Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Dubious Connection Between Interracial and Same Sex Marriage


It appears that the purpose of marriage, whether you are looking at mid twentieth century marriage documents or 3000 year old Egyptian marital laws, has always been to establish a practical legal structure with which to manage the physical and emotional property of human beings at least from the position of government. The other role of marriage as an affirmation of mutual love is no less important and in our society one cannot exist without the other if it wants to be taken seriously. In the past, religion has been utilized by government as a convenient overlay strategically manipulated to impose additional moral regulations on top of the basic covenant of legal interdependence which we know as a civil marriage contract. In the past church and state conspired to invalidate those who would not legally marry and to intimidate married couples from dissolving their nuptial bliss.



Religion adds a moral overlay to marriage that many gay couples tolerate because it represents a network of socio-cultural traditions which have rarely been challenged. Those who do not support same sex marriages have historically used this overlay to deny same sex couples their right to marry. Getting to the nitty-gritty of the matter to fight for same sex marriage is a fight the GBLT community has been winning over the past decade! The late twentieth and the early twenty-first centuries have been a hotbed for same sex marriage. The LGBT community has finally admitted that it shares suffrage with the rest of The Civil Rights Movement but only cautiously embraces the movement which it attributes to Black, Asian, Latino, Aboriginal and other minorities. That is why Black Americans are equally cautious to embrace the LGBT community as brethren in their struggle for same sex marriage. They are suspicious that the LGBT Community will jump on The Civil Rights Bandwagon only long enough to achieve their goals and then sashay off into the sunset leaving the good cause and its larger picture behind.

I will not deny that the struggle for same sex marriage is not a true civil rights issue, it certainly is! But I will school those who wistfully compare the struggle for same sex marriage to the quest for interracial marriage which cannot be separated from the quest for racial equality. I say wistfully but framed only as an obsequious irony because the LGBT community comes from a tradition of privilege and its overly romanticized connexion to the civil rights struggle of formerly enslaved peoples can only be met with a great deal of astonishment. The comparison between interracial and gay marriage in America needs some shock value added in the form of historical documentation. The spectre of Emmitt Till will always loom as one of the most haunting reminders of how far people would go in order to prevent the mixing of races. One of the first laws barring interracial marriage in America goes back to the mid 1600’s and the laws became increasingly biased in such a way as to deny the rights of any black person to own or claim rights to anything, their rights were being progressively erased leaving them utterly unprotected under the law save under the condition that they were owned as property in which case they had no clear rights to ownership of any kind being themselves chattel owned by their masters. What they owned was owned first by their slavemaster, they possessed nothing in the eyes of the law! Notwithstanding, Frederick Douglass, a world renown black American abolitionist, was married to a white woman in the late nineteenth century. It is clear that the laws of that time were not intended to support interracial marriage as they had been crafted to enforce the divine right of men to own other human beings. At the time Black men were not considered to be human beings and as such could not possesses anything least of all a white woman which would have been the result of an interracial marriage at that time. Ironically Frederick Douglass was also an avid supporter of the Suffragist Movement so his interracial marriage was more than just a memorialization of his love, it was a profound socio-political statement! This is the unpleasant but very real side of the history that politics, religion and marriage share and that cannot be overlooked. Before the LGBT community jumps onto The Civil Rights bandwagon the Black American intelligentsia would like it to demonstrate that it comprehends how the bandwagon got built! Drawing a parallel between interracial marriage and same sex marriage is truly stretching the metaphor! Save for the fact that interracial marriage and same sex marriage have at different times in history been considered taboo they bear no other resemblance to one another. Interracial marriage was discouraged because it was inconsistent with the socioeconomic order maintaining that black people were chattel and not human and therefore not eligible to the same rights as whites. Same sex marriage is being challenged because some believe it defies certain moral standards, the humanity of the GBLT community has never been denied what has been denied is their ability to change the doctrine of private religious institutions that exist and should remain outside of the purview of Federal and local law. I see the false similarity the two conditions imply and while hesitant to enter into a petty argument qualifying one over the other I simply have to fall back on to history for guidance. Let the LGBT community give due credit to The Civil Rights Movement which it most incontrovertibly owes for its own successes in the fight to move human civilization forward. One must understand that remarkable relationship if one is to begin to comprehend why same sex marriage is met with such resistance today. Interracial marriage and same sex marriage though loosely related in terms of human rights are certainly apples and oranges in the big picture of human social evolution but fruits nonetheless and so in defense of the LGBT community I must add that The Civil Rights Movement which includes historically Black American institutions, must also make a formal effort to embrace the LGBT community and to smooth over its differences in the greater interest of universal human rights.

I cannot complete any discourse on the subject of same sex marriage without challenging the LGBT community to challenge the religious institutions they support to give them 100% inclusion in the most sacred documents of their faith or to completely divest from them as a sign of ultimate protest! We know that every one of these religions once openly supported slavery, the inequality of women and have always openly condemned homosexuality. With such a track record the church would seem to be the last place a gay person would look to for support of same sex marriage. For many years I have challenged my gay colleagues to challenge the religions they practise to demonstrate the ultimate form of advocacy by amending their sacred texts so that same sex marriage and the GBLT community are clearly supported and removing all content that might suggest otherwise. Religions which have demonstrated centuries of human rights violations must now be held accountable. These religions have lost the respect of humanity and It is my opinion that the LGBT community may have to establish their own churches, inventing religious institutions that support them and everyone else. If this is done it will be a departure from religions that isolate themselves from the wonderful diversity which characterizes the human species…



DAVID VOLLIN
Male Media Mind