Mark E. Sullivan: Analogy gone wrong

March 8, 2014 

The Feb. 28 Point of View “On gay marriage ban, no defense” makes an apples-and-bananas argument against our state’s gay marriage prohibition.

The writer tries to argue that somehow there is a parallel between the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia, striking down a statute that banned interracial marriage, and the N.C. constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Making a common mistake, the writer tries to compare lifting the prohibition on interracial marriage and changing the definition of marriage to include partners of the same sex.

The common law did not ban interracial marriage,; thus the Loving case didn’t modify in any way the meaning and definition of marriage. It simply restored marriage to what it had been under the common law: the legal partnership of one woman and one man.

Contrast this with the movement to legalize gay marriage, which aims to wreak a fundamental change in the definition of marriage. This is something that, paraphrasing Justice Stephen Breyer in the 2013 oral argument in Hollingsworth v. Perry, has only about five years of history behind it, contrasted with over 2,000 years of contrary history. Until several years ago, same-sex marriage was recognized virtually nowhere. This is argument by false analogy.

Mark E. Sullivan

Raleigh

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