Why Gay Marriage Really Is Like Interracial Marriage

OPINION

  on
U.S. Civil Rights
Same-sex marriage opponents go to great lengths to draw distinctions between their cause and the long-discredited cause of anti-miscegenation activists, when any clearheaded examination will show how similar they are.

Do you really believe people like me who believe mothers and fathers both matter to kids are like bigots and racists? I think that's pretty offensive, don't you? -- National Organization for Marriage, Marriage Talking Points

[Comparing] racism and opposition to same-sex marriage is particularly offensive to me and to all who remember the reality of Jim Crow. It is not bigotry, it is biology that discriminates between same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples. -- Bishop Henry R. Jackson Jr., for CNN

I am constantly astounded by the lengths to which same-sex marriage opponents go to draw distinctions between their cause and the long-discredited cause of anti-miscegenation activists, when any clearheaded examination will show how similar they are.

I don't doubt that these people genuinely believe their cause is unlike anti-miscegenation. They believe that, while opposition to interracial marriage was based on bigotry, their opposition to same-sex marriage is based on reason and natural law.

But that's just what many anti-miscegenation activists thought. They, too, believed (or at least publicly insisted) that they were acting on the basis of reason and natural law, and they lashed out at anyone who dared call them a bigot.

Insisting you are not prejudiced does not make it so, and citing reasons for your beliefs does not mean they are tolerant. I'm sure at least some same-sex marriage opponents don't realize how closely their rhetoric mirrors that of anti-miscegenation activists -- but that doesn't mean it doesn't.      

Natural Law

Anti-miscegenation argument:

Connections and alliances so unnatural that God and nature seem to forbid them should be prohibited by positive law and be subject to no evasion. (Virginia Supreme Court ruling, 1878)

Anti-gay-marriage argument:

There are some truths that are in fact eternal and based on nature and nature's law. And that's what the church teaches and that's what the Bible teaches and that's what reason dictates. (Rick Santorum on CNN, 2011)

The Fall of Civilization

Anti-miscegenation argument:

White race-purity is the cornerstone of our civilization. Its mongrelization with non-white blood, particularly with Negro blood, would spell the downfall of our civilization. (Lothrop Stoddard, lawyer and eugenicist, 1924)

Anti-gay-marriage argument:

The family is the bedrock of our society. Unless we protect it with the institution of marriage, our country will fall. (Rick Santorum in Iowa, 2011)

Biological Destruction

Anti-miscegenation argument:

By marrying outside of your race, no matter what that race is, and then having children of mixed race, you destroy God's original design for your race. The offspring of interracial unions are no longer God's intended creation. (SaveYourHeritage.com

Anti-gay-marriage argument:

There is no such thing as a homosexual version of human nature. ... Homosexual behavior is biologically destructive to human health, and biologically destructive behavior is biologically unnatural by functional definition. -- North Carolina Family Policy Council, Why Not Same-Sex 'Marriage,' 2011)

'The Children Will Suffer'

Anti-miscegenation argument:

People who engage in the sin of interracial marriage need to reflect upon the offspring they will parent. What race will these children identify with? We know of a child who asked her maternal grandmother when she would turn white like her. ... The above-mentioned child put powder all over herself one day, in an attempt to look like her mother. This, of course, did not work. It will never work, and this child will suffer for her mother's sin forever. (SaveYourHeritage.com)

Same-sex marriage argument:

Public schools will teach young children that two men being intimate are just the same as a husband and wife, even when it comes to raising kids. ... Do we want to teach the next generation that one-half of humanity -- either mothers or fathers -- are dispensable, unimportant? Children are confused enough right now with sexual messages. Let's not confuse them further. (National Organization for Marriage, Marriage Talking Points)

Like Marrying Animals

Anti-miscegenation argument:

Intermarriage between whites and blacks ... is subversive of social peace. It is destructive of moral supremacy, and ultimately this slavery of white women to black beasts will bring this nation a conflict as fatal as ever reddened the soil of Virginia or crimsoned the mountain paths of Pennsylvania. (U.S. Rep. Seaborn Roddenberry, D-Ga., 1912)

Anti-gay-marriage argument:

It is unreasonable ... to believe there is no public interest in how marriage is structured except to affirm whatever attractions people have. If so, pedophiles would be married to children, necrophiles to dead bodies, pornophiles to pictures and exhibitionists to strangers. (Family Policy Council, Why Not Same-Sex 'Marriage,' 2011)

God Said So

Anti-miscegenation argument:

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement, there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix. (Leon Bazile, Virginia trial court judge, 1965)

Anti-gay-marriage argument:

It's pretty simple: marriage is between a man and a woman. This is a historic doctrine driven deep into the Bible, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, and it's a perfect example of what I mean by the rise of paganism. (Newt Gingrich on a conference call, 2012)

The Bible Says So

Anti-miscegenation argument:

Isaac was forbidden to marry into the Canaanites and a wife was selected for him from his kindred, Rebekah. Jacob was warned to take a wife from his own kindred. The Israelite tribes descended from Jacob were expressly told not to marry outside of their race, their own kind of people. (SaveYourHeritage.com)

Anti-gay-marriage argument:

The Bible is so clear in its support of heterosexual marriage there is little need for us to go through an exhaustive definition of biblical marriage versus the types of unions allowed by law today. All the scriptures in the Bible concerning marriage presuppose heterosexual marriage. (Bishop Henry R. Jackson Jr., for CNN)

But It's Not Bigotry

Opponents of interracial marriage and opponents of same-sex marriage even make the same defensive argument when accused of bigotry, casting themselves as the real victims:

Anti-miscegenation argument:

Today, the heritage that these noble men passed to their posterity is under attack. White heritage is considered 'racist,' 'bigoted,' 'hateful,' among other negative connotations. ... Add the word 'Christian' with the word 'white' and the hatred for our culture and heritage gets almost maniacal. Christianity is mocked, laughed at and disregarded as something for weirdoes or extremists. (SaveYourHeritage.com)

Anti-gay-marriage argument:

We've been hammered by the left for my standing up for the traditional family, and I will continue to do so. The left, unfortunately, participates in bullying more than the right does. They say that they're tolerant, and they're anything but tolerant of people who disagree with them and support traditional values. (Rick Santorum on WGIR radio, 2011)

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So, will someone explain to me again what makes anti-gay-marriage laws so very different from anti-miscegenation laws?

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