Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Response to Julian Bond of the NAACP


This letter was printed as a Letter to the Editor in the Pacifc Daily News, June 2011

In his article “Marriage equality is civil rights issue” (PDN, 06/12/11), NAACP chief, Julian Bond, misquotes Loving v. Virginia. In fact, he literally “miss quotes” as in “misses quotation marks” around the words “basic civil rights of man”. Those words are in quotations in the Loving decision because the court was referencing a previous case: Skinner v. Oklahoma (1944). 

The context of the quote in Skinner is as follows: “We are dealing here with legislation which involves one of the basic civil rights of man. Marriage and procreation are fundamental to the very existence and survival of the race.” 

Thus, in contrast to Mr. Bond’s claim that Loving paves a precedent for same-sex marriage, the Loving court (by referencing Skinner) actually remakes the case for the right to marry in light of the procreative potential of the marital union and the fundamental necessity of such unions for “the very existence and survival of the [human] race.” In fact, even if the Loving court did not reference Skinner, the words “very existence and survival” (though they also appear in Skinner) can only refer to a potentially procreative union. 

Nothing is ever said in Loving, in Skinner, or elsewhere in the law, about marriage being for the good or happiness of a couple. Marriage, in the law, is a straightforward civil institution, deserving of protection and social incentives due to its unique capacity to produce, socialize, and educate the necessary next generation - naturally sterile couples (and irresponsible parents) notwithstanding - upon which the “very existence and survival” of society depends.
Also, Bond’s appeal to the aging Mildred Loving’s desire to see marital rights extended to same-sex couples is about as substantive as an appeal to Norma McCovey’s desire to see an end to legalized abortion. McCovey is, today, an ardent pro-life activist. But in 1973 she was Jane Roe, the pro-abortion poster girl of Roe v. Wade

Bond, and others who wish to advance the case for same-sex marriage, must construct arguments that do not manipulate social, historical, anthropological, and juridical realities in an attempt to manufacture precedent. Such constructions simply undermine the credibility of the cause and those associated with it. Perhaps that is why, under Bond, the influence of the NAACP has seriously waned.

Tim Rohr is a resident of Agat

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