This is a very persuasive argument, not because of its logic, but solely for the emotionalism it stirs. But the two have nearly nothing in common.
Segregation was a profound social evil. Marriage as an exclusive heterosexual union is a necessary social good. It is why all cultures since earliest days, regardless of religion, law, or culture, have marriage as only between men and women.
Loving v. Virginia struck down a legal regime, peculiar to certain parts of the nation that was wholly racist at its core. As the court observed, the Virginia law was about "the absolute prohibition of a 'white person' marrying other than another 'white person.'" It was about nothing more than the racial purity of whites and all the ugliness that implies. If the Loving analogy is exact, we would have to conclude that our current laws on marriage as a male/female union stem from some effort to keep others in their place. Study the anthropological origins of marriage for as long as you want and you will find nothing of the sort.
As David Blankenhorn sagely pointed out in his book, "The Future of Marriage," some Southern racists redefined marriage to make it something it was never supposed to be about -- racial purity -- when race is not any part of marriage. It was about making marriage do something it was never intended to do for the sake of their own narrow social ideals. Likewise, same-sex marriage advocates today are drafting marriage into their own narrow social cause, as a way to elevate the social standing of homosexuality. Like keeping the races apart then, marriage has no place in this special-interest-based re-engineering.
Additionally, striking down bans on interracial marriage affirmed marriage by saying that any woman could marry any man, clearing the way for letting marriage do what it is supposed to do -- solving the universal human paradox of sexual embodiment in bringing male and female together. Same-sex marriage redefines marriage -- stating that male and female are merely optional for the family and that motherhood and fatherhood are only sentimental in their meaning.
And on the note of mothers and fathers, it is a very different thing for a child to say "I have a white father and black mother" than "I have two moms." There is scant research indicating that interracial parenting is developmentally harmful to children, but literally hundreds -- if not thousands -- of strong published studies showing how negatively children are hindered physically, emotionally, educationally and socially when they are denied being raised by their own mother and father, which is exactly what every same-sex home does by definition.
This regular refrain of comparison is not just mistaken. It is flat wrong. And not just logically, but morally. It is insidious -- a pernicious poisoning of the well of civil discourse -- because it powerfully implies that those who oppose same-sex marriage today are merely the most modern version of the bigotry, close-mindedness and hatred that fueled racial segregation of yesterday. As one who takes those injustices very seriously, the comparison is deeply offensive to opponent of same-sex marriage. Its stench is repulsive.
Glenn T. Stanton is the director for family formation studies at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colo., and is the author of the new book, "Secure Daughters Confident Sons: How Parents Guide Their Children into Authentic Masculinity and Femininity" (Multnomah, 2011). This column first appeared at the NationalReview.com's Corner blog.
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