The Harms of Same-Sex Marriage

The Massachusetts anti-gay group MassResistance isn’t giving up. Even though same-sex marriage has been legal there for nearly 10 years and is supported by a strong majority of the public, they’re still fighting to turn back the clock. And although most people might say that Massachusetts’ failure to become a Sodom and Gomorrah-esque den of depravity has disproved the predictions of doomsayers, they’re not ready to concede that either.

I’ve been reading one of their leaflets, titled What same-sex “marriage’ has done to Massachusetts: It’s far worse than most people realize. In it, they allege a long list of harms caused by the recognition of marriage equality, most of which can be summarized as, “Same-sex couples are accepted as normal and supported by the rest of society.” Let’s take a look:

Kindergartners in Lexington, Mass. were given copies of a picture book, Who’s in a Family?, telling them that same-sex couples are just another kind of family, just like their own parents.

Yes, that is correct. Same-sex couples are another kind of family, and it’s completely appropriate for public schools to acknowledge that.

The Massachusetts Bar Exam now tests lawyers on their knowledge of same-sex marriage “law.” In 2007, a Boston man failed the Massachusetts bar exam because he refused to answer a question about homosexual marriage.

I’ve seen Christians use scare quotes when referring to same-sex marriage, petulantly refusing to acknowledge its reality, but the use of scare quotes around “law” is a new one for me. Apparently, they’re claiming that Christian lawyers should be allowed to refuse to learn about any area of the law they disagree with, however well settled.

In 2011 the Governor appointed Barbara Lenk, a “married” lesbian activist, to be a state Supreme Court Justice. She has said that the interpretation of law “evolves and develops” because “minority groups [e.g., homosexuals] see certain things differently based on their own experiences.”

I’m pretty sure that legalizing same-sex marriage wasn’t a prerequisite for appointing a lesbian to the state supreme court. The complaint here seems to be solely that gay and lesbian people are allowed to hold public office and to participate in making and interpreting the law.

Homosexual “married” couples can now demand to be allowed to adopt children – through any agency. In 2006 Catholic Charities decided to abandon handling adoptions rather submit to regulations requiring them to allow homosexuals to adopt the children in their care.

Good! Every couple who wants to adopt should have an opportunity to adopt every child who needs parents. That’s completely fair and appropriate. Children needing adoption aren’t the property of religious groups who can parcel them out as they see fit, and anyone who can’t accept that should get out of the adoption business.

Marriage licenses and certificates in Massachusetts now have “Party A” and “Party B” instead of “husband” and “wife.” Imagine having a marriage license like that.

The horror, the horror! How will I know which of the two people in my marriage is the husband and which is the wife if the government doesn’t tell me?! Why, if my marriage license doesn’t specify these things, I might end up as the wife without meaning to!

In 2009 angry homosexual activists terrorized the Park Street Church in Boston while it was holding an ex-gay religious training session inside. They demonstrated next to the doors and windows with signs, screaming homosexual slogans. One of them held a bullhorn against the window outside the meeting, bellowing at the participants inside. Police did nothing to stop them, even though they were standing inside the historic cemetery adjacent to the church.

Notice what they don’t say: that the protesters were violent or threatening, just that they “terrorized” the poor anti-gay bigots with their “homosexual slogans”. Remember, folks, if gay marriage is legalized, then gay people will be able to exercise their First Amendment rights, and we all know where that leads!

Notice, also, that this paragraph holds out the implication that the police should have stopped them, that they should have arrested the protesters to allow anti-gay churches to promote their bigotry in peace and without having to face public opposition. Combined with the other items on this list, it’s obvious that what MassResistance and their ilk really want is for gay people to be invisible, so that Christians can go through life without ever having to acknowledge their existence.

But all their excitable descriptions can’t really disguise the fact that, as persecution goes, this is weak tea. There are no instances of churches being shut down by the authorities, or pastors being hauled off in shackles to government-run reeducation camps. All that MassResistance is doing is describing a society where gay people are normal and accepted, and bigotry against gay people is disapproved of.

I admit, it’s fun to mock the pretensions of zealots who see persecution everywhere they look. But the bitter punchline is that MassResistance supports harming and persecuting gay people in ways far worse than any of the imagined persecutions against them. They’ve openly praised a Nigerian bill that would imprison same-sex couples for up to 14 years. The Nigerian law, which is only awaiting the president’s signature, also outlaws pro-gay-rights groups, punishes the “public show of same-sex amorous relationships” with up to 10 years in prison, and would even imprison people who serve as witnesses at an illegal same-sex wedding. MassResistance is pleased as punch by this:

The government of Nigeria, which has one of the world’s largest populations of AIDS sufferers, is outraged by what they feel is the Western world’s efforts to subvert public morality. They are now taking bold steps to fight back.

Almost predictably, Great Britain and the United States are threatening to take action against Nigeria for having the nerve to challenge Western political correctness.

This is one for the record books. There have been lots of religious sects who complain bitterly about oppression when they’re in the minority, but swiftly turn around and pass punitive, theocratic laws as soon as they have the power. But this may be the first case I’ve seen of a fundamentalist group that cries about the unfair treatment it says it’s getting while at the same time advocating imprisonment and forced silence for its adversaries.

Image credit: Shutterstock

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Errant Endeavour

    Dear Right Thinking Citizens of the USA,

    I bring you dire warnings of a future, filled with dire horrors, and dire direness. This future is brought upon us by the lefties and their ‘gayness’. If we soon don’t get our way, we will live in an intolerable society where people who love each other – and are the same sex! – are allowed to marry. More than that, they shall be in office! It’s bad enough that we allow this ‘democracy’ nonsense to continue, instead of the tried and true theocratic society, but to have gay people be allowed to vote – I just can’t even finish that sentence. Never mind that a woman was raped by a group of football players, laughing and the video put up for all to see, and others who face such dangers and our sexism, but we face the incredibly dire prospect of children being adopted by the gays! Never mind many live under the poverty line, our marriage licences no longer have ‘man’ and ‘wife’ on them. What’s next, ‘gay’ presidents? A woman president? Absolutely not! Never mind that many face jail for simply being gay, but that they have the nerve to protest! Their being intolerant of our intolerance is quite intolerable. The absolute scoundrels. Jesus may love them, but I don’t.

    Signed,

    Slightly Miffed In Mass.

  • arensb

    most of which can be summarized as, “Same-sex couples are accepted as normal and supported by the rest of society.”

    Or, alternately, “This anti-discrimination law prevents us from discriminating!”

  • http://flickr.com/photos/sedary_raymaker/ Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Found out a little about the bar exam item. From the sound of it, Dunne’s failing grade reflects his actual grasp of how the law works.

  • mountaintiger

    I suppose it isn’t surprising that he represented himself. So either he thought that it was a good idea to represent himself without any experience as a litigator, or he couldn’t get a lawyer to take the case and didn’t think that told him anything about its merit. Either way, I doubt the Massachusetts bar is worse off without him.

  • http://flickr.com/photos/sedary_raymaker/ Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Certainly the people of Massachusetts dodged a bullet. (Assuming he didn’t take the exam again later.)

    He filed for dismissal a few months later, but that’s all I can find out.

  • GCT

    You beat me to it. I was going to write something about closed borders, Bible burnings, and forced gay orgies and marriages, but now it seems like the joke would be derivative. Thanks a lot. See, this is the harm of gay marriage in my state!

  • smrnda

    On the bar exam, I’m not an attorney, but even if I don’t believe in the consumption of alcohol, I might need to know how laws regulating the sale, consumption and distribution of alcohol work, as I might end up defending a DUI client.

    I love the quotes – somehow, Christians believe they get to define marriage for everyone else. So, from now on I’ll talk about Christian ‘marriage,’ ‘love,’ and ‘virtue’ – using the quotes to imply the BS nature of each of them.

    And what, a group demonstrating? It isn’t like Christians don’t demonstrate or accost people in public to evangelize.

  • Martin Penwald

    It is probable that the same will happen in France, but there is a point that religious zealots don´t see (or don´t want to see, but either way they´re ridiculous) : so, law passed, and same-sex marriages occur.
    [talking here from French law, but I guess same kind of problem will be raised in US] What if the law changes the way they want ? Same-sex marriages already contracted cannot be cancelled, it would be unconstitutionnal. So, people here stay married. But if new same-sex marriages cannot be contracted anymore, it´s a breach of egality, between old and new, and there is no constitionnal ground to let it be, so the only way to be right is to allow same-sex marriages again.

  • Infophile

    It depends on the state in the US, actually. In fact, this is exactly what’s happening in California: Same-sex marriage was briefly legal before it was banned by referendum. But the state constitution says referendums can’t remove “fundamental rights” from citizens, so the law (Prop 8 if you want to look it up) is currently being challenged in court. Very, very slowly being challenged.

  • Katatonic

    Wondering if any of the offended, downtrodden xtians have ever protested at Planned Parenthood…

  • Michael W Busch

    The government of Nigeria, which has one of the world’s largest populations of AIDS sufferers,

    And of course they bring in AIDS as if it were at all relevant to this – ignoring how most HIV infections are transmitted by people having heterosexual sex.

  • Martin Penwald

    Ok, thank you. It is more complicated than I thought. It´s unfortunate that these stupid people still have a chance to defeat those laws.

  • L.Long

    most people might say that Massachusetts’ failure to become a Sodom and Gomorrah-esque den of depravity……

    These dim-wits accuse us of using stuff out of context and -OH the IRONY-they do so all the time. These non-buyBull reading xtians have not idea what Sodom and Gomorrah was all about nor why were destroyed.

  • kaboobie

    I’m a Massachusetts woman, married to a man for 7 1/2 years. We were actually quite pleased that our application and marriage certificate designated us as “Party A” and “Party B”. It reminds us that we live in a state where any two consenting adults have the same right, and that is something to be proud of.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.fischer.5496 MyUsernameIsaLecture

    No, no, you’ve got it all wrong. What you’re supposed to say is that the “Party A and Party B” stuff immediately caused you to call the whole thing off because the mere existence of married gay couples makes your own marriage meaningless.

    …I mean, isn’t that how they say straight couples are supposed to feel?

    [/sarcasm]

  • Donalbain

    With regard to the lawyer and the bar exam, even the loons at FreeRepublic basically thought he was an idiot. When you are too crazy for FreeRepublic, you have a problem!

  • Bdole

    MassResistance. What a waste of a great name for an organization or scifi work. That works better than “falling skies.”

  • Jason Wexler

    *tongue planted firmly in cheek*

    Where do we register for forced gay orgies? And can we burn the Bible as foreplay?

  • http://kagerato.net/ kagerato

    Yes… the old “you’re being intolerant of my intolerance” card.

  • http://kagerato.net/ kagerato

    The whole Party A, Party B thing just makes me laugh. It’s like they can’t even accept a symbolic gesture of equality, let alone the actual thing.

  • http://kagerato.net/ kagerato

    These fools think being gay is itself contagious. No, seriously, they’re that ignorant. Their behavior shows they actually believe you can forcefully convert people to other sexualities, and going from that nonsense to treating the whole thing as a disease is not the greatest leap — at least when you don’t care one wit about logic.

    Perhaps their malfunction has something to do with the relatively inconclusive results in sexuality research. Most studies show only relatively modest genetic correlations at best, and I don’t know of any that actually pinned down the influence of epi-genetics and early childhood experiences. Trying to even do research in this area is very morally problematic, because the kind of controls and interventions you would want to use are essentially unethical.

    What I don’t get, though, is how they came to the conclusion that they could covert sexuality like it’s a religion. There’s not even bad science supporting that — it’s getting more into the realm of fabricating data from whole cloth. If they actually looked at a few sociological studies, it’s very clear that the dominant trend is that sexuality becomes established around puberty or shortly after, and then for most people never changes again. There are exceptions, as with everything, but that’s the general rule.

    There’s plenty of interesting things to note in the exceptions, too. Notably, when sexuality does change in adults, it’s almost always from narrower to broader. Meaning, effectively, that people who previously considered themselves either exclusively straight or gay sometimes shift towards bisexuality (or even pan-sexuality). There’s all kinds of narratives that try to explain this or what it means; everyone has their own story. Some think of it as merely a kind of “second awakening”, but others see it as a genuine and voluntary shift. Yet others will point out signs or evidence in the past that suggest it was actually a kind of latent attraction that just never really had the opportunity to grow before. Who knows?

    What we don’t observe, though, is gay, cis adults turning straight or vice-versa. In essentially every one of the few cases you can actually hunt down and investigate, we find that the actual attractions don’t really change in these “conversions”. Often times, the “converted” actually come out again later.

    Oh, and I had to qualify the last paragraph with “cis”, since trans individuals are another story. It’s not too surprising, though, that your sexuality might change if you’ve been living most of your life with your gender not matching what it feels like it should be. It’s hard to even figure out what sexuality means exactly in that context, to be honest. As to the cause, it’s still a bit mysterious. Some people pin it on hormones, and I can see how that would have something to do with it. I don’t know the whole story, though, and everyone is different.

  • http://kagerato.net/ kagerato

    The Park Street Church congregation would have a case if the cemetery was their private property. I doubt that it was, though.

    There’s also the matter of noise ordinances and public disturbances. These shouldn’t be able to override the constitution, obviously, but sometimes the police do not care one bit about the constitution. More and more frequently these days, I would say.

    Most people didn’t bother to protest the whole “free speech zones” nonsense — and those were directly related to political events and politicians themselves. So I really doubt we’re going to bring out much of the town to defend minority protesters annoying the local church. We end up very reliant on the police making the right call, being busy doing something else, or simply being lazy. Never a good situation to be in.

  • Dryad

    I fully support MassResistance’s efforts to distribute this information as widely as possible, and hope that they send copies of the leaflets to states where marriage is currently banned, so that the people there can see exactly how much truth there is behind the dire warnings of doom.

  • J_JamesM

    “But this may be the first case I’ve seen of a fundamentalist group that cries about the unfair treatment it says it’s getting while at the same time advocating imprisonment and forced silence for its adversaries.”

    I’m sorry, but WHAT?! I see this all the time. It’s practically fundamentalist groups’ modus operandi. Neo-Nazis want to genocide minority groups and burn the NAACP and whatnot, whilst complaining about being marginalized by society. Westboro Baptist wants the law to punish gay people and liberals for being gay and liberal, complains of sinful liberals and gays oppressing them. FRC does much the same, Al Qaeda wants to burn Western society, etc. etc…

    “Right Wing Watch” run by People For the American Way chronicles all this chicanery. It’s an epidemic.

  • Jason Wexler

    Often what changes isn’t orientation but behavior. Borrowing heavily from a Vlogbrothers video on this subject, I would point out that a celibate priest isn’t celibate by orientation but behavior, and similarly ex-gays and gay-for-pay adult entertainers (those few that aren’t merely marketing frauds at least), are able to behave sexually against their inherent desires. I suspect the fears of these people over being converted have more to do with confusing behavior for orientation then anything else.

    On the other hand, there is the question of the Kinsey Scale which suggests that we all exist on a spectrum from straight to gay with a large range of bisexual options in between. The conventional wisdom as I’ve always seen it even in peer reviewed social science journals has been that the distribution of human sexuality is a Gaussian normal curve on that scale (meaning we are all mostly bisexual. However interview data suggests we are all sitting on a modified inverted Gaussian normal where we are all sitting at one extreme or the other and few are in the middle. Which could mean what they really fear is “heterosexuals” suddenly finding it acceptable to experiment with their long subdued bisexual tendencies. And they are worried they lack the “strength” to resist that temptation.

  • kaboobie

    “Oh no! This piece of paper says I’m Party A! I don’t know whether I’m the wife or the husband!” Yeah, it’s pretty ridiculous.

    Another nice thing about getting married when we did is that my husband got to talk to George Takei about his (then) upcoming marriage while at Dragon*Con in 2008. He told George that we were proud to have been married in a state where everyone had that right, and George immediately called his partner (now husband) Brad over to meet my husband.

  • smrnda

    I’ve actually found some Christians take the position that the lack of a disaster following the legalization of same sex marriage *IS* the disaster. (Talk about circular reasoning.) “We’re so corrupted by sin that we … JUST ACCEPT SAME SEX MARRIAGE AND GO ABOUT OUT BUSINESS!”

  • GCT

    “We’re so corrupted by sin that we … JUST ACCEPT SAME SEX MARRIAGE AND GO ABOUT OUT BUSINESS!”

    “Out business,” actually makes sense in this context. Well played.

  • tedseeber

    “Yes, that is correct. Same-sex couples are another kind of family, and it’s completely appropriate for public schools to acknowledge that.”

    Why is it I don’t see this as any more appropriate than teaching creationism?

  • tedseeber

    Why are there only two lines?

    Why not have a web form going to a child table in the database?

  • http://twitter.com/ImprobableJoe Improbable Joe

    I’ve got a few guesses, none of which reflect well on you or your upbringing.

  • Azkyroth

    I’m wondering: are “forced gay orgies” gay orgies where the RHS is a function of t, or ones where there’s work being done to move the…

    …silly question :3

  • Azkyroth

    Because you didn’t bother to swallow a flashlight while your mouth was still externally accessible?

  • Jason Wexler

    I certainly hope it is the latter, if the former they can collapse the function by making t approach 0 or infinity. Which would mean less amusing time for me.

  • http://kagerato.net/ kagerato

    That’s another plausible explanation. When it comes to the complexity of human behavior, there’s a great deal to consider about the causes.

  • http://kagerato.net/ kagerato

    I don’t think they’re aware of the lurking physics pun.

  • John Alexander Harman

    When it comes to conservative/evangelical/fundamentalist Christian “virtue,” I think the scare quotes are not even snarky, but merely appropriate; that word does not mean what they think it means.

  • DavidMHart

    Because it is an undeniable true fact about reality that same-sex-couple families are a kind of family (whether or not it’s a kind of family that you personally disapprove of – and if there are good reasons to disapprove of them, then the existence of legally-above-board ones will allow you to collect data on the subject), whereas there is not the slightest shred of compelling evidence that creationism is an accurate reflection of reality.

    That is the difference. We should be teaching children
    a) things that there are compelling reasons to believe are true, and
    b) the critical thinking skills that will enable them to figure out for themselves how to distinguish fact from fiction.

    We should not be teaching children myths (whether religious or otherwise) as if they were true.

  • Jason Wexler

    I don’t know tedseeber and I am not inside of his/her head so it really isn’t my place to offer a defense, however I read this comment, as saying that discussion of family structure what-ever structure it may be isn’t really appropriate for general education, sort of the same way teachers shouldn’t be telling students how they voted.

  • DavidMHart

    Well, having encoutered Mr Seeber here before, I am reasonably confident that he’d think teachers ought to be able to tell their classes that same-sex-couple families are lesser somehow than opposite-sex-couple families (or at least that same-sex couples are less valid somehow). And the comment was simply about acknowledging families, not necessarily having an in-depth discussion of family structures. That is to say, it sounds like he is equating expecting teachers not to tell children of same sex couples that they aren’t real families (or some such formulation of implicit second-class citizenship) with expecting teachers to teach myths in science classes.

  • Jason Wexler

    I understand, I was mistaken then.

  • DavidMHart

    Well, maybe, maybe not. I hope to hear Seeber’s response; I don’t want to be going around putting words into other people’s mouths without good reason :-)

    [Edit - well, Jason, it looks like I did have good reason to anticipate Seeber's response :-) ]

  • tedseeber

    There will never be enough “legally above board” same sex parented families to reach statistical significance in any study.

  • tedseeber

    Where is the statistical significant study that “Same-sex couples are another kind of family, and it’s completely appropriate for public schools to acknowledge that.”?

  • tedseeber

    I would disagree with that statement. I see no need to mention the statistically insignificant population of committed homosexual families at all, at least, not until we have a peer reviewed study showing them to be statistically significant.

    “marriage” and “real families”- I don’t believe the secular culture is capable of knowing what these words mean at all, so it’s just so much garbage and a *waste of time* in a setting where many students are functionally illiterate.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/ Ani J. Sharmin

    Combined with the other items on this list, it’s obvious that what MassResistance and their ilk really want is for gay people to be invisible, so that Christians can go through life without ever having to acknowledge their existence.

    This, basically. They want to live in a world where only their rights, needs, wants, and beliefs are taken into account when building a society. I once got into an argument with two people (in the comments section of a different website) and one of them wrote a comment abut just wanting things to stay the way they were “created and intended” — apparently totally missing the point that wanting to live in a society that continues to give you special treatment just makes you look more bigoted, rather than serving as any kind of defense.

    I’d also like to know why Christians who say positive things about efforts to imprison and sometimes even kill LGBT people aren’t considered to be (and unapologetically accused of being) supporters of criminals and human rights’ violators. Of course, pro-LGBT-rights writers and websites will point out how horrible they are, but their view is considered to be the equal “other side” of the debate by too many people. A non-Christian group (e.g. Muslims, Hindus, Jews, atheists) in the USA that supported efforts to imprison or kill Christians in another country would be accused of being anti-freedom, and may even be accused of supporting terrorism.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/ Ani J. Sharmin

    People talking about HIV/AIDS as a way to promote discrimination against LGBT people makes me so angry. It’s one of their most despicable arguments; they’re using an *illness* to promote discrimination, instead of, you know, actually caring about helping the people who are ill.

  • DavidMHart

    There will never be enough “legally above board” same sex parented families to reach statistical significance in any study.

    Really? How many would you need? And what makes you so confident that those numbers will never be reached, given the increase in states and countries instituting same-sex marriage in recent years? Or are you asserting that no possible amount of evidence suggesting that same-sex-couple families are just as able to be happy, and to raise well-adjusted children could ever persuade you that same-sex-couple families are just as able to be happy, and to raise well-adjusted children?

    “I see no need to mention the statistically insignificant population of committed homosexual families at all, at least, not until we have a peer reviewed study showing them to be statistically significant.”

    And why should we need statistically-significant tests in order to justify not treating a minority group as second-class citizens?

    Did we need statistically significant studies showing that Native Americans are capable of the same range of intelligence and cognition that people of European descent are in order to recognise that the systematic theft of their land and the deliberate efforts to destroy their language and culture was a grave injustice? Did we need statistically significant studies showing that black people are cognitively the same on average as white people in order to work out that slavery and the Jim Crow laws were ethically problematic? Did we need statistically significant studies showing that women are as capable of understanding politics and recognising their own interests as men in order to work out that denying them the vote was unfair?

    Of course not. In each case, if you want to justify giving a class of people lesser rights than everyone else, the onus is on you to produce good evidence showing why they should not be entitled to the full gamut of civil rights.

    Gay people are simply the latest in a long line of minority groups whose human rights to be treated as equal citizens are finally being given legal recognition. If there are good, reality-based reasons (as opposed to reasons that hinge on religious mythology that cannot itself be shown to be true) why gay people don’t deserve to be able to form relationships with the same legal recognition as straight people, then you will be able to come up with data showing this, and we can then have a conversation about what to do about it.

    “marriage” and “real families”- I don’t believe the secular culture is capable of knowing what these words mean at all, so it’s just so much garbage and a *waste of time* in a setting where many students are functionally illiterate.

    A marriage as defined by a country or state’s legal system is whatever that country or state’s legal system defines it as, and that makes the marriage real, and the family of such married persons a real family for all legal purposes within that jurisdiction. If you are suggesting that the only real marriages and families are those that match up to whatever your religion (if I remember rightly, Catholicism) says it is, then you are welcome to say that this isn’t a valid marriage or a real family according to the rules of Catholicism, but in a pluralistic society where everybody is legally entitled to not be a Catholic if they so choose, you have no business inserting your religious dogma into other peoples’ relationships, or into the legal system that regulates those relationships.

  • tedseeber

    “Really? How many would you need? ”

    Given the rate of error in most surveys, you would need to exceed 5% of the population sample, minimally.

    If you are choosing randomly, committed homosexuals will never exceed 2% of the population sampled.

    Therefore, making gay marriage legal will never achieve a statistically significant sample rate. The math is against it.

    “And why should we need statistically-significant tests in order to justify not treating a minority group as second-class citizens?”

    Because without statistically significant tests, we have not met the burden of proof needed to tell reality from falsehood, especially when it comes to forcing the majority to accept the beliefs of a small minority.

    “A marriage as defined by a country or state’s legal system is whatever that country or state’s legal system ”

    I reject that kind of consequentialist subjective thinking.

  • Azkyroth

    First, [citation needed] on those numbers.

    Second, how the fuck is “no difference” not the null hypothesis here?

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/ Ani J. Sharmin

    DavidMHart,

    And why should we need statistically-significant tests in order to justify not treating a minority group as second-class citizens?

    In each case, if you want to justify giving a class of people lesser rights than everyone else, the onus is onyou to produce good evidence showing why they should not be entitled to the full gamut of civil rights.

    Thank you. Just, thank you.

    tedseeber,
    Your entire argument is basically an attempt to use the fact that same-sex couples are a small percent of the population to try to justify a *pre-existing* prejudice. People don’t have to be a certain percent of the population to deserve equal rights. And your comment above,

    ‘marriage’ and ‘real families’- I don’t believe the secular culture is capable of knowing what these words mean at all, so it’s just so much garbage and a *waste of time* in a setting where many students are functionally illiterate”

    is nothing but bigotry. Marriage and family isn’t the property of your particular religion, and “secular culture” has every right to talk about it. Secular people also give serious thought to these topics, not just religious people, and they affect our lives, too. We’re just as capable of contributing to discussions of these topics as religious people are, despite religious leaders’ claims otherwise.

    And while illiteracy is a legitimate problem, people thinking that your definition of “marriage” and “family” is bigoted isn’t illiteracy. You just don’t want people to talk about it in the classroom because you don’t have a good argument — because when people look at their LGBT friends on the one hand and their religious leader making things up on the other, many side with treating their LGBT friends fairly.

  • http://kagerato.net/ kagerato

    What study could show that? Written that way, it’s a matter of semantics. Pointlessly inserting value judgments into words gets us nowhere.

    There are studies showing that same-sex couples have highly functional families, however, if you’d bother to look for them. Among other things, children adopted into such families develop normally and have very similar educational and occupational outcomes.

  • http://kagerato.net/ kagerato

    Your grasp of statistics is horrendously bad, ted. When statisticians talk about “significance”, it does NOT mean the sample size must meet a certain relative threshold of the population. On the contrary, a tiny fraction of the population, if chosen in a truly random manner such that they are representative, can easily reach a level which provides genuine information about the total population. Most scientific studies, even in the hard sciences, deal with samples in the low hundreds. On occasion, they may venture into the thousands (typically when the researcher’s confidence in their sampling methodology is low). This is in studies which often have populations in the millions or billions (depending on what is being studied).

    If you were to actually run the math, you will see for yourself that any random sample of roughly 50 or more is almost guaranteed to meet the usual statistical threshold for significance. Population size is irrelevant. The challenge is always in being sure that the sample is genuinely random, not in collecting a huge number of participants/objects to study.

  • Azkyroth

    I see no need to mention the statistically insignificant population of committed homosexual families at all, at least, not until we have a peer reviewed study showing them to be statistically significant.

    What the fuck does that even mean?

  • Azkyroth

    …wait a minute.

    Are you actually saying kids shouldn’t be taught in schools about any group that isn’t at least 5% of the population?

    Um, what percentage of the population is the president, dimwit? Should we not teach kids about that either?

  • tedseeber

    You need a citation on margin of error in a survey? Where did you take statistics, so I can be sure NOT to send my son to that college?

    For the other one, I’m going with the Center For Disease Control numbers on homosexuality, seems to be the only group left that isn’t tainted by bias one direction or another on the subject.

    “No difference” is not a null hypothesis because it runs completely contrary in this case to the experience of 90% of the human race, who were born from both a mother and a father, and even the 50% of us lucky enough to grow up with both a mother and a father. Remember, gays raising kids is fairly new in all of human history.

  • tedseeber

    What study could show that is exactly the question I am asking you.

    I have yet to see any family *of any sort* that I would consider “highly functional”, and I would challenge you to define your terms and use researchers that have no bias in the game.

  • tedseeber

    In truly random sample of 50 human couples, I would expect the number of homosexual couples to be ONE. If your sampling methodology is truly random, you might end up with none quite easily. If your sampling method is very biased, you might end up with 50, and no heterosexual couples at all.

    Which to me leads to confirmation bias and a highly selective data set at the very least.

    The fact you’d even bother to argue this, makes me think you’re just a paid shill, like the rest of that lousy fake science called “psychiatry”.

  • tedseeber

    It means you need to actually PROVE YOUR ALLEGATIONS when you make them.

  • tedseeber

    No, I am saying that you have *NO DATA* for the assumption that homosexual couples are “just another type of family”. That is an assumption you have made with nothing more than political correctness behind it.

  • Obliged_Cornball

    The null hypothesis is always one of no relationship between two variables. It has nothing to do with whether or not you expect there to be a difference. The argument you probably want to make is that you don’t expect the null hypothesis to be true.

    But in any case, where did you take statistics, so I can be sure NOT to send my future children to that college?

  • GCT

    Are you seriously asking what study proves what a family is?

  • GCT

    You’re the one claiming that homosexuals should not be granted equal rights. It would seem the onus is on you as to why we should withhold equal rights.

  • GCT

    I’m still fuzzy as to why you feel justified in discriminating against a group of people based on how many of them there are.

  • Azkyroth

    What allegations?

  • Azkyroth

    Why would we need data? The null hypothesis is that they wouldn’t be any different.

  • tedseeber

    No, actually, I’m not.

    And never have.

    Marriage isn’t a right, it is a privilege, and if anything, I’d love to see the government stop granting that privilege to anybody. Government has no right interfering with what is essentially a *religious* ceremony.

  • tedseeber

    You are making a huge assumption in saying that I am for discrimination. What I am against is teaching untruth for political purposes.

  • tedseeber

    The allegation that homosexual families are equal to heterosexual families, for one.

  • tedseeber

    Why is that the null hypothesis?

  • Jason Wexler

    You are misinterpreting statistical significance. No study of anything in social sciences has ever measured 5% of the affected population. Even if same-sex families are fewer in either number or rate than the dysfunctional families it would still be possible to measure if those same-sex families were disproportionately represented within the community of dysfunctional families.

    I think you are throwing around mathematical terms you either don’t understand (or if being ungenerous, that you hope no one else does), to try and confuse the reality of the scientific research.

  • Jason Wexler

    Because that is the definition of a null hypothesis.

  • Azkyroth

    You really need it explained to you why “no effect” is the null hypothesis?

    How can it be that you have not yet accidentally wandered into traffic?

  • Azkyroth

    “No difference” is not a null hypothesis because it runs completely contrary in this case to the experience of 90% of the human race, who were born from both a mother and a father, and even the 50% of us lucky enough to grow up with both a mother and a father. Remember, gays raising kids is fairly new in all of human history.

    What.

  • http://kagerato.net/ kagerato

    Once again, semantics. You’re defining all possible relevant studies out of the picture. Gay families are families. What the hell else would they be?

  • http://kagerato.net/ kagerato

    Your invented percentages had nothing to do with margin of error. You stated 5% of the “population sample”, which is an utterly meaningless phrase. It’s either the total population, or the sample. It cannot be both. Then you stated 2% of the “population sampled”, which is exactly the same thing as saying 2% of the total population. I’ve explained already in another post that the size of population itself is completely irrelevant to obtaining a statistically valid, representative sample.

    Now you’re claiming the CDC has figures which show gay sex is what, unsafe? All unprotected sex carries a rate of disease transmission. That’s includes straight couples, obviously. In terms of the actual data, the least likely group to receive or transmit an infection through sex is actually lesbians. (Excluding groups or individuals that do not have sex, which is obviously cheating.) That would seem to undercut your opposition readily.

    The last part is simply illogical. That A was true before does not imply B is false, when A and B are independent claims.

  • http://kagerato.net/ kagerato

    You don’t understand science, ted. If we’re trying to study how the outcomes of gay families compare to straight families, we sample all gay families for one group. Straight families are a second group, the control group. We select both carefully to rule out various factors which could bias the results, such as race, income, national origin, and various other conditions. By analyzing the differences between the two very similar groups studied, we can see if there are any important differences along the line of the one attribute that clearly differs.

    There have been quite a number of sociology studies on gay families already at this point. I’m not going to go out of my way to look them up for you, though, when you’re showing clear resistance to even reading comments fairly (let alone something at the level of research).

  • http://kagerato.net/ kagerato

    The problem is you’re in “separate but equal” territory. You cannot claim that gay families do not exist or are not proper and simultaneously claim that they are equal or that gay people have equal rights. The one premise destroys any argument that seeks the latter conclusion.

  • http://kagerato.net/ kagerato

    That right there is you reversing the burden of proof again. Also, failing to do any research of your own to discover the existence of studies that show exactly what you think is false.

  • http://kagerato.net/ kagerato

    You’re somehow managing to be both vague and ludicrous simultaneously. I seriously have no clue what kind of facts you would even want shown here, or even if there are any relevant facts to what you’re trying to claim.

  • Azkyroth

    Why wouldn’t they be? What would they be instead? Provide some support for your allegations rather than lying about 101-level statistics, then we’ll talk.

  • DavidMHart

    “I have yet to see any family *of any sort* that I would consider “highly functional”, and I would challenge you to define your terms and use researchers that have no bias in the game.”

    In which case, any argument you could use against same-sex marriage would apply equally against opposite-sex marriage, unless you are are able to come up with data demonstrating good reasons why same-sex couples should be treated as inferior.

    “Marriage isn’t a right, it is a privilege, and if anything, I’d love to see the government stop granting that privilege to anybody. Government has no right interfering with what is essentially a *religious* ceremony.”

    Well, let’s say marriage is a privilege. It’s still a privilege that the government has no ethically defensible basis to deny to one segment of the population, unless good reasons can be produced to show why that segment are less deserving of that privilege than anyone else. Imagine a goverment that allowed couples who were both of the same race to marry, but not those of different races. This actually happened, and it is widely recognised as an enormous injustice. Even if neither same race nor mixed-race couples had an inherent right to marry, it was still unjust to extend the privilege of marriage only to same-race couples, just as it is an injustice to extend it only to opposite-sex couples now, unless you can come up with good reasons for doing so.

    And also, what you’re doing there is conflating two things. Marriage actually means first the sets of legal rights and responsibilities that couples can take on in relation to each other – things like the right to visit your spouse in hospital, or to have a claim on their estate after they die, or to be automatically presumed the legal parent of any children born of the relationship, and the obligation to contribute to the other person’s upkeep if you are the sole wage-earner, or the obligation to give the other person some of the matrimonial property if you divorce. The details vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but pretty much everyone anywhere who wants to get married wants to take on these sorts of legal rights and responsibilities.
    Let’s call this civil marriage.

    It means second the religious ceremony whereby you (essentially) get permission from whatever god or gods you believe in to start having a sexual relationship. Again, the details vary from religion to religion (wildly – some religions allow multiple wives, occasionally even multiple husbands, some draw the age of consent at a scarily low age, others are happy to leave the issue to the civil authorities, some allow divorce, others don’t, and yet others make divorce much harder for a woman to obtain than a man, etc, etc), but, crucially, not everyone who wants to get married actually believes in gods, so it is only of relevance to a subset of people. Let’s call this sacramental marriage.

    What you are doing is suggesting that only the second definition of marriage is valid. In practice, religions worldwide have often managed to hijack secular institutions enough that having a sacramental marriage automatically gave you a civil marriage as well, but there is no reason in principle why this should be so, and indeed there are jurisdictions where it isn’t – where you can get married as hard as you can in as many churches, mosques and gurdwaras as you like, but the state will still treat you no different from if you were strangers unless you get your relationship registered at a secular registrar.

    Is that what you want? In which case, you would be acknowledging that, because the state in a secular country is in no way obliged to make the specific legislation concerning marriage conform to the dictates of any religion, there is no reason at all why civil marriage should not be open to same sex couples, regardless of how vehemently a particular religion wants to deny them the benefit of sacramental marriage.

    Or do you think that the state should be in the business of granting civil marriage privileges as a direct consequence of sacramental marriages, but only as long as it follows the dogma of your particular religion? In which case you reveal yourself to be a brazen theocrat, and no one should be under any obligation to take you seriously until you can prove in a court of law that your god or gods actually exist and actually want what you say they want.

    Please don’t try to conflate the two meanings of ‘marriage’ and then pretend that that justifies the state denying same-sex couples a civil legal arrangement that has nothing to do with your religion.

  • Donalbain
  • Donalbain

    Yes. You made a specific claim, namely that 5% of a population is necessary for a sample to be statistically significant. If that is such a common idea, you should easily be able to back it up with some evidence. Please, go ahead and do so.

  • http://kagerato.net/ kagerato

    Good post.

    “Well, let’s say marriage is a privilege. It’s still a privilege that the government has no ethically defensible basis to deny to one segment of the population, unless good reasons can be produced to show why that segment are less deserving of that privilege than anyone else.”

    A lot of liberals do think of marriage as a right, but I’m not one of them. I see it closer to a privilege granted by the state to encourage family formation (and possibly other goals, like social stability). It’s definitely not an enumerated right in the constitution, so it doesn’t have that kind of fundamental legal basis the way many other rights do. You can wiggle it in between the lines of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, but nearly any potential right can be inferred there. Marriage may have better standing than some others, though, due to its long institutional history.

    For people who do see it as a right, they absolutely should petition the federal and state governments to start the Constitutional amendment process to get it added explicitly. Otherwise, an unfriendly Congress and administration could easily roll back any rights gained in the future.

    Where the government gets into a problem with limiting the scope of marriage is in the 14th amendment, which guarantees the equal protection of the law. When the law carves out particular groups for special treatment, it tends to be seen as a violation of this principle. That is the case with your example of miscegenation laws, for instance. It’s the same with the gay marriage debate, all we’ve done is substitute race and sexual orientation.

    It’s quite arguable that the current effort to expand marriage is actually not sufficient for the future, or to completely satisfy the 14th. There’s still the issue of polyamorous groups, for instance. Can you find a compelling, overriding secular reason — something other than mere practicality — of preventing the marriage of more than two people?

    There’s a few other dubious limits. The most controversial one is incest; siblings cannot marry. Often, people give a practical reason such as risk of birth defects for this. However, there are a few problems with that. One, it assumes marriage is for procreation. Why would we discriminate against the non-procreative couples, too? Two, we don’t deny marriages to couples from very similar genetic backgrounds who also face greater risk of birth defects. We don’t even try to screen them, in fact, and it’s pretty clear doing so would violate several rights. Three, not every incestuous pairing actually faces a higher risk of birth defects than average. Indeed, in populations that already have minimal in-breeding, the total risk is not nearly as high as people tend to think.

    Looking to the future, there’s also the possibility of people marrying androids (once we finally get the whole hard AI problem nailed down, anyway). That probably won’t be considered an issue until machines can be considered people, though, and that’s a much, much bigger fight to consider than mere marriage.

  • DavidMHart

    I think it was Greta Christina who articulated it as ‘the fact you you personally find something icky can never be sufficient justification for denying someone else’s civil liberties’.

    Of course, in my experience people like Ted Seeber quite often try to play the ‘Well, if we allow same sex marriage we’ll have to allow polygamy and incestuous marriage as well’ card as a sort of ‘gotcha’ move … when in fact, while they don’t have any reality-based reasons to object to same-sex marriage, they don’t have (or are unwilling to articulate) any reality-based objections to those other things either. Their position is based entirely on ‘God says no’, and if they admit of reality-based discussion of the harms of polygamy or close-family marriage, they’d be logically compelled to join a reality-based discussion of the harms of same-sex marriage, something which Ted Seeber has pretended to do, a little, but not with any actually relevant data.

  • GCT

    Marriage is a secular institution.

    And, no one is claiming that marriage is a right (even if some people are convinced that’s what liberals think). We are claiming that homosexuals have the same right to equal protection under the law, and that if you allow heterosexuals to marry, then you must also allow homosexuals…unless you can present a compelling reason why this should not be the case. It is up to you to present a compelling argument.

  • GCT

    It’s no assumption. You’ve come out against equal rights for gays.

  • http://kagerato.net/ kagerato

    Indeed. It’s a little weird that Christians object to polygamy and incest so strongly, too, considering that both of those have precedents in the Bible that were by no means condemned in the strongest terms. Essentially, their view only makes sense from the perspective of an authoritarian, where what is right or wrong depends not on the behavior itself but based on what authority tells you. Thus, when your leaders start tell you something new, all of a sudden up can become down and black can become white.


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