GOP using increasingly racist arguments against gay marriage

Republicans really need to come out with a consistent position on inter-racial marriage.

Because the way the GOP talks, it seems they’re a dead-set against the Supreme Court’s famous decision in Loving v. Virginia, where the court ordered the state of the Virginia to recognize the marriage between a black woman and a white man.

At the time, the late 1960s, 17 states (all southern) had laws banning marriages between blacks and whites.

The Supreme Court in Loving ruled that such “anti-miscegenation” laws were unconstitutional, overruling the racist will of the Southern people.

So I find it troubling, and have for a long while now, that Republicans keep explaining their opposition to pro-gay-marriage court decisions in language that would have prevented the Supreme Court from ruling as it did in Loving. Republicans are, in essence, making arguments in favor of banning the mixing of the races. And that’s rather messed up.

Here’s the latest example from Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who is upset that a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriages:

“In 2008, Arizona voters approved a state constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union of one man and one woman. Now, with their rulings, the federal courts have again thwarted the will of the people and further eroded the authority of states to regulate and uphold our laws.

The Lovings, of Virginia,

The “deeply troubling” Lovings, of Virginia. A marriage that “would have been unrecognizable to those who wrote and ratified our national charter.”

“It is not only disappointing, but also deeply troubling, that unelected federal judges can dictate the laws of individual states, create rights based on their personal policy preferences and supplant the will of the people in an area traditionally left to the states for more than two hundred years. As Justice Scalia opined, such action is tantamount to ‘an assertion of judicial supremacy over the people’ and is an image of the judiciary ‘that would have been unrecognizable to those who wrote and ratified our national charter.’

“Simply put, courts should not be in the business of making and changing laws based on their personal agendas. It is not the role of the judiciary to determine that same-sex marriages should be allowed. Historically and traditionally, that power belongs to the states, and to the people. If society wants to recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions, that decision should be made through our elected representatives or at the ballot – not the courts.”

Now let’s edit Brewer’s statement, as it would have read in 1967:

“In 1924, Virginia voters, through their duly-elected legislators, approved legislation to define marriage as a union of one white man and one white woman. Now, with their rulings, the federal courts have again thwarted the will of the people and further eroded the authority of states to regulate and uphold our laws.

“It is not only disappointing, but also deeply troubling, that unelected federal judges can dictate the laws of individual states, create rights based on their personal policy preferences and supplant the will of the people in an area traditionally left to the states for more than two hundred years. As Justice Scalia opined, such action is tantamount to ‘an assertion of judicial supremacy over the people’ and is an image of the judiciary ‘that would have been unrecognizable to those who wrote and ratified our national charter.’

“Simply put, courts should not be in the business of making and changing laws based on their personal agendas. It is not the role of the judiciary to determine that inter-racial marriages should be allowed. Historically and traditionally, that power belongs to the states, and to the people. If society wants to recognize inter-racial marriage, that decision should be made through our elected representatives or at the ballot – not the courts.”

Kinda racist, no?

There is no way to argue that “the will of the people” is what sets the agenda for marriage laws in the states without opposing the court’s decision in Loving.

And the entire notion of “unelected judges dictating laws of the individual states” in an “area traditionally left to the states for more than two hundred years” is exactly what the court did in both Loving and Brown v Board of Education as well.

It is a supremely racist argument for Republicans to be making. Per se civil rights decisions are counter to the will of the people. So if the Republican party has a problem with courts ruling on civil rights, then the Republican party has a problem with the most important advancements in the history of American civil rights.

Now, Brewer and Republicans generally like to trot out the “it’s not the same thing being back and being gay!” argument whenever people point out that their party’s latent intolerance is showing. But the question at hand is not whether being black is the same thing as being gay. The question is whether a federal court ever has the right to tell a state how to run its marriages; and Jan Brewer, and much of the Republican party, say “no.”

That means that if the Republican party had its druthers, blacks and whites would still not be permitted to marry in America today.

Keep that in mind when you vote in November.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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30 Responses to “GOP using increasingly racist arguments against gay marriage”

  1. johnbales says:

    I’m just old enough that I remember, growing up in the South, the ‘states rights’ arguments being used by racist southerners against racial equality, integration of the public schools, and marriage equality for interracial couples. It was the shrill dog-whistle which let others know the person’s racist ideas and ideals without having to come straight out and say that they hated Blacks. And it’s true, just take any of the old states rights arguments from the 50s and 60s, replace whatever word was used to refer to Blacks with the appropriate word to refer to LGBTQ persons and it sounds exactly like right-wing talking points from 2014.

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  4. Badgerite says:

    Discrimination against a group of people is not a policy issue. It is a moral issue. To justify the harm done by discriminatory laws, all the states have to do is come up with a legitimate governmental interest that is served and a rational connection between the discrimination and achieving that interest. That is a really low bar. And no state to date has been able to meet it. That tells you a lot. In this case, the harm is done just for the sake of doing harm. And that is unconstitutional.
    And immoral.

  5. therling says:

    As conservatives would likely say, “but that was different.” I think that was also the basis of the court’s majority opinion in that case.

  6. Sam_Handwich says:

    interesting to note here that Bush v Gore was in part a 14th Amendment equal protection decision … i.e., because of the lack of a state-wide recount method, the voters of various FL counties were not being treated equally.

    so next time some rightwinger tries to claim that the 14th amendment applies only to black people, or to race in general, sock them with Bush v Gore.

  7. therling says:

    “unelected judges dictating laws of the individual states” in an “area
    traditionally left to the states for more than two hundred years”

    Bush v. Gore, 2000.

  8. Badgerite says:

    Exactly. They do not get to choose a ‘policy’ of discrimination just for the sake of discrimination. It has to achieve something valid and good for society or at least necessary. This isn’t optional. Equal treatment under the law is part of our fundamental credo. They are saying that their state and their people can engage in unequal treatment of a group of citizens as a ‘policy’ choice.
    I don’t see how that is defensible. Unless equal protection does not mean equal protection. Unless it is alright to carve out whatever exception that public opinion will support. And as a couple of people have pointed out, those exceptions could include interracial marriage or really any other grouping of people who are not in the majority. Once any exception is allowed for no good reason as a ‘policy choice’, the protections of the US Constitution are seriously eroded for everyone.

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  10. Indigo says:

    From the Whiskey Rebellion to the Louisiana Purchase, from slavery to women’s vote, from integration to presidential initiative in starting wars, from equal rights marriage to the next thing on the cosmic agenda (single-payer health care, perhaps?), the argument against that next step has inevitably been wrapped up in a fresh version of that same argument which we can reasonably call the argumentum ex stupiditate. It gets its impetus from the selfish will to impose nonsense on others.

  11. Indigo says:

    Without hypocrisy, Scolia wouldn’t have had a career in what passes for jurisprudence among his peers.

  12. Mark_in_MN says:

    Google ngram chart for state’s rights.

  13. Mark_in_MN says:

    It should be noted that the rhetoric of “states’ rights” has its origins, or at least it’s flowering in American politics, over racial matters: slavery and the civil rights movement.

    I would argue that there is a distinction between “states’ rights” and “federalism.” Federalism is about the limits, balancing and proper ordering of powers between the federal and state governments. States’ rights is usually used entirely as an argument to nullify federal government power, and particularly to argue for a balance that leans very heavily toward state over federal power.

    And then, there could be some argument about whether states can be said to have rights themselves in any meaningful way (without denying that there is indeed a federal system in place under our constitution).

  14. BeccaM says:

    The argument itself isn’t racist or homophobic; it’s actually federalism vs confederation…and we had a war over that with the former winning. As you note though, there’s a historic context involved, and in every significant case thus far where states rights was invoked, it wasn’t because a state wished to grant greater liberties to some portion of its citizens but was banned by the federal government.

    Massachusetts, Vermont, and the other early marriage equality states theoretically could have argued DOMA was infringement on their states-rights to regulate marriage law — but the important thing to remember is they didn’t. Because unlike Jim Crow laws and segregation and attempts to ban abortion or interracial marriage or anti-gay laws, those who wanted greater freedoms for a historically oppressed minority argued instead that everyone, everywhere should have those rights. Not that a marriage, for example, should become null-and-void upon crossing a state border.

    It really is that simple. Those who argue for states rights invariably are motivated by a desire to restrict somebody’s rights, but have been prevented by our having a central government.

  15. BlueIdaho says:

    If Scalia doesn’t believe in ‘judicial supremacy over the people’ why doesn’t he resign? Doing anything else is simply hypocrisy.

  16. rmthunter says:

    And Hobby Lobby is the greatest decision ever made by any court anywhere.

  17. Eebadee-eebadee-thatsallfolks says:

    I know politics doesn’t happen in a historical vacuum, but I’m not sure that the states’ rights argument is inherently racist or homophobic. Just a few years ago, it could have been argued that DOMA was an unjustified infringement of the federal government on the rights of some states (Vermont, Massachusetts, etc.) to regulate marriage. As far as I’m aware, that angle was not argued in court, probably because the states that already had marriage equality didn’t want it to be at the expense of the states seemed far off from having it. But it could have been.

  18. Houndentenor says:

    Well, they love it when Kennedy votes with the other extreme right-Catholics on the court in their favor. It’s only when it goes against their bigotry that they have a problem. You didn’t hear them objecting to the “unelected judges” ruling on Citizens United.

  19. Houndentenor says:

    Exactly. Otherwise, why have a judicial branch at all? And then there’s the “unelected judges” meme as if they are proposing a Constitutional Amendment so that we elect federal judges? Of course not. It’s this idea that “the elites” are telling them what they can and cannot do. Well, yes, sometimes someone has to keep you from treating other people like crap. Like they did with segregation and miscegenation and other horrible laws. Oh wait, the same crowd would mostly be for those things. Never mind.

  20. woodroad34 says:

    Or perhaps “be seen and not heard”….although seeing her makes my eyes water.

  21. olandp says:

    When marriage equality opponents say the two issues are completely different things, the proper response should be, “Then why are you using the same arguments?”

  22. rmthunter says:

    You won’t find Republicans mentioning that — even those Republican governors who have decided not to appeal losing cases don’t mention that. And the “unelected judges” mantra? They hate the idea of an independent judiciary. Come to think of it, they hate the idea of equality under the law and just about all of the rest of our founding principles.

    This is what happens when you let a bunch of religious nuts and ignorant teabaggers take over a political party.

  23. BeccaM says:

    We also have this notion, as JaneE comments below, that certain fundamental civil rights are not something that can be voted on nor legislated away.

    This is why time and time again over the last 200+ years, the courts have stepped in to say, “No, you cannot do that, this abridgement of civil rights is contrary to the founding principles of this country and in violation of our Constitution.”

  24. Max_1 says:

    Sufferage…
    … Arizona women need to protest Brewer with signs that read:
    VOTERS SAID WOMEN CAN’T LEAD
    JUDGES DECIDED OTHERWISE

    What say you, Jan?

    Or maybe she shouldn’t be voting…
    … Or perhaps not own land, too?

  25. Badgerite says:

    Of course, the basis for the Court ruling is the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. It is certainly NOT a question of the judges’ “personal policy preferences”. I think that is the same phrase Ted Cruz used to describe Court rulings on this issue. They are trying to characterize the decision this way because they have no sound legal basis to discriminate with respect to marriage rights. And they know it. Their arguments have been shown to be based on nothing but their personal preferences.
    And have nothing to do with any legitimate policy purpose. And they are trying desperately to obfuscate that simple fact. A state policy that separates out a group of people for discriminatory treatment under the law must have a legitimate policy purpose. There has yet to be a single case where they could show this. We are a nation of law. Not personal preferences. The Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution is not ‘optional’. It is fundamental.

  26. JaneE says:

    We call them “rights” because they do NOT depend on the opinion of a majority of the voters.

  27. BeccaM says:

    Remember this poll from April 2011?

    In a PPP poll released Thursday, a 46% plurality of registered Republican voters said they thought interracial marriage was not just wrong, but that it should be illegal. 40% said interracial marriage should be legal.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/nearly-half-of-mississippi-republicans-think-interracial-marriage-should-be-illegal

  28. BeccaM says:

    Meanwhile, Arizona’s same-sex marriage ban has been overturned, with the judge in the case saying it would be “futile” to appeal it to the 9th Circuit, and the Supreme Court wouldn’t intervene anyway because they already declined to do so in the 9th’s ruling. For this reason also, he refused to issue a stay pending appeal. Arizona’s AG said they will not appeal.

    Also Friday afternoon, SCOTUS refused to hear Alaska’s appeal. So now we’re up to 31 states.

    http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2014/10/17/3581213/arizona-is-now-a-marriage-equality-state/

  29. Naja pallida says:

    Alabama didn’t get around to repealing its anti-miscegenation law until 2000… and even then, knowing the law was completely unconstitutional, and impossible for any court in the state to enforce, it was still only repealed by a 60/40 vote. That’s still a hell of a lot of ridiculous racists clinging to the wrong side of history like a life preserver. It really shouldn’t surprise anyone that the same people are doing the same things all over again.

  30. BeccaM says:

    Actually, the question is whether the federal courts have supremacy over state laws, no matter how enacted. For some reason, these conservative Republicans, many of whom brag about the pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution they carry around with them, never seem to have read Article Six, clause 2, commonly known as “the Supremacy Clause”:

    This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

    Added to the authority in Marbury v. Madison and put simply, the federal courts absolutely have authority to tell the states what they can and cannot do, whether it’s marriage law, Jim Crow segregation laws, or laws that allow one human being to own another.

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