The Abolition of Slavery and Gay Marriage

The blogger over at Steamboats Are Ruining Everything has an interesting post up where he compares the order in which individual states abolished slavery and those states that have allowed gay civil marriages.  Is it just a coincidence? 

Advent of gay marriage or civil unions

1999 Vermont
2004 Massachusetts
2005 Connecticut
2006 New Jersey
2007 New Hampshire

Abolition of slavery

1777 Vermont
1780 Pennsylvania
1783 Massachusetts
1783 New Hampshire
1784 Rhode Island
1784 Connecticut
1799 New York
1802 Ohio
1804 New Jersey
1816 Indiana
1818 Illinois

Two hundred years from now people will look back on our homophobic attitudes in much the same way that we now think about the spectrum of beliefs that once shaped the racial assumptions of most Americans. 

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7 comments… add one

  • Jim May 3, 2007

    Interesting analogy. And I would guess that the decision to allow gay unions is a function of mainly income and liberal education in those states vs the rest of the country. But then the western states like CA should also be in the forefront of the decision and we don’t see that yet – maybe it’s too early.

    I imagine religion also has a lot to do with views of gays as well. The South (i.e. the Bible Belt) has a large percentage of religions that view gays negatively. Perhaps most ironic is that most blacks reside in the South, most are religious, and most have negative views of homosexuality. Juxtapose this with the basis for civil unions being that not allowing gay marriage is equivalent to “moral slavery” and a violation of at least the 14th Amendment. Maybe we’ll see state by state apologies for discriminating against gays in the future also?

    I think the primary driver of ending slavery was economic at first, and then culminated in a war strategy during the CW. For example the percentage of blacks in the northern states was very low (e.g. 4% in NJ in 1860 vs over 30% in VA in 1860), so the economic impact of abolition was very low in the North compared to the South and therefore, abolition legislation progressed accordingly.

    This doesn’t take away from your point, but I thought it interesting that the official end of slavery in the North did not always coincide with the actual end. For example, the actual end of slavery for NJ, CT, PA, NH, RI, and NY was 1865, 1848, 1845, 1845, 1842, and 1827 respectively.

  • John Maass May 8, 2007

    Is opposition to so-called gay marriage really to be equated with “homophobia”? I am surprised at such a statement…

  • Kevin Levin May 8, 2007

    Hi John, — I am going to assume that your comment is in response to my post and not to the previous comment. I agree that my post is overly simplistic. Unfortunately, I am not going to take the time to say much more. I should point out that I referenced “gay civil marriages” and not marriage as carried out by the church. Opposition to gay marriage can come from any number of starting assumptions, but I do tend to equate opposition with homophobia – if what we mean by ‘homophobia’ is a fear of or a tendency to reduce the individual down to sexual preference. In the end I don’t see much difference between those who oppose same-sex civil unions and opposition to bi-racial unions. Both dehumanize the individual.

  • John Maass May 8, 2007

    Yes, sorry, I was referring to your original post not the comment before mine.

    Simply put I think it is inaccurate and unfair to equate the position that homosexuals should not “marry” or have civil unions with a fear of homosexuals. It is a non sequiter to posit that those who are against these unions are somehow afraid of gays, IMHO.

  • Kevin Levin May 8, 2007

    Thanks for clarifying John. Perhaps “fear” is the wrong word to use, but I am going to stick with it. I am using it in a broader sense to denote an unjustified bias, one that reduces an individual or group down to an irrelevant category that has nothing at all to do with broader issues of morality and humanity. I find that people who obsess about the sexuality of others to be fearful of their own emotions the supposed consequences of granting civil rights to such persons. Of course, this is a generalization and that my conclusion does not follow logically from the assumption. I may be completely wrong, but it is my impression.

  • John Maass May 8, 2007

    Duly noted!

  • jack dawson May 9, 2007

    Interesting information. One wonders if the country will eventually split into sections and the pro-homosexual union section will take up arms to force their inferiors to adopt such practices if they do not willingly choose to.

    I will not even mention how completely wrong it is to compare slavery based on who you are (Black) and “marriage” determined by your behavior (same-sex intercourse).

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