Martha Nussbaum: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law

FRI, MAR 26, 2010 (1:02:11)

Distinguished professor of law and philosophy Martha Nussbaum discusses the status of gay rights in the context of constitutional law and her new book, From Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law. In From Disgust to Humanity, Martha Nussbaum argues that disgust has long been among the fundamental motivations of those who are fighting for legal discrimination against lesbian and gay citizens. When confronted with same-sex acts and relationships, she writes, they experience “a deep aversion akin to that inspired by bodily wastes, slimy insects, and spoiled food–and then cite that very reaction to justify a range of legal restrictions, from sodomy laws to bans on same-sex marriage.” Leon Kass, former head of President Bush’s President’s Council on Bioethics, even argues that this repugnance has an inherent “wisdom,” steering us away from destructive choices. Nussbaum believes that the politics of disgust must be confronted directly, for it contradicts the basic principle of the equality of all citizens under the law.

+ BIO: Martha Nussbaum

Martha Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, appointed in Law, Philosophy, and Divinity. Her many books include Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law; Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education; Frontiers of Justice: Disability, Nationality, Species Membership; and Liberty of Conscience: In Defense of America’s Tradition of Religious Equality.

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