Why the arguments against gay marriage are flawed


Introduction

Gay marriage is an issue that brings out strong feelings in people, despite the fact that most voters don’t view it as that important. In addition, most Americans are opposed to gay marriage, although some recent polls indicate a bare majority now supporting it.

I support gay marriage, and I’ve found that the arguments against gay marriage are some of the weakest arguments I‘ve ever heard. I think gay marriage opponents will be found on the wrong side of history; it’s only a matter of time before it’s legalized, as surveys have found that a majority of those under age 30 support it. With this article, I will set up the most common arguments against gay marriage and argue against them.

1. The slippery slope argument

This is the argument that claims that legalizing gay marriage will lead to the legalization and even acceptance of man-on-dog relationships or marriages, man-on-children, or what have you. Yet people who make this argument seem to be distracting themselves from the issue at hand by bringing other controversial issues into the fray. Could gay marriage lead to the acceptance of man-on-boy marriages? It’s possible, but I think, extremely unlikely. And even if it did, what has that got to do with gay marriage? There is a very real difference from two committed gay couples marrying each other and a man marrying a little boy: a little boy cannot consent to a relationship with an older man. Two gay people obviously can. And even in those cases where it seems a little boy is consenting, he is obviously too immature to understand what he is doing, and it is likely damaging to him. The same can’t be said for committed gay couples who love each other. So it is a clear distraction to discuss these issues. Sometimes slippery slope arguments can seem reasonable; in fact, I sometimes use the slippery slope argument when opposing restrictions on freedom of speech. But these arguments are generally weak and suspicious at best, and in this case, very flawed.

2. Most Americans are opposed to gay marriage:

This is another argumentative fallacy that people learn about in college classes on rhetoric: the bandwagon appeal. It’s also an argument frequently used when justifying measures like prop 8 in California, which outlawed gay marriage by a majority vote. Shouldn’t the people be able to decide on an issue like this? Absolutely not. People’s rights should be not subjected to a majority vote, especially on such a personal issue like marriage. In addition, if we based our Supreme Court decisions on the granting of rights to people on what the majority expressed in public opinion polls, then interracial marriage, for example, would have not been legalized when it was, as polls at the time showed majority opposition to it. So I ask those who use the popular opinion argument: Should we have waited for popular opinion to come around before legalizing interracial marriage? If not, why should we subject gay rights to such a test?

3. Marriage is based on procreation; since gays can’t have kids, it’s wrong to call a gay union a marriage, much less accept it.

I think it’s rather insulting, frankly, to say to the millions of married couples around the world that marriage is about procreation, and not about love. What does that say those couples who don’t have children? Your marriage is not legitimate? Also, if marriage is about procreation, should we restrict the marriages of infertile couples, or even those who choose not to have kids? Of course not. Love, to me, is the most important factor in a marriage, not whether you want to or should have kids or not. If gay people love each other, they should be allowed to get married, just like I should be allowed to get married to someone I love and not have kids (which I don’t want, by the way). Yes, in the past having children was a common reason for getting married. But times change, just like definitions of marriage change. Which brings me to the next argument:

4. Marriage has always been between a man and a woman; by legalizing gay marriage, you are hurting the sanctity of marriage.

This makes nice rhetoric, but it doesn’t make much sense. First of all, yes, throughout history marriage has mostly been between a man and a woman; But marriage has had vastly different meanings in different societies. Some ancient societies had arranged marriages based on wealth or status, which is far removed from the voluntary, love-based marriages that we have now. Also, it used to be illegal for a white person to marry a black person, or vice versa. Times change, meanings change. Often for the better. As far as the sanctity of marriage, this has been damaged by a lot of things, including high divorce rates. I really don’t see how allowing committed gay couples to marry could damage it anymore than many straight marriages already have.

5. Gay marriage will lead to gay people adopting kids, and kids need a mother and father, rather than two mom’s or two dads. The results of gay couples adopting will damage the kids.

The vast majority of studies seem to indicate this is false. A review of studies indicates that children of gay and lesbian couples do just as well academically and have the same level of mental stability and well-being as the children of opposite sex marriages. Whether children of gay couples are more likely to turn out gay or bisexual than those of opposite sex couples is still an open question, and current research hasn’t been able to answer that question. Some studies suggest, however, that children of gay couples may be less influenced by traditional gender roles in society and more likely to experiment with homosexual relations. This may make sense if you believe that parenting has a big influence on children. But as far as mental well-being, the research shows that these children do just as well as others.

Here is a statement and brief overview of the evidence on gay adoption from the American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/about/policy/parenting.aspx

6. By legalizing gay marriage, you are forcing me to accept it.

Really? Abortion is legal also; is the law forcing you to accept that? Tobacco use is legal also; is the law forcing you to accept that? I could go on down the list. Gay marriage has absolutely no effect on your marriage. And some churches are choosing to recognize gay weddings and others are not. The law is not forcing churches to perform gay marriages as it stands now. (I realize this might change in the future, and I hope it doesn’t). Advocates of abortion rights often say, “if you don’t like abortion, don’t have one!” A similar slogan could be applied here: if you don’t like gay marriage, don’t attend a gay wedding!

7. Homosexuality is immoral, and condemned by the bible and many other religions.

The law isn’t supposed to sanctify certain religious beliefs, much less put them into law. We have a separation of church and state in this country. Besides, not all Christian denominations view homosexuality as a sin. Some accept it, or don’t take a literal interpretation of the verses in the bible that condemn it. It should be noted that Jesus Christ himself never explicitly condemned homosexuality. And just because the bible says something doesn’t mean we should put it into practice. Slavery is also advocated in the bible, as well as executing people for many offenses that we would view today as trivial, including homosexual sodomy.

As far as homosexuality being “immoral,” I don’t see how it could be considered as such. Who is harmed by homosexual activity? Certainly not anybody else. And the participants themselves aren’t harmed by it either, at least not emotionally. The reason the American Psychological Association took homosexuality off the list of mental disorders in the seventies is because it “doesn’t result in impaired functioning” (a quote I remember distinctly from my psych textbook in college). Homosexuals are not pathological simply because they prefer being in loving and sexual relationships with those of the same sex. And clearly, homosexual relations are consensual, not forced like pedophilia or relationships between a man and a dog. So how is it immoral?


Conclusion

Those are the most common arguments used against gay marriage. I might have missed some, but these are the ones I’ve most frequently heard in debates on the internet and elsewhere, and they are all flawed. Maybe that’s why a recent Washington Post and ABC poll found that the majority of Americans support gay marriage by 53 %! It’s only a matter of time before it’s legalized, since a majority of those under age 30 support it according to polls, 68% according to the Washington post/ABC poll. I also think its not just an age thing either. Unless opponents find some better arguments against gay marriage, then they will find themselves on the losing side of the culture war, regardless of age.


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Comments 20 comments

Eric Prado profile image

Eric Prado 5 years ago from Webster, Texas

I could not agree more. You make some very excellent points and I absolutely concur 100% I vote way up and I will follow =)


Brad C. L. profile image

Brad C. L. 5 years ago Author

Thanks, Eric.


B. Leekley profile image

B. Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

Well argued.


B. Leekley profile image

B. Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

Perhaps when you wrote "4. Gay marriage has always been between a man and a woman ..." you intended to write "4. Marriage has always been between a man and a woman ..." As written it does not make sense.

Suggest that you just make the correction (if you agree that "gay" in this case is a typo) and that you not accept and allow this comment, since it will be pointless after the correction is made.


Brad C. L. profile image

Brad C. L. 4 years ago Author

Thanks, I made the correction. And I doubt I need to approve or disapprove comments anyway. I only did it once by accident. and thanks for the compliment, of course, in the earlier post.


alian346 profile image

alian346 4 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

This is a well-reasoned and logical Hub, Brad C. L.

Here in the UK we have 'civil partnerships' nationwide (more or less equivalent to marriage) but it will take a few more years before we have total social acceptance when the sexual orientation of a person will not matter at all and everyone will just - be!

Ian.


promaine profile image

promaine 4 years ago from New York

Well argued, voted up. The procreation argument (and the related children-need-models argument) was valid when fertility was a requirement, and theoretically still is in the Catholic Church, but is waived so often as to be a religious non-issue. I think what has done more to change people's minds has been to see gay couples (even fictional ones) who do a lot of unexciting things that straight couples do--take out the trash, argue, pay bills, watch TV, etc.--and thus make something potentially less alien or strange. When even civil partnerships and unions are being blocked by some (most?) of the supporters of "traditional" marriage in the US, which suggests that their motivation is anti-gay, not really about protecting marriage.

Logically, the number of state and federal rights, privileges and responsibilities available only to married couples (estimated at more then 1200 by an advocacy group last year) is a strong pro. (It's curious that one of the attacks against marriage equality is that it will save governments and businesses money--this is just cruel.)

Good hub! Good thinking! Paul


Michael Salas profile image

Michael Salas 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Brad, this is a good hub, and I think that you bring up some good points. As with all arguments that are this heated, some of the information can get skewed. I think that you help to point out some things that have been manipulated in the past. Thank you!


Brad C. L. profile image

Brad C. L. 4 years ago Author

Thanks for the comments, guys. Promaine, one thing you said I will comment on. I think one more important thing that will change minds about gay marriage is knowing a gay person in real life or having a relative who is gay. Popular culture works too, but knowing a gay person tends to effect people more. I actually have a family member who is gay, and perhaps that has effected my opinion on the subject to a degree. I probably would have felt this way to a degree anyway, but having a gay family member has definitely influenced my opinion a little and made me think more deeply about the subject.


promaine profile image

promaine 4 years ago from New York

Brad, absolutely right and thanks for the correction! Family or friends who are gay make the issue directly relevant. And real people demonstrate how...unexciting and un-exotic (and unscary) gay relationships are. I think it's one of the reasons why Zach Wahl's from-the-heart testimony in Iowa, had nearly 2.5m views. It's impressive: http://youtu.be/FSQQK2Vuf9Q


Keith W 4 years ago

Wow, an army of straw men you've assemble there. But that's par for the course.


Brad C. L. profile image

Brad C. L. 4 years ago Author

Keith, it would be helpful if you would point out what "strawmen" I've assembled. These are the most common arguments I've heard. Maybe I didn't express them to your satisfaction, but I'd prefer a more substantive critique.


Raymond Conder 4 years ago

Are the poofters out tonite? Bloody oath they are - getting on the media moaning and groaning about non recognition of gay couple acceptance, denial of marriage rights and so on. Taking it up the back passage is gaining momentum - yuk. How long to we have to put up with this bullshit in the media ad nauseum? RayConder@hotmail.com


Brad C. L. profile image

Brad C. L. 4 years ago Author

Raymond, I'm not sure your response is mature enough to be dignified with a response, but whatever. It's none of your business whether someone likes to "take it up the back passage." You don't have to like it, but it doesn't effect you and doesn't hurt anybody. And I'm not a 'poofter.' I personally don't think this issue is particularly important in the grand scheme of things, but since the arguments against it are so silly, I figure it's high time to legalize it.


Dreama23 4 years ago

A debate in my public speaking class was whether or not gay marriage should be legal and a number of opposing arguments were exactly like those listed in your article. Those for gay marriage had a difficult time making sense of the arguments against because the logic was flawed.

This is a very meaningful article. I believe that if more people took the time to think about what gay marriage really means for those trying to receive equal rights, they might not use arguments that lack sound logic. In addition, they might even realize that legalizing gay marriage could have more benefits than consequences in the long run.


Brad C. L. profile image

Brad C. L. 4 years ago Author

Thanks, Drama23. I have noticed some newer kinds of arguments used more frequently by gay marriage opponents, but that may be a sign of some of the sites I'm frequently on. For example, the argument that churches, businesses or photographers could be forced to accept or perform gay marriages. I think those are legitimate concerns. As a moderate libertarian who supports free association rights (mostly) I would agree with them that businesses, churches or photographers shouldn't be forced to participate in a gay wedding or what have you. But I think those are more libertarian concerns. Most of the arguments I responded to in this article are those used by the religious right and social conservatives, and those are very flawed.


Paul 3 years ago

One of the most common arguments of opponents to gay marriage is that churches which are morally opposed to it would be forced to perform gay weddings. This is totally baseless and absurd. First, there are PLENTY of churches and justices of the peace that WOULD be willing to perform these ceremonies so I do not see how there would be a need to force a church to do it. And secondly, that would be clearly be contrary to the First Ammendment so there is no way it would be constitutional. The argement is a silly red herring.


HSchneider 3 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

Great Hub, Brad. I totally agree with your points and conclusions. I too have reached these conclusions. I wrote a recent Hub detailing my journey and analysis. I must admit you did a more pointed job. Thumbs up and supported.


Brad C. L. profile image

Brad C. L. 3 years ago Author

Thanks a lot.


jlpark profile image

jlpark 3 years ago from New Zealand

Thanks for this hub Brad - I will need to link to it in an answer I've just given to a comment....I've had this same conversation at my own "How will my same sex marriage affect yours?" hub....THANKS for writing it! You said it better than I could.

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