Loving It

There has been a great deal of discussion lately about the legitimacy of comparing bans on gay marriage to the bans on interracial marriage that were barred by the Supreme Court’s aptly named Loving v. Virgina in 1967.

Typically tendentious is Adam Liptak’s article in today’s New York Times. After noting, correctly, that the Loving court “acted on the most fundamental constitutional grounds, saying that the laws violated both due process and equal protection,” Liptak concludes with a real howler: “No one believes that the court is likely to say anything like that about gay unions anytime soon.”

That statement is demonstrably false, inasmuch as Matthew Franck has a long, interesting article on NRO (“Not Loving It”) that provides good reasons for precisely that belief.

Also fascinating and worth watching is the angst in the Black Caucus produced by the gay marriage issue. As this interesting article points out,

Congressional black Democrats said comparisons shouldn’t be made between the struggle by homosexuals to legalize same-sex “marriage” and the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus said they are on shaky ground with their constituents after the presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry compared the two issues during a town hall meeting in Jackson, Miss., last week.

I was particularly struck by the strained comment of Rep. Artur Davis, the new Congressman from Birmingham:

“The civil rights movement was more of a movement for the equal rights of all Americans: education, voting rights, jobs. Whereas gay rights in terms of gay marriage is a movement for a special group of Americans,” said Rep. Artur Davis, Alabama Democrat. “So I would not compare civil rights with gay rights.”

I know it’s too much to ask, but if the Congressional Black Caucus actually were to remember that the civil rights movement promised equal rights to all and special preferences to none, then the debate over gay marriage will have accomplished something noteworthy and important, no matter what happens on the marriage front.

UPDATE

See Clayton Cramer’s argument that the issues involved in interracial marriage and gay marriage are not analogous.

Say What? (2)

  1. Nels Nelson March 17, 2004 at 4:55 am | | Reply

    What Franck doesn’t mention is that only 16 states still had anti-miscegenation laws by the time of Loving v. Virginia and that the state courts had been analysing, overturning, and upholding such laws for at least 20 years prior to the decision. It wasn’t as though the Supreme Court decided in 1967 to rule on a fresh, hot subject with little legal precedent. If the polling data is correct, gay marriage is an issue of generational divide rather than one of left/right ideology (with, in my opinion, the strongest arguments for gay marriage coming from the non-religious right), so 20 years from now there might not even be any state laws left on which the Supreme Court has to rule.

    And Davis is wrong about the 1960′s civil rights movement not having been focused on securing equal rights for a “special group of Americans.” Its effect was legislation which assured equal protections for all Americans, but the purpose of the movement was securing the same rights for blacks which had been enjoyed by whites.

  2. ELC March 17, 2004 at 9:48 am | | Reply

    I’m sure the Democratic black Congressmen won’t be allowed to stray off the liberal plantation for very long: the white boys who run the party, and control the purse strings, will bring them back in line.

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