Debating Rights and Same-Gender Relationships

Joel Harrison*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This article analyzes the increasing tension between equality in legal discourse and the moral argument of religious communities concerning same-sex relationships. It argues that a key component is skepticism of a prominent brand of rights language. The Anglican Church in New Zealand, Aotearoa, and Polynesia is raised as an example. The article traces the debates of this group over same-sex relationship recognition and argues there has been a shift: appeals to rights language, which were previously common within this community, are now more muted. Revisionists have responded to a skeptical claim: that rights language presents a roadblock to discussion and an unsound account of the person, our common life, and public goods. The article contrasts the claims of equality typically emphasizing self-identity and self-actualization, with the attempts of a religious community to discuss competing views on the recognition of same-sex relationships within a framework of gift-giving, duty, and virtue linked to sexuality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-226
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Law, Religion and State
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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