Friends and Fans — I have retired from my work as a public intellectual, so Philosophy in Action is on indefinite hiatus. Please check out the voluminous archive of free podcasts, as well as the premium audio content still available for sale. My two books — Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame and Explore Atlas Shrugged — are available for purchase too. Best wishes! — Diana Brickell (Hsieh)

Tom Varik on Gay Marriage and Spousal Privilege

Radio Interview: 7 August 2013

I interviewed Tom Varik on "Gay Marriage and Spousal Privilege" on 7 August 2013. Listen to or download this episode of Philosophy in Action Radio below.

As the cause of gay marriage gains ever-more traction, many have wondered whether marriage really matters. Attorney Tom Varik argues that it does. In this interview, he discussed the legal status and importance of gay marriage, including the recent Supreme Court cases, as well as the history and limits of spousal privilege.

Tom G. Varik is an attorney in Cleveland, Ohio, where he currently works for the Social Security Administration. He attended the University of Akron School of Law, earning a JD in 2009. Before that, he studied motion picture production at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, where he produced several short films featured in various international underground film festivals, and earned a BFA in 2006.

Tags: Crime, Culture, GLBT, Law, Marriage, Politics, Rights


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  • Duration: 1:03:30
  • Download: MP3 File (21.8 MB)

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About the Podcast

The topics covered in this episode were:
  • The nature of spousal privilege
  • Testimonial privilege
  • Communication privilege
  • A few examples
  • The history of spousal privilege: Funk v. US (290 U.S. 371) (1933), Hawkins v. US (358 U.S. 74) (1958), Wyatt v. US (362 U.S. 525) (1960), Wolfe v. US (291 U.S. 7) (1934), and Trammel v. US (445 U.S. 40) (1980)
  • The proper rule and proper justification for spousal privilege
  • A parent-child privilege?
  • The relevance of spousal privilege to gay marriage
  • Elements of marriage for which people cannot contract
  • The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
  • The recent Supreme Court Case: Windsor
  • The effects of the patchwork of state laws on gay marriage
  • The Full Faith and Credit Clause
  • The Proposition 8 Supreme Court Case
  • The cultural acceptance of gays

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About Philosophy in Action

I'm Dr. Diana Brickell (formerly Diana Hsieh). I'm a philosopher, and I've long specialized in the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I completed my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. I retired from work as a public intellectual in 2015.

From September 2009 to September 2015, I produced a radio show and podcast, Philosophy in Action Radio. In the primary show, my co-host Greg Perkins and I answered questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life. We broadcast live over the internet on Sunday mornings.

You can listen to these 362 podcasts by subscribing to the Podcast RSS Feed. You can also peruse the podcast archive, where episodes and questions are sorted by date and by topic.

My first book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. The book defends the justice of moral praise and blame of persons using an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility, thereby refuting Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck." My second book (and online course), Explore Atlas Shrugged, is a fantastic resource for anyone wishing to study Ayn Rand's epic novel in depth.

You can also read my blog NoodleFood and subscribe to its Blog RSS Feed.

I can be reached via e-mail to diana@philosophyinaction.com.

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