. By and by it has been introduced in many states. But what comes next? Will zoophilia and sex with children now be accepted? talked with Professor Ralph Richard Banks who teaches law at Stanford University. How has the institute of same-sex-marriage evolved in the USA, especially in New York where it was established in 2011?

Ralph Richard Banks: Same sex marriage has been accepted among a large portion of the United States population during the past several years. Two other forms of marriage have been relevant to jurisdiction in the US: polygamy and interracial marriage. The first is still forbidden, the second is not. Why?

Ralph Richard Banks: Polygamy is likely to remain prohibited. Prohibitions on interracial marriage were all struck down by the Supreme Court in 1967 in the case of Loving v Virginia. Such restrictions not only restricted the right to marry, they expressed a norm of white supremacy, according to the Supreme Court. There is no analogous form of group inequality implicated by prohibitions of polygamy. What are the guiding principles behind the current legislation concerning marriage?

Ralph Richard Banks: That two individuals who love each other should be able to marry. The US have discussed polygamy and racial obstructions for marriage, nowadays the whole world talks about same-sex-marriage. But we almost never talk about incest, zoophilia or sex with children. Do we have to?

Ralph Richard Banks: Sex with children will not become legal, due to children’s lack of capacity to consent. Do you have an explanation for the importance of the discussion of same-sex-marriage?

Ralph Richard Banks: Same sex marriage expresses a message about the status, indeed humanity, of gays and lesbians. Has the institute of marriage – in the traditional, Western understanding: as a lifelong union between a man and a woman – any relevance in the future?

Ralph Richard Banks: Yes and no. People may aspire to the lifelong union, but neither law nor culture enforces that understanding. Thank you very much for the interview!

Please note that Professor Banks has engaged in the New York Times debate »Marriage: The Next Chapter«.

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