Sexuality and Gender

Is Denying Same-sex Marriage Like Denying Interracial Marriage?

Author Alan Shlemon Published on 05/24/2012

Let me be blunt: denying same-sex couples from marriage is not the same as denying interracial couples from it. Although anti-miscegenation laws were immoral, the same mistake is not happening today. And despite the rhetorical force of making the comparison, merely claiming it’s the same does not make it so.

One of the problems with this comparison is that it presumes sexual orientation is a genetically predetermined trait like race. But it’s not, as I’ve argued in a previous post. Numerous researchers have also testified to this. Francis Collins, who led the Human Genome Project to identify every human gene, has said regarding homosexuality: “Whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predeterminations…”[i] Harvard geneticist and homosexual, Dean Hamer, admitted that, “The best recent study suggests that female sexual identification is more a matter of environment than heredity.”[ii] Even the American Psychological Association, a group that advances homosexual causes, doesn’t claim that genes determine sexual orientation. They say, “Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors.”[iii]

Homosexuality, then, develops also from environmental factors, not merely genetic ones. And since environmental factors vary in type, frequency, and degree, homosexuality is not inescapable. Depending on your developmental environment, you could or could not develop same-sex attractions.

Race, however, is entirely genetic and therefore inescapable. You’re not born an African American – you’re conceived as one. Your race is determined the moment the chromosomes of the sperm and egg blend together. Nothing will change that. Neither your mother’s diet, the hormones in her womb, nor intrauterine trauma will alter your birth as an African American. And once you’re born, your race is impervious to cultural, social, or psychological influences during childhood development. Nothing can alter – even slightly – your race.

That means homosexuals can’t claim they’re like African Americans in the sense that they are born that way. Their plight is not the same. African Americans are genetically born that way. Homosexuals are not.

But the differences grow more significant. Since homosexuality is not merely the product of genes, it is mutable. Homosexuals can and do change. I personally know men who have changed. This type of mutability has been observed for thousands of years and documented by researchers for the last one hundred years (I’ve written about this in a previous post). In fact, sexual orientation in females is quite fluid.

Actress Anne Heche is an example. She grew up as a heterosexual, got involved in a lesbian relationship with Ellen DeGeneres, then married a man with whom she had a child, and now is living with another man. The same is true of former “Sex and the City” star, Cynthia Nixon. She grew up heterosexual, married a man, and had two children. In 2004, she became a lesbian. Nixon also infuriated the homosexual community by claiming that her change in orientation was, “a choice.” She went on to explain: “I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me… Why can’t it be a choice? Why is that any less legitimate?”[iv]

My point is not that sexual orientation is a choice. I’m simply acknowledging that it’s mutable for some people.

Race, however, is immutable. I don’t know any African Americans that have changed their race. None of them have become Swedish for a few years. It can’t happen, even in principle.

But there’s even a more significant problem with comparing homosexuals with African Americans, especially with regards to the issue of marriage. Interracial couples can marry because they can fulfill an essential function of marriage. As Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse has explained, marriages bind males and females for the long term and protect the rights children have to be with their parents. Male-female unions are the precise kind of pairing that produces children and provides the ideal environment to raise them. Having an African American marry a Caucasian doesn’t impact that function in any way.

Homosexual couples, on the other hand, don’t include both sexes. Not only are they incapable – by nature – to produce children, but they are also ill-suited to raise kids who need a mother and a father (I’ve argued this in a previous post). That’s why the state has never sanctioned the relationship of two men or two women, but they sanction interracial unions so long as they’re heterosexual.

Homosexuals are hoping to convince the culture that their plight is the same as African Americans. Naturally, this has a strong, rhetorical effect. But with careful reflection it becomes apparent the two groups are not parallel in meaningful ways. That’s because race and sex are not the same. This makes all the difference.

[i] F. Collins, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (New York: Free Press, 2007), 260.

[ii] D. Hamer and P. Copeland, Living with Our Genes: Why They Matter More Than You Think (New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1009), 188.

[iii], accessed 4/30/12.

[iv], accessed 4/30/12.