Why Are So Many Americans Opposed to Gay Marriage? Take a Wild Guess…

A recent USA Today/Gallup poll asked people who were against marriage equality “What are some of the reasons why you oppose legal same-sex marriages?

You’ll never guess what ranked #1 on the list… (and by “never,” I mean you know exactly where I’m going with this):

Religion is far and away the winner loser. There isn’t a single justifiable answer on the entire list. Denying an entire class of people equal rights because of your warped interpretation of random Bible passages is ignorance and intolerance in full effect.

#2 on the list (“Marriage should be between a man and a woman”) is really part of the same “religion” subheading — since the only people who really espouse that view seem to be pastors and other religious leaders.

Morally wrong? “Traditional” beliefs? Another way of saying religion.

So basically, many people who oppose marriage equality do so for religious reasons, not rational ones.

You already knew this, of course.

On the flip side, why do people who support marriage equality do so? Primarily for rational reasons, not religious ones:

Look at that list: Equality, love, happiness, friendship, individual choice.

Not religion. Not Jesus. Not faith. Because those things don’t make you a more accepting, more caring, more loving person.

Yes, a small percentage of people support marriage equality for religious reasons (5%) but it’s pretty clear from this list that, on the whole, religion steers you away from kindness and toward bigotry.

***Edit***: A few revisions for clarification have been made to this piece since its original posting.

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.

  • A3Kr0n

    I don’t oppose gay marriage, but it’s so in-my-face all the time I’m starting to hate it. I’m starting to look for other blogs to follow besides FA and Pharyngula.

  • Fentwin

    Yeah, it kind of sucks when people have to continually fight for their basic rights doesn’t it. Sorry to inconvenience you.

  • The Athiest

     It’s generally a good sign that nobody cares which blogs you follow if you feel you have to announce your intent to leave.

  • Swulf

     Agreed. I’m not in opposition either but the endless discussion of it is no longer particularly enlightening. It is becoming an opportunity for the minor trolls (Fentwin, below) to pop up with a view on whether you are ‘their’ particular sort of bigot.

    Let people who love each other and want to marry get married. It is an issue of human rights, and peripheral to one’s supernatural beliefs (or lack thereof).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001627228091 Alexander Ryan

    I always thought it was because there are so many people out there deluded into thinking someone can be ‘turned’ gay, thus, standard man-woman  marriage will eventually become lesser as more people ‘turn’ gay.

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.zara Steve Zara

    It’s great that it is so in your face. What happens is that eventually you get accustomed to it and don’t notice it any more.  That’s what we gays want – to be boring, everyday, normal: just as in-your-face as straight marriage is.  Heterosexuality is everywhere – in every story, in every advert, in every song.  We are like fish not noticing the water, as we are so used to it. We need to get wet in a gay way (excuse the metaphor), so wet we don’t notice it.

    Also, I’m not sure that the interpretation of the Bible verses about homosexuality matters.  No-one really cares about Bible verses, not even Christians.  I mean, who supports slavery any more, and yet the Bible really goes for slavery in a big way.  So “it’s in the Bible” is a pretty rubbish justification.  

  • Agrajag

    83% is way low. Essentially *all* these reasons are religious. “laws of nature” ? Since when does nature have morality ? “unnatural” you mean the way male giraffes mating with eachothers is “unnatural” ?

  • busterggi

    You can always visit the Westboro Baptist site.

  • NickDB

     Can totally relate. Grew up during the 80s in South Africa and whilst I don’t oppose black people that whole “Stop Apartheid” thing was so in-my-face the whole time I started to hate it.

    (/S in case it’s necessary)

    If you’re tired of the fight for equal rights, then please leave. It took decades to win the same rights for all races, in fact it’s still going on.

    Your comment is why we need to have it peoples faces ALL the time, because if it wasn’t 95% of people will just ignore it because it doesn’t affect them.

    What are you doing to sort the issue out quicker? Or do you have your rights and don’t care if others don’t?

  • ortcutt

    Q: What are some of the reasons why you oppose legal same-sex marriage?

    A: Marriage should be between a man and a woman.

    (Hits head on keyboard repeatedly)

  • http://www.alise-write.com Alise Wright

    I would say that the REAL, real reason is one that people aren’t comfortable saying, and that’s, “Two dudes doing it squicks me out.” Religion is a nice fall-back for people who don’t want to admit that they just think it’s grody.

    That said, I still think that equality/love CAN be motivated by religious views. Certainly I would say that my own religious views have shaped my thoughts regarding marriage equality in a positive way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=738846056 Peter Cranny

    The Bible says that people who practice same sex intercourse should be killed.
    We don’t actually do this and few people advocate it.
    Can someone please introduce me to who decided this – I’d really like to meet this person who is clearly a higher authority than God.

  • M J Shepherd

    They say “unnatural” until you bring up examples in the animal kingdom of homosexual behavior, and then they keep moving the goal posts backwards until they come up with either “God hates it” or “it’s icky!”

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    I agree with you on the main point, that religion is the primary motivation against gay marriage. The first data point clearly shows that. But I think it is very sloppy to categorize the other answers to be “religious” in order to bump up the numbers to 83%.

     #2 (“Marriage should be between a man and a woman”) is simply a tautology that doesn’t say anything about the motivating factors behind it. These respondents are simply saying “Gay marriage is wrong because its not how it should be” but never give their reasons why. They may be religious reasons, or they may not.

    #3 (“Morally wrong/Have traditional beliefs”) again does not say anything about the underlying reasons these people have. I agree that “Traditional beliefs” usually does translate to religion, but “morally wrong” may have other sources as well.

    I’ll grant you that probably most of #2 and #3 may come from religious roots, be we cannot know that from this data without making unfounded assumptions about the respondents. It would be reasonable to say that the true religious number is somewhere between 47% and 83%, but to assume the highest number is a sloppy interpretation of the data.

  • Secular Planet

    “Marriage should be between a man and a woman” isn’t even a reason at all. It’s merely a restatement of the position.

  • Secular Planet

    You only follow two blogs? That’s odd.

  • OverlappingMagisteria

     All the reasons against gay marriage are irrational. Religion is irrational. But that does not make all the reasons religious.

    The “unnatural” argument is certainly irrational. But, when presented it does not make any appeals to a deity, holy book, or religious leader. I have known atheists who use the “unnatural” argument as well, unfortunately.

  • viaten

    The “opposed” choices are barely reasons at all.   They’re not saying much more than “It’s just wrong.”

  • Mshensler94112

    I actually think that in this case religion is acting as religion often does: as an excuse.  These people self-report that their motives are religious, but there was no option for, “I was raised to react with disgust to the idea of homosexuality; I still react with disgust to the idea of homosexuality.”  And few people would be honest enough to admit it if there was.

    If they didn’t have this irrational, conditioned reaction, they would be in the “Everyone is equal in God’s eyes” category.  Because the Bible is a Rorschach Test.

  • ACN

    Find a few new blogs. 

    We won’t miss you.

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

    Aw, it’s such a shame that people have to fight for equality. We should really all just stop talking about concerted efforts to remain stuck in a kind of 5th century type of thinking where only rich white landowners matter, and anyone who tries to break that mold should be outed as a witch or heathen and burned at the stake.

    After all, A3Kr0n hates having to read about equality.

    That said, is someone forcing you to read these articles? Are you somewhere that someone is making you click on links and read them? Are you in a kind of Clockwork Orange scenario?! Do you need help, A3Kr0n?! Let us know and we’ll call the cops!

    If you’re not in a situation where you’re being forced to read these articles, then don’t click on the links!

  • cxmiller10

    It’s common knowledge that Christian fundamentalism is the biggest impediment to marriage equality in the U.S., but the situation of other countries suggests that the issue is more nuanced. After all, France is one of the least religious countries on a mostly nonreligious continent, and yet same-sex marriage is not legally recognized.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Dharmaworks David Benjamin Patton

    I was thinking the same thing. As the old saying goes “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” but no need to jump to conclusions.

  • ortcutt

    Actually, the evidence shown by Hemant above shows that “one’s supernatural beliefs” are intimately connected to the issue of marriage equality.  That’s something we knew already just listening to the arguments that people make.  So, I have no idea what you are talking about.

  • Jessica

    My thoughts exactly:
    Why?Because!Because why?BECAUSE BECAUSE! 

  • ReadsInTrees

    Or, if you point out examples in the animal kingdom, they say, “Oh, so we should just act like animals?”

  • Jean1

    I was heartened by the November votes in support of gay marriage.  Except … why should we be voting for something which is a basic human right?

  • observer

    One of my annoyances of the argument that it’s not natural or “animals don’t do it” is, when you do show off that homosexuality is actually present in several species, thus it is natural, they counter with, “well animals also eat each other, should we do that as well?”

    So they just went from “even animals don’t it, they’re better then that,” to “well animals do other gross, immoral things humans wouldn’t do, are YOU suggesting we should imitate those behaviors too.” When you mention how homosexuality is in other animals, all of the sudden religious extremists do a U-turn on their argument, practically nulling it. And what really gets my goat is that, just to save grace, when they do tun their back on the argument, they turn it into a strawman, and act as if we’re arguing FOR wanting to imitate animals on their negative traits, personality, and instincts, just to justify being homosexual.

  • Puzzled

     I always love these types of comments, and I hear them so often.  The most common is “I don’t care who people want to sleep with, but they shouldn’t discuss it in public.”  People who say that, I guess, somehow miss the deluge of discussions about men and women sleeping together, since they never complain about that.  They never complain about the number of tv shows showing men marrying women.

    Bottom line is, people who are denied basic rights get very in-your-face because otherwise, they blend into the landscape, and the denial is taken for granted.

  • Thalfon

    To be fair, the religious have always been fond of the ontological argument.

  • http://www.lotsoftinyrobots.com/ LotsOfTinyRobots

    A friend of mine took issue with your last line and I’m inclined to agree with her.

    “Yes, a small percentage of people support marriage equality for religious reasons (5%) but it’s pretty clear from this list that, on the whole, religion steers you away from kindness and toward bigotry.”

    I don’t think we can say that.  The generalization is not that religion steers towards bigotry.  Rather in the the US it happens to be the case that among people who hold bigoted views, the vast majority of them give religious justification.
    The conclusion that we can draw from this data is that bigotry finds a safe haven in religion, not reason.  We can even say that the bigotry has its origins in religion.  What we cannot say is that, on the whole, religion steers you away from kindness and toward bigotry.

  • Art_Vandelay

    If you fall under the 47%, I really think they should put you on a
    terrorist list as a suspect. Not because I think you are (these people
    are so obviously just using the bible to justify their own bigotry), but
    to say that if you are going to take it that literally, then we should
    take your claims of you taking it that literally…that literally. 

  • C Peterson

    I’ve said it before, and no doubt will again. We need to be careful in challenging people’s beliefs as unjustifiable or wrong. I’m happy that this survey was written the way it was, specifically addressing people’s views on legal same-sex marriage. Because every reason listed represents an entirely justifiable reason for a person to oppose same-sex marriage. People aren’t immoral, or unjustified, or wrong in any way for opposing same-sex marriage for most of the reasons given (a case could be made for a couple of minor reasons representing factual errors, however).

    What is important is to emphasize that the major reasons given for opposition to marriage equality, while perfectly acceptable personal moral viewpoints, are completely unjustified on legal and constitutional grounds as bases for denying legal same-sex marriage.

    There is no value in telling people their moral viewpoints are wrong (and I’d argue that such a strategy itself is morally weak). I would say this to anybody opposed to same-sex marriage: I respect your right to that opinion. A large percentage of all humans, across all cultures, place high value on tradition, including tradition derived from religious beliefs. But in the U.S., we do not, and cannot, base our laws on purely religious beliefs. Being opposed to same-sex marriage is your right; being opposed to legal same sex-marriage is un-American.

  • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

    I’m not entirely sure of that; I think the two are distinct enough. I just had students debating this issue in my class yesterday (we’re working on persuasion), though, and the student primarily arguing against SSM in one class did use both of those arguments. It was all I could do not to say, “Does the thought of your parents being intimate creep you out? Would you make their marriage illegal?” But of course I had to stay more impartial than that, and the majority (actually, over 2/3rds) of the students were defending SSM well enough on their own. Given that I teach in a very religious and conservative district, seeing so many students be okay with SSM (even the ones who aren’t okay with homosexuality in general) gives me some hope for the future.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lehman Sam Lehman

    Marriage should be between a man and a woman because “Marriage should be between a man and a woman”

  • Quintin

    To which the standard response should be “we are animals, so do you suggest we start acting like plants or fungi?”

  • ReadsInTrees

    I swear, people must have skipped biology class. If I get into one more debate about how mushrooms are vegetables….

  • smrnda

     Many people who say ‘unnatural’ use the complicated, verbose arguments about Natural Law from Catholic theology. It’s basically an attempt to appropriate some Aristotelian ideas and argue that you can deduce Catholic dogma from nature as well as through specific divine revelation. It’s an ‘argument by obfuscation’ technique.

  • smrnda

     Yes, because it’s just so wrong of them to blog about a class of people who are being denied equal rights because of religious bigotry. It’s not like it’s a relevant current struggle for basic human rights or anything.

  • smrnda

    Marriage should be between a man and a woman is circular reasoning, and I’ve found people espousing that perspective usually want to obscure the level to which their beliefs are motivated by religion. I recall one guy I talked with throwing out a mess of convoluted, intuitive hand-waving appeals which included, among other things “the nature of marriage is heterogeneous rather than homogenous and that’s what makes it special” to which I asked him, if significant difference between partners makes it more special, if he would be okay with outlawing homogeneous marriages between two white people.

    I notice that the ‘slippery slope’ of ‘if gay marriage, what next?’ wasn’t on the list. Any thoughts on that? Or is it just that it’s such a ridiculous objection nobody wants to claim it? 

  • Patrick

    Not sure why you dumped answers #2 and #3 into “religion”. “Marriage should be between a man and a woman” isn’t even a reason, pretty much just restates the question. And #3 could be cultural or internal moral system, not necessarily religion. You just made some baseless assumptions about the people who oppose gay marriage. I don’t have any problem with gay marriage myself, and I think religions are completely ridiculous  but I do have a problem with nonsensical arguments. Especially from a self proclaimed atheist who should be capable of logical reasoning.

  • ortcutt

    Why shouldn’t I oppose someone’s claim that same-sex relationships are immoral?  If Neil Patrick Harris and his husbands family is considered immoral by someone’s moral code, then their moral code is wrong.  There’s no harm to others or harm to self, and on the contrary, same-sex relationships foster positive human needs of love, compansionship, and family.  

    Claiming that homosexuality is wrong is as wrong as the claim that the Earth is 6000 years old, disease is caused by demons, or that women are ritually impure during their period.  All of those things are things that we once TRADITIONALLY believed, but that we have now found out are false.

  • SeekerLancer

    It would be easier to not call their beliefs on this particular issue unjustifiable if any of them were actually justifiable.

  • RobMcCune

    Given that churches have been preaching against gay rights for years I think the statement is accurate. Whatever social causes divvied up the current sides, churches that oppose gay marriage are promoting bigotry and steering people away kindness towards GLBT people as a result.

  • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

    Of course, it helps that there’s other data out there, pointing in similar directions. Correlation doesn’t imply causation, but it does waggle its eyebrows suggestively and gesture furtively while mouthing “look over there”. Even among people who don’t take the Bible as Inerrant, self-described strength of religious identification and attendence rates tend to correlation, also.

    (After that, the next big factor looks to be gender, with women tending more pro-marriage than men.)

  • WoodwindsRock

     Actually, what I’ve seen when I’ve argued that it isn’t unnatural (in response to them saying homosexuality is wrong because “it’s unnatural”), is that all of the sudden they turn into a straw man argument where they make it out like I was arguing that something being natural makes it good, when in reality I was never assigning any positive or negative value to something being natural or unnatural, only countering the claim that homosexuality is unnatural.

  • 3lemenope

    “I respect your right to that opinion” is quite a different thing from “I respect your opinion”. Some opinions are not deserving of respect, and among that august set surely is “an old book told me that God hates fags and so should I”. Moral opinions do not exist in a vacuum, because they motivate actions, and the actions that these opinions motivate run the gamut from disgusting to flat-out horrifying.

    It is perplexing to me to situate a moral argument in the legal realm, because it seems to put the cart before the horse. How does someone in antebellum US argue against slavery, when slavery was legal and constitutional? Is he or she just supposed to be tolerant of slavery and its horrors and say, well, oh well, America has a tradition of slavery, and traditions are important to people?

    It is equally perplexing to say that there is no value in telling someone their viewpoints are wrong (and self-negating to then go on and say that such a criticism is itself immoral). People change opinions in dynamic response to the social discourse; if you eliminate your own voice of opinion from what that discussion considers over its course of what is right and wrong, that simply makes the other opinions louder and more persuasive in proportion. Your opponents will not be shy to say that you are wrong, why should you be shy to say that they are? 

  • Kubricks_Rube

    “Religion/Bible says it is wrong – 47%”

    There are 47 percent of the SSM opponents who will vote againt equality no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who believe the government has a responsibility to privilege their own religious beliefs, who believe that they are entitled to control anyone who doesn’t agree – that that’s an entitlement. Our job is not to worry about those people. We’ll never convince them that others deserve the personal opportunity and care for their own lives.

  • Thegoodman

    “Unnatural/Against the laws of nature” is always a strange one for me. What exactly is natural and attuned with the laws of nature about hetero marriage?

    They must mean sex. The religious definition of marriage typically includes monogamy, which is very unnatural.

    So ALL marriage is actually “Unnatural/Against the laws of nature”. Should we all stop wearing clothes too? Perhaps night-shifts should be outlawed (we are diurnal after all). No more wiping asses or getting haircuts either. All unnatural.

  • Blue

    During the prop 8 trial, David Blankenhorn, expert witness testifying AGAINST marriage equality, said the following: 

    – “Blankenhorn noted that marriage would benefit same-sex couples and their children, would reduce discrimination against gays and lesbians and would be “a victory for the worthy
    ideas of tolerance and inclusion.” Tr 2850:12-13  –

    Their expert witnesses were ripped to shreds on the stand. None of the arguments against LGBT equality held up to scrutiny and the anti-gay proponents were embarrassingly outclassed in every way.

    Blankenhorn’s quote can be found near the bottom of page 14 of the trial transcript (the entire transcript is well worth reading):


  • RobMcCune

    I think the pollsters just added it out of frustration.

    Q: What are some of the reasons why you oppose legal same-sex marriage?

    A: Marriage should be between a man and a woman.

    Q: OK, why should marriage be between a man and a woman?

    A: Because marriage is between a man and a woman.

    Q: You’re missing the point, why is marriage only between a man and a woman?

    A: Because marriage is between a man and a woman.

    Q: GHAAAHHH! *Headdesk*

    Notice the trivial and irrelevant “Born that way” only got 4%, so I think this survey also shows where the critical thinking skills lie.

  • ortcutt

    It says [OPEN-ENDED], so I believe that the responses were spontaneously produced.  The pollsters just have to write down the stupid things people say.

  • 3lemenope

    Quine strikes again!

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

    Opposition to same-sex parenting is also a huge problem in France.



    I find it strange that the country is so backward, but many of the most vocal opponents appear to be members of the Catholic church, so I suspect religion is the main culprit there.

  • Coyotenose

    It’s such a bizarre notion. Other references to this that I’ve seen indicate that anti-gay rights Christians are often actually of the opinion that gay sex is tempting and seductive to heterosexuals. Just… huh?

  • RobMcCune

    I know right, it’s like this whole thing about religion harming people has stopped being about tearing down religion and become genuine concern for rights, fair treatment and dignity of other people. What’s up with that?

  • Coyotenose

     #2: Exactly, it’s a tautology, which means that in the context of the culture from which these respondents come, the vast majority of actual reasons for their opposition relate to religion, consciously or unconsciously. They just aren’t aware of it, or else know how ridiculous it sounds.

    #3: Those cultural and internal moral systems are overwhelmingly derived from religion, either personally held by the respondent or inculcated into his/her thinking through the culture.

    We do at least agree that logical reasoning should be expected on this subject.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Harjamaki/100000251041181 Kevin Harjamaki

    Nothing surprising here.   Religion has always been the greatest force of hate in the world.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Harjamaki/100000251041181 Kevin Harjamaki

     You have the right to believe as you will, but I will only say that bigotry is never justified, no matter what the reason.  A bigot is a bigot is a bigot.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Harjamaki/100000251041181 Kevin Harjamaki

     I would argue that this is a 50/50 argument.  Some say it’s unnatural because of religious reasons, some say it’s unnatural for other reasons.  The fact remains that it IS natural, and occurs in many other species.

  • Stev84

     “Against the law of nature” is really just the Catholic way of saying “It’s against my religion”

  • SPoe

    The bible also says you can’t wear fabric woven from more than one type of fiber, rape is ok, polygamy is ok, you can’t eat pork or shellfish, and divorce isn’t ok. Oh yeah, slavery is cool too. It’s not infallible and we need to recognize that, at the time the bible was written, humanity had a far different worldview than we do now. We’ve accepted that rape is bad even though the bible says it’s fine, why can’t we recognize that homosexuality was just as misunderstood at that time and that *gasp* gays are people too! They fall in love and want to be married, why deny them that right?

  • Dan

     The lack of critical thinking is very fungal like.

  • Dan

     I’ve actually had students claim it (homosexuality) defies natural selection.  This argument doesn’t hold water really, but at least they approached the question from an evolutionary standpoint.

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

    But where is the “I can’t handle the idea of buttsecks” choice? That one would be have the benefit of at least being honest, and would probably dominate the answers.

  • SJH

    I think you are making a lot of assumptions about the results (You are not being very scientific). There are so many other factors that could have played a role in the responses and I think it is your emotional reaction and maybe some prejudice which are guiding your conclusion. I am sure you are right to some degree but to paint a picture as you are is not being completely genuine.

    Claiming that religion is your reason does not necessarily imply that you are blindly following religion. You may have determined through reason that homosexuality is wrong and your religion happens to agree with you but as your response you simply state that it is against your religion.

    “Marriage should be between a man and a woman.” Again this potentially has nothing to do with religion. You may think that a family structure performs best when it includes a man and a woman. Purely reasonable.

    “Morally wrong/traditional beliefs.” Same argument as for religion.

    As for the reasons for “homosexual marriage”, they do not all seem to be derived from reason as you state. It seems like some of them, including equal rights, love, happiness, personal choice, family, are all reasons one might give if they felt emotionally compelled to do so. One may feel like an injustice is being committed or they might feel sorry for someone who they view as being discriminated against. Again, these are all emotional reasons, not rational ones.

  • observer

    I don’t think they do it for evolution, I believe they say that in naive attempt to either pit biologists against homosexuals, and/or create doubts of evolution…and have homosexuals to blame.

    I’m convinced that homophobes have no bounds of their dislike of homosexuals, that they want everyone to hate homosexuals. Hell, if they can find a good enough argument (for them), I’m sure they’d love to get atheists to go against homosexuals as well.

  • SJH

     I cannot disagree with you more. Religion has been the greatest force for good throughout history. Certainly there have been so called holy wars and examples of people using religion for evil purposes but this is no greater than atheists using, in many cases, flawed logic or reason to oppress and destroy (ie. socialism, eugenics).

  • SJH

     Not that simple Stev84. Certainly theology plays a role but reason plays a large role as well. I don’t fully understand it either but if Thegoodman is interested maybe he should look into it himself. You breaking it down to a one-liner is not doing it justice.

  • SJH

     You are making the assumption that those groups are unaware or victims of inculcated beliefs rather than thinking individuals. That is an assumption and also baseless.

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

    So, are you ever going to respond to any of the questions or comments on the other thread?


    Because this seems to be your MO every time homosexuality is mentioned on this blog. You make the same assertions over and over, but don’t follow up.

  • amycas

     The issue of its being a choice really confused me as an adolescent because I’m bisexual. Being told constantly by my mother and the church that homosexuality is a choice, I just assumed that everybody was bisexual (I didn’t know the term for it back then) and that people actually do make that choice. I’m glad I grew up to know better.

  • amycas

     I thought mushrooms were a fungus. Can a fungus be a vegetable?

    I think my whole world just turned upside-down.

  • amycas

     Hell, I always say humans do it, and humans are natural, therefore it’s natural so that argument is stupid.

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

    I’ve never really understood this reason. Gay doesn’t equal “two dudes doing it.” If that’s their reason, why do they want to punish lesbians? And if anal sex is actually an issue for them, why act like it’s not a problem when it involves straight couples? We all know many of the conservative men voting against same-sex marriage  are the same ones who masturbate to girl-girl porn and have anal sex with their wives and girlfriends.

  • amycas

    It’s not reasonable to say you think that a family structure performs best when it includes a man and a woman, if there is no evidence to suggest this is true.  If there’s no evidence for it, then you have no *reason* to believe this, and it’s not reasonable.

  • ReadsInTrees

    No, they’re not fungi, that’s the point. I keep getting into debates with people who tell me that mushrooms are vegetables. They don’t get it when I say, “If mushrooms are vegetables, then celery is a reptile!” Vegetables are the leaves, roots, and stalks of PLANTS. Mushrooms are a fungus, which is a completely different kingdom of life than plants. So…yeah.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I’d love to see this same question asked about ‘interracial’ marriage in 1967.  I suspect the responses would have been very much the same.

  • https://twitter.com/TheMostAthy The Athiest

     You start your comment saying that, “no, [mushrooms]‘re not fungi,” then you end with, “Mushrooms are a fungus.” Make up your mind. :)

  • Deven Kale

     Religion spends a lot of time and effort fostering an “us vs. them” attitude within it’s followers. Those who are in the “us” crowd are the good righteous folk who can do no harm. Then there’s “them”: the ones who are possessed of or influenced by Satan or his demons, that we must guard against lest we are taken in ourselves. We can tell these people because they act “different.” For some, “different” is following another religion, for others drinking alcohol, or doing drugs, or being homosexual, etc. Are you not surprised that this type of teaching steers one towards bigotry and hatred? I’m sure not.

  • RobMcCune

    “Religion has been the greatest force for good throughout history.”

    Really, how?

  • SJH

     What in particular would you like me to respond to? I would be happy to pick up the conversation wherever it left off but I made a few comments.

    I think I generally do a pretty good job of following up but a blog isn’t the optimal place to have a long term discussion. I guess I was assuming that no one was paying attention to those any more. As I said though, I would love to continue the discussion.

  • Deven Kale

     People who have thought through their beliefs on a subject tend to use their own reasoning far more often than just saying “it’s against my religion.”

  • Deven Kale

     As others have said, I don’t think your breakdown of which of these answers are religiously based hold water. I’ll give you #1 (obviously), but #2 is just a restatement of the question, as others have pointed out, so I would have to say that the percentage of that group which is religiously motivated should be the same as those of the main sample. #3 could have any number of non-religious motivations so I wouldn’t include that either.

    I would say #5 is almost purely religious because every time I’ve heard this argument it seems to be based off of “natural law,” and I’ve never met someone non-religious who follows it.

    So in the main sample we have only 52% of which we can really consider religiously based. Now using that 52% in reference to #2, that gives us an additional (20 * 0.52=10.4) ~10%. Which means that the real percentage of religiously motivated anti-SSM belief is actually much closer to (52+10) 62%, not 83%.

  • SJH

    Though you are correct for many, I disagree overall. Many will give that answer if it is while taking a poll where you are expected to give a quick, short answer.

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

    No reasons given, but some statistics from the time period:

    In 1968, the year after the “activist” Supremes legalized interracial marriage in its decision on Loving vs. Virginia, a Gallup poll found that the vast majority of Americans still opposed the idea that blacks and whites could marry — 72 percent to 20 percent. Just 10 years earlier, in the wake of a California Supreme Court decision that overturned newly minted anti-interracial marriage laws in the state, Gallup found that 94 percent of Americans opposed mixed-race marriages.


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

    Well, I’m specifically curious about your religious affiliation. What denomination are you part of?

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

    I’d be curious how they could not be victims of inculcated beliefs? Are you suggesting that they were born with anti-gay feelings?

  • C Peterson

    I agree, bigotry is never justified. But you don’t have to be a bigot to believe that same-sex marriage is wrong, nor to believe that homosexuality is wrong. Bigotry is certainly present in many people who think that way, but by no means all.

  • C Peterson

    Claiming that homosexuality is wrong is as wrong as the claim that the
    Earth is 6000 years old, disease is caused by demons, or that women are
    ritually impure during their period.

    Unfortunately, when you make a claim like that you are totally destroying your credibility as a rational thinker, or rational debater. In this, you are simply wrong.

    Claiming the Earth is 6000 years old, or that disease is caused by demons, is objectively, factually wrong. Claiming that homosexuality is wrong, or that women are ritually impure during their periods is not factually wrong. These are subjective opinions, not able to be tested in any way, and not able to be either right or wrong. You may think the claims are crazy, and I may agree, but to those who hold them, they are as “right” as anybody’s subjective world view.

  • C Peterson

    I was careful with my wording, because you’re correct, the right to hold an opinion is different from that opinion being respectable.

    You or I may hold an opinion to be undeserving of respect, but I know of no opinions for which that can be said of in any absolute sense.

    Why can’t we argue against something which is both legal and constitutional? If societal consensus on some moral issue shifts in a way that requires the law to change, the law will change.

    I would never tell somebody that their moral views are wrong, because nothing will drive a person away from listening faster than that (and because I don’t believe there are any wrong personal moral views). What I do is seek to convince them that they, their family, their community, all of society will benefit if they consider adopting a different world view. That is very different from saying they are wrong, or I am right.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    also note that it wasn’t until 1991 that ‘interracial’ marriage ‘passed’ a US poll.  (I used to say ‘received majority support, but I see here it was actually 48% to 42%

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    What basis is there for homosexuality to be ‘wrong’?  The only one I’m aware of that doesn’t fall apart under scrutiny is religious.  Does that not make it bigotry?  That’s an honest, not rhetorical, question. 

  • C Peterson

    I would not call a person who honestly believes that homosexuality is wrong for religious reasons a bigot. That is because I see a bigot as somebody who is immoral by their own standards. A person who truly believes they are right in their beliefs is not acting immorally.

    The way in which I would try to change the mind of a bigot is very different from the approach I’d use for somebody who has a religious commitment to a belief.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ndostal Norman Dostal

    NOPE-homosexuality is not “wrong”; it simply is. That’s liek saying left handed ness is wrong. Because it’s in nature and in humanity since its existence, it simply is a natural variance. Anyone who thinks being gay is wrong or shoudl be entitled to leee equality under the law,  is a bigot-no justification, no religious ramblings will change that!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ndostal Norman Dostal

    wrong again of course-if you look at someone as less than you or less deserving of rights, YOU ARE A BIGOT-sorry bud

  • http://www.facebook.com/ndostal Norman Dostal

    youre kidding,  right?

  • 3lemenope

    Seeking the banishment of doubt is a fool’s game played primarily by believers. But there are things that are, on balance, likely to be true, or likely to be false, based on viewing their consequences as they have played out so far. A person does not have to be 100% sure something is invalid to point to those pieces of evidence and say the moral system that produced them is invalid. 

    I think you underestimate the ability of scorn and ridicule to cause people to reexamine their beliefs. Sure, some of the time, people are amenable to being changed by rational discourse. Some folks, however, are not wired like that. Some folks, in turn, respond more effectively to being told they’re wrong, to having their expressed opinions called out as such. If they respect the person so doing, it can cause self-examination. Nobody likes being thought of as a fool, and that can be a powerful asset when seeking to persuade. 

    Beyond that, some people do need to be confronted with the consequences of their own beliefs in stark terms. Pointing out that a belief boils down to “because an old book said so” is insulting, but the insult is targeted against the foundation of the belief. If the person wishes to be free of the insult, they may come to reevaluate and discard the thing that makes them vulnerable to that criticism. Often, this is not even for the benefit of the person, but rather for the benefit of the audience. Making a fool of an exemplar of a moral stance can cause others to question whether they really want to be associated with a fool.

    Why can’t we argue against something which is both legal and constitutional? If societal consensus on some moral issue shifts in a way that requires the law to change, the law will change.

    But the process by which this happens isn’t mysterious! It starts with people vociferously announcing the wrongness of the prevailing moral paradigm, voicing that rejection in strong terms. This involves telling people that they are wrong in their values, that they are fools to hold those values, that their values cause harm and suffering and so should not be immune from scorn, ridicule, and rejection. The process by which a moral issue shifts such that it eventually becomes reflected in law is not a nice or pretty process. But it is necessary. Social change is not, in most cases and most stages, anything like a debating society. 

    …and because I don’t believe there are any wrong personal moral views…

    Er, what?

  • http://www.facebook.com/ndostal Norman Dostal

    im curious as to why you think someone who thinks a man and a woman raising a kid is better than gays raising kids when ALL studies show gays are actually just as good or better at it

  • 3lemenope

    I think this ignores that in order for something to be considered as right most skeptics would agree that there is some need for a robust justification. In other words, a person can assert any damn thing they like, but if they wish to be taken seriously by others, they should be able to point to something as evidence for why they think it’s right.

    Your argument removes this component. If the foundation of a moral opinion is “I got it from an old book” and nothing else, why, that’s an extremely weak justification, and can be dismissed on that basis. Sure, the person might be accidentally right, just like someone guessing about physical matters, but why would we grant the benefit of that doubt? For moral assertions to be taken seriously, they should be required to present justification. Can you present some sort of reason why moral justifications ought to be exempted from this crucial first step of analyzing claims?

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

    Oh, don’t ask! SJH doesn’t accept the evidence. He/she thinks this is an open question, and points to things like NARTH (a vile hate group) and the Regnerus study (discredited) to prove it.

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

    Even scarier news from earlier this year:

    On Monday, polling firm Public Policy Polling (PPP) revealed that 29 percent of likely GOP voters surveyed in Mississippi believe that interracial marriage should be illegal. Fifty-four percent said intermarriage should remain legal, and the rest responded that they weren’t sure. The survey also found that 21 percent of likely GOP voters polled in Alabama believe that interracial marriage should be illegal.


    That’s 45 years after Loving v. Virginia. In comparison, public acceptance of same-sex marriage is moving along at lightning speed.

  • ReadsInTrees

    Grragh! I meant they’re NOT veggies because they ARE fungi. Hey, it’s my monday after being sick for a week.

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

    And, of course, the arguments from Loving v. Virginia are repeated almost verbatim by same-sex marriage opponents today.

    It is clear from the most recent available evidence on the psycho-sociological aspect of this question that intermarried families are subjected to much greater pressures and problems then those of the intermarried and that the state’s prohibition of interracial marriage for this reason stands on the same footing as the prohibition of polygamous marriage, or incestuous marriage or the prescription of minimum ages at which people may marry and the prevention of the marriage of people who are mentally incompetent.

    Now if the state has an interest in marriage, if it has an interest in maximizing the number of stable marriages and in protecting the progeny of interracial marriages from these problems, then clearly. there is scientific evidence available that is so. It is not infrequent that the children of intermarried parents are referred to not merely as the children of intermarried parents but as the ‘victims’ of intermarried parents and as the ‘martyrs’ of intermarried parents.

     (R. D. McIlwaine III, Virginia’s assistant attorney general) 

  • 3lemenope

    Those are pretty idiosyncratic definitions for “bigot” and “immorally” you’ve got there.

  • amycas

     That’s what I thought initially, but your first post implied that you thought they were actually a veggie. I thought maybe I had the definition of “fungus” and “vegetable” wrong this whole time. But nevermind, turns out we were in agreement all along. :-)

  • SJH

    I do not see why it is important considering that I have never referred to the Bible or any other religious writings or teachings in my discussions. I try to use reason and my own research rather then my religion’s teachings.

    If you must know, I am Catholic.  I choose this religion because I find it to be the most reasoned of the religions that I have looked into. It is where I find the most loving, compassionate, accepting, humble and forgiving philosophy and people I have ever met. Obviously there have been sinful people (including me) within the religion but the teachings are sound and well thought out.

    What about you. Are you atheist, agnostic? What do you think about our existence?

  • SJH

    I think I do accept evidence but I must be presented with sound evidence.

    Regarding NARTH, I asked you this before but I don’t think you responded. Is there something you can cite that would show that they are  hate group? They obviously disagree with you but is there malicious behavior that you can point to?

    Regarding the Regnerus study, again, this study was not discredited. Many are making the claim that it is discredited but they are imposing a conclusion on the study that Regnerus is not. The study does not necessarily show that homosexual parents are bad parents it simply shows that children with parents who have had one or more homosexual experiences in their lifetime have more problems then those children without such parents. This to me is interesting data. In my opinion there should be follow up studies performed to determine why this data came out this way. Perhaps it has nothing to do with homosexuality but there is a strong possibility that they are correlated.

  • Brian Scott

    NARTH’s former association with Scott Lively and their slovenly approach in distancing themselves from him, while perhaps not elevating them to hate group status, betrays a blase and uncharitable attitude to us. When it was only 2009 they removed references to “The Pink Swastika”, and only after prodding by Warren Throckmorton, that indicates to me a group thoroughly uninterested in my wellbeing that I conclude they operate under a harmful methodology. This is before we even get into their piss poor research/conclusions.

  • Brian Scott

    Pithiness aside, Stev84 is correct: it is that simple. Big-N “Natural law” is a wholly theological systematic morality. It does not contain materiably evaluable propositions and enthrones personal prejudices and other such map scribbles as on par with quantum electrodynamics i.e. part of reality.

    The only part of reality “Natural” law exists is in the minds of those who espouse it. It exists in that sense, and no other. Attempts to call on morality using it betrays sloppy thinking.

  • C Peterson

    I have not personally found that insulting people when dealing with them individually is of any value at all. I have had far better success in changing the way people think about issues of morality by not treating them as evil, or wrong, or bigoted, and instead recognizing that their beliefs are as valid as any others, but showing them that there are other ways to view the world that are still consistent with their ethical systems.

  • C Peterson

    As I said, I take all moral assertions seriously. I consider as “moral” anything that a person believes to be right. I don’t believe that any moral views are either right or wrong.

    People have moral views that differ from my own, and I’ll do everything in my ability to try and change those views, because doing so would result in what I would consider a better world. But I wouldn’t tell them their views are unjustified, because in their eyes, they clearly are.

    I don’t think moral claims are justifiable by any means. They are subjective opinions, not objective facts.

  • C Peterson

    Homosexuality can be perceived as either right, wrong, or valueless, depending on world view. None of these is correct or incorrect in any absolute sense.

  • C Peterson

    We’ll just have to disagree about that.

  • C Peterson

    I think they are pretty well aligned with mainstream moral relativism.

  • Deven Kale

     When evaluating claims of one group or another being a hate group, I find it’s always a good idea to go to the organization tasked with officially recognizing such things: the Southern Poverty Law Center.


    That seems to me a decent summary of why NARTH can be considered to be a hate organization. There are other articles detailing why NARTH is considered a hate group, but this one seemed to be the most in-depth that I found with just a basic search for “NARTH” from their home page.

  • Deven Kale

    Luckily, I don’t think too many people are followers of moral relativism. I find that most people who even think they are to be more likely followers of situational ethics, which is completely different from a philosophical standpoint.

  • Agrajag

     I’ve never met an atheist that uses the “unnatural” argument. I’m sure they exist, but it seems likely that the argument is more common among those who frequent environments where this nonsense is pushed. And the primary area for that today is, without much doubt, religion.

  • Agrajag

     The oddest thing about it is that when you say something is wrong because it is unnatural, you’re saying that nature is moral. Which is plainly silly. New alphas of several species frequently practice infanticide of the pups from the previous alpha. Is this something these jokers recommend for humans ?

  • Agrajag

     That’s just because people who don’t know biology thinks life divides into two parts: plants and animals, and since a champignon seems more like a carrot than like a pig, it must be a plant. And plants that we eat are either fruits, grains or vegetables – thus champignons are clearly vegetables.

    Yes I know that’s wrong – but most people don’t, or atleast don’t consider it in everyday life.

  • 3lemenope

    I used to think that. But then some people actually told me that being insulted or called on their crap actual were the pushes they needed to re-evaluate their positions, and so I’ve in turn re-evaluated my assessment of whether that strategy can work. Here’s one such comment from someone I know that helped change my opinion on the topic. That whole thread, in fact, played a role in my transition to accepting what now seems obvious: different approaches work for different people, and some of those people respond to invective. It’s the opposite of what I was taught, but as all skeptics know, what is taught is not necessarily what ends up being right.

    More generally, I don’t think people have a sovereign right to be comfortable in their beliefs. Nothing about holding a belief absolves the person holding it from criticism of that belief, and given that beliefs and the actions that proceed from them can cause harm and distress to others, I think it very destructive to insist that people must never in a pointed way come to express their anger or hurt towards the person who injured them and the belief that motivated the injury. A person who has been victimized by the thoughtlessness and dehumanizing effects of a pernicious belief shouldn’t have to strain their pain out of their response. The person who inflicted it should be made aware in a direct way of what they have caused. The simplest, most direct way to do that short of vengeance (which I think we can agree isn’t very productive because it precludes discourse completely) is someone calling out the perpetrator, using raw emotive language. That’s what emotive language is for

    By requiring that all discussion be reserved to arid “reason”, we neuter the emotion that gives gravity to the arguments in the first place, that makes them matter. As the fellow I linked to above pointed out, so long as everything remained a polite argument, he could fool himself into thinking that his beliefs were as good as everyone else’s. What caused the re-examination was being forcefully told that, no, his beliefs actually did have far less value than others.

  • 3lemenope

    Er, your definition of ‘bigot’ seems pretty far afield of anything I’ve ever seen it defined as. I’ll agree that your definition of “immorally” does have consonance with moral relativism.

    If you actually are a moral relativist, there isn’t much point discussing morality with you at all, I have to say. Moral relativism is a self-swallowing dead end, philosophically speaking. It’s very unfortunate that a bright fellow like yourself would fall down that rabbit hole.

  • AxeGrrl

    Bingo.  And the most eye-roll-inducing part of it is that they conveniently forget that they’re the ones who made natural/unnatural a moral issue in the first place when they argued that homosexuality is “unnatural”!! (to mean wrong/objectionable)

    The whole issue of natural/unnatural needs to finally be put to rest here…….because whether something is natural or unnatural has absolutely nothing to do with morality.

  • TheBlackCat

     So you accept people who claim that slavery is moral, that rape is moral, that genocide is moral, that burning heretics is moral, that pedophilia is moral?  If so then you then you are such a zealous relativist then I don’t see much point in talking with you. 

    Let me ask you another question:

    Moral view 1, if enforced, has been emperically demonstrated to improve the average happiness in society both short and long-term and/or reduce average suffering both short and long-term (I am not arguing gay marriage fits this criteria).  Moral view 2 would have the opposite effect.  Would you say that moral view 1 has more justification than moral view 2?

  • TheBlackCat

     “mainstream moral relativism” is an oxymoron.  There is nothing remotely mainstream about such a view.

  • TheBlackCat

     I am not sure that is really true in practice.  Yes, in the biological definition, fungus is not a vegetable.  But in culinary sense, mushrooms, cucumbers, and tomatoes are vegetables because they fall into a category of foods that are eaten in a similar way.

  • Georgina

    I never know what to answer on these things as I believe that marriage should be a private contract, between two people, and not involve the government or any religious institutions at all.
    Sure, if you want to have orange blossom etc., in a church or fire station – way t’go – but the marriage is between the people involved, no one else.

    This gets a lot of flack from people who think that marriage should mean less taxes, or more privileges or a money exchange or something. 

    So whether you are a man, a women or a rainbow coloured dolphin – marriage as a legalised institution is not on my list of desirable, a happy places.

    Consenting adults and a private contract to protect any children is all that is necessary.

  • TheBlackCat

     Except that, statistically, religious people are much more likely to be bigots than non-religious ones.

  • ortcutt

     Why makes you dead certain that there are no moral facts?  That’s what I don’t understand.  Moral relativism is a kind of dogmatism.  I presented the evidence that it’s not immoral.  You have done nothing to rebut that. 

  • SJH

     That article is obviously a hit piece. They give no evidence nor point to any actions of the group. They merely point to personal actions of individuals associated with the group or point to the fact that they NARTH believes in reparative therapy which means they must be hateful. This is not hate this is simply disagreeing with the Law Center. You can’t claim hate simply because someone disagrees with you. That would merely be an irrational, emotional reaction.

    They also make a false claim in the report stating that there is no evidence that reparative therapy  works. Dr. Spitzers study shows otherwise. And even though he tried to retract his study the fact is that it was never retracted and still stands as a valid study showing that therapy can reverse homosexual behavior.

  • Brian Scott

    The reason it was not retracted was because there wasn’t any falsification of data. That does not validate, by Spitzer’s own admission, the conclusion wanted by the anti-gay crowd. There were severe flaws in the study such that the conclusion was unwarranted.

    I should note that I don’t think SLPC classifies NARTH under the hate group heading, just that its research is used by anti-gay groups.

  • C Peterson

    I would consider a person who honestly holds a belief that is contrary to current societal morals to be individually moral, yes. That does not mean I would consider their acting on those beliefs to be moral, because I believe behavior is dictated ultimately by what society recognizes as moral, not individuals.

    I would not claim, based on your distinctions, that either moral claim is more or less justified. I would say that moral view 1 is better than moral view 2 in bringing about what I would consider the better society. I would not call either view “right” or “wrong” outside of that context, however.

  • C Peterson

    I would argue that moral relativism is as far from dogmatism as anything can be. To me, the belief that there are moral absolutes is indistinguishable from any other religious beliefs. Intellectually, believing, for example, that “homosexuality can’t be wrong” is the same as believing in a deity. It is accepting, on faith, something that can’t be demonstrated. (That is quite different from saying “homosexuality is natural”, which is a fact-based assertion, and can be substantially demonstrated to be right or wrong.)

    I don’t know that there are no “moral facts”. I simply haven’t seen any. Nor have I seen any convincing (not even slightly so) evidence or arguments suggesting that any sort of absolute morality exists.

  • C Peterson

    I would argue that moral relativism is the only intellectually honest way of approaching the subject.

    I think what makes most people uncomfortable with it is the misconception that it somehow devalues what most people think of as moral behavior, or leads to behavior that is bad for society. But this is essentially the same argument that religious people make, that without god-given morals, individual behavior and society itself will fall apart. That doesn’t happen.

    The fact is, you don’t need absolute morals in order for people to behave well.

  • ortcutt

     It’s not dogmatism to claim that an electron has a mass of 9.1 x 10^-31 kg.  It’s not dogmatism to claim that there are moral facts either.  It’s dogmatism to claim a priori that there are no moral facts.  I’ve presented the evidence for there being moral facts.  Maybe Christians aren’t motivated by those moral facts, but that’s not my problem.

  • C Peterson

    You confuse objective and subjective “facts”.

    I don’t believe in moral facts because I’ve not encountered any. I don’t claim they don’t exist. It’s identical to my view on gods. I don’t believe in them because I have not encountered any evidence of them. I don’t claim they don’t exist.

    You have asserted that moral absolutes exist, but it appears to me identical to the assertion that gods exist. You have not presented anything for your viewpoint that I would call “evidence”, merely subjective opinion. That’s fine- I don’t say you are wrong. But neither do I say you are right.

  • cxmiller10

    I know, but it would surprise me if the Catholic church has that much leverage in France, since so few people belong to the church.

  • SJH

     What were the flaws in the study?

  • TheBlackCat

    Then there is no point talking to you.  We can’t discuss the possible basis for morality when you reject the possibility that morality could be based on anything.  You are just defining away the discussion.

  • TheBlackCat

    It is hardly a defensible position.  You are defining morals as something that cannot have any rational or empirical basis, but that is merely your own definition, it is hardly a universal or even commonly-accepted definition.  

    There are ways that would provide a way to test whether two moral stances on an issue are really equal or not.  It may not be easy, it may not apply in all situations, but in principle it is certainly possible.  Unless, of course, you include in your definition of morals that this is impossible.

    I would say your stance is much more like the common religious fallback of defining God as unknowable, impervious to empirical investigation, or beyond rational thought.  You are not making an argument, you are not thinking deeply, you are just defining away the problem.

    Its the basic equivocation fallacy.  You redefine morality to mean something substantially different than what pretty much everyone else defines it as, and then argue that because your definition of morality is completely relative, then all morality is.

  • C Peterson

    But I didn’t say that morality can’t be based on anything. What I said is that I see no basis for any absolute morality, or any absolute meaning to “right” or “wrong”.

    Moral standards clearly are based on different things.

  • C Peterson

    I’m not defining morals as something that can’t have a rational basis. I’m saying that morals can’t be intrinsically right or wrong. That certainly doesn’t mean that all moral beliefs have equal consequences for an individual, or for a society. It is absolutely rational to consider the wisdom of our moral choices in that context.

  • Brian Scott

    One critique: http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/Herek_2003_SpitzerComment.pdf

    I should note that even if you were dismiss the final criticism as a value judgement, the fact that Spitzer deliberately excluded those who did not report change after engaging in sexuality conversion attempts utterly damns the study to meaninglessness for determining the efficacy of such efforts.

  • SJH

     See my reply above

  • SJH

    In reading the UC Davis paper, I can see how the study can garner criticism.

    The paper is making the claim that Spitzer went to a highly selective group of activists for his sample. What is the evidence of this? Why would he have done so considering that he was a proponent of homosexuality?

    To your point, why did he deliberately exclude the group in which you refer?

  • Brian Scott

    You can view the study here: https://www.stolaf.edu/people/huff/classes/Psych130F2010/LabDocuments/Spitzer.pdf

    Spitzer stated in his retractment that the study design itself could not answer the question of the efficacy of sexuality conversion efforts, so I could not tell you his motivation for designing the study this way. It’s probably due to a more rigorous study being infeasible. So the exclusion of those who did not change from such efforts may be because he was specifically trying to evaluate its effects, rather than attempt to determine a clinical efficacy for it.

    Also, Spitzer himself did not select the participants in the study. They were self-selected, and the majority of the responses were from NARTH, Exodus, ex-gay ministries and the like.

  • drakvl

    America had to vote on the abolishment of slavery, and extending the right to vote. That’s how the Constitution is set up.

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

    Thank you for answering. I admit I did not quite have you pegged for Catholic. Your previous posts seemed like an odd mix of a few different groups, so it was a bit confusing. I was thinking more along the lines of Protestant, maybe one of the ultra-conservative branches of a mainline denomination. Out of curiosity, are you an adult convert? Were you raised Protestant?

    So you say you use reason and your own research. Does that mean you are willing to go against the official teachings of the Catholic church? Do you disagree with them on anything? The main problem I have with fundamentalist Catholics (and Protestants) is when they pretend to be open minded, but are never willing to change their minds on anything because their religion has the final say in their mind.

    If you are one of those people, I would have more respect for you if you just admitted that nothing could ever change your mind about homosexuality, rather than pretend to be interested in evidence when it is clear that no evidence could ever satisfy you.

    As for me, I’m a lifelong atheist. I’ve never been shy about expressing that, LOL. I don’t  believe in the supernatural and I find the idea of deities quite ludicrous, if I’m being perfectly honest. Regarding our existence, I’m satisfied living a finite life since I never expected to live forever to begin with, and I have never seen evidence to suggest that human beings (or any other creatures) are immortal.

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

    I replied on the other thread, but I told you to “Google it” because I believe you are being deliberately disingenuous about NARTH. It’s a hate group associated with vile, vile people, and I find it surprising that a Catholic would support it, since the Catholic church does not believe in so-called reparative therapy. It simply calls for gay and lesbian inviduals to be celibate.

    The study does not necessarily show that homosexual parents are bad parents it simply shows that children with parents who have had one or more homosexual experiences in their lifetime have more problems then those children without such parents.

    No, it does not. It shows that children from divorced homes tend to have more problems than children raised in intact families, something we already know. The parents were not questioned about their sexual activities prior to marriage.

    This has also been explained to you many, many times, but you refuse to accept the evidence because it conflicts with your worldview. The study has nothing to say about children who were born or adopted to same-sex couples. Only two of the 3000 people in the Regnerus study reported living with same-sex parents for their entire childhoods. The rest came from divorced homes.

  • drakvl

    I’m still looking for an explanation for why those in the atheist community who oppose gay marriage feel the way they do. If I remember correctly, the percentage is in the single digits,  but that’s still more than I would expect.

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

    I don’t know how much power they have, but it seems like they’re working hard. Perhaps it’s a matter of exploiting the homophobia that already exists. If non-religious people in France can be convinced that there are secular reasons to oppose gay rights, then they will feel more comfortable sticking with their ingrained homophobia when it comes to marriage and family life.

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

    We had a thread about that a few years ago, but I’m not sure how much light was shed on the subject:


    Seems like the same arguments keep cropping up: tradition, monetary concerns, and “think of the children!”

  • drakvl

     Thanks. Any idea regarding whether that paper was actually written?

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

    No clue. Maybe Hemant knows?

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    There’s also the crowd that thinks ‘marriage’ should be the ceremony that anyone can perform (or not) but has no legal value, and ‘civil union’ is what you go to city hall for and is a legal contract.

    I used to be in that crowd myself.

  • Brian Scott

    Out of curiosity, why did you change your mind?

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson
  • Collin Boots

    Which would be an interesting correlation but not enough to conclude that religion causes the shift towards bigotry. I actually think it is the case that many forms of religion can lead to bigotry. My only point is that this data does not lead to that exact conclusion.