Evaluating the Arguments For and Against Gay Marriage

My attempt at an objective analysis of some popular points:

Pro-Gay Marriage Ban Arguments Evaluation Anti-Gay Marriage Ban Arguments Evaluation
“Homosexuality is morally wrong.” WEAK. While people have the right to campaign for laws based on their beliefs, civil laws are not obligated to honor them.  This opinion is actually irrelevant to the issue. “We’re born that way and should be treated equally.” WEAK.  Establishing that something is natural is not the same as showing that it’s good or deserves to be protected.  Further, while fairness is a virtue, equality is not automatically universal, but is dependent on a number of factors—insisting on immediate equality is an attempt to circumvent discussion.
“It would open doors to abuses like polygamy and bestiality.” WEAK.  Even if this actually would be the case, it would be irrelevant.  You can’t ban something because it might lead to something else.  The issue has to be considered only on its own merits. “Banning gay marriage fosters discrimination and harassment.” WEAK.  Like the opposing slippery slope argument to the left, even if this is true, it’s not relevant.  Laws are not based on whether or not they might be interpreted in ways that will lead to positive or negative behavior.  Certainly mistreatment of others is bad, but laws cannot be altered because they might contribute to a more civil citizenry.
“It would encourage more homosexual activity.” WEAK.  This seems related to the subjective belief argument above, and seems rooted in discomfort about others.  Ultimately, such concerns are irrelevant to the issue of whether or not there’s a right to gay marriage, or whether it will substantially impact society for the worse. “The government has no right to exclude people from marriage or punish morality.” WEAK.  Of course it does.  Consenting adults cannot marry if they’re siblings, and divorce courts punish people for adultery all the time.  The issue here is whether or not homosexuals should or shouldn’t fall into the category of marriages that can or should be banned, not whether or not such banning can or should exist.  It does and it will.
“It would erode religious liberty.” WEAK.  This is undeniably true—it’s already happening around the world where gay marriage has been legalized—but this still does not override a right to marriage if that right exists.  However the gay marriage issue is settled, religious freedom needs to be especially protected somehow; it’s integral to American ideals, character, and law. “There have always been many kinds of families.” WEAK.  The examples often offered here are relatively rare and alien to the current environment.  It’s easy for opponents to say that such exceptions, if anything, prove the rule by their rarity, that such arrangements probably wouldn’t foster tranquility here and now, and that such are precisely the kind of undesirable innovations they fear gay marriage will promote (though this last part is a fallacious argument).
“It would do further damage to the institution of the family.” STRONG.  If this can be demonstrated, not just theoretically, it’s a compelling argument.  Certainly, marriage is regulated and defined by civil governments to promote domestic prosperity, and if gay marriage substantially threatens that, then continuing the ban must be respected. “It’s inconsistent with civil rights and the Constitution.” STRONG.  If it can be demonstrated that gay marriage cannot and should not continue to be banned under our laws, then all other arguments for or against it are moot.  Claiming that something is a right does not make it so, but if something truly is a protected right, then nothing can trump that.

As every argument save the last one in each column is spurious, I’d like to see the national conversation focus on those bedrock issues.  The evidence and ideas we all submit to the public should only involve research and rights, facts and families.

It might be helpful in our debates if we started by asking these questions:

If you support the gay marriage ban and are talking to someone who doesn’t, ask: “Hypothetically, if it could be absolutely proven that gay marriage would damage the lives of American children, would you oppose it?  What if it could be shown that American law clearly has to exclude gays from marrying?”

If you oppose the gay marriage ban and are talking to someone who doesn’t, ask: “Hypothetically, if it could be absolutely proven that gay marriage does not harm American children, would you stop opposing it?  What if it could be shown that American law clearly has to allow gay marriage to exist?”

The answers to these questions would show us where fruitful communication could happen, and would help us better understand each other’s motives.

And, go.


One comment on “Evaluating the Arguments For and Against Gay Marriage

  1. There’s the issue of the basic structures of human society, family, that is. I think marriage has already been eroded much too far; most young women who grow up in the U.S. want few children if any. They’re perfectly okay with having that child without a husband/committed companion.

    Divorce is an everyday thing. Our youngest daughter was the only one in her graduation class, whose both parents lived with her. Thirty-five years ago in an article about sociology already someone called the current marriage system “omnigamy” (that’s the only place where I have seen the name). When a good portion of fifty-something men are in their third marriage, there is getting to be too man exes and “new daddies” and mummies.

    As I’ve said, no-fault divorce is just one thing in the main erosion. Will gay marriage be a decisive hit against family? It remains to be seen. I do not use a conditional, because gay marriage is legal in several states already, and in most states the population wants it. Federal gov’t will probably stay out of the issue, and should.

    I think it’s a gamble either way, as the direction we’re heading is not good. We do not know for sure what the end results of social changes will be. Most of the time the changes do not result in the disasters that are predicted when they happen.

    But the remedy for the situation we’re in is not to go back to 19th-century society. That’s not going to work. The only way is to create a culture, where family is something most people think of as something good they want to have and take care of.

    As for me, when I was 19, I had decided never to marry. I had not seen a happy couple in my whole life (as I interpreted it); my home was quite dysfunctional. I just wanted to get a job on a long-haul ship and be gone (I had “earned” a place by working in coastal traffic; tugs, barges etc). But then I ran into the restored priesthood and was surprised at how strongly the Spirit can touch you when it’s time to make a change. It would be difficult to imagine a more thorough change in my life than happened that year. Turned out I wanted to be a husband and a father, anyway.

    Well, I always did want to be a father, but a it’s more complicated for a guy to have a kid alone, right?

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