Last night on CNN, Dan Savage, a gay activist and writer who has written about marriage and his adopted son, debated gay marriage with Tony Perkins, head of the right-wing Family Research Council. After Perkins blasted the California Supreme Court for declaring that gay couples had a constitutional right to marry, Savage brought up the 1967 Supreme Court case, Loving v. Virginia, which found that interracial couples had a constitutional right to marry and struck down the bans that still existed in 16 states. Perkins declared it a “red herring” and said the issue of gay marriage was “totally different” than interracial marriage:
PERKINS: If you want to change the law, instead of using the courts to redefine marriage.
SAVAGE: So Loving v. Virginia, when the courts declared interracial marriage to be a constitutional right in the teeth of popular support, which was against interracial marriage at the time–
PERKINS: Dan, you know that is a red herring. That is absolutely a red herring.
SAVAGE: It is not a red herring. […]
PERKINS: You try to compare this to interracial marriage. It is not the same thing. There were extra provisions put that would prohibit people that were man and woman to marry. This is redefining marriage. It’s a totally different issue.
Gay marriage bans are strikingly similar to interracial marriage bans: Both seek to forbid someone from marrying someone else solely because of who that person is. Both are fundamentally discriminatory laws — one discriminates on the basis of race, while the other discriminates on the basis of gender and of sexual orientation. In fact, just last Sunday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) said gay marriage bans were “the same” as “when blacks and whites were not allowed to marry. This falls into the same category.”
Finally, Perkins flatly denied that young people voted against Prop. 8: “It’s not a majority,” he said. According to CNN exit polls, an overwhelming majority — 67 percent — of 18-29 year-olds voted against stripping gay couples of their right to marry.