All liberal rhetoric has two basic goals: pander to some class-, sex-, or race-based voting bloc, and defame whoever disagrees with liberals. Nowhere is this more evident than in the same-sex marriage debate.
Perhaps in response to African-American pastors’ backlash against President Barack Obama’s endorsement of redefining marriage, the Left has resurrected the argument that opposing same-sex marriage is no different than forbidding interracial marriage, making today’s conservatives no better than yesterday’s racists. Today we remember with shame our ancestors who senselessly kept white and black lovers apart, the argument goes; how are those trying to prevent gay marriage any better?
It’s a powerful question—to those who don’t know anything about either the marriage debate or the history of anti-miscegenation (interracial marriage) laws. Fortunately, a little knowledge is more than enough to expose this attack for the cheap demagoguery it is.
For starters, race is a superficial characteristic having nothing to do with marriage’s meaning, while gender has everything to do with it. Men and women uniquely complement one another both as lovers and as parents, because theirs is the only pairing that naturally creates children and gives children what they need for a well-rounded upbringing. Children need role models of both genders in order to understand themselves and relate to the opposite sex. They need one parent to reinforce their sex’s strengths and another to temper its weaknesses. They need a mother’s disposition to nurture and a father’s emphasis on discipline. Numerous studies confirm this. Moms and dads come in all skin colors, but only women can be mothers, and only men fathers, which gives traditional marriage a clear rationale: binding together naturally procreative couples for the sake of their potential children.
Conversely, anti-miscegenation wasn’t motivated at all by substantive concerns about marriage’s function; it was merely one front in a much broader campaign to keep the black population oppressed and the white gene pool pure.
Marriage defenders’ motives couldn’t possibly be further from those of segregationists, and neither could the impact of their policies on the group in question. Defining marriage as a man-woman union simply means the state won’t issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. That’s it. No prohibition whatsoever on cohabitation, sex, benefits (which can be addressed without redefining marriage), contracts, or even wedding ceremonies. The central motivation of marriage redefiners isn’t to correct a tangible injustice, but to win government endorsement for gay relationships—in other words, they’re driven by the subjective value they place in marriage’s symbolism.
The effects of the anti-miscegenation laws that once plagued interracial couples, on the other hand, were all too tangible. While some states simply denied their relationships formal recognition but otherwise left them alone, many criminalized—and punished—cohabitation, sex, and the performing of wedding ceremonies between whites and non-whites. Indeed, consider the incident that sparked Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 Supreme Court decision that struck down anti-miscegenation. Richard and Mildred Loving married in the District of Columbia, moved to Virginia, and were indicted. The judge gave them a choice: spend a year in prison, or get out of Virginia.
Jail time? Forced eviction from a state? Where in any of the thirty-eight states that reject same-sex marriage do gay couples face anything of the kind?
The comparison between same-sex and interracial marriage is historical malpractice of the worst order, a malicious lie that not only derails an important cultural conversation but also insults those who faced true bigotry in this country. This superficially clever smear might be a hit among clueless college kids receptive to whatever boosts their own sense of superiority, but liberals may see it backfire among voters with longer memories.