Okay, so over in Apollo’s ‘gay marriage backers suffered a humiliating defeat by not losing’ thread there is this little link from AMGer “The Distributist.” It brings you to a Maine based website for Catholics that don’t like the gay, and links to this story that purports to provide gay marriage opponents with five messages to bring to their foolish gay-loving friends.
The “Five Ways” article is an amazing collection of terrible reasoning, bad ideas, and complete misunderstandings of how the United States of America works. I’m serious. It is worth reading just for the entertainment value. It takes a bunch of half-baked ideas and sort of throws them in a blender.
Before we rip it apart, let me say that there is one good thing about the “Five Ways” article: it does preach respect towards others, even if they have been inflicted with the society killing wish to marry gays. Let’s give them credit for keeping it civil.
What Is A Right?
So the first argument they say to present to your left-leaning friends is this:
So much of the argument for gay marriage is based on the idea of equal rights for all. An easy response is to state that you fully support equal rights for everyone — to free speech, to association, to any legitimate human right.
Of course, you then clarify that the freedom to marry is not a right.
Where to start. Well, first, let me say that the Supreme Court thinks that freedom to marry is in fact fundamental right. Just a small, little fact, but hey, I can see how you missed it.
But it gets better. The “Five Ways” article presents examples of ways to argue that marriage is not a right. They include:
- Marrying an already-married person is illegal. If marriage were a right, then this restriction would be unjust and should be illegal.
- One must pay the government a fee in order to marry. But rights are free and automatic, not available for purchase.
- Marriage has an age of consent; there’s no “age of consent” for our rights to speech and religion.
- All states restrict certain persons from marrying (to some degree or another): aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, children and parents, even in-laws (who aren’t related by blood). These restrictions would constitute another breach of a “right” to marry whomever one chose.
Got that? Basically these are all variations of the same theme: Something isn’t really a right if there are any restrictions on it, whatsoever.
Except that is pretty clearly not how it works in America. You can’t yell fire in a crowded theatre. Would these jokers say that you don’t have a right to free speech?
All rights have restrictions. You can be required to get a permit and pay a fee before you march in Washington. You can be required to not say certain things in certain ways. Contrary to the above, there IS an age of consent on much free speech- just try talking to a child about obscenity and see what happens.
You have the right to travel freely. But what if you’re involuntarily committed to a mental hospital because you’re very ill? Guess what, according to the “Five Ways” people there is no longer a right to travel for anyone. It is all an illusion.
I’m sorry, but believing any restriction on a right means that there is no right at all is just childish. These are the sort of distinctions they should have figured out in high school civics class. Next.
I’m skipping to argument number three, because number two was basically about appearing to be a nice guy rather than making any argument on the substance of issue. I’ll agree with them that not looking like an asshole does help their side.
Argument number three is that old canard, “Them gays are bad for the kids.”
First, let me just say this is insulting. Absolutely insulting. Try looking a gay person in the eye and saying to them, “Hey, I don’t actually know you, but I read on the internet that there is some sort of link between who you are and hurting children. But otherwise, you know, go do what you want to do.”
Absolute fucking bullshit. Seriously, I cannot explain in words how upset this argument makes me. Perhaps it is because I sort of actually know real live gay people and they’re pretty good around children. They’re nice people. They deserve to be judged on an individual basis, just like the rest of us.
Anyways, there are two easy counters to the “gays are bad for kids” argument. First, as was discussed in Judge Walker’s Proposition 8 decision, the assumption of the argument is wrong. There are not legitimate studies showing that the presence of a mother and father benefits children more than a mother and mother or father and father; in fact, the studies show that stable households benefit children. This holds true whether or not that parents are straight or gay. The Prop 8 people couldn’t find a single reputable witness in the whole fricken’ world to testify otherwise. What does that say?
And before you ask, yes, the pro-marriage equality side presented evidence showing that the consensus in the science was that gay couples can raise healthy children just like straight couples.
Second, we as a country generally don’t deny marriage licenses based on statistical links between child wellness and the identity of broad groups of people. I mean, think about this for a moment. If the government can deny marriage licenses to gays because there is some theoretical chance it might lower the probability that their children grow up to be well-adjusted, what can’t the government do? If you’re truly a conservative you should be absolutely shitting your pants about this. Letting the government cite some sort of statistical relationship as grounds to deny certain people the right to marry? Is that small government?
What if there were studies showing alcoholics were less likely to raise healthy children? This doesn’t sound far-fetched to me. Should we not allow alcoholics to marry? Breathalyzer tests at city hall? Why do we sanction alcoholism by letting alcoholics marry!
What if there were studies showing that poorer people were less likely to raise healthy children? Richer people? People with risks of heart disease? Republicans? Democrats? Evangelicals? Buddhists? If the government can deny marriage licenses based on statistical relationships between healthy children and broadly defined groups, the government can do ANYTHING.
All of this, of course, ignores the fact that people can quite easily have children outside of marriage, or raise children outside of marriage, so this whole denying-a-marriage-license-to-people-that-shouldn’t-have-children thing is pretty stupid from the beginning. Next.
The Rick Santorum Argument
The “Five Ways” article then brings up the argument commonly used by the former senator from Straightsylvania, who often said that allowing gay marriage means were going to have to allow lots of other things. The most commonly cited red herring is polygamy, but this article specifically notes that people might try to marry their horses or video game avatars.
Come on. Video game avatars? Letting consenting adults form a legalized family is going to lead to nerds marrying buxom computer generated images? Give. Me. A. Break.
The same with horses. I’ve yet to see an animal with the capacity to consent to marriage.
Polygamy, at least, is a closer call because it involves actual human beings. Unlike gay marriage, however, you could find lots of historians to discuss the use of polygamous marriages in many cultures, including here in America in our very recent history, to subjugate women. Hell, this happens today.
Furthermore, legalizing polygamy would require a complete rethinking of nearly everything our government does regarding marriage. People rarely are motivated to marry someone just for health benefits, for instance, but would this change if you could add as many people as you wanted to the marriage, ad infinitum? Would the government have to look at the intent of marriages in the same way it investigates the intent of marriages used for green card applications? How would child custody work with six parents? Ten parents? How would inheritance work? Our system is simply not set up to deal with these questions.
Gay marriage, on the other hand, requires almost no changes to the system we already have. Nearly all laws regarding marriage, child custody, and inheritance are gender neutral. Thus it makes no real difference whether a couple is same or opposite sex when the state is carrying out its duties regarding marriage.
This section of the article ends with the following quotation:
The quest for gay marriage isn’t so much about gay marriage as it is a single step toward bringing about a sea change in the culture of the United States.
How disrespectful. Let me paraphrase the argument here: “Them gays ain’t in love, they just want to piss everyone off.” Right. Same-sex couples don’t love each other and want their family to be treated equally; they just want to throw a monkey wrench into the structure of America just for the sake of making a mess. If you can’t see how bullshit that is, you’re beyond help.
Gay Marriage Doesn’t Just Hurt Children, It Hurts Everyone! You! Me! Him! That Guy Over There!
According to the article, same-sex relationships are just inherently dangerous. For instance:
… gay males, according to the journal Violence and Victims, “are more likely to be killed by their partners than [by] a stranger.
Holy cow. This is true of everyone, even heterosexuals. Yes, heterosexual women are more likely to be killed by a partner than a stranger. Weird that the “Five Ways” people left that out.
Look, anyone can play this statistics game. Did you know that married women under age 25 are three times more likely to be murdered by their husband than women over age 35? Maybe we should restrict marriage to people over 30.
Why don’t we? Because to steal a famous conservative catch-phrase, “Marriages don’t kill people, people kill people.” It is idiotic to base marriage rights on some statistical correlation to murder that has no causal relationship whatsoever, especially one that, as I pointed out, is equally applicable to heterosexual marriages.
Is There A Sixth Reason?
I have no doubt they will think of one. These five arguments show how far people will go to rationalize their fears, even to the point of absurdity (marrying video game avatars, really?). The only good thing about the “Five Ways” list is that they don’t realize how bad it sounds to the people in the middle.