Levin College of Law
⇠ Back to Courses Overview

Law, Religion, and Sexual Identity

Course Number: LAW 6939 Credits: 2

Religion and sexuality are inseparable in American law and life. In this seminar we will examine legal doctrines and cultural practices that reflect this. We will focus on: (1) cases, laws, and other historical texts that have created and shaped the relationship between law and religion since the founding of the country, emphasizing the First Amendment’s Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses; (2) cases, laws, and personal histories that illustrate how the American legal system has responded to and regulated emerging realities of “sexual identity” writ broad – sexual orientation, gender identity, and other aspects of the LGBTQI dimension of human life; and (3) current civil rights controversies that demonstrate the fundamental yet problematic relationship between religion and sexuality under the law, such as an employer’s religion-based claim that it cannot be forced to provide contraceptive options to employees under its medical insurance plan, or a business owner’s argument that personal religious beliefs protect the business from having to serve LGBTQI customers, or whether a U.S. Supreme Court Justice’s personal religious convictions should play a role when the Justice interprets the Constitution and laws to resolve truly difficult conflicts between religious belief and sexual identity.