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The Loving Corollary to Godwin’s Law

Those who frequent comment threads at blogs and news sites will be familiar with Godwin’s Law. For the uninitiated, Godwin’s Law basically says that in any comment thread, it’s virtually certain that someone will eventually make an analogy to Hitler and/or the Nazis, no matter what the topic.

There’s a corollary in the debate over so-called “same-sex marriage”. In any discussion of the topic, it’s a virtual certainty that someone arguing for the redefinition of marriage will bring up the Supreme Court case Loving vs. Virginia, and compare marriage being defined as male-female to anti-miscegenation laws.

But Loving vs. Virginia was strictly about racial discrimination. It had nothing to do with the definition of marriage, any more than making black people sit in the back of the bus was about the definition of “bus”, or segregated lunch counters were about the definition of “lunch” or “counter”.

As with society at large, the Virginia statute at issue in Loving presumed the essential male-female nature of marriage:

The Lovings were convicted of violating § 20-58 of the Virginia Code:

“Leaving State to evade law. — If any white person and colored person shall go out of this State, for the purpose of being married, and with the intention of returning, and be married out of it, and afterwards return to and reside in it, cohabiting as man and wife, they shall be punished as provided in § 20-59, and the marriage shall be governed by the same law as if it had been solemnized in this State. The fact of their cohabitation here as man and wife shall be evidence of their marriage.”

The Supreme Court ruled that the Virginia statute was a violation of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. The Justices presumed the 14th Amendment pertained to race, and that the violation was based solely on racial discrimination:

Because we reject the notion that the mere “equal application” of a statute containing racial classifications is enough to remove the classifications from the Fourteenth Amendment’s proscription of all invidious racial discriminations, we do not accept the State’s contention that these statutes should be upheld if there is any possible basis for concluding that they serve a rational purpose.

….

In the case at bar, however, we deal with statutes containing racial classifications, and the fact of equal application does not immunize the statute from the very heavy burden of justification which the Fourteenth Amendment has traditionally required of state statutes drawn according to race.

….

The clear and central purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment was to eliminate all official state sources of invidious racial discrimination in the States.

….

There is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination which justifies this classification.

The Court also presumed the basic procreative, male-female nature of marriage:

Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival.

The only rational basis for marriage being “fundamental to our very existence and survival” is due to certain basic facts of human biology and sexual reproduction.

But liberals aren’t seeking to redefine marriage because they think it violates the Constitution, they assert that it violates the Constitution because they want to redefine marriage. The various arguments and assertions are infinitely malleable because they’re entirely outcome-based. Still, they must be refuted. This one is easy to refute. Loving simply doesn’t provide any justification for redefining the institution of marriage. Loving had nothing to do with the definition of marriage.



posted by: The Editors @ 8:35 am April 9, 2012



6 Comments »

  1. For that matter, “love” has nothing to do with the definition of marriage either. One of the biggest flaws in this generation’s activism is a unwillingness to address the concerns of their political opponents and express how instead it affects them emotionally. C.S. Lewis’s arguments for separation of civil and religious marriage, libertarian arguments pushing for fewer laws (and not more laws) that infringe on personal liberty, and the argument that benefits extended to same-sex spouses is preferable to national health care were pretty much ignored.

    These days it seems like political activism is all about censoring the opponent and relying on guilt for change. It has nothing to do with democracy and everything to do with trying to steamroll your opponents.

    Comment by Elbobotic — April 10, 2012 @ 8:24 am April 10, 2012


  2. Here is a good rebuttal to the libertarian idea of privatizing marriage.

    Comment by The Editors — April 10, 2012 @ 9:11 am April 10, 2012


  3. “My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God’s plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone, they have a right to marry.

    “Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the ‘wrong kind of person’ for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

    “I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.” – Mildred Loving of Loving v. Virginia

    Comment by Joe — April 10, 2012 @ 2:17 pm April 10, 2012


  4. “The only rational basis for marriage being ‘fundamental to our very existence and survival’ is due to certain basic facts of human biology and sexual reproduction.”

    If I may remind the gentle author, same sex couples also perform vital tasks, fundamental to our very existence and survival. I would be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks that simply creating a child is the only task parents do. Raising that child to adulthood is vital, thus why so much currency is spent on doing so. It is why we allow children to be adopted by people who had nothing to do with their creation. And indeed in many cases, children are orphaned by their biological parents, either through death, illness or numerous other reasons, leaving roughly 400,000 children in foster care in the United States alone.

    So who are to care for these children? Parents who create their own children have their own children to deal with. We are blessed by the fact that society reserves a segment of couples that are unable to procreate children of their own to do exactly just that. In fact, since the expansion adoption by such couples have lead to a historically unprecedented drop in children in foster care by one-third in the past 10 years. At that rate, the need for foster care could be eliminated within a few decades, leading to an immensely reduced need by the state to care for such children.

    All of these are absolutely vital to our survival, and a society that embraces that will undoubtedly survive better than one that does not, and is likely the reason that such a thing occurs naturally to begin with. In fact, a mechanism that ensures that -all- children, either biological or adopted, are properly raised to adulthood is a reason the mechanism probably even exists in the first place.

    Comment by Joe — April 10, 2012 @ 2:34 pm April 10, 2012


  5. Mildred Loving’s personal opinion about SSM is entirely irrelevant to the Supreme Court case from 1967.

    Comment by The Editors — April 11, 2012 @ 9:14 am April 11, 2012


  6. The fact that a very small percentage of children are raised by same-sex couples does not mean it logically follows that same-sex relationships are vital to human existence and survival. Not at all. Those children wouldn’t exist without opposite-sex unions. There’s obviously no comparison.

    Comment by The Editors — April 11, 2012 @ 9:22 am April 11, 2012


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