Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Every argument against marriage equality is horseshit

While it has yet to articulate a single argument against marriage equality that meets basic standards of plausibility or verisimilitude, the gay discrimination industry has coughed up a litany of anti-equality arguments designed to appeal to the gullible and the intellectually compromised. These arguments get parroted about so frequently that even thinking people start to become inured to their irrationality and ridiculousness.

Fortunately, none of these arguments could survive the academic scrutiny of a marginally sober third-grader. In the best light, they’re just hollow platitudes. In the worst, they’re vile, desperate lies. And if you ever get caught in a conversation with a discrimination parrot—or if you want to defend marriage equality in an angry blog post or a letter to the editor—feel free to steal the simple refutations below with complete impunity.

Gay marriage will destroy the sanctity of straight marriage

Wrong. Britney Spears’ 55-hour just-for-fun marriage destroys the sanctity of straight marriage. Rush Limbaugh’s three temporary marriages destroy the sanctity of straight marriage. John McCain dating and proposing to his second wife while still married to his disfigured first wife destroys the sanctity of straight marriage.

We can’t redefine marriage
• The concept of “redefining marriage” is a linguistic distraction designed to pull the spotlight away from the underlying hatred behind “traditional marriage” propaganda. Giving gay people equal access to the rights and protections of marriage will not change the definition of marriage. Nothing about gay marriage alters heterosexual marriage. The definition of marriage between heterosexuals will remain exactly the same.
• If we hadn’t redefined marriage in the 1960s, Barack Obama would still be a bastard in the 19 states that wouldn’t allow the interracial marriage of his parents when he was born.
• Ronald Reagan, the divorced patron saint of the modern conservative theocracy, redefined marriage into something temporary and easily revocable in 1969 when as governor of California he signed the Family Law Act, leading the United States into an era of no-fault divorce.
• Other historical “redefinitions” of marriage involve the transition of marriage from a business relationship between families to a property relationship between a man and his wife and then to a relationship based on relative equality between a man and a woman.

Marriage is the foundation of society
One could argue that the true foundation of society is a successful public health policy. Or a working economy. Or an equitable system of education. Whether marriage—specifically heterosexual-only marriage as this argument goes—is also some kind of "foundation" depends on a broad range of definitions of foundation. In any case, this argument is little more than a hollow platitude designed to sound meaningful when other arguments against equality implode for lack of substance.

Homosexuality is not natural
Wrong. Since it occurs randomly in nature across all species without any identifiable outside influence, homosexuality is completely natural. Religion, on the other hand, is created entirely by the human imagination. Which makes it, by definition, unnatural.

Americans think gay people are gross
Americans think obese parents, pregnant teenagers and Newt Gingrich are gross. And they’re allowed to marry as often as they want.

Gay marriage teaches children it’s OK to be gay
Exactly. Just as organized religion teaches children it’s OK to embrace the supernatural over the real. And there are no laws against that.

I shouldn’t be forced to explain gay marriage to my kids
An unwillingness to expose children to the diversity outside their family is no justification for denying adults equal access to financial and legal protections for their own families.

Marriage is designed to produce children
No it’s not.
• Straight marriage laws carry no reproduction requirements.
• If they did, infertile or menopausal people wouldn’t be allowed to marry.

Children deserve a mother and a father
That's how they're usually made, yes. But since marriage is not contingent on producing children—and vice versa—this argument is just an emotional-heartstrings-flavored distraction deployed to change the subject when other anti-equality arguments are exposed for their implausibility and desperation.

Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to men marrying dogs
No it won’t. And anyone who makes this imbecilic argument is not emotionally or intellectually fit to participate in any conversation that affects public policy.

If we allow men to marry men …
The slippery slope argument uses wild conjecture in place of reason and fact, making it the last vestige of the intellectually desperate. Since it’s based on nothing but imagination, the arguments can go in an infinite number of directions. And these arguments are easily trumped: If we allow people to vote on gay marriages, we’ll have to allow people to vote on marriages between adulterers and divorcees. If we allow Christian mythology to influence our laws, we’ll have to allow Wiccan theology to influence our laws as well. If we follow Christian mandates on marriage, we’ll also have to follow Christian mandates on adultery, divorce and the subjugation of women.

The institution of marriage is under attack by gay people
No it’s not. Gay people want to emulate marriage. The only people attacking the institution of marriage are the people currently allowed to be married: heterosexuals who divorce or commit acts of domestic abuse and adultery.

I’m defending marriage against a catastrophic threat
No you’re not. If you truly want to “defend” marriage, define it as a bond between one man who’s never committed adultery or been divorced and one woman who’s never committed adultery or been divorced. Adultery and divorce are the only real, measurable threats to marriage. Advocate for anything less and you’re just campaigning to hate gay people.

Marriage should be decided by the states
No it shouldn’t.
• Speed limits should be decided by the states. Sales taxes should be decided by the states. School calendars should be decided by the states. People’s relationships, legal protections and tax benefits shouldn’t change when they drive across state lines.
• Allowing marriages to exist and dissolve as couples cross state lines is at best illogical and at worst viciously hateful. If individual states were free to ban marriage between divorced people (as the Bible says), a staggering majority of voters and “pro-marriage” lawmakers—especially the legions of divorced ones—would be deafening in their assertion that marriage equality is NOT a state issue.

Marriage should be decided by voters
No it shouldn’t. Individual marriages should be decided only by the two people entering into them.

Gay people don't deserve special rights
Equality is not a special right. Calling it a "special right" is an ugly distraction tactic designed at best to pull focus from the underlying hatred behind anti-marriage-equality arguments and at worst to mislead and inflame the passions of gullible, low-information voters.

We should just agree to disagree
People “agree to disagree” about frivolous things like music or sports teams or religious beliefs. The active denial of legal equality is not frivolous; it has real consequences for real families. Either you’re for marriage equality or you’re against equality. There’s no room for friendly disagreement in the equation.

No offense, but I don’t think gay people should marry
Believing that one class of people does not deserve equal protections under the law is extremely offensive. Especially when there is no logical, rational or even plausible reason for your belief.

I don’t hate gay people—I just believe marriage should be between a man and a woman
Denying people equality for nothing more compelling than “belief” is a form of hate. If you work to marginalize gay people, it doesn’t matter whether you act out of malice or selective interpretation of religious dogma. Either way, you are endorsing a system designed to hurt people.

Defending marriage is not hate
Wrong. Calling hate "defending marriage" is the most vile, cowardly, deliberately misleading form of hate.

I don’t believe in the homosexual lifestyle
Good. Because there is no such thing as a universal homosexual lifestyle, just like there is no universal heterosexual lifestyle or Christian lifestyle or atheist lifestyle. The “lifestyle” argument is nothing more than a gross overgeneralization built on the implication that gay people are all whores, and it’s used to demonize us in an attempt to justify denying us legal equality.

Marriage is a religious institution
No it’s not.
• Marriage licenses and marriage certificates are issued by governments, not churches.
• If it were, we wouldn’t allow atheists to get married.
• If it were, we wouldn’t allow people to get married by a justice of the peace. Or a ship’s captain. Or an Elvis impersonator.

The Bible says ...
The Christian Bible says exactly nothing about marriage between same-sex couples. But it has plenty to say about virginity, adultery and divorce as they pertain to heterosexual marriage. Here is a tiny sample of incontrovertibly unambiguous quotes:
  • “Thou shall not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:13-15
  • “Anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Matthew 5:33
So any rationale to “preserve biblical marriage” without the attendant prohibition of adultery and divorce is nothing more than a campaign of willful misinterpretation of the Bible to promote hatred of and discrimination toward gay people.

Gay marriage is not compatible with religious belief
Gay marriage may not be compatible with selective interpretations of some religious traditions. But that has nothing to do with marriage equality. People are certainly free to embrace any religious beliefs they choose. But those beliefs apply only to their believers, and they end the moment they begin to hurt people who choose not to embrace religious theories. An elective belief in a trendy mythology does not give anyone moral authority to deny basic equalities to other people.

Homosexuality is a sin
Only to those who choose to believe in religious dogma. And religious dogma—especially when it’s used to victimize an entire class of people—is not appropriate in a discussion of legal equality.

Churches shouldn’t be forced to perform marriages they don’t approve of
They won’t. Churches have always been free to refuse to marry anybody for any reason they dream up: divorce, adultery, religion, race, gender … even basic family snobbery. On top of that, most marriage equality legislation to date includes language specifically permitting churches to continue to engage in this discrimination.

Being forced to accept gay marriages is a form of discrimination
No it’s not. This meaningless argument is simply a distraction tactic designed to make bigots look like victims.

Domestic partnership is the same thing as marriage for gay people
No it’s not. Many rights bestowed on straight married people by institutions ranging from the IRS to insurance companies to private employers are denied to gay people in domestic partnerships. Marriage by any other name is simply not marriage.


Sam Weston said...

The real problem these days is that the world has moved on but, for some reason, we feel that we have to cling to the past and to tradition. There really is no argument for retaining marriage these days as it is so simple to get out of marriage if and when you decide that it no longer works for you.

More importantly, there are so many different forms of relationship today including a growing number of openly gay relationships. I know many loving gay relationships in which children are being raised which are far happier than a lot of traditional marriages in which people feel trapped for the sake of the kids with everyone suffering.

John Dale said...

Homosexuality is a sin - according to whom? As a society we have a right to make basic rules of behavior to protect others. It is perfectly acceptable therefore to say "thou shall not commit murder" or "thou shall not steal" but what right does any one human being have to dictate how another human being should feel? If god decides that one man should be attract to another then who are we to say that this is wrong?

Seth said...

I think we need to make a more effective distinction between civil marriage--the one that requires the license and somebody to officiate it--and sacramental marriage, which is an exclusively religious construct.

I believe that civil marriage should be open to all pairs of consenting adults, regardless of gender. This is the marriage that has all the benefits in government and commerce (and you're absolutely right, a civil union is not the same thing and doesn't have the same benefits). Furthermore, I believe that civil marriages should not be solemnized by clergy. Whether for convenience or some other purpose, we have authorized religious ministers (of all faiths) to act on behalf of the state when they officiate at a wedding. "By the power vested in me by the State of Illinois, I pronounce you . . ." We must get the clergy out of government business! That means that your marriage originates in the courthouse, and not the church, mosque or synagogue.

All that said, I am willing to let churches, mosques and synagogues, decide what marriages they will and will not bless. If a couple wants a community of faith to bless their marriage, by all means let them do so. I will welcome the day when communities of faith will bless and celebrate same-sex marriages, but I won't insist on it. There is a legitimate religious case for restricting the sacrament of marriage to heterosexual couples. But this is a religious construct and not a secular one; it has no business in the civil marriage that is routinely recognized in the secular realm. We have an overlap between civil (or secular) marriage and religious (or sectarian) marriage that needs to be corrected. If the U.S. were better at making the distinction between the two, we might not have this controversy.

The bottom line for me: Civil marriage with all the pertaining benefits must be available to every consenting adult couple who desires it, and it must be obtained through a secular institution. Sacramental marriage should be available to couples who want the additional dimension to their legal/civil relationship. The more religious communities that are willing to bless gay marriages, the better. But the religious exercise should not be mistaken for the civil one. And, of course, the civil transaction should not be mistaken as a religious one.

I hope that makes sense.

Will said...

Bottom line when I speak on the subject:

There is no proof and there cannot ever be proof that my marrying Fritz has prevented so much as one heterosexual couple from walking down the aisle of their choice. No member of any hate group has ever been able to say that his or her marriage has been dissolved, damaged or voided out because we got married. And . . .

There is no proof and there cannot ever be proof that our marriage has prevented so much as one heterosexual couple from conceiving and delivering a baby. In fact, many lesbians do conceive and deliver babies, so there's that.

Homer said...

Maggie Gallagher, the founder of the National Organization for Marriage, has a failed marriage- her "husband" apparently doesn't live with her, she doesn't wear a wedding ring, didn't take her husband's name.

So of course she hates the fact that gays and lesbians want the happiness she has never had in her own life.

Anonymous said...

The problem you point to is due to the failure of two Constitutional provisions not being applied. The Full Faith and Credit Clause is why different-sex marriages are recognized in all 50 states -- even those where they could not be performed. DOMA explicitly allows this. And of course the Equal Protection Clause -- when a case comes to the Supreme Court, they will apply the Equal Protection Clause making same-sex marriage available throughout the country. But even then, each state will have its own age restrictions and consanguinity requirements.