Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dealing with a few secular arguments against same-sex marriage (first of however many it takes)

Previously I asked if there were any secular arguments against same-sex marriage, both here and on my personal Facebook page ("Occasionally, I think" has a page too, but I haven't been doing anything there since I haven't figured out how to get the "Like" button on this site; readers, should I try harder?). I had some great responses (and major kudos to reader adam for doing a great deal of work pulling together links to various arguments). I can't deal with them all in one post, so here's the first of . . . however many posts it takes.

Writer Pastor Eddie Thompson wrote an article at making three arguments against same-sex marriage, two of which could be called secular.

First up:
First, gay and lesbians already possess rights equally protected under the law. They have the exact rights that I have today. They can marry a member of the opposite sex if they so choose, just like I have done. I can't marry a member of my own sex, even if I wanted to. So, we have the exact same rights.
What they don't have is the right to marry the person that they have fallen in love with. What they don't have is the right to start and raise a family that person with the full legal assistance and protections that are enjoyed by those who are married. So no, gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals (such as myself), do not have the "exact same rights."  What heterosexuals have is extra rights compared to homosexuals and bisexuals, which makes Thompson's next statement really wrong:
What is being suggested by the gay agenda is not "equal rights" but "extra rights."
Not so much.

Moving on to Thompson's second point:
Secondly, consenting adults can do many things, but there are some actions restricted even to consenting adults.
This is true, but those restrictions must be justified. If they are not, then those restrictions must be lifted.
[. . .] There are reasons we place restrictions on marriage. Homosexuals have never received marital status in the history of mankind until recently. 
Well, as a factual matter that's not entirely clear. It's also irrelevant. As we've developed as a society and a species, we've come to realize that many things that we've done historically should not have been done, such as the oppression of women, slavery, segregation, etc. Tradition is not a sufficient reason to continue with any practice, not when there are good reasons to stop.
There is a reason for that. It is not productive to continue to shred the fabric of our society. The burden of proof for changing history’s traditional marriage should fall upon the supporters of the homosexual agenda.
How is allowing same-sex marriage going to "shred the fabric of our society"? If changing what we do and accept as a society in the interest of fairness, equality, and justice is "shred[ding] the fabric of our society," then I say shred away. As for the burden of proof, we've met that. The burden is now with those against same-sex marriage.
I have heard of no compelling reasons that suggest homosexual marriages are necessary to the well-being of our society.
I have heard of no compelling reasons to believe same-sex marriages are harmful to society, or that denying same-sex marriage is somehow "necessary to the well-being of our society." Indeed, a number of states and countries have been permitting same-sex marriage or civil unions (not the same thing, I know) for years, and those societies still exist.

Pastor Thompson's final argument is basically a religious one, and as such, I'm not going to deal with it in detail, except for one line, because it bugs me:
They want us to validate something we consider wicked. 
Just as those who agree with Pastor Thompson want us to validate something we consider wicked: the supremacy of heterosexual marriage over any other form of marriage between consenting adults.


  1. Hi. Perhaps a better question would be if there were any rational secular arguments against same-sex marriage. Thompson's first argument is one of a petulant child. This second argument brings to mind Richard Dawkin's 3 bad reasons for believing anything; authority, tradition (which you mention) and revelation. The more I read about the battle over marriage for gays and lesbians, the more disgusted I feel about religion. And the more I embrace my feelings about atheism, the less inclined I am to remain quiet about it.

  2. Hey, Beckie. You know, when I first asked that question, I thought about including a stipulation that they had to be good arguments (and a friend on Facebook decided to hand me an absolutely ridiculous argument apparently because I didn't stipulate that), but then I realized that there was a possibility that would eliminate all the arguments off the bat.

    The other reason I didn't specify rational/good is because it's too easy to find evidence that people believe all kinds of things that are irrational. Sometimes it's willful, but other times they just haven't thought it through. I'm hoping a few of those will see my refutations and have a light bulb turn on (to use a cliche).

    And I would highly encourage you to speak out about your atheism. We need all the voices we can get. I've only been speaking out this year, but it's already made me more satisfied with my life. I may be only one snowflake on an avalanche, but at least I'm not staying in the clouds.

  3. First, I want to state that I am emphatically and unambiguously in support of giving homosexuals the same right to marry as heterosexuals. (I live in Canada, where same-sex marriage is now legal, and I was involved in some of the protests prior to its legalization.)

    And yet, following the conclusions of logic and reason, I *do* think there is a good secular argument against state-sanctioned legal marriage for anyone. Really, why should there be legal and tax implications based on whom a person is officially having sex with?

  4. Theo, I am not in disagreement on that. There are some legal issues that would need to be dealt with that are not necessarily obvious (in the absence of a living will, who makes medical decisions on your behalf when you're unable to? etc), but I'm sure ways could be found. I would be fine if marriage were a ritual without legal implications, but since it currently has legal standing, fair's fair.

  5. Oh good I’ve been waiting for this and you’re welcome for the links.

    This had to be my least favorite out of the collection of arguments on this matter, I hate it when someone throws out this idea that THERE traditions trumps everything else no matter what as though that were a justifiable reason.

    However he did write a rather amusing line in there.

    “Make no mistake; there is a deeper agenda at work here, even if all gay and lesbians are not aware of it.”

    Yes the secret gay agenda is so secret that not even we know about it, that’s just how efficient we are.

    Anyway the only thing I can think to add to your points are:

    1. We would not be receiving extra rights since straight people would also be granted the right to marry someone of the same sex regardless of whether or not they use that right.

    2. Allowing gay marriage is not the same as validating it, I may not like every newly wed pairing but it is not my right to stop them from marrying.

    3. And personally I would harp on the whole gay marriage will “shred the fabric of our society” since no one can even provide an example of what will happen and how or why it is detrimental to straight marriage.

    “Occasionally, I think" has a page too, but I haven't been doing anything there since I haven't figured out how to get the "Like" button on this site; readers, should I try harder?”

    Here this link should help with that

  6. "1. We would not be receiving extra rights since straight people would also be granted the right to marry someone of the same sex regardless of whether or not they use that right."

    Love it! I wish I'd thought of that!

    Your point 2 is also excellent. I tend to have high doubts about certain couples getting married (those barely out of high school usually), but I have no right to stop them.

    As for point 3 -- I will be coming back to that, I assure you, and making an effort to drive that point home, along with the evidence that shows the opposite. Possibly more than once.

    I'll look at the Facebook thing again. That's the same page I looked at originally, and I seem to recall having trouble figuring out where to put in the HTML code for the site to have it show up where I wanted it properly. I use the templates generally, so switching to HTML (which has moved well past the coding I did in the 90's) was confusing.