What About Civil Rights? Is This Discrimination?

Many supporters of gay marriage claim that this is a matter of civil rights akin to the plight of Blacks in America in the early 1900's. Is this a justifiable accusation? Let's investigate.

To begin with, it should be pointed out that some homosexual activists recognize and freely admit that this is not truly a civil rights issue. The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property quotes homosexual activist Paul Varnell as saying to the Chicago Free Press:

The gay movement, whether we acknowledge it or not, is not a civil rights movement, not even a sexual liberation movement, but a moral revolution aimed at changing people's view of homosexuality.


Why do some homosexuals, then, assert that this is a civil rights issue?

This assertion is made because it carries with it political clout. If it were true it would disallow any opposition to rights which homosexuals would like to claim for themselves. In other words, if homosexuality were "innate and immutable" (ie, if gays are "born that way" and can't be changed), then society owes them equal access to marriage, among other things.

Is homosexuality "innate and immutable?"

This question is best answered in the words of Dr. A. Dean Byrd, an expert on homosexuality:

[S]cientific attempts to demonstrate that homosexual attraction is biologically determined have failed. The major researchers now prominent in the scientific arena- themselves gay activists -have in fact arrived at such conclusions.

You can read the entire article, and another by the same author, here:

Although a politically popular notion, it is simply untrue to assert that homosexuals are born gay. Thus, the political argument that homosexuals are due equal marriage rights, on that basis, is also false.

Another excellent perspective comes from lesbian activist Camille Paglia:

Regarding change and the right to treatment, lesbian activist Camille Paglia offered the following observations:

"Homosexuality is not 'normal.' On the contrary it is a challenge to the norm...Nature exists whether academics like it or not. And in nature, procreation is the single relentless rule. That is the norm. Our sexual bodies were designed for reproduction...No one is born gay. The idea is ridiculous...homosexuality is an adaptation, not an inborn trait.....

"Is the gay identity so fragile that it cannot bear the thought that some people may not wish to be gay? Sexuality is highly fluid, and reversals are theoretically possible. However, habit is refractory, once the sensory pathways have been blazed and deepened by repetition-a phenomenon obvious in the struggle with obesity, smoking, alcoholism or drug addiction....helping gays to learn to function heterosexually, if they wish, is a perfectly worthy aim.

"We should be honest enough to consider whether homosexuality may not indeed be a pause a the prepubescent stage where children anxiously band together by gender....current gay cant insists that homosexuality is 'not a choice,' that no one would choose to be gay in a homophobic society. But there is an element of choice in all behavior, sexual or otherwise. It takes an effort to deal with the opposite sex; it is safer with your own kind. The issue is one of challenge versus comfort."

(Excerpt from The Innate-Immutable Argument Finds No Basis in Science)


But, do homosexuals have innate civil rights as mere citizens of the United States of America?

What are civil rights?

According to findlaw.com,

It is important to note the difference between "civil rights" and "civil liberties." The legal area known as "civil rights" has traditionally revolved around the basic right to be free from unequal treatment based on certain protected characteristics (race, gender, disability, etc.) in settings such as employment and housing. "Civil liberties" concern basic rights and freedoms that are guaranteed -- either explicitly identified in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, or interpreted through the years by courts and lawmakers. Civil liberties include:

* Freedom of speech
* The right to privacy
* The right to be free from unreasonable searches of your home
* The right to a fair court trial
* The right to marry
* The right to vote


Technically, the issue is really about "civil liberties" in this case. As noted above, these are "explicitly identified in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, or interpreted through the years by courts and lawmakers."

So, has marriage been defined by the U.S. Supreme Court?


What does federal law currently say about marriage?

In 1885, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the following statement in the case of Murphy v. Ramsey, Page 114 U. S. 45 (Emphasis ours).


"[C]ertainly no legislation can be supposed more wholesome and necessary in the founding of a free, self-governing commonwealth . . . than that which seeks to establish it on the basis of the idea of the family, as consisting in and springing from the union for life of one man and one woman in the holy estate of matrimony; the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization; the best guarantee of that reverent morality which is the source of all beneficent progress in social and political improvement.”


Homosexuals have the same right that every American citizen has: the right to marry one individual, of the opposite sex, of appropriate age, and not too closely related. Currently, they are attempting to assert special rights for themselves.


So, isn't this discrimination, then?

According to WordNet, there are two definitions for discrimination:

  • favoritism, favouritism (unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice)

  • secernment (the cognitive process whereby two or more stimuli are distinguished)



Although these two terms are closely related, it is the first that is being asserted in the case of gay marriage. As we look into this definition, it will help if we define prejudice, as well. According to WordNet, again:

  • preconception (a partiality that prevents objective consideration of an issue or situation)


This tells us, then, that discrimination is any unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of a preconception, meaning some kind of assumption that may or may not be true. For instance, gays have asserted discrimination against them on the basis of their sexual preference. However, one might respond that this is not truly discrimination, as defined, because there are several reasons one might be opposed to homosexuality, and which are known facts, as opposed to being assumptions. The spread of AIDS/HIV is merely one example.

So, is there really discrimination in the issue of gay marriage? The answer, of course, is no, as there are many known factual reasons for opposition to gay marriage, which are outlined in the following sections of this website: