Arguments Against Gay Marriage… and Their Rebuttals

Jason Wakefield has a fantastic article in the latest issue of New Humanist magazine about the arguments against gay marriage and why they’re all wrong. It may not be anything you haven’t heard before, but it’s always nice to have an easy reference to send to conservative Christians/homophobes:

2. “We must preserve traditional marriage.”

Given that marriage has always changed to suit the culture of the time and place, I would refrain from ever calling it “traditional”. If marriage was truly traditional, interracial couples would not be allowed to wed, one could marry a child, ceremonies would be arranged by parents to share familial wealth and the Church of England would still be under the authority of the Pope.

12. “Why is it so important for gay people to have marriage?”

For the same reason it is important to straight people. Our relationships are just as loving and valid as heterosexual relationships, but our current marriage laws suggest it is not. We are equally human and we should be treated by the law as such.

There are more arguments against marriage equality than the ones Wakefield mentions but they all have simple rebuttals. There’s not a single good reason to prevent same-sex marriage. It’s all plain, simple, almost-entirely-religion-based bigotry.

Wakefield’s full list is here.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • C Peterson

    There is something that I think isn’t emphasized enough. Many arguments come down to the idea of preserving “traditional” social structures, and while it’s certainly true that “tradition” is often misunderstood, the real question is this: why is preserving something merely because of tradition always assumed- without justification- to be good? This is the worst kind of conservatism, which treats the status quo as invariably better than anything else that it might evolve into.

    • observer

      It’s “good” because it’s something most Conservatives are familiar and comfortable with, to the point that changing it (allowing marriage to be gender-neutral) is literally absurd thinking. Not to mention “tradition” sounds positive.

      In the end though, it’s all just smokescreen for the truth about gays marrying: Conservatives/homophobes just don’t like the idea that gays are getting financial and social benifits, like straight couples, because it would imply that gay-relationships are EQUAL to straight-relationships. They don’t care about businesses owners/employees who hate to work with gay couples, they don’t care about the children of either straight parents or gay parents, they may not even care about their god/religion, they’re all just tools; all they care about is treating gays like second-class citizens at best, or some unworldly abstract that needs to be destroyed at worst.

      • C Peterson

        I realize there are a myriad of hidden reasons that people often oppose marriage equality or gay rights. My comment wasn’t limited to this issue, however, but to the more broad problem of people refusing any change on the completely irrational grounds that whatever is “traditional” has to be better.

        • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

          This is a salient point and the underlying reason is exactly why change management experts make ridiculous money: human beings fear and hate change.

          There’s a huge body of knowledge that is taught on this topic in management schools. We are inherently risk averse, so if we can’t see, touch, and fully understand how a change will benefit us, we resist it. And we’ll resist it to the point of irrationality.

          This is why change management is such difficult work, and why the compensation is so high for successful change agents. Even the most rational skeptic can be a victim of his or her own natural risk aversion.

          As you say, “tradition” is merely a euphemism for “status quo”, although it also serves as a dog-whistle for social conservatives.

          • C Peterson

            So is the implication here that “liberals” are more able, or more willing, to analyze potential change, and are therefore less afraid of it? That “conservatives” can’t or don’t make this analysis?

            Certainly, the world is full of people who do embrace change.

            • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

              I think you need to be more specific. Anyone will embrace change that benefits them if they can fully understand how that particular change will do so. Therein is the rub – “fully understand”. And often, people will embrace change that they [i]think[/i] will benefit them, because they’ve convinced themselves rather than being convinced by others.

              As far as the political spectrum and tendencies, I can say that it’s understood that progressive thinkers tend to be less concerned with potential threats and are therefore likely to be less risk averse (and change averse).

            • Baby_Raptor

              I think people who lean Liberal are more open to change, yes. This isn’t to say that there aren’t Liberals who despise change, or that there aren’t Conservatives open to it.

              But as a general statement, yes. Liberals are more comfortable with change than Conservatives.

              • C Peterson

                Yes, but that’s part of the definition of “liberal” and “conservative”. What I’m thinking about, based on Silo’s interesting comments, is why. Accepting his assertion that people are averse to change unless they can see a benefit, I’m wondering what makes conservatives conservative, and liberals liberal. How well people are able to model the results of change in their minds? How willing they are to do so?

                • amycas

                   Have you read the book “The Authoritarians?” I can’t remember the author’s name, but he touches on this subject.

                • C Peterson

                  Thanks, I’ll check it out.

  • smrnda

    Many traditions have been horrible and destructive. The use of slave labor is traditional. Absolute rule by an absolute monarch is traditional. Traditions are as often bad as good, and probably bad a lot more often.

    In terms of the ‘why do you want to get married?’ Christians often view marriage as god’s special relief valve for sexual desire. Marriage is where you can finally indulge your sex drive without sinning, so to them, secular marriage often makes no sense, but they tend to gloss over the actual legal benefits that come with marriage, and fail to understand the perspective of other people who think marriage is a relationship built on love and trust, not just a ‘place you can have sex’

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      “Marriage is where you can finally indulge your sex drive without sinning…”

      Oh, I don’t know about that. I’m pretty sure what I and my wife get up to from time to time is some sort of Biblical or Koranic sin, and likely illegal in some of the more conservative parts of the world.

      • Jennifer

         Excellent!

      • TheBlackCat

         “is some sort of Biblical or Koranic sin”

        Then you know you are doing it right!

    • amycas

       “Christians often view marriage as god’s special relief valve for sexual desire”

      Well that’s what Paul thought it was. Read Corinthians….

  • ksil

    “If marriage was truly traditional, interracial couples would not be allowed to wed, one could marry a child, ceremonies would be arranged by parents to share familial wealth and the Church of England would still be under the authority of the Pope.”

    yea, but still. in all those cases, it is a male marrying a female.

    • Baal

       The person you quote could have added polygamy from the bible (still OPP there) or celtic poly-marriage as well.  The xian emphasis on one is there for a reason.  I could probably google up a historical piece or two I read that looked into inheritance laws and how lack of an heir caused property to go to the church.  The church had (has) economic incentive to keep marriage bilateral only.

    • ortcutt

      Why does that matter?  Is the limitation to different-sex couples justified on biological grounds?  Then why do we allow 80-year olds to marry?  Why are there no fertility tests before marriage?  Is this justified on cultural grounds?  I don’t recall any quiz at the Town Hall about the gender roles that my wife and I would be adopting during our marriage.  So, what is it? 

      • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

        I’ve never gotten one of them to answer that. It’s usually the point at which they start rambling about some mysterious “essence” that only exists when the partners are male and female.

        • Coyotenose

           I can’t remember the movie where the homophobe starts going on about how only straight sex is natural because “there are in-holes and out-holes”. His opponent replies, “Sooo the mouth is an in-hole?”

          • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

            For some fun hypocrisy, google “Christian peggers.” Apparently, anal sex is only bad when it’s the man-on-man kind.

          • TheBlackCat

             Unless you are sick, yes it is.

        • ortcutt

          Most of this stuff is unintentionally hilarious.  Robert George et al.  have a theory based on a “comprehensive union”.  It’s like the worst dorm room bull session nonsense you could imagine, but somehow Robert George is considered by Conservatives to be an intellectual heavyweight.  I present one paragraph out of an entire paper of sheer nonsense.

          That sort of union is impossible in relation to functions such as
          digestion and circulation, for which the human individual is by
          nature sufficient. But individual adults are naturally incomplete
          with respect to one biological function: sexual reproduction. In coitus,
          but not in other forms of sexual contact, a man and a woman’s
          bodies coordinate by way of their sexual organs for the common
          biological purpose of reproduction. They perform the first step of
          the complex reproductive process. Thus, their bodies become, in a
          strong sense, one—they are biologically united, and do not merely
          rub together—in coitus (and only in coitus), similarly to the way
          in which one’s heart, lungs, and other organs form a unity: by coordinating
          for the biological good of the whole. In this case, the
          whole is made up of the man and woman as a couple, and the
          biological good of that whole is their reproduction

          From “What is Marriage?”, Girgis, George, and Anderson, 2010

          • NickDB

             Do you have an English version please?

          • amycas

             “do not merely rub together” lol, I don’t think they’re doing it right…

    • AxeGrrl

      You’re missing the point.  Things that were once seen as being essential to marriage have come to be seen as not essential.  But they were seen as essential at one point……just as being-of-opposite-gender was.

      At one time, one of the characteristics of ‘traditional marriage’ was the couple being of the same race
      Then that changed.

      At one time, an adult marrying a child was seen as being ‘traditional’. 
      Then that changed.

      Marriage now including same sex couples is just another in a looooong list of ways marriage has changed over centuries.

  • http://300pages.com/ Stephanie Jobe

    I think that part of the solution is the word marriage.  I have met truly conservative people that if you talk about civil unions they have no argument.  I really feel like all legal and government language should be changed to civil unions and the word marriage should just be left up to the discretion of the various religions.  The government  has civil unions for hetero and homosexual civil unions.  One church may decide to perform homosexual marriages and another can say no.

    • John (not McCain)

      Or conservatives could just get over themselves and stop trying to impose their weirdo beliefs on normal people.

    • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

      This isn’t actually true, though. Anti-gay organizations in the U.S. work against civil union and domestic partnership laws, too. None have ever passed without fierce opposition from religious conservatives, and they have led the fight to try to repeal such laws. They go after gay and lesbian couples and families aggressively because they don’t want them to have any legal recognition whatsoever. Moderates may be willing to approve civil unions, but the hardcore anti-gay groups are not on board with that.

    • ortcutt

      As a married atheist, let me say, go f*ck yourself.  This is a proposal that I take very personally, since you are telling me that I shouldn’t have the right to be married because I don’t have a religion.  I already have a civil union.  It’s called my marriage and I’m not going to let some asshole take it away.

      • http://300pages.com/ Stephanie Jobe

        I’m sorry if I offended you. I plan on being a married atheist.   My point is the legal part is civil union.  The part that is currently being denied homosexual couples in many places.  Marriage is defined by the person and their culture, not by law.  You might be married in a religion, you might have your own ceremony. Your definition and expectations of marriage are not the same as a conservative baptist.  I know a lot of homosexual couples that already consider themselves married.  They don’t care what the state or anybody else says about it.  They are fighting for the rights you have in your civil union.

        • ortcutt

          The claim that marriage is not about the law would surprise pretty much every lawyer in the country.  In fact, marriage is entirely about the law.  If a priest, rabbi or someone else proclaims two people married, and they haven’t met the legal conditions of marriage, then they aren’t married.  Conversely, if two people meet the legal conditions of marriage, but no priest, rabbi or religious leader acknowledges it, then they are still married.  Marriage is a legal status; marriage already IS a civil union.  Stripping me and other non-religious people of marriage isn’t just kowtowing to bigots.  It’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of marriage.

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      No. The religious freaks do NOT get to commandeer a word that wasn’t theirs to begin with. I’m perfectly happy with continuing to fight tooth and nail to ensure that “marriage” does not become the sole domain of a bunch of buildings within which people do weird magic-like rituals.

    • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

      This is an aspect of the issue I wish were discussed more often. Clear distinctions should be made between religious marriage and legal marriage.

    • Baby_Raptor

      …Or we can just drop the “Separate but Equal” bullshit and continue working for total, open equality?

      Religion did not create marriage. We shouldn’t let them make that lie a truth, nor should we make it true by just giving up. 

    • AxeGrrl

      Sorry, but since religion doesn’t own marriage, there’s absolutely no reason to give religion/religious organizations exclusive access to it.

      Why do so many people have a problem ‘getting’ this very simple point?

      Someone on another board described this ‘give marriage to religion and have gov’t do civil unions’ attitude perfectly:

      ‘coddling bigotry’.

  • Shuteme

    I don’t call them bigots, I call them fucking assholes. And you should too.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

      And that is what some of them do in secret.

  • Jennifer

    There are no arguments against gay marriage. There are ridiculous claims about heterosexual marriage and ‘society’, mostly based on misguided religious beliefs.

    • C Peterson

      I get your point, but it’s not wise to suggest there are no arguments against gay marriage. In fact, there are. They are poor arguments, and I think most of us agree that the arguments are readily addressed. But to claim that no arguments exist requires that we fail to respond to them- no matter how bad- which just supports those making the arguments.

      It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about gay marriage, or abortion rights, or whatever… the best strategy is exactly that used by Wakefield: present each argument, and rebut it effectively. At least, that puts the ball back in the court of those you disagree with.

      • Jennifer

        I see your point as well. Sadly, the time we spend addressing these arguments does two things I find reprehensible:  Waste our life time, something we can never recover, and prevent us from using the time for more constructive purposes. Religious zealots believe they are going to live for ever so it is of no concern to them. If you are willing to debate over every ridiculous and unfounded claim, more power to you. I prefer to ignore this type of rubbish and live my life as proof there is nothing wrong with gay marriage. Frankly, I see engaging with these people giving more credence to their arguments and to their beliefs than they deserve.

        • C Peterson

          The tedium of repetition is certainly annoying, but I take hope in the possibility that every time a good argument is offered to knock down a bad one, it may influence somebody who hasn’t heard that argument before, or may finally sink in for somebody who has. It’s well established that saturation advertising works, so I feel I’m not wasting my time driving home these important points time after time after time…

  • DougI

    There’s 31 arguments against gay marriage?   I suppose there wouldn’t be an article if the subject was ‘rational arguments against gay marriage’.

    • Sindigo

      I couldn’t agree more. I have yet to hear one.

  • Canadian

    I’m a straight woman married to a straight man and same-sex marriage has had absolutely zero negative impact on my life.

    Oh, but apparently my marriage is ‘unnatural’ because I don’t want children. That’s strange, I don’t recall being asked ANY questions about children before they gave me a marriage license!

    I live in Canada and same-sex marriage has been legal in some provinces for 9 years and in the whole country for 7 years. Society hasn’t collapsed yet; in fact we are a lot more stable than the USA.

  • http://www.facebook.com/breanna.sullivan.148116 Breanna Sullivan

    I’ll never understand the whole “But it’s tradition!” argument. I don’t celebrate a lot of traditions because I don’t agree with them. 

    • SunnyD

      What is even more funny is the fact that the traditional marriages in the Bible, which they refer to as if it was relevant in a court of law, shows poligamy, child-adult marriages, slave marriages, slave rape, incest (consentual, rape, and marriages), and all manner of sexual horrors. The traditional marriages in their Bible were sickening, yet they call traditional marriage between one man and one woman. Hell, the first couple ever was a man and his genetically mutated rib.

  • Matt

    Although I’m reluctantly in favor of the current pro gay marriage movement, I do have a strong idealistic objection to the idea of “legalizing” gay marriage, which is never listed in these kinds of articles.

    Marriage as a legal concept is inherently discriminatory.  Adding same-sex monogamous marriage into the fold doesn’t change this at a fundamental level.  The unfortunate side-effect of tweaking it to accommodate more situations is that it adds apparent legitimacy.  It’s a compromise that I’m willing to support for pragmatic reasons, because I recognize that abolishing marriage (including civil unions, which are the basically same thing with a different name) would require an unbelievable amount of work, since it’s so ingrained in everything.  However, that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

    • amycas

       Why do you think marriage as a legal concept is inherently discriminatory?

      • Pawel Samson

        Because it discriminates against single people and non-monogamists.  I’ve heard the argument dozens of times, and I suppose it has some merit.  The logic behind it is a tad Utopian though.

        • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

          There are some good points to be made. While I don’t think U.S. society will ever abolish legal marriage, there are benefits and protections that are denied to people who can’t or don’t want to enter that arrangement.

          • Stev84

            Marriage is certainly used too much to allocate certain benefits and rights these days. There are plenty of things that are needlessly tied to marriage. Take next of kin status for example. Why shouldn’t you be able to bestow that on someone via a simple legal contract? Doing away with state-sanctioned relationship recognition entirely is silly though.

            I also don’t like the “everyone should just have civil unions” line. That neglects that the church only got involved in marriage in the middle ages and that marriages are already an entirely civil contract. It’s already a civil union in all but name

            • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

              I think there are steps that could be taken to make things more equitable in terms of death benefits, health insurance, etc.

              One fascinating book I’d recommend is Singled Out by Bella DePaulo, which discusses some of the legal (and other) disadvantages single people face in a society that gives preference to couples.

              http://www.amazon.com/Singled-Out-Singles-Stereotyped-Stigmatized/dp/0312340826

        • AxeGrrl

          it discriminates against single people and non-monogamists

          How can you argue that marriage discriminates against ‘non-monogamists’ when there are TONS of non-monogamous married couples right now?

          In fact, that’s something I bring up when anyone (often a gay person who’s against gay people marrying) says something like ‘marriage is an out-dated and confining concept’……..

          It isn’t, inherently, because a marriage is simply what the two people involved decide it is for themselves.  Some couples can decide to have stringent boundaries for their marriage (like not spending any ‘one-on-one alone time’  with any other people, etc) And other couples decide that their marriage involves sleeping with other people.  Needless to say, there are tons of couples who fall somewhere between those two points.

          So, given that reality, how can one argue that marriage “discriminates against non-monogamists”?

          • amycas

             I guess it would depend on the non-monogamist. Some non-monogamists engage in triads instead of couples. Which means all three people are in a relationship together. That relationship is definitely discriminated against.

            • AxeGrrl

              Ah, yes!  You’re definitely right there :)

        • amycas

          Ah I see, I hadn’t thought of that. thanks.

    • Jennifer

       Very good points and I agree. The same goes for people with children versus child-free. The same situation exists-benefits for having bred, while others receive none. Neither are likely to change any time soon, but I’m with you- We don’t have to like it.

      • amycas

         I think most of the benefits for having children are given with the welfare of the child in mind. After all, I’m poor right now, but I have more money than I would if I had a child–probably even if I got government assistance.

  • SJH

    I think that Wakefield’s article highlights the fact that both sides of this issue are talking past each other and are full of judgment and self-righteousness. To many Xians make silly arguments and share shallow opinions while the other side clearly does not understand the deeper points of the Xian arguments. This discussion should not be a battle between “homophobes” and “evildoers” and I think you do a disservice to our community in bringing the discussion down to that level. There are intelligent people out there on both sides. Why can’t people have legitimate conversations about this stuff. Wakefield’s article is far from an informed discussion. I think you should spend less time on such articles and more time looking for deeper, more informed and intelligent conversations.

    • b33bl3br0x

      If the arguments made are “silly” and the opinions “shallow” then how is one to understand these mysterious “deeper points of the Xian arguments”.

      If it’s true that there are intelligent people on both sides then why is it that the only arguments offered against are “silly” and the only opinions “shallow”.

      You seem to consider yourself intelligent, and though you suggest that you are a part of the atheist community,  you seem to know these great arguments that the rest of us are missing.  So, would you please now explain to us the deeper points of the Xian arguments and provide us with some that aren’t “silly”?

      • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

        SJH isn’t an atheist. She/he seems to be an evangelical or fundamentalist Christian. Previous “arguments” SJH has made have involved linking to vile organizations like NARTH and claiming that discredited studies such as the one by Mark Regnerus have merit.

        • b33bl3br0x

           Ahh I was misled by the “you do a disservice to our community” bit.

        • SJH

           This is beside the subject but can you let me know why NARTH is such a bad organization? I have not heard of anything to that effect.

          • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

            And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the type of person we’re dealing with.

            Someone who “has not heard anything” about what could possibly be wrong with NARTH.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Association_for_Research_%26_Therapy_of_Homosexuality

            • SJH

               I know what NARTH is but I have not heard anything malicious about them. Have they shown malicious intent in their proceedings? Obviously they have an opinion about homosexuality that is different than yours but is their evidence that their opinion was formulated for malicious reasons? Please elaborate.

              • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

                I’m not going to hold your hand, SJH. Google it. Besides, I think you know perfectly well what’s wrong with NARTH.

              • amycas

                 They are intentionally going against what every credible association for mental health says about homosexuality and they’re telling people they’re sick when they’re not sick. I don’t care if it’s malicious or not, it’s still harmful.

                • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

                  SJH will just act as if there’s some sort of controversy over whether homosexuality is a mental illness. He/she pulls the same routine on every thread like this, pretending that settled matters are an “open issue.”

                • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

                  And of course, SJH probably won’t come back to answer any of this. He/she was on another thread yesterday, but hasn’t returned to this one.

        • SJH

           Also beside the subject, but Regnerus was not discredited. It has real data that is representative of the real world. Does it prove that Tow homosexual parents will be bad parents? Of course it does not and I don’t think that was the goal. The data, though does show trends that cannot be ignored.

          • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

            No, SJH, it was discredited. And only the anti-gay conservative fundamentalists are still beating that dead horse. That’s what I mean about their dishonesty. They don’t care about the truth. They care about trying to promote their religious viewpoint, and what’s really disgusting is that they pretend to care about evidence, but it’s a ruse. Their minds are made up. They will seize on any flimsy scrap (no matter how flawed) that “proves” they are right. They’re not willing to change their minds based on actual evidence. All they care about is what they think their god wants. I’d have more respect for them if they were at least honest about that. But all they do is lie, lie, lie. Constantly. It’s really quite sickening.

            • SJH

              The only people I found trying to discredit it were those that are proponents of homosexuality. Was there something flawed about his data. Obviously it did not prove that two homosexual parents = bad parents but again, that was not the point. The point is that it shows that children that have parents with a homosexual experience had more problems than those who did not. Is that not relevant data?

              • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

                No, it is not relevant data. The study was discredited. I tried explaining this to you before, but (like all religionists) you seem to be willfully obtuse.

                There were 3000 people included in the study. Only two of the 3000 people spent their entire childhoods in a same-sex family. That’s two. Two people out of 3000. The study has absolutely nothing to say about children who were born or adopted to gay and lesbian couples.

                Of course, you will refuse to acknowledge this and go on pretending that this “proves” your point. I imagine next time we have a thread about gay marriage, you will bring up the Regnerus study yet again.

              • Baby_Raptor

                The fact that you’re touting this as relevant when it’s your side that continually MAKES those problems for homosexuals and their kids, and fights tooth/nail to make sure those problems are magnified…Fucking amazing. 

                Please just stop. No, you do not have a point. And your head should have exploded from the amount of cognitive dissonance you’re handling.

          • Stev84

            The so-called data only includes two people who were actually raised all their lives by a same-sex couple. Only a handful more people spent more than 3 years with one. He also significantly oversampled people from minority populations and socially disadvantaged households.

            Overall the methodology was designed to only look at (straight) couples that are decidedly prone to instability. He basically looked for people that broke up and/or had affairs.

            There are only two conclusions that can be drawn from it:
            1.) Gay people shouldn’t marry straight people
            2.) Family instability can be bad for children

            Duh

          • b33bl3br0x

            The problem with the Regnerus paper, and the reason it was largely discredited and withdrawn by the journal in which it was published, had not to do with the data per se (although there were issues with the way he classified people as homosexual), it had to do with the analysis of the data.

            In order for comparisons to be statistically valid you have to take great pains to assure that you’re comparing like groups, and/or be able to control for confounding variables, but the analysis in the Regnerus paper was deeply flawed because the comparisons being made were not alike.  The study attempted to compare all people who had a gay parent, or parents, or a parent that may once have had a single daliance with a same sex partner, whether their gay parents were together, or the parents were separated, or maybe the parents were a hetero union in which one person later decided they were gay and left their previous spouse, or if an otherwise hetero couple was married and then divorced and at some point in the past one of them may have had a homosexual encounter, and lumped them all as a single group.  He then compared this group to”intact biological families”.  As one person pointed out (though I can’t remember who it was that said it, and I’m paraphrasing), “that’s not comparing apples to apples, that’s comparing apples to hand grenades.”

            There were additional ethical issues with the publication of the paper as well, such as conflicts of interest with reviewers.

            • Stev84

              Moreover, the study was largely funded by the Witherspoon Institute which was founded by Robert George who is the co-founder of the National Organization of Marriage and author of the Manhattan Declaration. There are some serious behind the scenes shenanigans there which also bled over into the failed peer review process a bit. It’s no surprise that only a few days after its release it appeared in legal briefs defending DOMA, almost as if they had advanced access to it.

      • SJH

         I was trying to point out that most of the discussions you read online and you see in the media tend to have two sides that do not discuss the issues. We speak in sound bites and snippets and never discuss the real issue.  I do not have time to get into all of the deeper points because they are deep. It is not something that can be discussed in a forum such as this. Obviously having a discussion like the one we are having can be healthy even though we can’t get in depth however the tone of the article does not seem to be one of healthy discussion. It seems more like he is trying to make the other side seem silly and irrational.

        BTW, I am not evangelical, nor fundamentalist. Fundamentalist theology is still maturing so they tend to have shallow arguments at times. Even if I agree with their final conclusion sometimes, I do not always agree with how they get there. I think if you look into more orthodox theology regarding love and relationships you will find that their beliefs tend to be more rational, consistent and compassionate.

        • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

          Out of curiosity, what is your denomination? I assumed evangelical or fundamentalist because (unlike Foster or Nordog) you don’t seem to come out of the woodwork to defend the Catholic church. All of the “orthodox” Protestants I’m aware of fall somewhere in the evangelical  or fundamentalist realm. Unless you’re Eastern Orthodox or Greek Orthodox? But adherents of those groups don’t usually devote themselves to these issues.

        • Jen B.

          From what you said above, SJH, I’m guessing that you’re Catholic. Your argument seemed like textbook “natural moral law.” Am I right? Anyway, since it seems pretty obvious that you’re against gay marriage, I’m going to cut to the chase: How, specifically, will gay marriage harm society? I would like specific examples. 

          • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

            It’s the buttsecks. It’s always about the buttsecks.

          • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

            I’d bet against Catholic, based on the SJH’s comments on the Marco Rubio thread. Even fundie Catholics don’t dispute the age of the earth.

            I think SJH might be a member of some uber-conservative Protestant denomination, one that fancies itself more sophisticated than the usual evangelical or fundie crowd.

        • b33bl3br0x

          Well whether or not you’re evangelical, fundamentalist, or space alien really doesn’t much matter to me (I had originally though you were atheist).

           

          Obviously having a discussion like the one we are having can be healthy
          even though we can’t get in depth however the tone of the article does
          not seem to be one of healthy discussion. It seems more like he is
          trying to make the other side seem silly and irrational.

          OK, but as you yourself noted above, the vast majority of arguments against gay marriage are silly, and opinions shared are shallow.  So by your own admission, he’s not trying to make the other side seem silly, they’re doing it themselves, he’s just responding to the typical low caliber arguments that real people put forth.

          I do not have time to get into all of the deeper points because they are
          deep. It is not something that can be discussed in a forum such as
          this.

          So then, better arguments exist but you can’t explain them to me because you can’t explain them to me?  It sounds like you’re suggesting that I should just trust you.  It sounds like my old pastor telling me that my questions are good ones and deep ones but he can’t explain the answers to me because I wouldn’t understand the answers or that it would take too long. 

          It didn’t work for him and it won’t work for you.  If you have an argument against gay marriage that isn’t silly, I’m willing to read it and talk it out I understand it, after that I can tell you whether or not it has any merit or is substantially less silly than any of the others, but until you’re willing to give it to me I’ll assume that you’ve got nothing.

    • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

      Funny how in over 20 years of debating this issue, I have never come across one of these “deeper” arguments you mention. It is always based on what they think their god wants, and I have never heard of a single anti-gay organization that does not outright lie and misrepresent the truth to try to bring about their religious goals. They are not interested in evidence because their minds are closed. For them, it’s all about religion, and their religion is their truth.

      • SJH

         Have you looked for the deeper points? I think it is a good idea to search them out. If you don’t find them, then dig a little deeper. Obviously, at some point, it is wise to move on but I believe most people (maybe you are not one of them) spend very little time hunting. You may still disagree in the end but we will all be better for it.

        • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

          Please don’t accuse me of ignorance. As I said, I have spent over 20 years debating people on this issue. I have had long, in-depth, tortuous conversations with Catholics, evangelicals, fundamentalists, and other conservative religious people. I am very familiar with all of the arguments that have been made.

          In the beginning, I was hopeful and naive. I thought that surely if I could provide them with evidence, they would change their minds. I’m older now, and fairly jaded. It’s impossible to have a fruitful conversation with someone who enters the discussion under false pretenses. I no longer debate people who are unwilling to change their minds. I won’t waste my energy on them. Instead, I’ll save it for people who are genuinely ignorant or legimitately on the fence.

          • SJH

             Sorry, I was not trying to accuse you of ignorance. Thus my parenthetical statement “(maybe you are not one of them)”. I was actually thinking that the information you are looking for may not be found in the people with whom you are debating. On the other hand, maybe you have exhausted available sources to your satisfaction and you can move on. I can respect that.

            • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

              I get the feeling that you think anyone who disagrees with you hasn’t done their homework. You clearly believe there’s some sort of sophisticated, valid argument, yet the ones the anti-gay movement presents are anything but valid or sophisticated.

              And why, pray tell, should people “spend time hunting” for reasons to stigmatize gays and lesbians? The only reason people spend time hunting for such material is because they believe their god doesn’t approve of homosexuality, and they want to dress up their religious opposition in secular terms.

              I’m sure if you spent enough time looking, you could find “sophisticated” arguments in favor of slavery, too. But there’s no reason to do such a thing unless you think your religion requires you to keep black people as slaves.

              • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

                I always did think that was an interesting if weak sort of sauce: “Your religion requires you…”

                In my experience, many people gravitate to religious groups that reinforce already-held beliefs. So ultra-conservative sects attract the homophobes and misogynists.

                • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

                  I think that’s true for adult converts, most definitely. The types of people who actually choose to join harsh, rigid fundamentalist sects tend to be attracted to what those groups promote.

                  I think their homophobia stems from a combination of what they think their religion requires and previously existing homophobia. If they were already uncomfortable with homosexuality, now they have a solid “excuse” for it.

                  Which is quite different from people who were born and raised in those types of environments and have been fed misinformation their entire lives. Those people are genuinely uninformed. I don’t think SJH is one of those people.

                  Same with the usual culprits on the Religious Right: Dobson, Falwell, Robertson, Rekers, Driscoll, etc. I think they know exactly what they’re doing, and the name of the game is promoting their religion at all costs, facts be damned. They’re not willing to change their minds.

            • amycas

               Why is it that you don’t have time to just explain these “deeper” arguments, but you have time to come over here and tell people that they just haven’t searched long enough?

        • Coyotenose

           And yet those “deeper points” fail to appear even when they’re implicitly being asked for. Claiming they exist does not magically make it so.

          Google the Courtier’s Reply and perhaps you’ll get a notion of why your argument is coming across as nonsense.

        • phantomreader42

           If you and your fellow homophobic death cultists can’t be bothered to present your mythical “deeper points”, even when repeatedly asked to do so, that is not the fault of your opponents.  Why should anyone bother looking for these “deeper points” you babble about when YOU refuse to tell anyone what they are?  These are supposedly YOUR arguments, it’s up to YOU to put them out there.  If you refuse to do so, then you’re just admitting that you have nothing that even vaguely looks like a worthwhile argument. 

    • Marco Conti

      SJH, why don;t you start by writing your own article or at least expanding on your post? 
      Mine is not a “gotcha” statement. I support same sex marriage because as a straight man in a monogamous relationship with a woman, I don’t see how two people of the same sex marrying affects my own marriage or any other aspect of my life.

      From your post it sounds like you are aware of other arguments that those against and pro gay marriage have not yet made. I would like to hear them.

      if you think they talk past each other, which they may very well do, why don;t you tell us what they are doing wrong? 
      The way I see it, citizens requesting to have their union recognized by the state should be accommodated. 
      Those that disagree, by and large belong to religious organizations that should not be telling the state what it can and cannot approve of. 

      So far I have not heard a valid reason to be against gay marriage. Sounds like you may have a unique perspective on it. I would like to know more. 

      • SJH

         I appreciate the tone of you post.

        Regarding your observation that same sex marriages do not effect yours, this is one reason why this is a difficult question and requires intelligent conversation. There is no, and will likely ever be solid evidence that allowing homosexual marriage will hurt your relationship. In fact, it may not. I would draw the analogy of a complex machine. Each piece has a particular function. If you integrate a piece that is slightly out of calibration, it may not have a direct effect on a neighboring part but if you add more it will slowly cause the machine to become less functional.  So it is with communities and societies. The difference is that our societies are extremely complex; more complex than we can even comprehend. So, just like you may not be able to pinpoint what component of the machine was out of calibration, you probably won’t be able to prove that homosexuality is one of the many, many behaviors that contributed to harming a society.

        So, what do we do with that? Do we wait until science proves it either way which will likely be never? Do we put faith in tradition? Do we go with our gut instinct? Do we simply allow it to be fair even if it might be harmful? Intuition, philosophy, reason, in my opinion, point to homosexuality being dysfunctional behavior. This is consistent with some science though not all and it is also consistent with my religion so I will choose to  assume that it is unhealthy behavior until science can prove otherwise.

        • Coyotenose

           So you have libelous insinuation, magical knowing, and the demand that others prove a negative as arguments. Very “deep”.

        • b33bl3br0x

          Wow, just wow.

          In all seriousness, is this the sort of argument that displays your “deeper points” or one that is not “silly”?  If so then we’ve got a major disconnect here.

          Let me parse out what you said,”Society is complex and because I think it might potentially have unforeseeable negative impact in a way that I can’t even begin to fathom and you can’t prove that  it won’t, I don’t think it should be allowed.” 

          And you think that this is a good argument?

          (takes off serious hat)

          Also

          Intuition, philosophy, reason, in my opinion, point to homosexuality being dysfunctional behavior.

          Ahh I see, it IS the buttsecks. It’s always about the buttsecks.

        • Baby_Raptor

          By that reasoning, all religion should be banned. We have definitive proof that it’s harmful. 

          Also, science has repeatedly disproven that homosexuality is dysfunctional and unhealthy. You’re choosing to ignore that because it doesn’t promote what you want to believe.

          Lastly, why should what you believe even matter? Why should my rights hinge on what you think is healthy? 

        • Jen B.

          So, let me get this straight: Homosexuals potentially harm society in vague ways that you cannot specifically list and define; therefore, gay marriage should not be allowed? Out of curiosity, do you think that homosexual behavior should be criminalized as well? Why or why not? Do you also believe that we should ban anything that could be potentially harmful in general, even if the potential harm is vague and undefined? 

          For the sake of argument, even if homosexuality were dysfunctional, then so what? Saying that gay people are dysfunctional isn’t going to change a thing; it’s not going to make gay people straight (speaking of which, NARTH and similar organizations have abysmal “success” rates, and there is evidence that such organizations cause some gay people harm to boot). What we DO know is that telling gay people they’re abnormal, “inherently disordered,” abominations, sinful, etc. isn’t going to make them any better; no, if anything, it will make them worse. Forcing them to live celibately or in loveless heterosexual marriages certainly isn’t going to make them any happier. If you think they’re dysfunctional — and what exactly do you mean by that, BTW? Dysfunctional in what ways? — now, do you really think they’d be in better shape if they’re marginalized, stigmatized, and not allowed romantic love in their lives? And if a significant minority is unhappy, stigmatized, and marginalized, do you really think that that would benefit society? 

          You know what, though? At the end of the day, I don’t think people’s personal experiences or science matter do you. I think your religious beliefs trump everything, and regardless of what science says on the matter, you will continue to believe as you do no matter what. Am I right? Be honest. 

        • amycas

           I say we err on the side of individual rights here: we don’t restrict rights until it’s shown that the action is not harmful. We grant rights, and only restrict them after it is shown to be harmful.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LJ3YWZEE6A46RUDHWPGYVSK4DI david e

      “….while the other side clearly does not understand the deeper points of the Xian arguments.”

      Don’t leave us in suspense.  What are these deeper points you speak of?

      • Baal

         I suspect the deeper points are somewhere on the shelf next to sophisticated theology.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

        I would love to read them as well because I ever read was… Jesus, God, Bible, Ewwwwww, Perverts and thats nasty!

      • SJH

        Of the top of my head, the discussion would include any of the following:

        How do our actions, even if seemingly isolated, effect the community as a whole?

        If our bodies are machines, then each component of that machine has a particular function. If those components are not operating in a way that fulfills that function then is the machine dysfunctional?

        If something is dysfunctional, can it be healthy? If not, will the species evolve into a state where it becomes healthy?

        What is love? Is it a feeling? Is it an action? Is it transcendent?

        What function does love serve? To make us feel good? To procreate? To unify?

        What is marriage? What is the purpose of marriage if it has one?

        If God does exist how does it change the answer to any of these questions?

        What are rights and who grants them? God? If God does not exist then are they granted by the government? The populous? The strong? The more evolved? The intelligent?

        Just some thoughts that I think would be important to discuss regarding this issue. I don’t know the answer to them but I don’t think you can discuss homosexuality and homosexual marriage without first coming to a healthy consensus on them. (Obviously the God question would come up as well eventually but being
        an atheist blog I don’t expect to resolve that question before we can
        move onto other things.)

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=705066677 Desiree Bell-Fowlks

          Bullshit.  There’s nothing to talk about.  This is a secular country.  Your beliefs do not make laws.   As citizens LGBT have the right to marry like heteros. Anything less is govenment discrimination.  Whether it violates your doctrines, who fucking cares.  I do not care what your bible says.  Keep it in your home and not in our laws.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LJ3YWZEE6A46RUDHWPGYVSK4DI david e

          Those are questions.  Not “deeper” points in an argument against gay marriage.

          “I don’t know the answer to them but I don’t think you can discuss homosexuality and homosexual marriage without first coming to a healthy consensus on them. ”

          I’m not asking for an original argument.  Feel free to quote what you consider the best argument you’ve heard against gay marriage.  One which makes the sorts of “deeper points” you refer to.

        • SphericalBunny

          How do our actions, even if seemingly isolated, effect the community as a whole?

          Guess what I did in my bedroom last night. Now tell me how that affected you?

          If our bodies are machines, then each component of that machine has a particular function. If those components are not operating in a way that fulfills that function then is the machine dysfunctional?

          Are your eyes then dysfunctional when you sleep? Are you aware that most components of the body are multi-functional?

          If something is dysfunctional, can it be healthy? If not, will the species evolve into a state where it becomes healthy?

          See above, no evolution necessary.

          What is love? Is it a feeling? Is it an action? Is it transcendent?

          Non sequitur.

          What function does love serve? To make us feel good? To procreate? To unify?

          Another irrelevance to the actual topic. 

          What is marriage? What is the purpose of marriage if it has one?

          A legal contract to regulate recognition, rights and responsibilities between people and the state.

          If God does exist how does it change the answer to any of these questions?

          It doesn’t.

          What are rights and who grants them? God? If God does not exist then are they granted by the government? The populous? The strong? The more evolved? The intelligent?

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RightsThe recognition of rights is far more important, and is legally done by the ruling authorities. In a democracy, the government are supposedly subject to the will of the people. In a rational society, there should be good reason why rights are extended to one class of people, yet denied to others.

          Despite your list of deepities, you have failed to provide any good reason against allowing SSmarriage, and in fact whilst claiming ‘deeper points’ in Xtian arguments, have showed these points to be facile, born of ignorance, easily rebutted and irrelevant.

    • Baby_Raptor

      1) Why do the deeper points of the christianists’ arguments matter? Laws cannot be based on religion. That’s in the Constitution. Nobody is forcing everyone to go out and marry someone of the same sex. We just want the right to marry someone of the same sex if we happen to want to.

      2) Why should we not call out bigotry when we see it? Letting bigotry simmer makes it grow. 

      3) You don’t have “legitimate conversations” about peoples’ rights. Rights are rights, whether or not every single being in the country thinks one should have them.

      4) Take your hypocrisy and shove it up your ass. You wouldn’t be calling people intelligent and demanding more debate if it was one of your rights that was under fire. Shut the Fuck up about mine. 

  • Freak

    He’s missing the “Argument from Teaching Set / Graph Theory”.  (Hetero marriages are a common example of using bijections to show two sets are equal / bipartite graphs.)  I think it’s better than most (all?) of the arguments listed there.  (Not that I think it’s any good, but that the other arguments are that bad.)

  • jose

    Every argument against gay marriage ever: “I have my stuff, now you can’t have yours.”

    • AxeGrrl

      Or:

      “If we let those people into the club we belong to, how can we keep feeling more special then they are?”

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

    I’m so glad Maine came out of the wood work and legalized same sex marriage. I spent many hours arguing with people who used every agrument on that list and even a few that are not on it.

    One point the loved to raise was that no state had ever passed SSM by popular vote and Maine, Maryland and Washington destoryed that one argument in a single night.

    The picture below is my daughter with her two gay aunts who she has grown up with and she still spends the night with them often. All three of them will huddle together on the couch, eat popcorn and watch movies.

    I know I’m a horrible person for letting my daughter anywhere near two lesbians.

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      They look so happy! Kudos, Kevin-Dude-From-Maine.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

        They have been together for over 20 years and are very happy. I’m hoping to get a wedding invite next year but here is a funny story. After I had been dating my wife, ex-wife now she was hesitant to tell me her sister was gay because I was a bible thumping Christian then and she thought I would be outraged but I didn’t care even as a Christian because I was not raised to hate someone because they are different.

        • Jennifer

           Then you weren’t a ‘True Christian’, were you. lol

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

            I get that a lot from so called true Christians these days when I inform they I was once religious.

            • SunnyD

              “True Christian” now there is an oxymoron for you, much like Jumbo Shrimp

    • ReadsInTrees

      I am also proud of my fellow Mainers! Speaking of which, if you’re from Maine, be sure to join the Atheists of Maine on Facebook….

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

        I’ve been a member of the group for sometime.

    • AxeGrrl

      Lovely, thanks for sharing, Kevin :)

      and I’m guessing that the aunt wearing the argyle sweater is your sis (given the resemblance between her and your daughter!)

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

        She is my ex-wife’s sister and you are welcome. Pisses me off to know end how some people demonize homosexuals and act as if children should never be around them.

        • SunnyD

          They don’t know the difference between homosexualitt and pedophilia, they think everything except the Missionary position is equally sexually deviant. How silly they are.

  • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

    Dozens of studies have shown gay people to be entirely capable of raising children. While it is true that many reputable studies have shown two-parent families tend to be most beneficial, the gender of the parents has never been shown to matter.

    This is true. However, we should not let anti-gay religious groups derail the issue. The question is marriage, not child-rearing. They can deny marriage all they want, but there is nothing to prevent same-sex couples from having children. Never has been, and never will be. Gay and lesbian people have been choosing to have children openly since the 1970s.

    Even if same-sex couples had poorer child-rearing outcomes, that is no reason to deny them marriage. Many minority groups in America have children whose futures fall short of the “ideal” demonstrated by the children of white, upper-middle class, college-educated parents. That is no reason to stigmatize or delegitimitize those groups. On the contrary, it is a reason to offer the best possible benefits and protections (such as legal marriage), so that they face fewer challenges in raising their children.

    Many same-sex couples, especially those in lower income brackets, struggle with lack of legal recognition, health insurance, etc. One way to make sure that those children have good outcomes is to let them know that their families are supported, that they have value. Demonizing them and saying that those children shouldn’t have been born does nothing to help. It is actively harmful for children to live in a society that stigmatizes their families and tells them that their parents are wrong/bad/sinful, etc.

  • kimpatsu

    “Why is it so important for gay people to have marriage?”Because if I MARRY an American, I automatically get a green card, but if I enter a CIVIL PARTNERSHIP with an American, I don’t.No one ever seems to consider the international angle to this issue, despite the fact that international marriages are increasing.

    • Drakk

       Come on, that won’t convince the republicans. Who cares about them dirty furrners.

  • Drakk

    Even if banning gay marriage did anything to protect the bible-humping homophobes’ ability to spawn more braindead bible-humpers, which, by the way, it doesn’t,

    How in the fuck is this a good thing?

  • Carpinions

    A nice compendium of the non-arguments offered as “rational reasons” to be against homosexual marriage. I didn’t find his rebuttals all that biting though. He probably just as easily could have listed all 30+ arguments and summarized with a single paragraph with the closing sentence: “In short, there are no reasonable arguments for denying same-sex marriage.”


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