"The Long Arc of Justice," by Richard D. Mohr (Columbia University Press/2005)
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Ethical and religious arguments are regularly invoked to keep gay men and lesbians from achieving the same rights as heterosexuals. In “The Long Arc of Justice” (Columbia University Press/2005), professor of philosophy Richard D. Mohr addresses arguments about equal rights for gay and lesbian couples. He also discusses the nature of prejudices and other cultural forces that work against lesbian and gay causes.
Mohr builds a positive case for the rights of lesbian and gay Americans by assessing the logic and ethics of gay rights. Mohr also focuses on ideas and values associated with social acceptance that can be applied to a variety of ethical issues. Chapters focus on sexual privacy, gay marriage, civil rights, the military and gay politics.
One of the strongest aspects of Mohr’s book is that he draws on a variety of cultural-, legal-, and ethical-based arguments to support his points. This allows the book to move away from political rhetoric and reveals the important ways in which the struggle for gay rights and acceptance relates to mainstream American society, history and political life. The book redefines and elevates contemporary discussions regarding rights for gays and lesbians as Mohr takes a unique approach and applies gay and lesbian experiences to other issues Americans have struggled through during the evolution of the nation.
Mohr takes a forceful approach at countering moralistic and religious arguments used to keep gay men and women from achieving the same rights as heterosexuals. In his book, he writes, “Sometimes ‘morality’ just means the values generally held by members of a society – its mores, norms and customs. On this understanding, gays are probably not moral: lots of people hate them, and social customs are designed to register widespread disapproval of gays. The problem here is that this sense of morality is merely a descriptive one. On this understanding, every society has a morality – even Nazi society.” He goes on to examine the nature of prejudices and other cultural forces that work against lesbian and gay causes and considers the roles that sexuality plays in the national rituals by which Americans define themselves.
He also explores the prospect for greater legal and social inclusion for gays and lesbians as community members. Mohr concludes that culturally focused gay politics are necessary to address civil rights for gays.