Just last week, in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court ruled that marriage is a constitutional right for all Americans. But the majority and the dissenters relied on very different conceptions of the history of marriage.
As Harvard professor emerita Nancy Cott notes, the historian authors and signatories of the AHA amicus brief directly swayed the decision, using evidence that marriage has changed through time. Nonetheless, the dissenters, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, relied on a conception of marriage as timeless and identical across cultures. In the special summer issue of Perspectives on History, Cott explains the implications of this divide.
On Monday, this online-only issue will continue with a forum on religious freedom in the Middle East. Nancy Khalek, Meir Litvak, Shah Mahmoud Hanifi, Omar Cheta, and Abdullah Al-Arian analyze the historical background of contemporary religious conflict, and cooperation, in Egypt, Afghanistan, and Iran. Shedding light on issues often framed as “too complicated to understand,” these scholars show how historians can intervene in the public sphere.
Continuing Perspectives’ commitment to promoting historical awareness of current events, Dennis Halpin analyzes the deep background of the Baltimore uprising of this past spring. Additionally, Shatha Almutawa uncovers a current scholarly controversy surrounding a beautiful painting of a parrot.
We turn, too, to news from the Association itself: Robert Schneider, editor of the American Historical Review, gives a preview of the June AHR and treats us to his reflections on a decade of editing the journal.
Finally, we present our kind of beach reading: noteworthy historical novels from all corners of the globe.
This post first appeared on AHA Today.
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