Perhaps one of the most pervasive arguments we hear today from those who want to completely redefine marriage is that to not allow someone to marry another of the same sex is to deny them their basic civil rights. They attempt to link this modern debate with the important and pivotal civil rights movement of the 1960’s. Why is this? Simply put, when you couch the issue in terms of discrimination, bigotry, and hatred, you are trying to stop any semblance of discussion, and silence those that oppose your views.
Here’s what those that oppose marriage as the union of one man and one woman try to do:
The analogy being made is that upholding marriage as the union of one man and one woman is a similar form of discrimination as blocking African Americans from their rights to vote, to eat at restaurants, to use public restrooms, and to attend the quality schools as was done prior to the Civil Rights Act. In describing the first lunch counter sit-in, a writer explains: “The four North Carolina Agricultural & Technical College students only wanted what any white customer might want, and on precisely the same terms—the same food at the same counter at the same price.”
So let’s take the civil right associated with marriage. Marriage is the lifelong union of a man and a woman where children naturally and usually ensue. The civil right associated with this reality is that the State cannot deny marriage from couples who have valid standing to marry (i.e., non-incestuous, not already married, etc.). The State did not create marriage, but simply upholds a right related to marriage.
Do a heterosexual man and a homosexual man equally have this marriage-related-right? Do they equally have the ability and the freedom under the law to enter into marriage under the same parameters in a lifelong union? The answer is undoubtedly yes.
The fact that the homosexual man may never desire, nor have any inclination to want to join with a woman in a lifelong union does not mean that he does not have the freedom to do so, and the State upholds his right by not prohibiting him from doing so. The heterosexual man does not enjoy a privilege that the homosexual man does not. In reality, those that are working to redefine marriage are not asking for the same civil right to enter into marriage as everyone else and being denied that right by the State. They are asking the State to create an entirely new institution.
People attracted to those of the same sex “have not been deprived of the law’s equal protection, nor of the right to marry—only of the ability to insist that a single-sex union is a ‘marriage.’ They cloak their demands in the language of civil rights because it sounds so much better than the truth: They don’t want to accept or reject marriage on the same terms that it is available to everyone else. They want it on entirely new terms.”