On Gay Marriage

I am a bleeding-heart-bloody-liberal. I know that. So I want to make a quick case for gay marriage, and explain why the anti-gay marriage lobby are wrong. I shall start with the following two assumptions:

(1) the default position should be that, absent of extraordinary circumstances, people should be equal;

(2) there should be the right to marry any consenting person you want to (and not to marry who you don’t want to).

This means that to tell gay people that they should not be allowed to marry the people they love is only defensible if there is a good reason. I know want to respond to the more common “reasons” gays should not allowed to be married.

Marriage is the issue of the Church; an agreement before God.

Nope. I don’t mind you believing this, and if you sincerely do believe this then I’m sure it adds extra sense of beauty and responsibility to your marriage. Good for you. But that doesn’t make it exclusively a religious bond. Marriage existed before the Bible, and exists in secular countries today. Technically, America is a secular country. And the arguments going on there are about whether states and the Supreme Court should recognise the marriage. Given that, in a practical sense, a marriage is a tax status and a legal document, I think it is obviously a government issue, and not a religious one.

Besides, until you protest divorce with the same fervency as you protect gay marriages, no one is going to believe that you’re objection is really religious.

The gays can’t reproduce!

True. Gay couples cannot reproduce in the conventional sense. Science is helping out a lot there. But until you decide to ban openly Childfree couples or the infertile from marriage as well then your objection doesn’t hold water. A blogger called the Dixie Flatline has “A Modest Proposal” for those who object to gay marriage on the grounds that marriage is necessarily for raising children: any marriage that has not created children within two years of the ceremony itself shall be void. If you’re serious about marriage being about reproduction, then this should be an acceptable rule.

There’s no data on the effects to children being raised by gay couples!!

True. So, why are you assuming that if there were data that it would show negative effects? What there is, if you ask me to spin it (and I try not spin it, so I’m telegraphing this one) is a complete lack of evidence to suggest gay parents aren’t fabulous parents. If there is no data, there is no conclusion. For the record, though, there is some data. I shall include links are the bottom. Perhaps Fourat J would like to explain, in the comments section, the art of differentiating the good and the bad science. (I’ve also thrown a curve-ball in the reading; it disagrees with what I’ve said here. See if you can figure it out.)

Besides, if you suspect that there is some sort distortion in the parenting when you have a non-traditional home, I challenge you to find a traditional home. My parents broke up when I was eight. My brother was five. Are you implying either that my brother and I are likely maladjusted as a result? Are you suggesting that when my parents separated they, or a government body or court should have put me and my brother up for adoption to a “traditional” family? I’ve not heard people requesting this. No one seems to object to a person’s right to have a single-parent home.

What if the data does show children are worse off when raised by gay parents, but the suggestion is that it is not the parents’ fault? What if the research suggests that is it homophobia and bigotry and persecution that leads to the children having a harder upbringing, and is no fault of the parents at all? I’m not saying there are facts to suggest that, but if there were a correlation we still need to find the cause!

First gays, then polygamy and polyandry, then children, then donkeys!! Where will it end?

The second thing I assumed (nay, preached!) in the first paragraph is that you can only marry with consent. I am in the middle of arguing that gays should be allowed to marry. But the rule can be extended to include all adults: including those who are transgender or transsexual. But a twelve-year old cannot legally consent. Neither can a donkey. Paedophilic and zoophilic marriages aren’t allowed because of consent!

And that takes us to polyandry and polygamy. At current, having an affair is legal. Affairs are hurtful and immoral, yes; but that deception is perfectly legal. But entering into a consenting relationship with many people who all know and agree to the set-up is illegal. However, I cannot see the harm in many-person marriages. They legal framework might get a little complicated, but in terms of the people, it seems harmless. So I don’t object to that.

This brings me a little further on. If we allow homosexual marriage and many-person marriage then the rights go further to include bisexual, pansexual and omnisexual marriages.

These last two assume that the gays shouldn’t get married; they do not try to present a reason against gay marriage. The first just offers an alternative; the second assumes that a Church’s conviction against gay marriage succeeds the person’s right to marriage, but doesn’t explain why.

Let them have a marriage-like arrangement, but don’t call it marriage.

I’m going to steal an analogy used by a Youtube group called SourceFed (more specifically, a presenter called Elliot Morgan) which is this: oh, you can use a water fountain. But it has to be that water fountain. You can’t use this water fountain. And you can’t complain about it because you’re still getting your water. I’m sure the astute have noticed that we call this kind of behaviour or mentality segregation. And a lot of people fought really hard against that.

Telling people they can have all the rights but cannot be a part of your institution is separation. On top of that, it’s an impotent and empty gesture. So, what’s the reason for this segregation?

It is religiously insensitive to make Churches marry gay people; it is against their convictions

This is true. To make a Church that wants to enforce the no-gay-marriage rule (that’s not written in the Bible) is insensitive. The same is true of when we opened up the Churches to interracial marriages. However, the government should not pander to the convictions of an organisation if those convictions invade or encroach on the rights of others. Besides, what kind of person wants to get married in a Church that doesn’t recognise their right to get married? There are plenty of liberal-religious and non-religious places to get married.

The promised further reading:

The Washington post reports on a meta-study of the effects of having gay parents. (Conclusion: gay marriage and adoption is better than being in a foster home, and there’s no evidence that being in a gay-parent family is worse that a hetero-parent family)

This 30-year report by the American Academy of Pediatrics was later reported on by Minnesota Public Radio News, here. (Conclusion: children from gay-parent homes are more emotionally robust and resilient than their hetero-parent peers)

Time, in their Science and Space section, reported on a study that deals exclusive with what they call “planned lesbian families”, which is a contrast from the normal research done on “involved children who were born to women in heterosexual marriages, who later divorced and came out as lesbians.” (Conclusion: children of planned lesbian families scored better in terms of self-esteem, confidence, academia, low aggression and behavioural problems. In other areas there is no significant difference)

I’m sorry to say that right-wing extremist views make it back in Google far too easily, and here Right Wing Watch write an account of a man called Matt Barber defining homosexuality as “disordered and immoral”, and then goes on to explain that disordered and immoral people should not raise children. I encourage anti-gay marriage people to send in better material than what this guy spouts, because I hope he does not represent you and your views!

Biases here abound. Nonetheless, here is “the most careful, rigorous, and methodologically sound study ever conducted” (according to themselves) on the issue of the children of gay-parents. The Family Research Council announces it biases clearly with the tag line “Advancing faith, family and freedom”, and then gathers results in contradiction to the other research papers (an important context point) that also promotes a view that is a common element of faith.

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21 thoughts on “On Gay Marriage”

  1. A marvelous post my friend! I can’t believe there is a still a debate about this at all. To me, it speaks to the polarization of society (not that this should be debated at all), but even worse, it distracts from real issues. We actually have real problems to deal with, such as climate change, pollution, over-resource utilization and so forth. Who the hell cares if 2 consenting adults want to get married for tax and legal purposes. What does it change? Not a god damn thing. This subject ticks me off because there are negative repercussions for allowing it. It’s the same old ‘black people can’t ride on a bus’ shit repackaged and (so they think) un-racified.

      1. That is one of the most important. Nowhere does the Bible say no to gay marriage, but even Jesus speaks out again divorce (and so does Mohammed, but we’re talking from Christian cultures).

  2. Years ago, I decided that the “proper” (but implausible) solution was to remove the ability of government to “marry” people and have all legal marriages devolve to domestic partnerships. Why? Because the argument that “marriage” is a religious institution does hold a certain amount of water.

    If marriage is a religious institution, then the separation of Church and State would then dictate that the state should have no legal right to perform or recognize marriages.

    So, either marriage is a religious institution (and needs to be kept away from laws) or it is a legal institution (and religious definitions do not apply). Having it both ways is, ahem, unconstitutional.

    1. But it’s not a religious institution. That’s part of the problem, the religious powers are trying to claim it as theirs. But marriage pre-dates the modern religions and still takes place in secular countries.

      And, even if it were a religious idea, there is nothing to stop us adopting it into secular law (but we don’t need to, because it was secular first — pagans got married).

      1. Religious powers claimed marriage (much) more than a thousand years ago, when they were nearly completely integrated with the rest of Western culture, and had huge amounts of political power. It’d be closer to the truth to say that we’re trying to win it back.

        Marriage means different things in different cultures. I get that. (Actually, that’s what my Wed. blog’s about.)

        But I’m also all about understanding the other guy’s perspective, even if I think he’s wrong. Knowing why he’s wrong is actually helpful, even if it can be frustrating.

        The unspoken question here is, I believe, “Why do the fundamentalist Christians even care?” And the answer is “Because this isn’t really about whether homosexuals can marry. It’s about how we define TRUTH in American culture.” This is the root of a lot of hotbutton issues: gay marriage, intelligent design, abortion, etc.

        So, I agree that gay marriage should be legalized. But I can also see how much these shifts in culture pain the people invested in the “old” one.

        1. We don’t have to win marriage back, we simply shouldn’t recognise that religion thinks it own marriage. Imagine if I came in and claim I owned the courts, so I got to pick laws and sentences (because that is the authority owning the courts would give you). Do you think any one is going to bend over and recognise my authority there?

          Your are right though, there is a “truth” issue. It stems, in part, from how history has played itself out and how we forget that religion is still firmly in bed with politics (in America, not so much in the UK). But it doesn’t belong there.

      1. Well, certainly.

        I’ve observed that “marriage” used to be defined as “the process whereby one or more virgins are transferred from their father’s ownership and possession to the ownership and possession of a landed neighbor for the purposes of satisfying his sexual needs and bearing his legal heirs.” So redefining marriage is nothing new.

    1. I have a number of concerns with that:
      (1) Grow up. Perhaps it was always that way (which it wasn’t; it used to be a property exchange) that is not an inalienable rule or definition and so we can, as more mature members and a society that understands the benefits of equality, change that. Nothing that once was is inalienable, and we can change it if it’s appropriate. Holding on to antiquity is no good in of itself.
      (2) I see the old definition of it being a property exchange is easily altered; why not alter the bits that currently agree with your homophobia (I am in role here, as I assume you were with the challenge. If you were not in role, I apologise for calling you a homophobe).
      (3) A marriage used to be even more strict that having to be heterosexual; if you were the woman you also had to be a virgin. If you were not, you could be stoned to death. Why is that rule allowed to alter, but the “heterosexual” rule not?
      (4) What Chris said.

      1. No, I’m certainly not “in role” here; you provided rebuttals to common anti-equality ideas and I pointed out one you hadn’t mentioned. You should take a look at my last three posts, haha.

        1. Ah, I see. I think I committed the oldest writing sin there is: missing the fundamental details. The whole point of the “Church owns marriage” argument is based on the idea that the Bible also defines marriage as between a man and a woman (which it doesn’t — if you’ve got a spare month or two, read it again, cover to cover [you can skip the “begot”s; I’ll let you]. The Bible doesn’t seem to like butt sex, and it seems to assume that marriage is between a man and a woman. It never commands that, it just assumes it).

          So, somewhere in my head I thought I’d cover the ‘old definition’ argument. Which is why I responded more facetiously than I normally would (that, plus I’d already read the Facebook Marriage Equality post, so I know you didn’t really think the argument held water).

          This is part of what I don’t like about arguing against ideas that religions have been setting up; they had generations and decades and centuries of head-start while the rest of us weren’t allowed to argue. Now we have to account for every imaginative thing they came up with while drunk with power “and when they really did believe God was on their side” (– Hitchens)

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