Worst Anti-Marriage Equality Argument Ever?

In the legal challenge to Nevada’s ban on same-sex marriage, now pending in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the anti-equality group Nevada Coalition for the Protection of Marriage just filed a brief with a breathtakingly ridiculous argument for why same-sex marriage is nothing like interracial marriage.

The genderless marriage proponents’ story also relies on several misleading strategies. One of those strategies is to argue that just as white supremacists engrafted anti-miscegenation rules onto the marriage institution and were rightly repudiated by the Supreme Court in Loving, so homophobes, with laws like Nevada’s 2002 marriage amendment, have engrafted the man-woman meaning onto marriage and should likewise be repudiated by this Court. At first blush, this strategy is only silly because, of course, the union of a man and a woman has been a core, constitutive meaning of the marriage institution found in virtually every society since pre-history. Nevada’s marriage amendment did not add that institutionalized meaning but rather sought to protect and preserve it and the valuable social benefits flowing from it.

On closer examination, this strategy reveals something deeply troubling. White supremacists engrafted the anti-miscegenation rules onto the marriage institution — and thereby altered marriage from how it had existed at common law and throughout the millennia — to bend that institution into the new and foreign role of inculcating white supremacist doctrines into the consciousness of the people generally. Because of the profound teaching, forming, and transforming power that fundamental social institutions like marriage have over all of us, this evil strategy undoubtedly worked effectively for decades.

Question: Where does one see today a similar massive political effort to profoundly change the marriage institution in order to bend it into a new and foreign role, one in important ways at odds with its ancient and essential roles? Answer: The genderless marriage movement. The big difference, of course, is the immorality of the effort to advance the white supremacist dogma compared to the morality of the effort to advance the social well-being and individual worth of gay men and lesbians. Whether that moral objective is sufficiently weighty to justify so bending and altering the marriage institution is for the free, open, democratic process to decide. Certainly, the comparison of laws that protect the man-woman meaning of marriage to anti-miscegenation laws is a false analogy that provides no basis for any court to mandate the redefinition of marriage.

So. Much. Dishonesty. This argument that marriage was an eternally unchanging institution for thousands of years from the garden of Eden forward can only be believed by someone who either knows nothing about history or is willing to blatantly lie about it. And by “white supremacists,” they must mean “most Christian churches and theologians in the United States from the colonial days until the mid-20th century. The idea that “white supremacists” somehow hijacked the political system to ban interracial marriage is utterly moronic.

And here’s the important thing: Every single legal argument used by the bigots to defend bans on same-sex marriage was used by bigots to defend bans on interracial marriage. The same appeals to religion were made, the same appeals to tradition, the same specious argument that there’s no inequality because both genders (or all races) were equally prohibited from marrying someone of the same gender (or different race). The same “end of morality” arguments. The same religious freedom arguments. The dispute is exactly the same, you need only replace gender with race.

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  • scienceavenger

    This argument that marriage was an eternally unchanging institution for thousands of years from the garden of Eden forward can only be believed by someone who either knows nothing about history…

    History? Hell, they don’t know anything about the world as it is NOW, where polygamous and other marriage forms different than the “traditional” Christian version still proliferate. It’s a Noah’s Ark level of biological understanding applied to sociology, and not coincidentally, by the same people.

  • RickR

    White supremacists engrafted the anti-miscegenation rules onto the marriage institution

    And heterosexists engrafted homophobia into anti-SSM laws and amendments. Easy Peasy!

    Also, genderless marriage? WTF??

  • dingojack

    “Nevada’s marriage amendment did not add that institutionalized meaning but rather sought to protect and preserve it and the valuable social benefits flowing from it.”

    So how is allowing marriage equality damaging and destroying the valuable social benefits of hetro-normative marriage – exactly? And by what mechanism(s), specifically?

    Dingo

  • http://howlandbolton.com richardelguru

    Of course if they were like the White Supremacists, who wanted to prohibit people who weren’t the same colour as each other from marrying, then to be consistent they’d need to prohibit people who weren’t the same sex…from…..?

  • Michael Heath

    The bigots:

    The big difference, of course, is the immorality of the effort to advance the white supremacist dogma compared to the morality of the effort to advance the social well-being and individual worth of gay men and lesbians. Whether that moral objective is sufficiently weighty to justify so bending and altering the marriage institution is for the free, open, democratic process to decide.

    [Heath bolded]

    The 14th Amendment to the U.S. defends the individual rights of both U.S. citizens and others against the tyranny of state majorities:

    No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    For the umpteenth time, we need to pound these clauses home. Not only do they nearly always falsify the bigots’ arguments; but these clauses exposes that conservative Christians are the chief opponent of the U.S. Constitution rather than their false claim they are its primary defenders.

  • cptdoom

    Shorter version “our bigotry good, their bigotry bad.”

    As for the purpose of marriage: the legal, civil, secular purpose of marriage is to identify a newly formed family, comprising at least 2 previously unrelated adults (or more distantly related), who may or may not add children to that family. Those children may be biological, adopted, or some combination (e.g., adoption by step-parent), but are recognized as members of the family no matter what their origin. Because same sex couples can create families using these same means, the purpose of marriage must be to legally recognize those families as well.

  • doublereed

    Genderless marriage?

    People do understand that sexual orientation has quite a deal to do with gender, right? Last I checked, anyway.

  • dingojack

    Sorry Richard – but on the subject of marriage:

    TOUCHSTONE God ‘ild you, sir; I desire you of the like. I

    press in here, sir, amongst the rest of the country

    copulatives, to swear and to forswear: according as

    marriage binds and blood breaks: a poor virgin,

    sir, an ill-favoured thing, sir, but mine own; a poor

    humour of mine, sir, to take that that no man else

    will: rich honesty dwells like a miser, sir, in a

    poor house; as your pearl in your foul oyster”.

    Ah! Just quote Will to melt your sweet’s heart.

    :) Dingo

  • Michael Heath

    cptdoom @ 6,

    You’re raising the valid point that the state has no valid authority to deny the privileges the state grants to married couples and their progeny to gay families. I’d like to point that before we ever have to consider that point, the bigots fail because the state is explicitly prohibited from denying gay people and their families equal protection of their rights under the law. I.e., the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment prohibits states from denying people their rights in a manner that is unequal to the states’ protection of other people’s very same rights.

    Once we consider that point, which is already game over for the bigots, we can then consider the privileges of marriage where once again the 14th Amendment prohibits infringing upon those privileges unless the Constitution delegates power to do so, which it doesn’t on matters of marriage.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Shorter version “our bigotry now good, their our bigotry then bad.”

    FTFY

  • http://www.etsy.com/shop/LDORIGINALS Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Michael Heath

    But you don’t understand! They’re defending the real Constitution, the one that was handed down by god with the ten amendcommandments already attached. That’s the true Constitution, and everything else is attempts by liberals to debase and destroy it.

  • matty1

    Arguably there is a distinct ‘traditional’ meaning of marriage that has been largely abandoned in the modern world. It is also a meaning that would be quite consistent with polygamy or cousin marriage and indeed interracial marriage but couldn’t cope with same sex marriage.

    I refer of course to the doctrine of coverture, to quote.

    A feme covert was not recognized as having legal rights and obligations distinct from those of her husband in most respects. Instead, through marriage a woman’s existence was incorporated into that of her husband, so that she had very few recognized individual rights of her own.

    Anyone want to defend that?

  • Pierce R. Butler

    How many hyperchristians could give a meaningful definition of the differences between gender and sex?

    What position do they take on sexless marriages, hetero or otherwise?

  • Alverant

    “Every single legal argument used by the bigots to defend bans on same-sex marriage was used by bigots to defend bans on interracial marriage.”

    Not quite, I don’t recall reading about any claim that interracial couples can’t have kids or how any adopted kids are going to be molested and raised to be homosexual. Those are new ones. They’re still crap, but they are new.

  • matty1

    An argument that kids might be raised as black so their parents shouldn’t marry would be quite funny.

  • a miasma of incandescent plasma

    White supremacists engrafted the anti-miscegenation rules onto the marriage institution — and thereby altered marriage from how it had existed at common law and throughout the millennia — to bend that institution into the new and foreign role of inculcating white supremacist doctrines into the consciousness of the people generally. Because of the profound teaching, forming, and transforming power that fundamental social institutions like marriage have over all of us, this evil strategy undoubtedly worked effectively for decades.

    It’ll be fun in 60 years when we hear then-modern conservatives talk about how laws like DOMA created homophobia in the population.

  • criticaldragon1177

    Ed Brayton,

    This is hardly surprising. The American religious right has a long history of denying the role that churches played in promoting racism. In fact, If you listen to many creationists and took them seriously as credible sources you’d think that prior to Charles Darwin coming along and publishing the Origin of species, racism didn’t exist.

  • marcus

    I think that we are at number 4329 for worst argument against marriage equality evah!!

  • colnago80

    Re #17

    Not to mention the fact that Darwin and his influential inlaws, the Wedgewood family, were instrumental in convincing the British Government not to intervene in the American Civil War.

  • chilidog99

    In the meantime, the Nevada AG is considering reversing her position on the issue.

    “A potentially significant case was decided by the Ninth Circuit on Tuesday of this week, the same day that a brief was filed on behalf of the State in Nevada’s same-sex marriage case. The Ninth Circuit’s new decision, entitled SmithKline Beechum Corp. v. Abbott Laboratories, appears to impact the equal protection and due process arguments made on behalf of the State. After careful review of the SmithKline decision these arguments are likely no longer tenable in the Ninth Circuit.

    This office will conduct further review over the weekend in order to evaluate the State’s argument in light of SmithKline. We will be discussing this with the Governor’s Office next week.”

    I wonder if the businesses in Las Vegas suddenly realized just how much money they were losing out on.

  • chilidog99

    So, the 9th circuit has ruled that sexual orientation is subject to heightened scrutiny.

    Now it all falls down to the 10th circuit, as I believe that they are the only ones with an active case, (the Utah Marriage appeal)

    If the 10th agrees with the 9th, then the Gay Marriage bans are all toast, if they disagree, then the case goes to SCOTUS.

  • Chiroptera

    White supremacists engrafted the anti-miscegenation rules onto the marriage institution — and thereby altered marriage from how it had existed at common law and throughout the millennia — to bend that institution into the new and foreign role of inculcating white supremacist doctrines into the consciousness of the people generally.

    That’s funny. I don’t remember the conservative religious right making this argument during the Jim Crow days. Why, it’s almost as if it were just made up recently specifically to deny comparisons between homophobia and racism.

  • http://www.facebook.com/set.v.kouwenhoven Set Kouwenhoven

    I have a perverse fascination with the VCY America program Crosstalk, which anyone who enjoys train wrecks should listen to intently (especially when Vic Eliason is hosting). I’ve heard numerous times advertisements for some pamphlet or something that “shows the pivotal role Christians played in putting an end to slavery and racial discrimination” being played literally seconds before the host comes back on to deploy these very same types of Christ-vs.-miscegenation arguments against same-sex marriage.

  • cjcolucci

    As someone who is, on occasion, professionally obligated to make the best posible argument for a losing position, I have to say this is the best bad argument I’ve seen on the subject.. It’s not a particularly good argument for the main issue, but it is a decent response to the SSM/miscegenation comparison.

  • madgastronomer

    “Not quite, I don’t recall reading about any claim that interracial couples can’t have kids or how any adopted kids are going to be molested and raised to be homosexual. Those are new ones. They’re still crap, but they are new.”

    For a long time, some people claimed that mixed race children were sterile, like mules, and used that to back miscegenation laws.

  • naturalcynic

    @chilidog:

    I wonder if the businesses in Las Vegas suddenly realized just how much money they were losing out on.

    This was one of the more effective arguments against the ballot propositions that banned SSM at the time these amendments were proposed 10 years ago [constitutional amendments have to pass twice in the general election]. The amendments opponents tried to make a parallel argument for Nevada’s acceptance of gambling 70-odd years ago – forget “morality’, it would bring in more customers.

  • Nemo

    They give the cause of equality credit as being a moral one. That’s… progress?

  • matty1

    @19 “Not to mention the fact that Darwin and his influential inlaws, the Wedgewood family, were instrumental in convincing the British Government not to intervene in the American Civil War.”

    Darwin’s grandfather Josiah Wedgewood was also a major supporter of the abolitionist movement back in the 18th Century. The same period when the Holy Founders (TM) were writing slavery into their perfect constitution.