Jim Chen, a law professor at the University of Minnesota, has a powerful essay comparing prohibitions on interracial marriage to prohibitions on gay marriage. I’ll post a long excerpt below the fold:
Among life’s challenges, none is more difficult to undertake, and none is more rewarding when achieved, than the mission of finding one person to love above all others, and persuading that person to love you in return. The law has no legitimate basis for regulating this quest on the basis of the race or sex of one’s beloved.
The most obvious analogy supporting legal recognition is Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967). It’s such an obvious analogy that it is futile to cite any of the hundreds, thousands of sources that make the connection. But just because an argument is obvious does not make it wrong. In this instance, the Loving analogy is complete.
I take Loving personally. It was decided before I reached six months of age. I came of age in the geographic center of the American region that historically sanctioned extraordinary, even violent, measures to prevent even the hint of interracial mingling. I was born where all my immediate ancestors had been born themselves, an island at the eastern edge of World Island. My wife traces most of her ancestry to an island at the western extreme. The suggestion that these circumstances of ancestry, none of which either of us chose or could ever control, could bar us from being married is singularly offensive.
And so too is the suggestion that the sex of the members of a committed couple should determine that couple’s entitlement to full recognition and protection under the law.
In spite of all this, it appears that one national political party seems hell-bent on devoting the final days of the 2006 campaign to condemning the mere suggestion of same-sex marriage. For shame. A party that has nothing affirmative to offer voters besides an incitement to hate deserves no votes. To oppose equal dignity for same-sex couples is an expression of revulsion. Decent people do not express revulsion at their friends or their families. Over time decency — and love — will prevail…
When this generation shall have passed from this earth, God and/or posterity will judge us as severely for our unwillingness to confess the legitimacy of homosexual love as we today judge those who resist the rightness — legal, moral, and spiritual — of Loving v. Virginia. Yesterday Massachusetts, today New Jersey, tomorrow America from sea to shining sea.
Hear, hear. I’ve said it before and I still believe it as strongly as ever. Loving v Virginia is now nearly 40 years old. It is now so universally accepted as a correct decision that no one outside the KKK will dare to condemn it, primarily because society has so thoroughly accepted the premise at its core that no decent person today would challenge it. In 40 years, we will look back on the uproar over gay marriage and think the same thing.
When I am an old man, I will look back on these days as many of our parents did on the days of the civil rights movement and marvel at how far we have come. More importantly, we will have won this battle completely and most of those who today are so outraged at the thought of two gays getting married will harbor a bit of shame that they ever made such a big deal out of it. We will become used to the sight of gay weddings (and divorces, of course) and it will become routine, hardly worth mentioning.
And as more and more people get to know gay couples and interact with them, they will slowly but surely come to recognize their shared humanity. You see, ridiculous demonizations that portray gays as evil people out to destroy marriage simply cannot withstand contact with reality. When people get to know couples like Jason and Scott, they will see not only that their prejudices were wrong, they will see themselves. They will see two people who love each other and who have all the same problems, the same goals, the same feelings.
When their children are playing with the children of gay couples, oblivious to the artificial distinctions adults have created, they will recognize the shared humanity. They will see people dealing with all the same things they deal with every day, people who work hard to provide opportunity and support for their children. It was that kind of interaction that broke down the prejudices of race and nationality in earlier times, and it will do the same here. And we will all wonder what on earth all the fuss was about.