Monday, February 23, 2015

A reminder: no arguments are new

Although we've covered this ground before, it's worth remembering that the arguments made against same sex marriage equality are very like those made against inter-racial marriage.

I mean, doesn't this sound familiar?
First, there's the "slippery slope" idea, which says that if we allow gay marriage, we have to allow all kinds of stuff. ..... But the argument was made by R. D. McIlwaine III, then Virginia's assistant attorney general, in Loving v. the State of Virginia, the 1967 Supreme Court case that overturned miscegenation laws:
It is clear from the most recent available evidence on the psycho-sociological aspect of this question that intermarried families are subjected to much greater pressures and problems then those of the intermarried and that the state's prohibition of interracial marriage for this reason stands on the same footing as the prohibition of polygamous marriage, or incestuous marriage or the prescription of minimum ages at which people may marry and the prevention of the marriage of people who are mentally incompetent.
Then there's the "think of the children" line, which says that kids raised by two parents of the opposite sex are better off than those who aren't. ..... McIlwaine made that case too:
Now if the state has an interest in marriage, if it has an interest in maximizing the number of stable marriages and in protecting the progeny of interracial marriages from these problems, then clearly. there is scientific evidence available that is so. It is not infrequent that the children of intermarried parents are referred to not merely as the children of intermarried parents but as the 'victims' of intermarried parents and as the 'martyrs' of intermarried parents.
And of course, other arguments are also familiar from the anti-miscegenation laws.
1) First, judges claimed that marriage belonged under the control of the states rather than the federal government. 
2) Second, they began to define and label all interracial relationships (even longstanding, deeply committed ones) as illicit sex rather than marriage. 
3) Third, they insisted that interracial marriage was contrary to God's will, and 
4) Fourth, they declared, over and over again, that interracial marriage was somehow "unnatural." 
On this fourth point--the supposed "unnaturality" of interracial marriage--judges formed a virtual chorus. .... 
The fifth, and final, argument judges would use to justify miscegenation law was undoubtedly the most important; it used these claims that interracial marriage was unnatural and immoral to find a way around the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of "equal protection under the laws." How did judges do this? They insisted that because miscegenation laws punished both the black and white partners to an interracial marriage, they affected blacks and whites "equally." ....During the late 19th century, this judicial consensus laid the basis for an ominous expansion in the number, range, and severity of miscegenation laws. In Southern states, lawmakers enacted new and tougher laws forbidding interracial marriages. Seven states put miscegenation provisions in their state constitutions as well as in their regular law codes, and most raised criminal penalties to felony level.
The arc of history is indeed long. 

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