Comments 3

  1. Two of these cases are about establishing basic civil rights for African Americans by abolishing systemic, legalized racism in southern states that aimed at preventing interracial marriages. That isn’t exactly noted or discussed; it seems more important to the author to warn that they are precedents for gay marriage which is already legal in most states. Why is gay marriage the overriding issue rather than the historic civil rights issue? Does the author feel there was something wrong with how these cases were decided that made them applicable to gay couples? If not, then what exactly is the problem with regarding them as precedents for a legal right for gay couples to marry? I’d also like to point out that it’s possible to be a “conservative Christian” and support marriage equality. You could say opposition to gay marriage is a “more conservative” position, but you can’t define theological or political conservativism by this single issue.

  2. Hi Gerry,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. My response is below, and I welcome any further feedback.
    As to your concern about gay marriage v. historic civil rights –
    On descriptions: I framed this article mostly in terms of cases which I don’t think are that well known which have significant implications for currently developing issues. If you click through on the case names for any of the cases above, you will find a brief summary of the facts and essential holding of the Court in each case. I don’t want to duck the importance of these cases as a historical matter in any way, but those matters are largely settled, and the scope of the article is more prospective.
    On content: I don’t think that either of these cases should necessarily extend to the issue of gay marriage, as there are very good Constitutional reasons to consider racial discrimination a special case in our history. We engaged in it for a sustained period and at a high level, as even the Constitution considered slaves as 3/5 of a person. We have three Constitutional Amendments which are specifically directed toward remedying it, and race/ethnicity currently sits alone as the form of discrimination subject to strict scrutiny.
    I also happen to think that the Bob Jones case was wrongly decided on both issues of tax policy and constitutional law (which we can get in to if you would like, but I won’t foist that all on you without provocation), although that categorically does not mean that I defend the university’s policy as morally right.
    On using these cases as precedent: I don’t happen to personally buy the equation between racial discrimination and orientation-based discrimination. The argument made in case law for why racial discrimination is so bad is tied to it being a judgment based on an immutable attribute of someone’s person over which they lack volitional control. While this argument is often made with respect to orientation, I don’t think it can be sincerely sustained. The leading edge of the movement these days argues that sexuality and gender are both fluid concepts, rather than being biologically determined, and the “gay/straight” dichotomy has resulted in quite a bit of internal animosity within the LGBT community regarding views on bisexuals. It is also brought into doubt by the letter I left out of the more common iteration of the acronym these days, namely the “Questioning” in LGBTQ.
    I believe that the trajectory of the debate, having convinced many that it’s hateful to judge people for what they can’t change, has now moved to trying to celebrate the liberty we have to define ourselves the way we want without societal judgment. I’m all for having an open debate over that second proposition, but that would mean that the movement shouldn’t be able to essentially have its cake and eat it too.
    As to your concern over defining “conservatism” –
    I guess I’m not that interested in debating this point. I will grant that your definition of conservative will vary based on whether you’re emphasizing economic, social, or religious aspects of conservatism. I’m not particularly interested in trying to play judge here over who counts as in or out of the conservative camp; I’m purely identifying which view is disfavored using common parlance. As you say, the position is clearly “more conservative” than positions advocating for marriage equality, and while we appear to share a distaste for single-issue politics or theology, I do think that this view of marriage is still sufficiently common among those who would self-identify as “Conservative Christians” that it is not unfair to consider it representative (even if you contest whether it should be definitional).

    1. Thanks for your response. I have only one point in reply. There is quite a lot of research showing several biological/developmental and family/genetic factors that are likely to be causes of homosexuality. Some studies have offered good hypotheses for why homosexuality is not selected against; it may actually indicate an advantage (higher fecundity) in the larger heterosexual family. At any rate, I would expect the amount of homosexuality that is volitional or “choose your own adventure” sexual identity seeking is a tiny minority and a totally different issue. I suspect the law and society, especially the LGBT/Q communities, will have to ask some hard, discriminating questions as to whether the difference between hard-wired and volitional identities should be written into the law, but one thing will not be debatable, and that is the natural basis for most homosexuality.

      I hope you and other readers here will attend “Building an Inclusive Community: Scripture, Science & Story” this Saturday (details here: http://oneiowa.org/events/ Please RSVP) where the issue will be discussed from scientific and reformed, biblical perspectives.

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