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Brigham Young University Education and Law Journal


Examples of the ramifications of same-sex marriage in education are beginning to emerge whether in K-12 public or non-public schools or higher education. In K-12 schools, controversies have surfaced over whether school officials can use gay friendly curricular material for young children, 15 whether religiously affiliated non-public schools are obligated to enroll children who are being raised by couples in same-sex unions, 16 and whether students can bring same-sex dates to proms. 17 In like manner, disputes have arisen in higher education, particularly in the context of graduate counseling programs where two students unsuccessfully challenged their dismissals for professing their religious beliefs that could not condone same-sex relationships and gay lifestyles.

As an initial matter, it is imperative to emphasize that regardless of one's views on marriage and sexual preference, individuals on both sides of the divide should be free to express their good faith differences of opinion without being subjected to vituperative, ad hominem attacks on their persons and values such as occurred in the wake of the controversy over Proposition 8. With this in mind, it is of paramount importance that the sexual preferences or religious beliefs of individuals aside, all should be treated with respect and dignity, a virtue that has somehow been lost in the increasingly acrimonious battle of the wills over values in the debate about same-sex marriage.

At the same time, while this paper raises concerns about the potential impact of same-sex marriage on schooling, families, students, and communities, the author believes that civil unions or domestic partnerships can acknowledge the rights of individuals in such areas as inheriting property, qualifying for medical benefits, or being able to make medical decisions for their partners who may be incapacitated. However, based on the commonly accepted notion of marriage as being between one man and one woman, the larger debate on this topic aside as outside of the scope of this essay, the author maintains that individuals who share same-sex living arrangements cannot accurately describe their relationships as marriages even though this piece follows what is becoming convention in using the term "same-sex marriage."

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Brigham Young University





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Provo, UT



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