Interracial Marriage Analogy


P1. The same arguments used to ban same-sex marriages were used to ban interracial marriage

P2. The ban on interracial marriage was wrong

C. Therefore a ban on same-sex marriage is wrong


It is not true that all the arguments against same-sex marriage are the same as those used to ban interracial marriage. One example is the argument that same-sex marriage undermines the rights of children to know and be cared for by their parents.

Sherif Girgis, Robert P. George, & Ryan T. Anderson explain the dissimilarity:

…the analogy fails: antimiscegenation was about whom to allow to marry, not what marriage was essentially about; and sex, unlike race, is rationally relevant to the latter question. Because every law makes distinctions, there is nothing unjustly discriminatory in marriage law’s reliance on genuinely relevant distinctions.

Opponents of interracial marriage typically did not deny that marriage (understood as a union consummated by conjugal acts) between a black and a white was possible any more than proponents of segregated public facilities argued that some feature of the whites‐only water fountains made it impossible for blacks to drink from them. The whole point of antimiscegenation laws in the United States was to prevent the genuine possibility of interracial marriage from being realized or recognized, in order to maintain the gravely unjust system of white supremacy.

By contrast, the current debate is precisely over whether it is possible for the kind of union that has marriage’s essential features to exist between two people of the same sex. Revisionists do not propose leaving intact the historic definition of marriage and simply expanding the pool of people eligible to marry. Their goal is to abolish the conjugal conception of marriage in our law and replace it with the revisionist conception.

Girgis, Sherif and George, Robert and Anderson, Ryan T., What is Marriage? (November 23, 2012). Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 245-287, Winter 2010, Available at SSRN:

An important distinction between interracial marriage and same-sex marriage is that those who opposed interracial marriage typically did not deny that they were valid marriages. Opposition to same-sex marriage however is typically based on the argument that marriage is not possible between two people of the same sex.