Public controversies, for example around same-sex marriage or reproductive rights, put specific issues to the legal test, but they also give space for public debate about the kind of society we want to live in.
Over the past fifteen years, same-sex marriage has become legal in all of our project countries (from 2009 in Norway to 2017 in Australia), either through legislation, court decisions, or referendums. These processes of legalization followed sometimes contentious debates between activists both in favour and opposed to same sex-marriage. The debate around same-sex marriage is a valuable case study since the issue concerns broader questions like the morality and regulation of sexuality, the definition of the family, reproduction, and understandings of history.
We’re using the example of same-sex marriage to see how religion and nonreligion shaped – and were shaped by – legal outcomes. We want to understand how the boundaries between religion and nonreligion are constructed through public and legal arguments. Understanding this is important to other current debates about, for example, reproductive rights.