William Lane Craig is both highly intelligent and a practiced and skilled debater. But he’s also blinded by his religious ideology, which causes him to make tortured and baffling arguments like this one on the subject of same-sex marriage. It starts out sounding like a pro-equality argument:
The lesson to be learned from the legality of interracial marriage is that just as the law must be blind with respect to the race of persons desiring to marry, so it must also be blind to the sexual orientation of persons desiring to marry. Just as persons desiring to marry cannot be discriminated against on the basis of their race, neither can they be discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation. When two persons ask the state for the right to marry, the state must ask no questions about their race or sexual orientation. Just as laws which would discriminate against persons’ marrying on the basis of their race are unconstitutional, so laws which would discriminate against persons’ marrying on the basis of their sexual orientation are unconstitutional.
Wait, is he actually arguing in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage? Of course not. But see if you can follow this “reasoning.”
That’s why the term “gay marriage” (which, I noticed, you were careful to avoid) is misconceived. Laws permitting gay marriage would be clearly unconstitutional, since they would not be blind to the sexual orientation of the persons involved. Such laws would sanction marriage for same-sex couples only if they were homosexuals, thereby taking cognizance of their sexual orientation and discriminating against heterosexuals who wanted to enter into marriage with someone of the same sex. To repeat: just as the law must be blind to the race of persons entering into marriage, so it must be blind to their sexual orientation. Laws sanctioning gay marriage would thus be unconstitutional (not to speak of unenforceable!).
*Boggle* First of all, his premise is false. Allowing same-sex marriage does not require any inquiry into anyone’s sexual orientation. The couple getting married need not sign a document saying that they are gay. There would be nothing preventing a same-gender marriage of convenience between two men or two women, just as there is nothing preventing a gay person from entering into an opposite-gender marriage of convenience (which happens all the time, by the way). So the argument is false from the start. But the logic is also wrong:
So the laws governing marriage must have no reference to the sexual orientation of the persons involved. But that is precisely the situation of the status quo! Under the laws of the status quo no one is denied the right to enter into marriage because of his/her sexual orientation. Two heterosexuals, two homosexuals, or a heterosexual and a homosexual are free to marry, no questions asked, just as persons of different races are free to marry, no questions asked. What they are not free to do under federal law, whatever their race or orientation, is to enter into same sex marriage, simply because there is no such thing. Marriage is by its essence a relation between a man and a woman.
He’s mixing together two entirely different positions here. The first is merely a repeat of the same argument used by the state of Virginia in defending its ban on interracial marriage in Loving v Virginia. The state argued then that the law did not discriminate on the basis of race because blacks and whites were equally free to marry someone of the same race and equally prohibited from marrying someone of another race. That is the same argument that Craig is making here, that there is no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation under current law because everyone is equally free to marry someone of another gender but not of their own gender, regardless of their sexual orientation.
The court rightly rejected that argument in Loving and it is equally absurd here. The discrimination here is on the basis of both gender and sexual orientation because the law does not treat those groups alike for the purposes of marriage. If Male A wants to marry Female A, the law allows that to happen; if Male A wants to marry Male B, that is forbidden. The only distinction between the two is gender and, presumably though not necessarily, sexual orientation. That is where the discrimination takes place. The secondary basis for discrimination is that straight people are allowed to marry the other consenting, non-related adult that they want to form a lifelong bond with, but gay people are not.