In the vein of 36 Arguments For the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction by Rebecca Goldstein, I intend to use this post to list out the most common arguments that are given against the legalization of Gay Marriage, and then I will offer a refutation of each one. This is not to say that I thought of all of these (or any) on my own. Rather, just think of this as a handy compendium for the debate, a reference if you end up engaged in this conversation and need a prepared, organized response. Will this list be comprehensive? No, but it should be thorough enough, and I will add to it as new arguments come up (or when I remember them).*
Ultimately, what I will show is that there are no strong arguments against gay marriage, and all opposition ultimately comes down to personal distaste. Distaste of homosexuals specifically, and change in general.
1. Gay Marriage Would Redefine ‘Marriage’
Besides being a rather quaint argument in the age of internet slang and Urban Dictionary (gosh, a word getting redefined, who will think of the children?), it’s also revealing of how little people know of history. The notion that marriage has always been some unassailable love pact between a man and a woman is simply false. Historically, marriage has been a business agreement longer than it’s been… whatever it is now. Hell, arranged marriages and marriages for status still happen today, and no one’s keeping 23-year-old buxom blondes from marrying wealthy, wrinkly octogenarians.
Which leads into the second argument:
2. Marriage is a Sacred Bond Between Man and Woman
If the sanctity of marriage is under assault, the barbarians at the gate are not singing showtunes. Divorce corrodes the ‘sanctity’ of marriage. So do drunken Las Vegas marriages, “Who Wants To Marry A Millionaire?” and fairy tales that end with “And they lived happily ever after.” Marriage is about as sacred as a cow in McDonald’s.
And that’s not even addressing the notion of marriage being ‘sacred.’ Sacred meaning: devoted or dedicated to a deity or to some religious purpose; consecrated. In other words, a term that has no meaning in a secular consideration of laws (and despite all attempts, the United States of America is still a secular nation). This argument is ultimately a religious argument, and I’ll deal with those momentarily.
3. Marriage’s purpose is to produce children; homosexuals cannot have children
This argument is wrong on both sides. First, marriage is clearly not about producing children. If that were the case, every couple would have to take a fertility test before walking the aisle. The government has no business legislating the why’s or how’s of the bedroom, so whether or not a married couple has children is no concern of any elected official (except for their own children, of course). Sterile couples get married, post-menopausal women get married, dudes with floppy dicks (and fat wallets) get married. Reproduction is obviously not the point of such marriages.
And homosexuals can have children. They’re called surrogates. The Kids Are All Right. Need I say more?
4. Children raised without both a male and female parent will be unhealthy/deviants/screwed up
Take it away, Zach.
Addendum: The counterargument to this that I have encountered is that this is just one example, not representative. To which I reply, “Representative of what?” Are we taking a poll of how many screwed up children come out of heterosexual marriages to determine whether or not we should keep it legal? Because, I can assure you, the vast majority of screwed up people in this world throughout history came out of hetero marriages
Hitler’s parents were a married man and woman. There you go, proof that heteros shouldn’t be allowed to marry. (I’m obviously not being serious; I’m mocking this argument and the tendency to compare everything to Hitler/Nazism. I’m multitasking.)
One example of a homosexual couple successfully raising children is sufficient for this argument because it undermines the very premise: Homosexuals should and cannot raise children. If the argument was, some homosexuals should not raise children, then there would be room for debate. You’d probably have some gays who agreed with you. Then again, some straights shouldn’t raise children, either.
This whole argument is moot anyway, because gay couples can already adopt and only a fringe group of America is trying to prevent that. Allowing homosexuals to officially marry could only bring more stability to these children’s lives, not less.
5. Once gays are allowed to marry, I’ll be allowed to marry my dog (Thanks Casey)
This is the classic slippery slope argument, and there are multiple problems with it. First off, this makes the assumption that homosexuality is a sexual perversion on par with bestiality or necrophilia. Homosexuality is a sexual orientation, and despite what they might have thought in the 50s, we all (should) now understand that A) Homosexuality is not a choice and B) Homosexuality isn’t wrong or perverted, it’s just different than heterosexuality.
Secondly, homosexual marriage, like heterosexual marriage, is a commitment between two willing adults. A marriage between an animal and a human can never be defined in this manner as an animal’s will is unknowable. Homosexual marriages are no more a precedent for marrying your dog (seriously, who thinks of this stuff?) than hetero marriage. This is also why you can’t claim homosexual marriage will lead to marrying children, because homosexual marriage still requires consent. The ‘Gay Agenda’ (oops, did I just let that slip) has no interest in changing the age of consent laws.
Thirdly… seriously, who wants to marry their dog? Is that contingent of America really big enough to be considered a concern? I think the people that make this argument are revealing more about themselves than anything else. It’s creepy and it’s stupid and it reveals exactly how irrational this debate can become. This, of course, goes back to the idea of ‘redefining marriage,’ in that people claim if we change the meaning of marriage to include the union of man and man or woman and woman, we can redefine it to mean marrying anything, animal, fruit or vegetable. This argument ignores one important detail: Male or female, humans are humans. The leap from homosexual marriage to bestiality isn’t a slippery slope, it’s a jump over the Grand Canyon.
6. The Bible condemns homosexuality
This is true. The Bible, that ancient book written by sheep herders and religious zealots, does indeed condemn homosexuality. EDIT: There is reason to think that the Bible doesn’t actually condemn homosexuality. I didn’t argue this point originally because I felt it didn’t matter what the Bible did or didn’t say. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t offer this information as a counterpoint to the assumption that homosexuality is roundly condemned in the Bible.
Looking up the passages that specifically mention homosexuality (or homosexual acts), I went to Conservapedia (because if you need to reference nutjobs, go straight to the source), and found 5 verses. Two are in Leviticus (Old Testament) a book that also forbids sex on a woman’s period, wearing clothes made of two different materials (homo says what?) and prescribes death as a punishment for sexual sin, including homosexuality. Outside of the Phelps family, is anyone going to go along with that? Didn’t think so.
But the New Testament is where it counts. Jesus came, changed all the rules (think reboot, not sequel), and now, whatever Paul said on homosexuality is all that matters (ignoring the fact that Jesus said nothing about it). Paul hates the gays. And the women. Paul’s writings were epistles (letters) to various churches (or followers) and when read as a whole (as opposed to individual verses, which is not how Paul wrote them, obviously), they clearly prove to be blog posts intended for a specific audience dealing with specific issues. This is why when Paul tells women to be quiet (and ask her husband if she’s got any questions), most modern Christians just say, “Oh, he was just speaking to that specific church.” Joyce Meyer spits in the face of Paul.
Yet, when it comes to the fabulous, uh uh uh. LAW!
The point is, the Bible is a pick and choose smorgasbord of random commands, and to claim that we should legislate based on it is preposterous. If we were truly a consistent Biblical-based nation, we’d make Fred Phelps look like a tofu eating hippie.
7. The Bible establishes Marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman
It really doesn’t. Adam married Eve, so, sure, the first couple out the gate was your traditional all-nude, constructed from dust and ribs hetero couple. After that, things get wonky.
Abraham (the forefather of all 3 major monotheistic religions) had a kid with his wife’s handmaid. Jacob (father of the 12 nations of Israel) married two sisters. Moses had two wives. David (God’s favorite king) had a whole stable of wives and concubines. These 4 men are the most beloved figures of the Jewish faith, and of the Christian faith up until Jesus. And Jesus never married, kind of flying in the face of marriage being sacred (the holiest man never even bothered to get married; how sacred is that?).
8. Any religious argument against Gay Marriage
Before any argument can be taken seriously, it must have firm premises. The religious argument rests on the following premises: A) That there is a God and B) That this god is the God of a particular religious tradition (in America, that’s the Christian tradition).
I’m just going to say it. There is no good argument for God. Read the appendix of Rebecca Goldstein’s novel for a handy guide to the “strongest” arguments for God, and her dismantling of all of them.
In a nation that was founded on religious freedom (freedom to practice whatever religion, and freedom from being forced to practice any religion), the idea that we should legislate based on faith is beyond reprehensible. It’s antithetic to our core values as a nation. You can have faith, you can practice it freely, you can even let it dictate the way you vote (though, I wish you wouldn’t), but you can’t claim you’re making a logical or rational argument. You are making a faith argument.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Straight from the horse’s mouth. Faith is based on nothing. By the transitive properties of common sense, arguments from faith are based on nothing.
9. Gay’s are icky!
Let’s be honest, this is what it’s all about. You don’t like the idea of a dude buggering another dude. And you only like girl-on-girl when it’s being filmed and the two fake-titted ladies are unexpectedly visited by a well-muscled repair man who gladly joins in.
Unfortunately, there is no way to refute this. Just as there is no arguing with a member of the KKK or fans of the Black Eyed Peas, irrational stupidity cannot, by definition, be dismantled by rationality. So, have your way, vote against gay marriage, claim that “separate but equal” is fine.
Just don’t claim you have good reasons for your discrimination. Because you clearly do not.
Addendum: A longer argument.