uno itinere non potest perveniri ad tam grande secretum -- Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 384 C.E.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Irrational Prejudice: "Natural Repulsion," Then and Now

Folks on the Right love to compare themselves to great American patriarchs. Not a day goes by that I don't see some Facebook posting with a doctored quote by Abraham Lincoln claiming to be against big government, the ACLU, or the Obama health plan.

But here's a Lincoln comparison that is perhaps more apt considering the vote last night in North Carolina to ban gay marriage. Like most Southern states, North Carolina once also had on the books anti-miscegenation laws forbidding the union of blacks and whites.

Robert Gagnon, the Right's go-to anti-gay scholar, during a radio interview that touched on gay marriage, said: "I think that God does place in us a natural repulsion to some forms of behavior that are simply wrong and offensive.” Gagnon made the remark in response to the host's leading question as to why it is that many people have a "natural repulsion" to same-sex relationships.

Such pseudoscientific reasoning was certainly behind the prejudice of Lincoln's day as well. In his Springfield speech in 1857 in response to the Dred Scott decision, Lincoln remarked: "There is a natural disgust in the minds of nearly all white people, to the idea of an indiscriminate amalgamation of the white and black races."

Yet another reminder that same-sex marriage opponents are on the wrong side of history.