Sexuality and Gender

Same-Sex Marriage Is Not the New Interracial Marriage

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Author Amy K. Hall Published on 09/10/2014

Comparing opponents of same-sex marriage to those who opposed interracial marriage is common, but not accurate. As I’ve posted before, the arguments of same-sex marriage advocates actually have more in common with those of interracial marriage opponents. Frank Beckwith explains:

By injecting race into the equation, anti-miscegenation supporters were very much like contemporary same-sex marriage proponents, for in both cases they introduced a criterion other than male-female complementarity in order to promote the goals of a utopian social movement: race purity or sexual egalitarianism.

This is why, in both cases, the advocates require state coercion to enforce their goals. Without the state’s cooperation and enforcement, there would have been no anti-miscegenation laws and there would be no same-sex marriage. The reason for this, writes libertarian economist Jennifer Roback Morse, is that “marriage between men and women is a pre-political, naturally emerging social institution. Men and women come together to create children, independently of any government.” Hence, this explains its standing as an uncontroversial common law liberty. “By contrast,” Morse goes on to write, “same-sex ’marriage’ [and same-race-only marriage] is completely a creation of the state...”

Ryan Anderson adds to this “7 Reasons Why the Current Marriage Debate Is Nothing Like the Debate on Interracial Marriage.” Here are three:

  • Great thinkers—including champions of human rights—knew that gender matters for marriage, and none thought that race does. Searching the writings of Plato and Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas, Maimonides and Al-Farabi, Luther and Calvin, Locke and Kant, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., one finds that the sexual union of male and female goes to the heart of their reflections on marriage but that considerations of race with respect to marriage never appear. Only late in human history do political communities prohibit intermarriage on the basis of race. Bans on interracial marriage had nothing to do with the nature of marriage and everything to do with denying dignity and equality before the law.
  • Even cultures that embraced same-sex relationships did not treat them as marriages. Far from having been devised as a pretext for excluding same-sex relationships—as some now charge—marriage as the union of husband and wife arose in many places over several centuries entirely independent of, and well before any debates about, same-sex relationships. Indeed, it arose in cultures that had no concept of sexual orientation and in some that fully accepted homoeroticism and even took it for granted. Bans on interracial marriage, by contrast, were the result of racism and nothing more.
  • Marriage must be color-blind, but it cannot be gender-blind. The melanin content of two people’s skin has nothing to do with their capacity to unite in the bond of marriage as a comprehensive union naturally ordered to procreation. The sexual difference between a man and a woman, however, is central to what marriage is. Men and women regardless of their race can unite in marriage, and children regardless of their race deserve moms and dads. To acknowledge such facts requires an understanding of what marriage is.

Read the rest of Ryan Anderson’s article, or listen to a recent interview he did on this subject.