In some other blogplace, at some other blogtime, someone commented that comparing the struggle for equality for homosexuals to the struggle for equality for African Americans implies that everyone who is not in favor of the former must be a racist, despite their support for the latter.
I don't think the implication is of racism, but rather of inconsistency; the thinking is that people who are in favor of equality for one group ought to be in favor of it for another unless there is a relevant difference. In the view that neither one's race nor one's gender/ sexual orientation ought to be regarded as a relevant difference for being treated equally, to want equality for people of the minority race but not of the minority orientation or historically-oppressed gender is an inconsistent support for the principle of equality.
Alas a Blog looks at it differently:
Why is it that we can't seem to get away from viewing the black civil rights struggle as the Platonic civil rights struggle, the struggle that all other struggles must resemble or else be illegitimate?
Think of the debate, in recent months, over if same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue. It's almost always presented in the same way: as a question of if the gay rights movement is similar to or different from the black civil rights movement (those who are pro-SSM say "similar," those who aren't say "different"). It's rarely presented as a question of if justice and equality are being denied to same-sex couples, taken on their own terms.
It's like a perverse variation of the "model minority myth," which is so often used to attack blacks (e.g., "if Jews and Asians made it despite discrimination, why can't blacks?"). This time, it's the "model civil rights movement" myth. We need to get over it.
Legal thinking relies strongly on precedent, which makes comparison even more inviting. If sexual orientation becomes regarded as a 14th Amendment-protected suspect classification, discrimination against homosexuals will become illegal. If even gender becomes fully regarded as such (with strict rather than merely heightened scrutiny), prohibiting same-sex marriage will become unconstitutional.
I understand ampersand's point. We should be able to look at homosexuality, at same-sex couples, and evaluate their claims to justice and equality on their own terms and without reference to a different civil rights movement. If Americans were somehow able to make the mental, emotional or spiritual leap required to look at people of different races as their equals, why wouldn't we be able to look at people of other sexual orientations as our equals? What is the hurdle?
I don't know. But until that leap seems to be happening, advocates for equality are unlikely to abandon the comparison to an earlier and successful struggle.