Religious-right activists—and some sympathetic politicians—have frequently compared abortion to slavery, not only in asserting that fetuses are morally analogous to chattel slaves in the antebellum South, but also in proclaiming themselves the heirs to noble abolitionists.
While the Religious Right depends on politics driven by the social wedge issues of abortion and gay rights, even voters who agree with the Right think other issues are more important to the country. So it’s not so surprising that activists would try to ride the coattails of what was undoubtedly the most important political and moral issue of its time, if not of all U.S. history.
But while we’re accustomed to abortion-slavery comparisons, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention offers a new twist on exploiting slavery history: comparing it to the threat of gay marriage. Land, decrying a recent decision in favor of gay marriage by an Iowa state judge, writes:
While some opponents of “same-sex marriage” argue that this is a state issue, I believe at its heart it is a national issue. In fact, I believe events in American history support this position.
I suspect that Abraham Lincoln was a staunch Federalist. While he believed most issues should be decided at the state level, there are some issues that are so compelling and basic (“first principles”) that they have to be decided at the federal level. Lincoln understood the moral dilemma that would unfold if each state was able to decide for itself whether it would be “slave” or “free.” …
The slavery analogy is apt when it comes to the marriage issue. America’s families — and the culture at large — cannot survive as a union of states with half embracing “same-sex marriage” and half accepting only traditional marriage. The U.S. government will not disintegrate, but eventually the nation will have one definition of marriage binding us all. …
Slavery was outlawed in the federal Constitution. It was not going to be an issue decided by each state.
I respect the Constitution, and I don’t believe it should be amended unless it is absolutely necessary. We have reached the point regarding marriage that we once reached regarding slavery. Rulings like this one in Iowa reveal the urgent need for a federal Marriage Protection Amendment.
Land recently said he wrote his book—“The Divided States of America?”—because he was “concerned about the debasement of debate in this country.” I suppose that was running through his mind when he compared gay couples who want to marry to “slaveholders” [who] “would not be content to continue owning slaves in the states where they held them. They wanted to force everyone in the country to acknowledge their right to have slaves anywhere in the United States.”