Tomorrow marks the 40th Anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia decision in which SCOTUS struck down all laws in the United States banning interracial marriage. On the one hand I find it amazing that it’s only been such a short time, just 2 years before I was born, since it used to be against the law in many states for interracial couples to marry. On the other hand, while Loving isn’t the best argument for same-sex marriage it is an example of discrimination against a group of people once upheld by the law and in a very short period of time such bigotry is now strongly condemned. This is why I said that it amazes me to think that this ruling is only 40 years old: I grew up in the post-Loving era when the very idea of anti-miscenegation laws was unthinkable and believed to be immoral.
The irony here is that today we see opponents of same-sex marriage from the extreme Right, like La Shawn Barber, use similiar arguments once made against interracial marriages. The most often-used one is that of a slippery slope, i.e. that if same-sex marriage is allowed “polygamy, polyandry, combinations thereof, legal incest, etc.” will soon follow. Many honestly believe this though I myself find this to be a fallacious device to prop up bigotry. I rather like how The Interocitor responded to all this back in 2003:
Gay people are wired differently than straights. Some very large percentage of gays (possibly all) cannot pursue happiness under a heterosexual mandate. They must seek their relationships among their own gender. To deny gay people the right to seek this happiness, by barring them from the most basic of human institutions (one that predates agriculture) constitutes a discrimination that approaches that of Dred Scott. Even the laws against interracial marriage (voided 35 years ago in Loving vs Virginia) did not present this fundamental issue. One *could* find happiness with another, unjust as the laws were. But a gay person denied the legal right to marry the whole class of persons to whom they are attracted is utterly denied this basic human bond.
Andrew Sullivan likens interracial marriage to the present issue. He’s wrong. No one needs, biologically, to marry a person of a different race — there are alternatives. That restriction is wrong on other grounds, notably no-good-reason. Polygamy, incest, etc are also devoid of this biological need — these are simply wants, and there are very good reasons to bar these unions. While a truly bisexual person may want to marry “one of each”, they can marry one or the other, or remain single, as they choose. All married people struggle at times with monogamy — this is simply a difference in degree, not in kind. Pedophilia and bestiality do not apply to marriage, for reasons of consent and permanence. If your “bright line” is biological need without alternative, there is no slippery slope with respect to gay marriage.
Yet still this argument is pursued with a vengeance by the extreme Right, with the related “defense of traditional marriage”. The reasoning behind this is very much based on religious beliefs more than anything else in that homosexuality is considered to be sinful and that people freely choose to be gay. One sees that in such posts as this from Dean Esmay‘s blog:
I’m not going to feel sorry for someone that chose to live as they do.
And if they didn’t choose, if it’s a genetic condition, well, we’ll just fix that with gene therapy.
Sexual prefrence is not the same as race. No matter how tightly you close your eyes, click your heels, and hope otherwise.
The condescending attitude couldn’t be clearer. The problem for this blogger and all those on the extreme Right is that whether they realize it or not, in the long run they are fighting a losing battle. The laws and state amendments banning same-sex marriage they’ve managed to get into place over the past couple of years are Phyrric victories that will do nothing to end the fight for equal rights. Posterity will judge them very harshly for these comments and their general attitude against gays. The abuse of religion to cloak bigotry and asinine slippery slope arguments may delay matters for a generation, but it will not last. Such bigotry rarely does. When the day comes that being gay or straight is not given a second thought, people like Barber and this blogger will be remembered with the Bull Connors of infamy.
(Hat tip: Gay Orbit)
— John (Average Gay Joe)