Opposing Conceptions of Freedom In America: A Historical and Contemporary Investigation


It is wrong to interfere with the rights of conscience and association of homosexuals in the United States. A large faction in this country intends to amend the Constitution of the United States in such a way that a portion of its fellow citizens, identified as homosexuals, will be excluded from the legal and social benefits conferred upon individuals who choose to be married. The social and moral arguments supporting this legislation are only partial considerations of . the case, and are insufficient in providing the necessary grounds upon which exclusion would. be acceptable. I base this conclusion on the contention that America's founding principles are dedicated to preserving individualism and reform, and that it is necessary to safeguard each · citizen from the cabals of the majority.

To support this contention, I have differentiated between a Pluralist-Liberal conception of freedom, which supports the expansion of liberty where it is argued that reform is · necessary, and an Exclusivist-Conservative conception of freedom, which supports the preservation of the fault lines that separate individual freedom and social concerns. I draw from John Rawls1 Political Liberalism, and J. S. Mills' On Liberty, and compare their theories about the proper functions of a free democracy with the writings of America's founding fathers. I ·also give attention to historical cases in which the Exclusivist-Conservative arguments, presented as social concern, were revealed to defend nothing more than status and prejudice. Given the context of a pluralistic democracy, which more strongly accommodates the alternate conception, the use of historical examples is · intended to show, by comparison, the deficiencies of the E-C argument against homosexual rights.


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Thesis Completion





Stanlick, Nancy A.


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Program



Arts and Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Sciences







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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