MARRIAGE ISSUE JUST AS PLAIN AS BLACK AND WHITE
The Chicago Tribune, May 19, 1996
By Eric Zorn
Statement No. 1: Same-sex marriage must be forbidden, said the Republican senator from Wisconsin, “simply because natural instinct revolts at it as wrong.”
Statement No. 2. An organization opposed to gay marriage claimed legalizing them would result in “a degraded and ignoble population incapable of moral and intellectual development,” and rested this belief on the “natural superiority with which God (has) ennobled heterosexuals.”
Statement No. 3. “I believe that the tendency to classify all persons who oppose gay marriage as ‘prejudiced’ is in itself a prejudice,” grumped a noted psychologist. “Nothing of any significance is gained by such a marriage.”
Statement No. 4. A U.S. representative from Georgia declared that allowing gay marriages “necessarily involves (the) degradation” of conventional marriage, an institution that “deserves admiration rather than execration.”
Statement No. 5. “The next step will be that gays and lesbians will demand a law allowing them, without restraint, to . . . have free and unrestrained social intercourse with your unmarried sons and daughters,” warned a Kentucky congressman. “It is bound to come to that. There is no disguising the fact. And the sooner the alarm is given and the people take heed, the better it will be for our civilization.”
Statement No. 6. “When people of the same sex marry, they cannot possibly have any progeny,” wrote an appeals judge in a Missouri case. “And such a fact sufficiently justifies those laws which forbid their marriages.”
Statement No 7. Same-sex marriages are “abominable,” according to Virginia law. If allowed, they would “pollute” America.
Statement No 8. In denying the appeal of a same-sex couple that had tried unsuccessfully to marry, a Georgia court wrote that such unions are “not only unnatural, but . . . always productive of deplorable results,” such as increased effeminate behavior in the population. “They are productive of evil, and evil only, without any corresponding good . . . (in accordance with) the God of nature.”
Statement No. 9. A gay marriage ban is not discriminatory, reasoned a Republican congressman from Illinois, because it “applies equally to men and women.”
Statement No. 10. Attorneys for the state of Tennessee argued that such unions should be illegal because they are “distasteful to our people and unfit to produce the human race. . . .” The state supreme court agreed, declaring gay marriages would be “a calamity full of the saddest and gloomiest portent to the generations that are to come after us.”
Statement No. 11. Lawyers for California insisted that a ban on same-sex marriage is necessary to prevent “traditional marriage from being contaminated by the recognition of relationships that are physically and mentally inferior. . . . (and entered into by) the dregs of society.”
Statement No. 12. “The law concerning marriages is to be construed and understood in relation to those persons only to whom that law relates,” thundered a Virginia judge in response to a challenge to that state’s non-recognition of same-sex unions. “And not,” he continued, “to a class of persons clearly not within the idea of the legislature when contemplating the subject of marriage.”
To sum up: Legal recognition of such marriages would offend tradition, God, the sensibilities of the majority and the natural order while threatening conventional marriage, children and the future of our
The quotes are culled from a Boston University Law Review article and a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, though I did take the minor liberty of changing the subject of the strangled rage, fear and righteous indignation.
Everywhere I quoted the speakers referring to same-sex marriage, homosexuality and heterosexuality, they were actually referring to interracial marriage and their views of black people, white people and the proper interaction thereof. And yes, that includes statement No. 6, which in original form articulated the old white supremacist belief that offspring of whites and blacks were–like mules that result when horses mate with donkeys–sterile.
The quotes date from 1823 to 1964 and, though the sentiments look hatefully ridiculous to us in 1996, they had sufficient appeal and staying power that 15 states still criminalized black-white marriage until the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously overturned those laws in the appropriately named 1967 case, Loving vs. Virginia.
Those whose unaltered words today resemble statements 1 through 12 above, take note. The stench is familiar. The future is listening.