The ongoing campaign for same-sex marriage has been characterised by so many falsehoods, lies, half-truths, furphies and myths that I have written no less than two entire books on this. One was a debate book co-authored with a homosexual activist, and the other was a full length discussion of the matter of homosexuality.
The longest chapter in the second book is on same-sex marriage. I encourage all those concerned about this matter to get the book. It is fully documented and referenced, and clearly makes the case against SSM. But here I want to examine five popular myths and objections often raised by the homosexual activists.
These are by no means the only objections, and each new day seems to bring new – if specious and unconvincing – objections, myths and misunderstandings about all this.
Myth One: Discrimination
One complaint often made by homosexuals is that they are being discriminated against under current marriage laws, and they are being denied their rights. But these arguments are as fallacious as they are common. The truth is, no one has the kind of equality that the homosexual activists are clamouring for here. Indeed, homosexuals are no more (and no less) being discriminated against here than are all kinds of other people.
Yes it is true, homosexual couples cannot now legally marry. But neither can a whole lot of other folk. A five-year old boy cannot marry. Three people cannot get married to each other. And I cannot marry, because I am already married. A girl cannot marry her pet goldfish, no matter how much she might love it. A father cannot marry his daughter, regardless of his affection for her. The list is endless.
However, under the law, almost all of us can marry, given certain conditions. If I divorce my current wife, I am then free to marry. The five-year-old could wait for around a dozen years, and then he will be free to marry. The threesome can decide to give one the boot, and then get married (provided they are an opposite sex pair), and so on.
And a homosexual too can marry. There is no law saying a homosexual cannot marry, if he decides to find a woman and settle down (or if a lesbian finds a man and seeks marriage). But it is nonsense for a person to eschew male-female relationships in favor of same-sex ones, and then complain of discrimination.
Myth Two: Homophobia
One of the most common objections is of course no objection at all; it is just a case of name calling. Instead of dealing with facts and evidence, and actually making a cogent argument, the homosexual activists will usually just resort to ad hominem attacks, verbal abuse, and mud-slinging.
It is so much easier to hurl abuse than to actually make an argument or deal with an argument. And it is a great conversation stopper of course. Simply throw out the charge of “homophobia” and the activists somehow think they have actually won the debate.
Of course they have done nothing of the sort. They have simply engaged in name calling. There are in fact plenty of sound, intelligent, and evidence-based reasons why we should not legalise SSM. Indeed, I offer eight of them in this recent article: billmuehlenberg.com/2012/02/19/the-case-against-same-sex-marriage/
Fortunately there are some homosexual activists who are honest enough to admit that these lame attacks really do nothing for their cause. As one says:
“I have watched with growing irritation as principled opponents of gay marriage have put up with a stream of abuse for explaining their position. Public figures who try to do so routinely have to contend with the charge that they are bigoted or homophobic. When Fine Gael’s Lucinda Creighton confirmed her opposition to same-sex marriage during the general election campaign, there were calls for Enda Kenny to sack her. David Quinn of the pro-marriage Iona Institute is regularly abused in sometimes extraordinary terms for making similar arguments. They’re not the only ones. The reflex response from many gay marriage advocates is to paint all dissent as prejudice, as if the only reason for defending marriage as it has existed to date is some variety of bigotry or psychological imbalance….
“Surely it’s time to have a proper conversation about gay marriage, a conversation where people are no longer made to feel that if they do not offer knee-jerk support to it, they will be branded anti-gay. Only then will the essence and the real reason for supporting traditional marriage be allowed to come to the fore again. The best interests of the children of the nation must always come first.”
Myth Three: The race card
Another way the activists seek to deceive the public is to use faulty analogies. For example, many advocates of SSM will raise the issue of racial segregation and policies which prevented people of different races from marrying (anti- miscegenation laws). They claim that just as we now have renounced such discriminatory laws regarding marriage between the races, so too we should stop the restriction on same-sex marriage.
But there is simply no comparison between racist laws and defending heterosexual marriage. Even black activists have rejected such a disingenuous analogy. For example, Jesse Jackson told a group of Harvard Law School students in 2004 that “gays were never called three-fifths human in the Constitution, and they did not require the Voting Rights Act to have the right to vote.”
Apartheid and laws banning inter-racial marriage are about keeping races apart. Marriage is about bringing the sexes together. Heterosexual marriage has been around for millennia. Talk of same-sex marriage has been around for a few short decades. Marriage was thus not created to discriminate against anyone, as apartheid was.
Laws banning interracial marriages were unjust, and overturning them did not mean a redefinition of marriage but an affirmation of it. Men and women should be allowed to marry regardless of skin colour, as this does nothing to alter the one man, one woman aspect of marriage. Same-sex marriage however is completely different, and it is a redefinition of marriage.
As one commentator notes, “Same-sex marriage and interracial marriage have nothing in common. There is no difference between a black and a white human being because skin color is morally trivial. There is an enormous difference, however, between a man and a woman. Ethnicity has no bearing on marriage. Sex is fundamental to marriage.”
Even some homosexual activists admit that this is a bad comparison. Says one, “I am uneasy with the frequent equation of the prohibition of same-sex marriage with interracial ones: in the latter case racism prevented marriages that were indistinguishable for any other reason. Same-sex partnerships are as valid and as significant as heterosexual ones, but they are also different, and maybe we should celebrate, not deny the difference.”
Myth Four: Equality
For all the talk about equality and the like, the truth is, there is no law anywhere preventing homosexuals from marrying. Anyone can marry, provided they meet the criteria for marriage. Those who do not meet these criteria are: minors, blood relatives, groups, those already married, and so on. To get married you must meet the qualifications of marriage. The primary qualification of course is to have two people, one from each gender. These restrictions apply equally to everyone, whether heterosexual or homosexual. Thus there is no discrimination here.
When homosexuals try to circumvent these rules or ignore them altogether they are not endeavouring to get equal rights; they are attempting to get special rights. Indeed, what they claim “is a new right; the right to reconfigure the conditions of marriage in such a way as to change its very definition, while denying they are doing any such thing.”
What is really being attempted here is to treat unequal things equally. But a basic purpose of justice is to ensure that equals are treated equally. If equals are being treated unequally, then charges of injustice can be made. But there is no injustice in recognising the obvious differences between a same-sex relationship and a heterosexual relationship.
Sure, homosexuals, as individual human beings, are fully equal to heterosexuals. But while all people are equal, not all relationships are. The many important ways in which these two types of relationships differ have already been discussed by me elsewhere.
And love between homosexuals – or between those in other sorts of relationships – can still continue and flourish without marriage. As one leading Professor of Jurisprudence states, “the most genuine love may subsist between parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, brothers and sisters, and in the nature of things – in the nature of things – nothing in those loves could possibly be diminished as love because they are not attended by penetration or expressed in marriage.”
There have always been various social goods which are denied to different people for various reasons. A driver who cannot meet the obligations of low insurance rates (too young, too inexperienced, too many accidents, etc) will not be eligible to receive those benefits. That is how life operates. If anything, it is a necessary and just discrimination.
All societies, in order to survive, engage in proper acts of discrimination all the time. Just as there can be bad discrimination, so there can be good discrimination. Societies have always discriminated in favour of heterosexual unions and the children they produce because of the overwhelming social good derived from them.
Procreation and the raising of children is such an overwhelmingly important social good, and the mother-father unit cemented by marriage is such an overwhelmingly superior way of ensuring the best outcomes for children – and therefore society, that societies everywhere extend favours and benefits to married couples that they do not to other types of relationships.
Myth Five: Childless heterosexual couples
Activists will often raise the issue of heterosexual couples who do not have children, stating that marriage isn’t just about having children, so they should be included. But marriage is certainly always open to the possibility of children, even though for various reasons not all marriages will result in children. One commentator offers this insight on the relationship of marriage to reproduction: just turn the question around. That is, instead of asking “whether actual reproduction is essential to marriage, ask this: If marriage never had anything to do with reproduction, would there be any reason for the government to be involved in regulating or rewarding it?” Governments do not determine who your best friend should be. But when the possibility of children arises, then governments and societies are greatly concerned.
Or as another commentator puts it, “Marriage’s main purpose is to make sure that any child born has two responsible parents, a mother and a father who are committed to the child and committed to each other. To achieve this goal, it has never been necessary, and it would never be possible, for society to require that each and every married couple bear a child!”
Sterility is the exception to the rule for heterosexual couples, while it is the norm for homosexual couples. A couple is not required to have babies when getting married, but it remains the generally expected norm. Some couples cannot have children. Some don’t want them. But heterosexuality makes procreation possible, while homosexuality makes it impossible.
The fact that a book can lie unread does not make it anything other than a book. The purpose or function of a book is to be read, but it does not become less than a book if it is not read. Nature’s purpose or function for human sexuality is procreation. The fact that not every sexual act results in procreation does not take away this essential feature.
As one law professor notes, “Homosexual sex is never procreation; male-female sex (even in sterile couples) is always potentially and at least symbolically procreative in kind.” And even some homosexuals themselves realise how important a mother and a father are to children, and therefore oppose same-sex marriage. Let me cite just one here:
“Marriage is vital as a framework within which children can be brought up by a man and woman. Not all marriages, of course, involve child-raising. And there are also, for that matter, same-sex couples already raising children. But the reality is that marriages tend towards child-raising and same-sex partnerships do not.
“I am conscious of this when considering my own circle of friends, quite a few of whom have recently married or will soon do so in the future. Many, if not most or all of them, will raise children. If, however, I or gay friends form civil partnerships, those are much more unlikely to involve raising children. So the question that matters is this: Why should a gay relationship be treated the same way as a marriage, despite this fundamental difference?
“A wealth of research demonstrates the marriage of a man and a woman provides children with the best life outcomes, that children raised in marriages that stay together do best across a whole range of measures. This is certainly not to cast aspersions on other families, but it does underscore the importance of marriage as an institution.
“This is why the demand for gay marriage goes doubly wrong. It is not a demand for marriage to be extended to gay people – it is a demand for marriage to be redefined. The understanding of marriage as an institution that exists and is supported for the sake of strong families changes to an understanding of marriage as merely the end-point of romance.
If these are among the best objections that the activists can raise, then it seems their case for SSM is very weak indeed. None of their objections in any way make the case for destroying the institution of marriage by including homosexual couples.
But these and other myths are continuously being tossed about by the social engineers. Some of the other common objections which I have not mentioned here are simply so lightweight and vacuous, they show that these folks are really scraping the bottom of the barrel to make their case.
These and other myths I deal with at length in my new book Strained Relations: The Challenge of Homosexuality. In that book I fully document the information mentioned above. Indeed, with over 700 footnotes, it is a comprehensive treatment of this and related issues. There are at least three places where you can get the book if you are interested: