Arguments Against Gay Marriage: Refutations

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.

The List

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.

(Nailed it.)

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.

*Feel free to add your argument in the comments.  I’ll gladly refute it and then add it to the list.

40 thoughts on “Arguments Against Gay Marriage: Refutations

  1. Thoughts…

    Marriage was not a Christian invention. It was a Roman rite, and yes, about property more than anything else. What is spoken of marriage in the New Testament is itself an act of redefining marriage. Marriage happened only on the steps of churches for hundreds of years, still seen as a secular act blessed in the Christian ceremony, but still secular. Then as cities spread pastors and priests helped the city keep records of marriages, and that still is the case today. Christians do not own marriage, dealing it out to Americans deemed worthy of confirming a relationship already happening. The state must open doors for two people (you forgot the “once gays are allowed to marry, I’ll be allowed to marry my dog” argument) to put in writing a promise that rests between the two first and foremost. Gay marriage should be legal. Churches are free to support that commitment or not depending on their theology, because, NOT ALL CHRISTIANS ARE AGAINST GAY MARRIAGE. But legal doors should all be open. Vent over.

    • Thanks for your response Casey. I, of course, never intend to imply that all Christians are against gay marriage. I was just responding to the common arguments. And thanks for reminding me of the “I’ll be allowed to marry my dog” argument, I knew I left an obvious one off. I will now have to update.
      (I completely agree with your venting.)

  2. Brilliant post! I love the way you dissect these arguments and pick apart their logic while not resorting to character attacks. 🙂 More of that is definitely needed! I agree with Casey’s assessment on the ‘slipper slope’ argument to bestiality or something just as bizarre and offensive. Their propaganda machine is slowing showing wear as more and more people come to the same logical conclusions you presented here.

    I’ll be looking forward to reading your blog in the future!

    • I appreciate the comment. I definitely think gay marriage will be completely legal in my lifetime (wasn’t so sure of this back in the Bush days), but that doesn’t mean the debate will be going away anytime soon. Confronting every irrational argument is the best we can hope to do for now.
      I’ve updated this post to include Casey’s ‘slippery slope’ example.
      Thanks for reading.

      • Thanks for the update! I know who were not implying the whole of one faith in the post…I was responding from a place of defense, naturally, as a Christian is support of the LGBTQ family, be it in marriage or ordination. Can you tell it’s a sensitive subject?

        Your responses are brilliant, by the way.

        See you in Nashville in a few months?

    • Typos happen.

      Look forward to hanging with you in Nash. That is, for a month or two before I move to whatever my next city will be.

  3. “Yes, because we should really trust a book written thousands of years ago by people who thought that rats materialized out of garbage.”

  4. I care not if one guy wants to bend another guy over and bugger him in a spot that was designed to expell human waste. But this is a choice not natural except with some un evolved primates. Being gay is a choice if not they would all have to be confined for being miswired. Your arguments are typical gay diatribes!

    • Hah, that comment is so ignorant and homophobic, it almost certainly has to be trolling. “Typical gay diatribes?” You sound like a typical, undereducated homophobe. By the way, the vagina was designed to expel human waste, too, so what does that have to do with anything?
      What day did you choose to be straight?

  5. Real marriage is not about a piece of paper and joint finances, or equal rights it about Gods way of joining to people to gether for ever, buy a man and woman,which of course means actual physical mixture of the two, so if it makes you feall married to have a piece of paper and joint finances and rights as a couple, thats fine, but in the eyes of God and mankind homosexuals are never married, remember when it was written God will not be mocked!

  6. you may not be going to hell, there is repentance, but you surly wont be reproducing in marriage.

    • Since this is obviously a drive-by prostelytization and not a serious attempt at discussion, I won’t waste much time on this.
      It must be rather convenient that God happens to believe the same things you do. That was a real time saver.
      I’m not too interested in “real marriage,” just the marriage that is sanctioned by our secular government. I no more care that God ordains a gay marriage than I care if he ordains a Vegas marriage. I only care that my government doesn’t discriminate between its citizens.

      Trust me, God is being mocked all the time. And I’ll worry about going to Hell when you start worrying about going to Valhalla.

      • @lyttleton- You are so kind to these idiots. I can’t even take their opinions as serious, but their misspellings just drive me mad!

      • If they were to try to make an argument to support their bigotry, I would be more emotionally involved in my rebuttal. But this stuff is just drive-by internet anger, meaningless and useless to respond to.

        They are trolls, best not to feed them.

    • With reasoned arguments like that, it’s hard to understand how your side is losing public favor.

      • lyttleton- again, these two legally married dykes thank you for your patience and intelligence when dealing with these idiots. (why in the world doesn’t autocorrect catch more of their elementary misspellings? That is indeed more frustrating than their insane ideas!) Pamela and Ginger ❤

      • Thank you Pamela (and Ginger). As you can probably imagine, it’s rare that this post receives complimentary comments, so yours are appreciated.

        I think it’s important to focus on the logical reasons why gay marriage should be legal (or, not illegal). Logic will rarely change a person’s mind, but once you’ve taken out the ‘reasons’ for being against gay marriage, you reveal that the only true reason is fear and hatred.

        That’s why the younger generation is turning towards acceptance, because they’ve seen that fear and hate in their parents and they want no part of it. I wish you both the best.

  7. “the idea that we should legislate based on faith is beyond reprehensible.  It’s antithetic to our core values as a nation” The problem with this line of thinking is that the ‘core values’ of most western societies are based on Judeo-Christianity. So to say that something is against the ‘core values’ of any society, is to embrace or at the very least, accept, the teachings of the religion on which that society was founded.

    • Which of our ‘core values’ are Judeo-Christian? It seems to me, as a nation, our core values are that all men are created equal (not a Judeo-Christian sentiment) and that everyone has a right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Those core values come from the Enlightenment, a decidedly not Christian (one might even say, anti-Christian) intellectual movement.

      But I’m sure you mean the Ten Commandments. After all, we do enforce all of those by law. It is illegal to kill and steal. It is also illegal to covet your neighbor’s stuff or have affairs. And we punish people who don’t honor their father and mother, almost as harshly as we punish people who don’t keep the Sabbath. And because we shall not worship any other God but Yahweh, we don’t allow any other religions in the U.S.

      Yep, good ol’ America, built on Judeo-Christian core values.

      • You forgot endowed by our Creator…you say Enlightenment as if the forefathers of this country believed as you do…they respected God, believed in His existence and recognized the difference between equality and freedom and sin.

      • “they respected God, believed in His existence and recognized the difference between equality and freedom and sin.”

        You’re the one reading your beliefs into the forefathers. Where do you get this from anything in our founding documents?

        Let us dispense with the idea that all of the forefathers agreed on theology or god. Some were devout Christians. Others were merely theists. Others were likely atheists who choose to speak in the faith-tinged language of the times. Jefferson, who wrote the phrase “endowed by our Creator,” was at most a theist, but there could be an argument for him being in truth an atheist.

        Jefferson printed a version of the gospels in which any claim to Jesus as a supernatural being were excised because Jefferson did not believe he was divine. If a modern Presidential candidate did that and then claimed to be Christian, you would not only decry him as a fraud, he wouldn’t get on a ballot. But because you want a revisionist history where every forefather shares your religious belief, you ignore their actual words and focus on little meaningless terms like “Creator” as proof of their faith. (Do you naturally assume everyone who says “God bless you” after a sneeze shares your faith?)

        If Jefferson were wanting to establish a Christian foundation for our nation, why did he not write “Endowed by God” or “Jesus” or “The Lord” or “Christ” or anything that would have specified the faith, instead of a term that could mean Atum or Gaia or Vishnu or any number of gods. In fact, even avowed atheist Richard Dawkins has used the term ‘creator’ in his books as an analogy for the force of life known as evolution. Are we to believe he is in fact a Christian because of that one word instead of his other writings (where he showed clear skepticism of a personal God)?

        Where is the mention of God’s authority in the Constitution? Where is the concept of ‘sin’ ever even hinted at?

        No, I do not believe the forefathers had any interest in ‘respecting’ God in the sense you mean. In the sense that they believed nature and the natural law of equality was the intention (or result) of a cosmic deity, sure, ‘god’ played a role in the foundational values of our nation, but to claim a Christian foundation is a stretch no matter how you slice it.

      • Lyttleton- just wanted to let you know how refreshing it is to be able to read your intelligent comments. It is so rare these days to actually hear someone who has taken the time to give a thought out and reasoned opinion on anything, much less gay marriage. Your words are both inspiring and encouraging as I had truly believed all intelligent life on this planet had indeed disappeared! My wife and I thank you 🙂

  8. Acts 10:34 says that God is no respecter of persons (and this is only one such verse) so the idea that all men are created equal is most certainly a Christian sentiment at the very least. The main point I was trying to make (not very well obviously) is that regardless of your belief system, it will determine what is logical to you and so you will live your life by it and, if you are in position to do so, most likely legislate by it.

    • I think that’s a bit of a stretch to suggest that Acts 10:34 suggest equality of all men. That sentence, after all, continues on and says God respects those who follow him. So right there, that’s pretty much a screed against non-Christians. And that’s ignoring the fact that the Bible often makes divisions between people, especially between males and females. So, no, I don’t think you can make the legitimate argument that the Bible teaches equality of all humans (without cherry picking verses).

      As far as your larger point: While the core values of individuals may be Christian or Islamic or whatever, the core values of our nation are secular and based on Enlightenment thinking (as I said). This is what keeps every individual person’s core values from disrupting the natural flow of legislation (at least, ideally). So, yes, a Judge or a Legislator may have a particular set of values that guide his or her decisions, but the law of the land (the Constitution) is meant to prevent those values from infringing on the rights of others.

  9. I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree (it seems like a cop-out, I know). But surely the law of the land isn’t merely there to prevent people infringing on others’ rights, but to enable society as a whole to live peacefully together?
    As an aside, I think people the argue against homosexual relationships being taught in schools as another type of marriage for the same reasons that atheists argue against Religious Education in schools, namely that they their children would be taught things that they don’t consider to be true.
    Thanks for your time responding.

    • I think agreeing to disagree is pretty much the default for any of these conversations. But, I will say that I don’t think you made a very strong argument for any particular position. In fact, I’m not really sure what you’re position is,. I guess it’s that you think it’s reasonable for society to withhold rights from a group because some people have religious objections. But you haven’t made a compelling argument that our society should respect religious beliefs that hamper other people’s freedoms. In fact, our society was founded specifically in response to that sort of religious dictatorship.

      Not infringing on others’ rights is how we make sure we do live peacefully together.

      You bring up schools, which raises an interesting point: Besides the fact that I don’t remember being ‘taught in school’ what marriage was (I think I learned that at home), it is the responsibility of our schools to teach facts and knowledge, not to kowtow to religious belief. This is why the government has time and time again struck down the teaching of Creationism in schools (and why IDers have to constantly adapt their methods to slip it back in), We teach evolution because it is supported by facts. Religious belief has no place in the classroom (other than as part of a history lesson or anthropology course). I don’t want ignorant parents deciding what students are taught. I want people who know what they’re talking about setting the agenda.

  10. If you allow same-sex marriage, you have to allow multiple-person marriage also. If some of my guy friends and girl friends want to get married as a group, that should be fine. 🙂 agree?

    • This is the single laziest argument I’ve heard against same-sex marriage and it gets old explaining why it isn’t a legitimate argument.
      A) It’s a slippery slope argument. Hence, a logical fallacy, hence not a legitimate argument. If we accept that same-sex marriage must inherently lead to other forms of marriage, than we must accept that interracial marriages led to gay marriage. And straight marriage led to interracial marriage, so (a=b=c, therefore a=c) really straight marriage led to same-sex marriage. If we want to end same-sex marriage, we better abolish all marriages.
      B) How are gay marriage and polygamy (that’s the word you were looking for, scholar) the same thing? It’s like saying if an apartment complex allows you to have cats as pets, they must obviously allow you to have monkeys. No, we do not “have to allow multiple-person marriage” if same-sex marriage is allowed. Same-sex marriage is still the marriage of two (and only two) consenting adults.
      C) Just for the sake of argument, why shouldn’t we allow polygamy? I ask because the people who put forth this argument never explain why polygamy is a bad thing. If there is an obvious reason, explain it, and I bet when you do, you’ll be able to see why it isn’t equivalent to same-sex marriage.
      D) Did you know that in every state in the country, second cousin can legally marry. Just an interesting factoid bearing no relation on this conversation. Kind of like how same-sex marriage bears no relation to polygamy.

      Good day, sir.

  11. Hi Lyttleton

    Just want to say thanks for a pretty good article. It’s really nice to see people applying logic as they should. As a South African, much of what you say regarding the nature of the US state values has to be altered to make sense for my context (and, naturally, as we already have gay marriage – or a civil union law that is on par with marriage – it’s not as relevant to the SA context). But, we have our own special type of bigotry here, and every tool I can find helps!

    On the note of finding more conceptual tools, I was wondering if you have come across the work of John Corvino. He deals with the whole slippery slope argument very well in a particular paper of his (that is, very luckily, freely available online). Have a look for his paper ‘Homosexuality and the PIB Argument’ – it’s very thorough! I would recommend it for some of your trolls, but I doubt they’d take the time to consider his argument properly. Hope it helps you, though!

    • I have not come across that piece by John Corvino, that I recall, so I will have to check it out. Thanks, and thanks for reading, too.

  12. Lyttleton, I am writing a paper for a class and was wondering who took the photo of the little boy? I need to cite it for my paper.
    Thank you

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