Gay marriage: Not like interracial marriage, not like a defective Toyota

As Judge Vaughn Walker prepares his decision in the historic California Proposition 8 gay marriage trial and the National Organization for Marriage continues its anti-gay marriage interstate bus tour, two dispatches of note come today from the fray. The NOM tour stopped in Des Moines this week, capitol of Iowa, where gay marriage is famously legal and where the first lady of the state, Mari Culver, said she thought her acceptance of gay marriage represents “the journey of a fair-minded average Iowan.”

It’s also where one of the anti gay marriage “Concerned Women for America,” Tamara Scott, compared being gay to being a defective Toyota in need of recall. She also said it’s better to be safe and not gay than it is to be “hip” and do “the in thing” by being gay. You would “stop someone you love from eating contaminated food because it would do them bodily harm” wouldn’t you? she asked. “This isn’t about hate.”

Video of Tamara Scott with Concerned Women for America in Iowa:

As the Iowa Independent reports, outlawing gay marriage will not improve the economy, despite Scott’s conviction that it will.

At his Atlantic magazine blog, meantime, editor Ta-Nehisi Coates considers comparisons between the civil rights struggles for gay marriage on one hand and interracial marriage on the other. He used to think it was a good comparison. Not so much anymore.

Banning interracial marriage meant that most black people could not marry outside of their race. This was morally indefensible, but very different than a total exclusion of gays from the institution of marriage. Throughout much of America, gays are effectively banned from marrying, not simply certain types of people, but any another compatible partner period. Unlike heterosexual blacks in 1960, the ban gays suffer under is unconditional and total…

A more compelling analogy would be a law barring blacks, not from marrying other whites, but effectively from marrying anyone at all. In fact we have just such an analogy. In the antebellum South, the marriages of the vast majority of African-Americans, much like gays today, held no legal standing….

I see the fight for marriage rights not as a fight for a squishy, gauzy “tolerance,” but as a fight for gay self-determination. The family is not just a building block of civilizations, but a defense against civilizations which, so often, prove themselves unworthy of the name. Thus gay marriage is, to me, not about relieving homophobes of their burdensome ignorance but about the right of gays to defend themselves against that ignorance.

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