Saturday, September 24, 2011

There Is No Good Secular Argument Against Gay Marriage

Sorry I haven't written here for a while. I have submitted a post a week at MIBReviews (go check out the site and other contributors!) but otherwise I've been away from the blogging. There's been one article I've been hoping to respond to...and here it is. Go read it (it's a short piece) then come back here.

Done? OK. The argument put forth by Mr James Jordan is that same sex marriage is different from heterosexual marriage, therefore, it should be outlawed. Here's how he actually tries to justify that:
In same sex marriage, there is no procreation. There is no mother and father. A man and a woman do not equal a man and a man. Period. It's not that a man and a man are less than a man and a woman. It's that the two unions are fundamentally different.

See the problem? The "they're not the same" argument can easily be used to ban interracial marriage. After all, a white man and a black woman isn't the same as a a white man and white woman, or a black man and a black woman. Hell, a black man and a black woman aren't the same as a white man and white woman, so why are we allowing black people to marry at all? Or ANY racial group other than "white"? Those types of unions are fundamentally different than the "norm" of white couples. We could even go so far as to outlaw marriages between people of different economic classes, or people of different age groups or nationalities, if we so desired, since those unions are all fundamentally different than staying within one's own class or age group.

But we can even go further than that. The specific examples he used, despite actually being wrong (we'll get to that) can be used on many types of marriage that are legal in all of the USA. No procreation? OK, then, sterile people can't be married, including those who get vasectomies and hysterectomies. Menopausal women can't be married either. And "no mother and father"? Well, then people who don't ascribe to traditional gender roles (men who do housework, women who discipline kids, etc) can't be married either. And by extension, this argument invalidates single parent households, as well as gay adoption.

However, if we simply ignore the part about gay couples having the same sex, we'd find that they are, essentially, the same as heterosexual couples. There can be procreation, though it has to be by a surrogate or a sperm bank, or even in vitro fertilization. And it's quite easy to have one partner fulfill other "traditional gender role", thus having two males, or two females, while having a "mother and father". I mean, do you really need a vagina to care for children, clean and cook? Do you really need a penis to make be the "breadwinner" and to fix stuff?

So, yeah, your argument fails, James. As does your assertion that you don't have to hate gay people to oppose gay marriage. I mean, I guess that one could just be ignorant and not hateful, much like a white person in the 1960s thinking black people need to use different toilets because white people can't handle "black diseases" (that was seriously the justification for that, or at least according to The Help, which is a pretty good movie). But really, once you get down to it, by denying gay people the right to marry each other, you're making them second class citizens. It's the very definition of second class citizenry, denying one group of people rights afforded to others. And if you don't have a good reason to do that, then yes, it is hateful. Sorry.


  1. Hello Mr. Ben,
    I'm sorry but you missed my point entirely. Your point that miscegenation laws are falsely premised is well taken. I agree with you. I'm happily married to an Hispanic lady.
    Here was my point, as you noted. **In same sex marriage, there is no procreation. There is no mother and father. A man and a woman do not equal a man and a man. Period.**

    There is still procreation between a mixed-race heterosexual couple. Instead of addressing this, you changed the topic by expanding the definition of different to include race.

    You left the topic here, **See the problem? The "they're not the same" argument can easily be used to ban interracial marriage.**

    You called my argument the "They're not the same" argument. Then it was obvious where you can easily defeat "my" argument. Only it wasn't my argument. As the prochoice crowd loves to point out, a man does not have a uterus. Men are different from women.

    If you are able to say that a man and a woman are fundamentally the same, then you unwittingly dismantle the liberal "men don't have a uterus thus they have no say on abortion" argument. But "the men don't have a uterus" argument is rather safe. Men do not have uteri.

    Last, you've changed my point and claimed victory. But you haven't dealt with my point at all.

    By the way, I don't want to "outlaw" gay marriage. I do not wish it to be "inlawed". Same sex marriage is simply not kin to man-woman marriage. It doesn't exist. Homosexuals can have wonderfully supportive relationships. I know gay couples who've been together for 20, 30, 40 years. Those I've talked to about their financial arrangements have their property held by a corporation or living trust they own together. I'm not convinced that having no legal recognition of same sex marriage is a hardship.

  2. Actually, the "no-procreation" argument WAS used in religiously-bigoted arguments against miscegenation before the Loving decision. It was asserted that there would be no viable offspring of a black/white marriage.

    My partner and I were able to marry legally in California before the bigots passed Proposition 8, and the fact that we could not have children together was no valid legal impediment at all.

    But there's an easy way to outlaw all same-sex marriages, legally.

    Outlaw all marriages, period.

    I could live with that and it would be constitutional. I'm not convinced that having no legal recognition of opposite-sex marriage is a hardship.

  3. So as I understand Jim's argument above, either he's got to start supporting marriage equality or men have to shut up about abortion?

    Men and women ARE fundamentally the same: adult human beings with full civil rights.

  4. Hi Anonymous,
    You said *the "no-procreation" argument WAS used in religiously-bigoted arguments against miscegenation**

    One is "should not" and the other is "not possible". Two different things entirely.

    You said **Outlaw all marriages, period. **
    Penn Gillette has made an excellent argument for this.
    Not outlawing all marriages but getting the government out of the marriage-endorsing business. That might just work for everybody.

  5. Great post, Ben. Missed your writings... :)

  6. Personally
    I don't care about this either way.
    Let them call it marriage, don't let them call it marriage. Who Cares?

    Governments need to stop the infringement on the rights of the couple, medical benefits for example. That is the problem and that is the injustice.

    Calling it union vs marriage isn't the problem.

    Oh and back since you feel this is such a pillar to stand on.
    how are you "Ben from Canada" going to change it? or are you going to just keep making these posting full of bravado?

  7. No, Jim, the argument was made--from ignorance, the way most religiously-based arguments are made--that the crossing would not be viable. This despite years of mathematically-defined prejudice against mixed-race humans.

    In this context, ending the government recognition of marriage is equivalent to abolishing it since we're talking about civil marriage. And you and I both know that straight couples will never give up their privilege to marry. So we'll just have to keep working to end that privilege by extending it to everyone.

    And it matters to the law whether it's called "union" or "marriage." As well as to the human beings involved.

    Ben's original premise remains accurate: there is NO valid secular argument against marriage equality. As to how I plan to change it...through the ballot box and the checkbook, as well as arguing against the bigots online.