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In Gay Marriage, Echos Of Separate But Equal

In Gay Marriage, Echos Of Separate But Equal

Fifty-seven years ago today, the United States Supreme Court unanimously held in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that the doctrine of separate but equal simply could not stand.  While the decision was supposed to eradicate racial segregation in public education facilities, its holding has a far wider reach.

The Brown decision was a forceful rebuke of a national acceptance of segregation of rights, in this case based on skin color that had been handed down from the Court in Plessy v. Ferguson.  The Plessy decision allowed decades of de facto discrimination to exist despite federal laws outlawing it.

And while the facts and circumstances of Plessy seem even more removed than those of Brown, the reality is the conservative movement has resurrected the rhetoric of “separate but equal” with stunning effectiveness in the gay marriage debate.

As bans on same-sex marriage snake their way through states from California to Iowa to Minnesota, a familiar refrain has surfaced to defend the indefensible: Same-sex marriage bans do not discriminate because gays are free to marry anyone they want, so long as that person is of the opposite sex.

That was the very same logic used to defend Louisiana’s law mandating separate rail cars for black passengers and for white.  According to the 7-1 majority in Plessy, whites had no more right to sit in the “coloreds-only” car than “coloreds” had to sit in the whites-only car.

I mean, fair is fair, equal is equal, right?

Except it is not.  “Close enough” is not a standard where rights can survive constitutional scrutiny and to suggest so is nothing more than a thinly-veiled cover to deny a person’s humanity. 

If it was not clear before it should be now.  Defending civil rights means not accepting anything less than a full recognition of rights and privileges for same-sex couples.  To do otherwise resurrects the ghosts of a segregationist past that should stay buried for good.

Take Action: Sign the petition to tell Congress to appeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

 

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32 comments

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8:10AM PDT on Jun 5, 2011

My argument was plain and simple. There is no biological gene for homosexuality. In fact a good majority of researchers and scientists have concluded that, but our politically correct society has tongue tied them to a large degree. Nature and nurture play roles in the sexual preferences of individuals, but we cannot deny the very large role that nurture plays. I would like more scientists to look at the statistics of homosexuals and the prevalence of sexual abuse within their past. Honestly, pedophilia could be a larger contributing factor than people want to admit; I think we should look into that and punish anyone who would want to hurt children.

6:45PM PDT on May 19, 2011

Jaime J.

The APA also denied the existence of any "scientific justification" for a ban on same-sex marriage. Regardless of one organization's opinion about the genetics of homosexuality, I easily found a quote on wiki that demonstrates what the scientific community at large generally thinks about the causes of homosexuality.

"No simple, single cause for sexual orientation has been conclusively demonstrated, but research suggests that it is by a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences, with biological factors involving a complex interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment. Biological factors which may be related to the development of a heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or asexual orientation include genes, prenatal hormones, and brain structure."

6:38PM PDT on May 19, 2011

Brian Clark

Those that discriminate against anyone, homosexuals or otherwise, are bigots (like you), no matter what there motivation for bigotry, be it religion or tradition or anything else.

"Great point."

Are you even aware that person your agreeing with would allow for almost anyone to be married, regardless of gender?

"they would be respectful of TRADITIONAL AMERICANS and Christian AMERICANS point of view"

I cannot respect a views founded on disrespecting certain people for something outside of there control (sexual orientation). But even if I could respect bigotry, I would deny that ones persons beliefs should affect another person's ability to get married.

"I haven't seen many concessions from the LBG movement and almost no respect for anyone that disagrees.I'm looking forward to a respectful and intelligent discussion. "

Really? At my campus the LGBT rights people occasionally come into classes and they have always been respectful and tolerant of the views of others. In fact, they are probably more tolerant of the bigots that discriminate against them then I am. They are respectful yet firm in their demands for equal rights

12:38PM PDT on May 19, 2011

"The government should get OUT of the business of defining or recognizing marriage for ANY purpose. That should be up to the individuals involved (or if they like, their religious institutions). Government has no business telling people who they can and can't marry, or that they are or aren't married. Related issues like property, child support, and so on, should be matters of contract law and child welfare. "

Great point. If most of the liberal activists here would practice tolerance as much as they preach it, they would be respectful of TRADITIONAL AMERICANS and Christian AMERICANS point of view despite the fact those Liberals consider it bigotted. The LGB movement has very little to do with the nessasary and noble civil rights movement of the 60's and 70's. You have to give respect to get respect, and while I've seen concessions from traditional Americans as well as Christian Americans such as civil unions, I haven't seen many concessions from the LBG movement and almost no respect for anyone that disagrees.I'm looking forward to a respectful and intelligent discussion.

10:57AM PDT on May 19, 2011

The government should get OUT of the business of defining or recognizing marriage for ANY purpose. That should be up to the individuals involved (or if they like, their religious institutions). Government has no business telling people who they can and can't marry, or that they are or aren't married. Related issues like property, child support, and so on, should be matters of contract law and child welfare.

4:56PM PDT on May 18, 2011

Tom Y - it IS NOT sexual behavior --- when a man & a woman fall in love & get married no one worries about or wonders about their sex life. Why should men who are attracted to men or -women who are attracted to other women be any different? They fall in LOVE - they don't fall in LUST. They don't just hook up for SEX - at least not the ones who stay in committed relationships. There are plenty of people both straight & gay who commit and stay committed for 35, 45, 50 years or more. They have one thing in common - their commitment is strong.
Strange thing is with a straight couple you would say that was what love could do; but you wouldn't give the gay couple anything but your disgust.
YOU are the one with the problem...You can't seem to get past the SEX to see LOVE. Telling people whom they can marry is wrong. Telling them that they cannot identify as married is wrong. I don't care if it is a civil ceremony or a wedding - they should get equal rights - period.
No matter how you look at it - this IS telling a segment of the population that they are 2nd class & it IS writing discrimination into law.

4:30PM PDT on May 18, 2011

There's a crucial difference that's being ignored in this article: the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision dealt with the question of treatment for persons according to racial background. Gay rights is driven by the demand of acceptance for sexual behavior. One is genetically variable; the other is behavioral.

These issues are not equivalent. But they are separate.

1:16PM PDT on May 18, 2011

The quote I used earlier is posted on news websites everywhere; it's not from a Christian website. It is truly what the APA says. Like it or not, there is no gene for homosexuality. It's always going to be the age old issue of nature vs. nuture. And, in regards to homosexuality especially, nuture has a huge impact on a person's sexual orientation. So, as long as we are all in agreement that it is NOT wholly genetic and that a large influencing factor is nurture and the environment in which a child is raised; then, let's get to the real issue here.

The real issue should not be whether homosexuality is genetic or not...why does it matter why or how someone has become a homosexual? We just have to decide now what we are going to do about rights to unions between them. I like the idea of allowing states to choose. Right now, this is too divided of an issue to have a federal mandate over; let's practice our state's rights and allow them to choose within states. Let the people decide.

1:03PM PDT on May 18, 2011

@Nanette P. - This nation is not great as long as it's citizens are without the equality afforded to them by the Constitution.

This isn't about God. Still.

12:39PM PDT on May 18, 2011

Nanette P., thank-you for your comment. Actually, it is YOU and your fellow travelers who are the abominations - and at your hands, countless numbers have suffered - and died.

One's affectional orientation is, in virtually every case, as much an inborn trait as skin pigmentation; of course, you and your ilk are completely divorced from evidence-based reality; your professional hate groups (like "The Family Research Council") commission "studies" that are resoundingly rejected by EVERY mainstream professional organization worldwide.

Do not dare to invoke the name Jesus and call yourself a "Christian," for there is NOTHING remotely Christ-like about you and yours; what you are in fact are biblicists, and it you bible-beating-bunko artists, bigots and ignoramuses who are the perverts; you rant and rave against that which is a fact of nature - or, in your parlance, God's own realm.

Frankly, I do not give a damn about some oft-edited book of dubious translation, containing stories, fables, metaphors, allegories, similes, parables - and myths, written by people who believed, amongst other things, that the Earth was flat. Well, the Earth manifestly is NOT flat (nor, for that matter, is it six-thousand years old).

Do yourselves a favor and read some Dickens; here's an excerpt:

"This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be era

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