“The Argument against Gay Marriage: And Why It Doesn’t Fail”



On the campus of Princeton University


Those who oppose the radical redefinition of marriage may well lose.  After all, elite opinion, the entertainment industry, and the federal judiciary are plainly on the other side.


But losing the political battle is not the same thing as losing the argument.  The two are quite distinct:





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  • EteU Spencer

    When the United States decided to be a conglomeration of united states they all agreed that the Federal Government would be the law of the land. Individual states must conform to the Constitution.

    • mike

      Of course, the question is always whether Judge X has properly interpreted the meaning of the Constitution in his or her ruling.

  • Ryan Hite

    Marriage has already been “redefined” many times.

    • DanielPeterson

      Not so fundamentally as this.

    • Guy Briggs

      No, it hasn’t. Whether you’re speaking of the polygamous relationships described in the Old Testament, or Levirate marriage, or any of the other several forms – it is still, at its very heart, gender-specific. Male and female.

      The type of redefinition here is the switch from gender-specific to genderless.

      • Jeremy Alleman

        One point to remember is that the Romans married women to have children, but still had Catemites for fun. So while the practice has existed, I don’t believe it ever existed as “marrage” under any culture. The fact that we are codifying it now, I believe, is a new deal in world history.
        I like the fact that the article stressed the question of “What is marrage”. Once we define that, we can have a discussion as to whether it applies to one group or another. Until then, we will be talking past each other, and not making any progress.

  • Lucy Mcgee

    On the other side, Dr. Peterson, are over a hundred and fifty million Americans, many of whom are Christians, including members of the LDS Church. John Dehlin gave an amazing TEDx talk on this very subject. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MxCXjfAunk.

    Also on the other side are a majority of citizens in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Israel, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, UK, Uruguay, with national debates taking place in Australia, China, Colombia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Nepal, Taiwan, Turkey and Vietnam.

    The most extreme of the US Christian Right, including one of the drafters the Manhattan Declaration, Robert P. George (co-author of the article you sited), have for years been working at their fear based and well financed campaigns of sowing the seeds of hatred and bigotry. Even the lovely “Duck Commander” preaches faith inspired gender hatred and uses Biblical scripture as an excuse.

    If the Christian Right believes that same sex marriage will become the downfall of civilization, let them prove it. Data say something quite different. For those interested, have a look at the OECD Better life Index http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/. Then look at those countries that have legalized same sex marriage, and see how people report life on a variety of metrics. You may want to look at the Netherlands, Belgium, and Canada as they have allowed same sex marriage the longest.

    The Christian Right doesn’t have much to stand on, except to preach fear. Too bad, they are on the wrong side of history.

    • wiqenucabo

      The funny thing is, Lucy, is that you are proving the point of the article. Instead of refuting the arguments, you are instead ignoring them in favor pejorative labeling.

      There have always been (at least) two issues here:
      1. Love thy (LGBT) neighbor
      2. Real (or traditional) marriage definition

      As John Dehlin so frequently does, he merges issues so that the more emotional one will overpower the more logical one – being against one means you are now against both and you are thus a bigot.

      And as you so eloquently pointed out, 150 million Americans and the majorities of many countries now feel that if you agree with real marriage, then you must hate gays.

      The arguments for real marriage still stand. Well done.

      • Lucy Mcgee

        This is not a black and white issue and just because someone disfavors same sex marriage certainly doesn’t make them hateful or bigoted. Where do you get that from? My point was that there are those within the extreme Christian Right, who PREACH hatred and bigotry. All one has to do is LISTEN, to their ramblings which do incite fear and bigotry. Shall I take the time to offer some YouTube links so you can understand what I actually wrote?

        • wiqenucabo

          “This is not a black and white issue and just because someone disfavors same sex marriage certainly doesn’t make them hateful or bigoted.”

          I completely agree and I was trying to show that the issue is not black-and-white but always multifaceted. I do maintain hope that this view exists more than it does.

          “Where do you get that from?”

          Are you… are you being serious here? If you’re being sarcastic or joking in some way, then please forgive me. It’s hard to tell in a comment and I don’t know you as a person that well.

          Ask almsot anyone who dared speak in favor of proposition 8 in California (or their children). Ask almost anyone who dared voice their opinion in public forums or on most college across the nation in the last few years. In fact, ask almost any pro-real marriage person their experience when they shared their opinion with someone of the pro-gay marriage opinion. Almost always the first response has something to do with bigotry or hatred. If it was good acquaintance, they usually respond with something like “Why do you hate gay people?”. Many times the word “bigot” is used directly without even a meager attempt at asking “Why?”.

          Your own response of failing to address the arguments in the linked post and instead say phrases like “preaches faith inspired gender hatred” and “preach fear” is a testament to this general thinking and a continued acknowledgment of the article’s findings.

          Actually, now that I think about it, the labeling of the pro-real marriage crowd as bigots and hate-mongers is so pervasive that (like what probably happened with you) many people don’t even know they are doing it to us. I find this absolutely fantastic.

          “My point was that there are those within the extreme Christian Right, who PREACH hatred and bigotry. All one has to do is LISTEN, to their ramblings which do incite fear and bigotry. Shall I take the time to offer some YouTube links so you can understand what I actually wrote?”

          I believe you are taking one extreme to be non-existent, and another to be more popular than it really is. Reality is not YouTube. I have talked to ant-gay marriage people who have said hateful things; they exist, but in my experience, not even a tenth as many as in the pro-gay marriage crowd (who act so wittingly or not). I would say that in the pro-gay marriage crowd, the ratio is not only inversed but inversed by a magnitude or more – I’ve even more rarely come across a person willing to talk civilly who had the opinion of being pro-gay marriage.

    • DanielPeterson

      I really don’t care much, as far as choosing my worldview goes, how many Americans think this or that,

      Neither do you, obviously, If you did, you would be a theist,

      • Lucy Mcgee

        I made the point to show that there are many on the other side, including Christians as well as those of elite opinion, the entertainment industry, and the federal judiciary. What say you about those churches accepting of same-sex marriage? Wrong doctrines? Miss-reading doctrines? Reverend Mel White, a gay man and outspoken critic of the extreme religious right offers some interesting thoughts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4V91-JoLmNc

        As far as my lack of religiosity, I did consult the available “world view”, which at the time were my parents, especially my father, a crusty old (he was 63 when I was born) Austrian who wanted me to make up my own mind about religion, after I’d had some years behind me.

    • mike


      To your accusation of hatred and bigotry on the part of those who support traditional marriage, there is wisdom in what New York’s high court said in 2006 (Hernandez v. Robles) when it held that the New York Constitution does not compel the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples: “The idea that same-sex marriage is even possible is a relatively new one. Until a few decades ago, it was an accepted truth for almost everyone who ever lived, in any society in which marriage existed, that there could be marriages only between participants of a different sex. A court should not lightly conclude that everyone who held this belief was irrational, ignorant or bigoted. We do not so conclude.”

      To your assertion that the approval of same-sex marriage by individuals in other countries should influence our decision to accept or reject the same (apparently without further question), let me quote Chesterton: “Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”

      As to your mention of certain European countries and Canada as proof that same-sex marriage has brought stability and good fortune to those engaged in the institution, I point to only a few recent articles and studies that call into serious question your assertions. The now famous (or infamous, depending on your personal view) Regerus study reveals that having a parent who is or has been in a same-sex relationship is generally associated with more negative adult outcomes, especially when compared with adult children from intact biological families.

      Further, a recent study out of Canada shows that children of same-sex couples have lower graduation rates compared to children of opposite-sex couples. The rates are especially low for girls raised by lesbian couples. The study lends weight to the understanding that male and female parents are not interchangeable.

      The stability of same-sex marriage is likewise a serious question. According to statistics from Scandinavia: “In Norway, male same-sex marriages are 50 percent more likely to end in divorce than heterosexual marriages, and female same-sex marriages are an astonishing 167 percent more likely to be dissolved. In Sweden, the divorce risk for male-male partnerships is 50 percent higher than for heterosexual marriages, and the divorce risk for female partnerships is nearly double that for men.”

      Finally, the belief that same-sex marriage either helps strengthen marriage in general, or, in the least, will not lead to its further erosion, appears to be a fallacy. From a report in Britain: “In Scandinavia, where hostility to the two-parent family is central to the ruling political orthodoxy, the widening of the legal definition of marriage has done nothing to stop the institution decaying.The same applies in Spain, where the Catholic Church still retains significant social influence and state policy has not been so antagonistic to traditional family life. Gay marriage was first sanctioned in 2005, and since then the decline in heterosexual marriage rates has been precipitous. Likewise in Holland, where the traditional Protestant culture has fought against the increasingly predominant tolerant anarchy so beloved of liberal campaigners. Since the Dutch legalised same-sex marriage in 2001, the concept of long-term commitment among heterosexuals has been evaporating — not least because of the parallel introduction of ‘registered partnership’ or ‘cohabitation agreements’ for heterosexuals. Forty per cent of first babies are now born to unmarried mothers in Holland, a doubling of the rate since 2000.”


      To get back to Chesterton: “Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.” Some caution and prudence, I think, is in order here. As Mona Charen said, “Gays and lesbians are not responsible for the mess that our culture has made of family life. But perhaps they can understand that resisting its further redefinition is not bigotry but prudence.”

      • Lucy Mcgee

        Please understand that I only accused the most extreme of the Christian Right of inciting hatred and bigotry which can be clearly read in their published works and listened to in their public statements. There is a great deal of hate speech against those they claim as “militant” gays and lesbians; people who have and do stand up for their civil rights.

        Approval of same sex marriage in other countries has not had the outcome some within the Christian Right (I’m thinking of Dobson, Falwell & Robertson, for example) have long espoused; namely the downfall of traditional marriage, of society and the “wrath of God” visited upon us. These people, who claim to speak for God and who claim to know His plan, have long preached that same sex marriage will destroy the American Family. These personalities claim to know the mind of God and pluck scripture to make their arguments. So why hasn’t it happened in the Netherlands, where same sex marriage has been legal for 13 years? Again, look at data from the OECD Better Life Index.

        As for the study by the associate professor Mark Regnerus, I’m highly skeptical as I am with any study funded or tied in any way to the Christian Right. Again, these people have the belief of societal downfall, which is clearly not occurring, nor is the downfall of traditional marriage which these people claim will be affected.

        The study you cite “out of Canada” is not out of Canada but something authored by the very same Mark Regnerus funded by the Witherspoon Institute.

        Lastly, and most importantly, from the “Stockholm Study”, in the National Review article you cited, the researchers offer the conclusion that:

        “At the international arena, Scandinavia clearly has played the role of forerunner in the granting of equal rights to couples of different sex-compositions to marry. In the American debate, it has sometimes been argued that these developments have also undermined the status of heterosexual marriage and led to the erosion of marriage in Scandinavia (e.g., Kurtz 2004). An inspection of trends in heterosexual marriage formation in the Nordic countries gives no support to such an interpretation. On the contrary, both Denmark and Sweden witness clear reversals from stable or decreasing to increasing trends in marriage formation subsequent to the introduction of these countries’ partnership laws (Figure 4, see also Ohlsson 2009). Similar short-term or long-term reversals in the same direction can be observed for Norway, Iceland and Finland shortly after the introduction of the partnership laws in these countries (see Andersson et al. 2009). If anything, the democratization of marriage seems to have made this institution more, not less popular.”

        So the Christian Right’s belief that traditional marriage will be impacted by same sex marriage is a well funded MYTH! You should read the entire study. I think it would enlighten your thinking.

        • mike

          The study from Canada was by Doug Allen, an economist who reviewed Canadian census data, not Mark Regerus.

          As for the Regerus study, it was published at UT-Austin. I find it to be very important because it openly questioned the existing literature about same-sex couples, and showed how many of these studies were inherently biased. These same studies were cited with great fanfare by Judge Walker in his decision overturning Prop 8.

          The terrible and prejudicial attacks, and threats, that Regerus has received since publishing the study are well documented and quite disappointing. His study is perhaps the most expansive of its kind, although he readily admits some limitations within it. It represents the need to take a more honest look at the issue of same-sex marriage, even if some would rather not do so.

          As for your statement about marriage rates in the Scandinavian countries, the statistics that I have seen suggest that marriage has declined since the implementation of same-sex marriage in these countries.

          Lastly, I would agree with you that anyone who condemns a gay person (or anyone, for that matter) to hell is not acting in a Christian spirit.

          • Lucy Mcgee

            Please provide the link of the Canadian study you are referring to.

            Please provide the link of the study which shows that same sex marriage has declined in Scandinavian countries because of same sex marriage.

            Please keep in mind that those persecuting claim persecution. Imagine yourself living a life condemned by those agents who claim truth, but who are no more than you are. The trajectory of though on same sex marriage is a positive force for understanding and compassion, as taught by Christ.

    • kiwi57

      I’ve watched Mister Dehlin’s propaganda piece. It’s a slick presentation. Fortunately, understanding as I do, how to apply critical thinking to this kind of manipulation, I’m more inclined to smile at it than to tear up over it.

      Mind you, no matter how hard he tries to conceal the truth, it can’t help leaking out every now and then. Such as when he gushes about how he changed “from” being a believing Latter-day Saint “to” being an advocate for his current cause célèbre.

      Which is at least an admission that he is no longer a believing Latter-day Saint.

      • Lucy Mcgee

        You’re obviously happy in your world. Great. Your “critical thinking” allows you to organize your life, while disregarding the civil liberties of others.

        I find it interesting that you, a mere kiwi57, can know the heart and mind and belief system of John Dehlin and can claim him a no longer believing Latter-day Saint. Really? What about all the others who agree with same sex marriage and who are believing Latter-day Saints? Are you willing to make the same statements about them and what they believe?

        You regard yourself quite highly.

        • kiwi57


          I chose the phrase “critical thinking” quite deliberately. I’m aware that non-believers tend to assume that they have a monopoly on it; and they make that assumption most when they are using that faculty the least.

          I’m not disregarding anyone’s civil liberties. As you know, same sex people can move in with each other as easily (and as often) as they please. They have complete liberty to form whatever attachments they like, and I am not at all inclined to stop them from doing that. Not having their arrangements recognised as “marriages” (which in reality they are not) in no way inhibits them from forming such arrangements.

          I don’t claim to know any more about “the heart and mind and belief system of John Dehlin” than what he has seen fit to tell us.

          And on the video you chose to post, he chose to tell us that he had changed “from” being a believing Latter-day Saint “to” being an advocate for his current cause célèbre.

          And as I understand the workings of the English language, if something changes “from” X “to” Y, then it is at least no longer X.

          Mister Dehlin provided the evidence; I merely joined the dots.

          • Lucy Mcgee

            I think what’s interesting about you and your ilk, is that you seem to “know” what is good and just and right for humanity. How do you do that? How do you so easily judge others, and claim to know what marriage should stand for? How is it that scripture can be interpreted to mean something quite different regarding marriage than what you would like to impose on society at large? Can’t you just worry about yourself? Why impose your strictures on others? What are you afraid of?

          • kiwi57

            See, you are no longer addressing anything I wrote. You have switched around to directly attacking me and my “ilk.”

            Clearly if you could address the points I made, you would.

            I accept your surrender.

          • Lucy Mcgee

            If the term “ilk” displeases you, then please believe I would just as easily “attack” you with the words “group”, “variety”, “class”. Sheesh.

          • kiwi57

            It’s not merely a question of “ilk.” I’ve been known to use that word myself. It’s simply the fact that you’ve changed the subject.

            Which is consistent with your inability to make any headway on the original subject.

            Anyway, Merry Christmas to you and your family.

          • Lucy Mcgee

            Thanks, and best wishes to you and yours over the holiday season as well as a merry (and quickly winding down) Christmas.

          • DanielPeterson

            “You and your ilk”? Followed by an implicit admonition to not judge others?

            I love a good laugh at any time, but it’s especially welcome on Christmas Eve. (We just finished a great family “White Elephant” party.)

            Thanks, Lucy!

          • Lucy Mcgee

            You’re welcome.