Monday, July 1, 2013

Replies to "gay marriage" arguments

Following are common arguments in favor of so-called "gay marriage" and some thoughts on each. There are indeed many other arguments and replies one could consider on this issue besides what is covered below, but in the interest of brevity, I will limit this post to these.

First, let me caution against a knee-jerk response: none of this should be interpreted as some sort of "hatred" for persons who assert homosexuality. Rather, consider this: if marriage can only "occur" if the ingredients of one man committed to one woman are joined, then it is not "love" to confirm one's peers in a lie by endorsing something as marriage which is not marriage. The sensitivity of this issue among families and friends demands that people avoid a strictly "emotional" response to arguments presented rationally and in good faith. One can still be a proponent of marriage as it has been known for centuries and still exhibit love for anyone, regardless of opinions or behaviors.

If two people love each other, they should be allowed the same rights and benefits no matter their genders.
First off, everyone does have the same rights. All persons desiring to enter the institution of marriage must do so with a member of the opposite sex. That's what a marriage is. Proponents of marriage are not granting themselves any privilege for themselves that they would deny to anyone else.

Additionally, if special federal benefits should be granted to "two people who love each other," then any two people who love each other, platonically or otherwise, deserve those benefits. Two brothers, a brother and sister, a daughter and father, two cousins, two friends, etc... Any two people who "love each other" fit the criteria argued by many proponents of "gay marriage."

As a radio caller Christine from Indiana said on the June 27 Catholic Connection show with Teresa Tomeo: "When I was listening to a lawyer on CNN who was so excited about the ruling, and he said, 'Now this means that two people who love each other can, you know, get married and are equal.' And I said, well, I love my mother."

As many have also pointed out, the legal precedent at hand is establishing a basis for state-recognized polygamy, concubines, incest, "temporary" marriages, situational or contractual marriages, etc... Although one can find "gay marriage" supporters scoff at this slippery slope, we have already seen advocates for these kinds of "marriages" attempt to springboard on the current legal precedents. The principles advanced by "gay marriage" proponents are transplantable to these arrangements without needing revision.

It is discrimination to bar any class of people from receiving the same benefits of other married people.
Again, no one has special privileges regarding marriage denied to anyone else (see previous answer). Additionally, why is there no movement demanding that single people receive the same benefits demanded for "gay couples"? In refusing single people, all of whom "love" someone, such benefits, proponents of "gay marriage" by their own definitions are advocating for discrimination against a "class of people." The arguments set forth do not show cause for why "two people who love each other AND share genital activity" merit benefits verses two people who love each other and are otherwise still committed to that love for life.

Also, the above argument is essentially, "If person X wants Y, and someone else has Y, it's discrimination to deprive X of Y." Consider, for example, if I want to be recognized as a naturally born citizen of Estonia. However, I was not born in Estonia. Yet there are others who were born there. If I demanded a law to recognize me as a natural born citizen of Estonia, and if that law were enacted, it would not make me a naturally born citizen of Estonia because some realities are not affected by the stroke of a pen. Ultimately, it is faulty to automatically assume that any enterprise had by one person is automatically discrimination against someone else who does not possess the same enterprise.

If marriage must be open to procreation, then why are infertile or elderly couples of the opposite sex allowed to marry? Since they are, then procreation is not "necessary" for a marriage and therefore "gay couples" are no different than those couples.
There are a number of problems with this argument as well. Sometimes couples who were diagnosed or thought to be infertile due to a defect or old age are surprised to find themselves pregnant. Absolute infertility is not an infallible thing to diagnose. Just last month a woman went to the hospital with "back pain" to find herself giving birth to a baby she did not know she was carrying––and her husband had had a vasectomy besides.

Secondly, the opposite genders, by their nature, have procreative qualities. Any infertility is a degradation or malfunction of the body. For civil society to embrace the marriage of such a couple is not to say "marriage does not involve procreation." For reasons in the previous paragraph, fertility may still exist. That alone is reason to continue support for marriage between one man and one woman. And also, by still recognizing marriage only in male-female relationships, the entire idea of a procreative union is fortified culturally whether or not the couple themselves are ever able to conceive. They retain their share of maleness and femaleness in which fertility resides in the complementarity of genders. That children are conceived by a man and woman is a statement not requiring any specific couple to exemplify. It is the basic, natural structure of a generational society. The complementarity they embody does not escape their genders if one or both of them should have a physical insufficiency. The recognition of their union fosters an environment of other male-female marriages which would be fertile. Same-sex "marriages" do not represent the fertility of maleness and femaleness because one or the other is lacking. By their very nature, the union of the same gender is always impotent.

As well, no one seems to argue that a married couple that was once fertile is suddenly not married once they reach old age simply because they are diagnosed as infertile. Yet, like a newly wed elderly couple, they still represent the male-female union that is elsewhere fertile and encouraged. And in this way, the figure of their gender complementarity fortifies the normative fertility associated with the genders they represent. In fortifying the idea that marriage is between one man and one woman, the idea of the fertility associated with the complementary genders is likewise fortified.

Children raised by "married" gay couples do just as well or better as children raised by their mothers and fathers.
In theory, even if this was true, it would not make the union of any two of the same genders "a marriage." But this is not true. History and social science have produced much evidence that children end up more prone to broken homes or other problems when raised apart from one of their parents. (Examples: citizenlink, Univ. of Texas-Austin study and here, Crisis Magazine, etc. See below for more thoughts on faulty male-female marriages.

Concluding thoughts
Now, of course there are a number of broken male-female marriages resulting in plenty of children raised in poverty or prone to crime, etc... In Catholic circles, you will have found for many years, criticism of the breakdown of marriage preceding all this talk of "gay marriage." In May, TCV reviewed the 1880 encyclical Arcanum by Pope Leo XIII who warned against straying from committed male-female marriages and facilitating divorce or concubines. The boom of contraception in marriage has also led to the further objectification of spouses, as predicted by Pope Paul VI, and hyper physically-sexualized the institution of marriage while championing infertility.

As I said in that May post, marriage has not degraded because the culture listened to the Church, but because the culture has scoffed at and failed to heed the warnings of the Church. A point being that support for "gay marriage" is not a remedy for the poisoned well of marriage. Rather, a number of arguments for "gay marriage" are founded on many of the decayed attributes of marriage in the last centuries, which are themselves repeats of ancient marital troubles in various times and cultures.

From a civil perspective alone, it is in the best interest for the state to recognize and foster a citizenry in which children have the best chance to be raised, in the order of nature, by both their mother and father. Regarding marriage, that is what the goal of a society seeking stability should be.

And finally, this is not heard much in the media, but I have not heard many people consider whether or not proponents of "gay marriage" are advancing a particular religious belief. Marriage is not an observable, quantifiable thing you can contain in a beaker in a laboratory. Proponents of marriage throughout the centuries recognize it as a divine institution because one can observe and verify the complementarity and potency of the genders that have been created. Proponents of "gay marriage," as we have observed, often base their arguments as reflections on the existing institution of male-female marriage. Is it fair to bring to the table whether or not proponents of "gay marriage" are imposing a state-sanctioned religion of sorts on the public?

(Added July 15, 2013: Read Replies to "gay marriage" arguments 2 here)

Image at top of post is Simon de Vos' Wedding at Cana, from Wikimedia Commons.


  1. I understand secularism to be a state imposed religion of the all giving government but how does gay marriage fall into this category?

  2. Hello, Michael. I threw out the idea whether or not "gay marriage" is a religious doctrine. I think an argument could be made that it is. It is not something that can be "proven." Is marriage ultimately a religiously-grounded idea? Historically, it has been, and has been recognized by governments. So is a government adding to that institution imposing its own religious angle on the institution?

  3. Mary A. (Steve's sister)January 18, 2016 at 5:42 PM

    "Rather, consider this: if marriage can only "occur" if the ingredients of one man committed to one woman are joined, then it is not "love" to confirm one's peers in a lie by endorsing something as marriage which is not marriage. The sensitivity of this issue among families and friends demands that people avoid a strictly "emotional" response to arguments presented rationally and in good faith. One can still be a proponent of marriage as it has been known for centuries and still exhibit love for anyone, regardless of opinions or behaviors."

    Yes. Thank you.