Culture,  Politics

Same-sex “Marriage” and Interracial Marriage

It has become fairly common for people to make a moral equivalence between bans on interracial marriage and bans on same-sex marriage. The comparison is used to drive home the point that just as one’s race shouldn’t be used as a precondition for marriage, so neither should be same-sex pairings. Frank Beckwith has a must-read post arguing that from a legal standpoint, the analogy doesn’t hold-up. He writes:

“Anti-miscegenation laws, therefore, were attempts to eradicate the legal status of real marriages by injecting a condition—sameness of race—that had no precedent in common law. For in the common law, a necessary condition for a legitimate marriage was male-female complementarity, a condition on which race has no bearing. It is clear then that the miscegenation/same-sex analogy does not work. . .

“I am not suggesting, of course, that there are not other arguments for same-sex marriage other than the anti-miscegenation analogy. There are plenty of them, some of which are serious challenges to the common-law understanding of marriage as requiring gender complementarity. What I am saying is that once one understands the purpose of the anti-miscegenation laws and their relation to the common law understanding of marriage, the analogy not only breaks down, but may actually work against the case for same-sex marriage.”

As far as blog-posts go, this is not light reading, but this one is worth the effort. Read the rest of it here.


  • Donald Johnson

    That main article had a very unfortunate typo in the title of his book on abortion. He is against abortion but the (wrong) word (for is the type, it should be against) makes it appear he is for it.

  • Nathan

    “…from a legal standpoint, the analogy doesn’t hold-up”

    I would say that it does if a judge accepts the analogy. Especially if the judge is an “activist” against baseless exlusion from “an institution of fundamental legal, personal, and social significance.”

  • Sue

    He makes an excellent argument for pro-homosexual marriage activists to be compared to the anti-miscegenation activists. It is a clear and well constructed argument.

    However, even if we accept the validitiy of his argument, we must also accept that there is no validity to the slippery slope argument.

    It is also a fact that societies which accept mixed marriages are more likely to accept homosexual unions, and societies which reject homosexual unions tend to have a more negative view of mixed marriages. In fact, I would seriously doubt that there is a church or a demographic group which accepts homosexual unions and discourages mixed marriages.

    Therefore, Beckwith’s argument may be analytically tight, but completely irrelevant because it applies to no known polity.

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