Is same-sex marriage similar to interracial marriage?

Is same-sex marriage similar to interracial marriage?

Interracial MarriageIs opposition to government-endorsed same-sex marriage comparable to once-held opposition to interracial marriage? If one believes gender is as irrelevant as race, the comparison may make sense. However, if one believes gender distinction is worth preserving in a way race is not, the comparison dissolves.

First, however, it is important to note that mixed race marriages were once outlawed. Today, however, same-sex marriage is nowhere outlawed. Rather, the federal government simply does not recognize it. As I pointed out previously:

Nowhere are people currently denied the privilege of marrying the person he or she loves (notwithstanding those already married, underage, immediate family, etc. More on that below), not under Proposition 8 in California or in any other state. Proposition 8, for instance, does not ban homosexual marriage. It merely declares that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” This means that if a same-sex couple wishes to get married in a local church or other institution and live a happy and fulfilling life together, they have the right to do so. The proposition simply makes clear that government will not endorse that marriage. It will instead remain neutral.

Second, opposition to interracial marriage was predicated upon the notion that racial differences mattered, which is of course wrong: A white man is no different than an Asian man, and a Hispanic woman is no different than a black woman. Thus, any and all opposition to interracial marriage was purely racist.

Opposition to government sponsorship of same-sex marriage is predicated upon the notion that the genders are different, and that such distinction is worth preserving. If sex distinction is unimportant, why have separate public bathrooms or professional sports associations, such as the NBA and WNBA?

Those who think gender distinction is worth preserving realize that, just as recognition of interracial marriage was a significant step toward declaring race (rightly) unimportant, so, too, recognizing same-sex marriage would be a significant step toward declaring gender unimportant.

So, one needs to ask oneself: does gender distinction matter? The answer will likely determine the appropriateness of comparing race to gender.

David Weinberger

David Weinberger

David Weinberger previously worked at the Heritage Foundation. He currently resides in the Twin Cities, and he blogs at


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