Sunday, May 24, 2009

Where Gay Marriage Advocates Have It Wrong

"It's about love."

If this is the main argument and we allow gay marriage, then anyone proclaiming love (beastiality, pedophilia, for example) should be allowed a marriage license.

"It's about freedom of religion."

If this is the main argument and we allow gay marriage, then anyone wanting to refresh the definition of marriage due to religious beliefs (polygamy, for example) should be allowed a marriage license.

The focus should be on showing that gay marriage is maturely consensual, monogamous throughout life, a healthy alternative to any other lifestyle, and has the potential to successfully raise children if desired.

In my opinion, such a standard is what marriage is all about: a mature, consensual, monogamous, committed through thick and thin, healthy, responsible, parental relationship.

I suppose one could argue that "able to produce children within itself" could be added as a criterion.

And, since we would have to go off of generalities and the healthiest & most exemplary versions of relationships suing for the title of marriage, barren heterosexuals would have claim to marriage.

The question would be, though, whether or not the ability to produce children is essential to a successful marriage.

Does the ability to produce children make a couple more monogamous?

Does the ability to produce children make a couple more committed?

Does the ability to produce children make a couple stronger parents?

Does the ability to produce children make a couple more responsible?

Furthermore, it could be questioned whether or not the ability to reproduce within the couple itself is essential -- as opposed to using other means of reproduction, such as surrogacy.

Anyway and in sum, gay marriage advocates need to more clearly argue that a gay couple holds all of the essential attributes that contribute to a successful marriage (which would require a solid argument as to what contributes to a successful marriage).

Sure, love is important. It's also vital that standards do not respect any religious beliefs. However, those are just small pieces of the entire argument.

Granted, there have been some significant strides in the legalization of gay marriage, and I'm thinking it's going to be country-wide sooner than I had originally thought. But I think we need to do a better job arguing the case in order to ease the anxieties of those so ardently against gay marriage.

Granted the second, some people simply cannot be convinced -- those immune to logic and reason.


  1. Well, common everyday gay marriage advocates.

    I'm fairly certain the big name politicians in support of gay marriage are aware of the specifics.

    Two consenting people of age entering a legalized union of assets. It goes without saying that alone eliminates any unnecessary confusion from the possibility of polygamy, pedophilia, and bestiality.

    It's quite simple, really.

  2. The focus should be on showing that gay marriage is maturely consensual, monogamous throughout life, a healthy alternative to any other lifestyle, and has the potential to successfully raise children if desired.I disagree utterly and completely.

    The question about gay marriage is mainly about equality. It is inhumane to treat LGBT people differently from straight people. That is the argument. We are human and inherently deserve equality. We shouldn't have to try to fit into straight society in order to be treated as equal. It is a mistake to clean up gay culture to make it less offensive and more appealing to bigots and religious nut-jobs. Diversity is part of life, and it is counter-productive to give in to the oppressive elements of society.

    Questions of monogamy, life-long commitment, or production or raising of children are all irrelevant to equal marriage rights (and all other equal rights).

    Neither monogamy nor life-long commitment to the relationship are prerequisites to marriage regardless of sexual orientation, nor do I ever think it should be. These are both unrealistically idealised concepts. Humans aren't emotionally designed to be 100% monogamous for an entire lifetime, nor ought sexual and emotional relationships be expected to last an entire lifetime. It's totally unrealistic, and the idealised social construct we have built up around these ideas and marriage in general is far more harmful than helpful.

    The argument about gay marriage oughtn't to be about heteronormativity or about squishing gay relationships and culture into the incredibly flawed
    societal norms straight society has invented. It's about equal rights, equal treatment, and non-discrimination, and indeed, freedom from illicit religious influence of secular laws.

    I also think that multiple-partner marriages should be legal.

  3. Incidentally, I don't see the harm in legalizing plural marriages, either, though I ardently hate the idea of being in one.

    I think it's poppycock to assert human beings aren't wired for monogamy, though. If some people think they aren't, so be it. Let them go pursue serial monogamy, bigamy, polygamy, "open relationships", promiscuity, whatever. Hopefully safely, as safe as sleeping with multiple partners can be. I think I was wired for monogamy. And whether or not I was hardwired for it, it's what I want. And I believe in doing more with my life than what I was somehow "hardwired" to do, anyway. New age soapbox preachers who tell me I'm fighting some losing or foolish battle by choosing to act against this or that natural inclination can back off and go live self-indulgence or however else they choose or take a flying leap as far as I'm concerned. I'll live by my own principles.

    And yes, [kɹeɪ̯ɡ̊], equality is key. However, I think something many gay rights activists fail to see is that militantly in-your-face rhetoric is not going to make headway with people who believe: a) same-sex marriage will lead to the downfall of society, b) it will lead to the loss of religious freedom and protection, and c) equality is already achieved because marriage is and always has been a male-female relationship available to all, since gay people are more than free to marry someone of the opposite sex just like any straight person is. To them, the argument about equality is a red herring, period.

    The same old rhetoric and middle finger approach will only go so far in convincing anyone or actually achieving progress. For these people, I believe new approaches are needed for real change to occur, and I think the questions such as those posed in this post are a step in that direction. I acknowledge I could be totally missing the mark here and not heeding the all-important equal rights battle cry, but I just don't see it that way.

  4. Oh, I certainly think that a lot of people do perfect well in monogamous relationships, as I probably would. But the idealisation that everyone should be is harmful and unrealistic. And the generalisation that those who aren't monogamous are less happy or fulfilled than those who are is also bunk.

    I think that trying to obfuscate the real issue (equality) with these other arguments won't get us anywhere because they're not the real reason behind the movement. It's more than just saying we can be monogamous too so give us marriage - it's equal housing and employment protection, it's anti-discrimination laws, it's the end of DADT, it's the repeal of DOMA, and so many other things.

    Those who don't think we deserve equality or that we already have it need just to be educated. And those who will never change their minds need simply to be forced to accept it, just as millions of racist bigots were forced to accept racial desegregation.

  5. Original Mohomie is correct. Gay activists need to avoid emotion and use the sound reasoning and logic behind legalizing gay marriage. It's always been the key to dismantling the opposing argument until there's nothing left except "but it's just wrong".

    When they reach that point, they have essentially lost.

  6. [kɹeɪ̯ɡ̊], I agree with you when it comes to fair housing, medical, employment rights, etc. That's a matter of equality to me as well.

    Marriage, to many people, is a patently different issue, and the purpose of it, they say, never was to validate people's love for each other or to be a financial convenience but to be the union of two people and their resources for the purpose of building a family. Many of these also believe studies which show the ideal environment in which to raise children is having a female mom and a male dad. Anything else, including single parent homes, is not what's best for children, even though children often grow up happily in those environments (though many would argue they would have been BETTER off with two parents, one of each sex). That's why many support civil unions for all (financial/medical/legal contract unique to a certain kind of relationship where two people want to pool their resources) but may oppose same-sex marriage or adoption of children by anyone other than male-female couples in stable marriages.

    That's what I mean when I say it's not about equality. Those in the religious right, for example, often don't see how it's about equality, and the gay activists don't see how it's not. So there is no dialog, no understanding, no bridge.

    I agree that if the argument for gay marriage is going to be made solely on the foundation of lifelong monogamy, we have to hold heterosexual couples to the same standard, and suddenly, marriage as a term is rendered pretty meaningless. But to me, Chedner's points were less about absolute assertions and more about recognizing this perspective on the definition and nature of marriage as a contract and who it is meant for, not because certain people are worthy or unworthy based on race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation, but because the contract itself was always meant to include a certain KIND of commitment, not just official shacking up with benefits, even if people already incorrectly use it as such. I may be wrong about his intent, though, and will only speak for myself when I say I think that is the perspective gay activists simply don't "get", as much as or more than opponents of same-sex marriage simply don't "get" the equality argument.

  7. My point is very much as OMO just said.

  8. I was just having a conversation about this with a co-worker the other day -- and I agree totally.

    The case has to be made. Gay marriage advocates have to show how and why society will be better off as a result of having legalized gay marriage (and why society as a whole is impoverished by not allowing it). It is not enough to make the case that same-sex marriage benefits some, if it can be shown that it harms others or is harmful to society as a whole. On the other hand, if it can be demonstrated that gay marriage harms none, but that it benefits a substantial minority, then the case can probably still be made that it benefits society as a whole.

    Opponents of gay marriage, on the other hand, must demonstrate that gay marriage will harm society. This they have not been able to do, which is why I think the tide of public opinion steadily moves against them...

    But I'm not sure this is self-evidently merely a question of equality. Even if it were, the American public still needs to be convinced that it is also a question of public good.