Many who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here. But when that sincere, personal opposition becomes enacted law and public policy, the necessary consequence is to put the imprimatur of the State itself on an exclusion that soon demeans or stigmatizes those whose own liberty is then denied.

Does "put the imprimatur of the State itself on an exclusion" mean "the State approves of excluding the gay marriage" or "exclude the State from approving of gay marriage"? What confuses me specifically is the definition of "exclusion" here.

  • What's causing you difficulty here? Is it the definition of "imprimatur"? The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as "A mark of official approval." So the bolded section could be rephrased as "the necessary consequence is to put the mark of official approval of the State itself on an exclusion." Does that make sense to you, or are you confused about the grammar of this sentence?
    – herisson
    Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 3:03
  • Thx for your response. What confused me is the definition of "exclusion".
    – gzk132
    Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 3:25
  • The exclusion is the preventing someone from marrying another person of the same sex. So the statement means "When the state approves removing the right of marriage from people on the basis of their sexual orientation that degrades those people.
    – deadrat
    Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 3:51
  • 1
    This is from the majority opinion in Obergefell v Hodges, the US Supreme Court decision on marriage equality. Good for you. I hope you read the whole thing' It's a ringing endorsement of equality before the law
    – deadrat
    Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 3:53
  • Thank you for your explanation, @deadrat; it's been very helpful.
    – gzk132
    Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 4:56

1 Answer 1


Originally, an imprimatur (Latin for "let it be printed") was official permission from the Catholic Church to print a book.

Since then, the word has come to mean official approval generally. In this case, the writer is saying that for the government to forbid same-sex marriage is to (effectively) give official approval to homophobia.

  • 1
    Thx for your response, Malvolio. could U explain the meaning of "exclusion" here in the context?
    – gzk132
    Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 3:30
  • "Exclusion" in context refers specifically excluding same-sex marriage from the greater category of legal marriage, but metaphorically, the author was hinting at exclusion of homosexuals and homosexuality from society. Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 18:26

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