It’s always both disheartening and a bit amusing watching conservatives contort themselves to justify discrimination against GLBT Americans, especially when it comes to marriage equality. They couch their arguments in specious claims about judicial activism, but the truth is, their position rests on the bigoted idea that a group of people can be denied equal protection under the law simply because some people are uncomfortable with relationships that are different from their own.
The latest example? The media darlings and deep thinkers at Treasure State Politics.
When this is your argument, you’re in trouble:
I understand it is vital for every citizen, no matter their personal choices, to be guaranteed the same rights under our laws. Marriage isn’t a right, it’s a tradition. When a court begins to compromise the meaning of marriage that Montanans have overwhelmingly agreed on, the reverence of marriage can be quickly destroyed.
The Supreme Court has disagreed with the idea that marriage is not a right, most specifically in the 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision, which outlawed anti-miscegenation laws. As the majority wrote:
The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men …
To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law.
Loving v. Virginia is an especially instructive example, as it illustrates the absurdity of relying on popular opinion to determine the right to marry. In the 1960s, the majority of Americans opposed interracial marriage:
A Gallup Poll indicated in 1965 that 42 percent of Northern whites supported bans on inter-racial marriage, as did 72 percent of southern whites.
The “logic” offered at Treasure State Politics must, therefore, endorse the position that the Supreme Court was wrong to strike down inter-racial marriage laws in the United States. Surely, these future voices and current campaign staffers for the Montana Republican Party are not suggesting the Supreme Court should have left such an abhorrent remnant of Jim Crow laws on the books, are they?
They have to be—and that shows just how wrong the argument is.
Of course, the deeper issue is the bind the Republican Party finds itself in when it comes to the issue of gay marriage: in the short term, they have to take a hard line against equality for all Americans, because it plays well with their base. Long term, it’s not only a bigoted position, but one that’s a political loser.
This Pew Research Center chart shows that Americans are headed in the right direction when it comes to marriage equality, but equal access to rights shouldn’t depend on either public opinion or what conservatives believe marriage means.
Equality under the law means equality under all laws, no matter how contorted the argument used to justify discrimination.
As a final note, the bloggers at Treasure State Politics might enhance their credibility if they didn’t write things like “the gay blog alienated the people it needed to convince.” I don’t know what the hell a “gay” blog is, but it sounds complicated.