What gay marriage is about

There’s this insipidly stupid argument floating around conservative (i.e., non-thinking) circles. It’s that gay marriage is all about children and societal security. This argument is designed to knock down the position that gay marriage is a civil rights issue.

Societies have a vested interest in the welfare of their children because they are the future of that society. A society is more likely to flourish if these children grow up to become responsible, productive and contributing members of that society. In the last half century, social science research has overwhelmingly validated what societies throughout history have learned through practical experience: Children do best by far on every measure of development, achievement and welfare when they are raised by their married biological parents.

In truth, this is an emotional appeal. In other words, it’s useless bull that doesn’t actually mean anything. Let’s start at the top.

The most glaring issue with this is the abuse of science. Aside from almost surely not citing any specific studies, the author is intentionally destroying context. That is, the studies he cites are comparing married parents to unmarried couples, single parents, and possibly parents who adopted. None of these categories is gay parents.

He’s begging the question here. He has set out to show that gay couples will make unstable homes for children yet he assumes that very idea in his argument. That is, he is assuming gay couples are equal to any couple which is not married and the biological parents of the children involved. But if he’s trying to prove that point, he most certainly cannot assume it in his argument. It’s a logical fallacy. “Gay parents are unfit. How do I know they are unfit? Because they are gay parents.”

But here’s the gem of the pro-bigot brigade. They argue that anti-discrimination activists are wrong to compare gay rights to civil rights.

Former Secretary of State General Colin Powell also rejects the argument that sexual orientation is comparable to race. He has testified that: “Skin color is a benign, nonbehavioral characteristic. Sexual orientation is perhaps the most profound of human behavioral characteristics. Comparison of the two is a convenient but invalid argument.”

The most interesting thing about all this is that both sides are wrong. Anti-discrimination activists are wrong because the civil rights being violated are not based upon sexual orientation. Pro-bigots are wrong because it is a civil rights issue. It just isn’t about sexual orientation.

Marriage is a secular contract between two people of sound capacity to consent to entering a legal agreement. In other words there are pertinent requirements to entering any contract recognized by the government. In this case they include being of age as determined by state, being willfull, and being able to understand the conditions of the contract. To say that two women cannot marry is discriminate based upon some external requirement to the ones listed. That “external requirement” is not sexual orientation. It is gender. Two women or two men are disallowed from entering a contract based upon gender. That is a civil rights issue. It is against the law – moreover, it is against all common sense. Pro-bigots don’t realize their rights are being trampled, too (mostly because they’re doing the ignorant trampling).

It is primarily to encourage the most positive outcomes for their children that societies encourage men and women to marry and provide special protections and incentives for this social institution. Because same-sex couples obviously cannot produce children, societies historically have never even contemplated allowing them to “marry.”

Liar. Or he’s stupid. Societies have never contemplated allowing gay marriage because societies have historically been filled with bigotry. It has nothing to do with children. But at any rate, this argument is only valid if it is extended properly. Infertile couples must be forbidden from marriage. Elderly couples beyond the ability to reproduce who do not already have children and grandchildren must get divorced; they do not fit the reason for marriage and are thus being rewarded with special protections and incentives without justification.

Legalizing same-sex marriage would so radically change the existing social institution of marriage that it would destroy its time-proven ability to provide essential benefits to society. It would transform marriage from a primarily child-centered institution into something that would be little more than governmental recognition of the professed affection of any two people for each other regardless of their gender.

This is just a bad argument. How does a married gay couple do anything to change the status of a married straight couple? Any interest there is for children in this secular contract can be maintained precisely the same as it has been for so many decades. It is nice, however, that he says “regardless of gender”. It’s good that there’s a twinkle of hope he realizes that this civil rights issue is centered around gender, not sexual orientation.

The link will eventually go dead (unless you want to pay $2.99 for access to old articles from a paper that normally costs $0.75), so I’m posting the article in full here.

Gerald Talbot (“Civil marriage about equal protection of all under the law”) is certainly entitled to his own opinion that allowing homosexuals to marry is a civil rights issue similar to the black civil rights struggle. But he appears to be outside of the mainstream thinking of most U.S. black leadership.

Barack Obama opposes same-sex marriage and he is not only the most prominent black political leader in the world but a former constitutional law professor. No one would seriously argue that he is not a champion of true civil rights.

Former Secretary of State General Colin Powell also rejects the argument that sexual orientation is comparable to race. He has testified that: “Skin color is a benign, nonbehavioral characteristic. Sexual orientation is perhaps the most profound of human behavioral characteristics. Comparison of the two is a convenient but invalid argument.”

Dee Garrett, a black civil rights leader in the South in the 1960s, also rejects the claim that this is a legitimate civil rights issue. In an eloquent statement that is posted on YouTube and was widely circulated in the California black community, she said, “It’s (same-sex marriage) not about civil rights. Racism was about civil rights. Marriage is about society, the future and about our children.”

In California, seven out of 10 black voters agreed and voted for Prop 8, which amended the state’s constitution to eliminate same-sex marriage. Many credit these black voters for passing the amendment.

Garrett understands what Talbot clearly does not. Marriage is not about adult needs, desires or convenience, whether for social and governmental recognition and acceptance, for economic advantages and tax breaks or simply to make their life easier. As she points out, marriage is primarily about children and the future of society. Understanding this fundamental truth allows us to place the demands of this tiny minority to be allowed to “marry” into the correct and socially responsible perspective.

Societies have a vested interest in the welfare of their children because they are the future of that society. A society is more likely to flourish if these children grow up to become responsible, productive and contributing members of that society. In the last half century, social science research has overwhelmingly validated what societies throughout history have learned through practical experience: Children do best by far on every measure of development, achievement and welfare when they are raised by their married biological parents.

It is primarily to encourage the most positive outcomes for their children that societies encourage men and women to marry and provide special protections and incentives for this social institution. Because same-sex couples obviously cannot produce children, societies historically have never even contemplated allowing them to “marry.”

Given the critical role of marriage in society, it is easy to understand that defending man/woman marriage is not discrimination. There is no inherent “right” to marry and societies have always regulated this institution for the best interests of society. Brothers and sisters or parents and children cannot marry, for example, nor can minors.

Legalizing same-sex marriage would so radically change the existing social institution of marriage that it would destroy its time-proven ability to provide essential benefits to society. It would transform marriage from a primarily child-centered institution into something that would be little more than governmental recognition of the professed affection of any two people for each other regardless of their gender.

There is absolutely no assurance that this new social institution of “genderless marriage” would, or even could, provide these same essential societal benefits. If it cannot, society and future generations will suffer serious harm. Whether to legalize genderless marriage is much more than a minority “rights” issue.

Bob Emrich, Plymouth, is director of the Maine Jeremiah Project, a grassroots coalition of social conservatives, organizations and churches who support “the sanctity of life, traditional family values, freedom of religion and educational choice” and a state constitutional amendment to protect marriage in Maine; http://www.mainejeremiahproject.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 196 other followers