Sunday, August 7, 2011


Note: I originally posted this article in two parts on my page in May 2009. I’ve updated several small details, and even though there has been some progress in marriage rights, all the points are still relevant.

As I explained in a posting when I wrote a column on, when Carrie Prejean was ignoring her contractual duties as Miss California USA to appear in venues where she could speak against gay marriage before a friendly crowd, I felt compelled to explain why her position was wrong. Her latest move was no surprise after she babbled: “I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can choose, same-sex marriage or opposite marriage.”

Besides being inarticulate--what kind of relationship is “opposite” marriage?--this statement is false, which is the crux of the criticism against her.

Prejean followed with a Freudian slip: “In my country . . . ,“ but quickly corrected herself: “In my family, I think that a marriage should be between a man and a woman.” Though she ended with, “No offense to anybody . . . ,“ she’s now doing everything in her power to offend gays and lesbians everywhere by campaigning against the “freedom” that her cohorts have made sure doesn’t exist in the first place.

The time has come to explain why they’re all wrong. Following are the primary arguments that conservatives make against same-sex marriage, along with facts that show just how incorrect they are:

Point: Marriage has always been between a man and a woman because it is an arrangement for the purpose of procreation.

Counterpoint: If that’s the case, then marriage wouldn’t be valid for people who cannot have children, such as women who’ve had a hysterectomy or have been through menopause, or men and women who are sterile for any reason.

Point: Gay marriage will destroy traditional marriage.

Counterpoint: Only the people in an individual relationship can destroy that relationship. Any marriage is good or bad, a success or a failure, because of the behavior of the two people within that union.

Point: Gay marriage violates the religious rights of the . . . uh . . . religious right.

Counterpoint: No church can be forced to sanctify a union that the leaders or majority of members refuse to recognize. For instance, remarriage of divorced people is perfectly legal, yet many churches refuse to marry people who’ve been divorced, or even to recognize such unions. On the other hand, churches that use politics to force their beliefs on those who are not members of their religion are violating our religious rights. They are preventing us from enjoying our right to celebrate the spiritual union of same-sex couples within our religious community. That should be our choice, but fundamentalist churches deny us that choice.

Point: The Bible calls sex between two men an “abomination.”

Counterpoint: Leviticus chapter 11 lists numerous types of animals whose meat is considered unclean so eating it is considered an “abomination.” Today, the most popular of those foods is shellfish, which Christians today only refuse to eat if they’re allergic. Then there’s the uncleanness of people with leprosy, as described beginning in chapter 13. Yet that disease is now so well controlled by medication that in most parts of the world, people who have it are no longer quarantined. Chapter 19 warns against cross-breeding cattle, sowing two kinds of seeds in the same field, and wearing fabric woven of two different kinds of threads. All these unclean/abominable things are in common practice today, even by Christians. So they’re pretty selective about which “abominations” of the Hebrew scriptures they choose to avoid.

Point: But what of Genesis 1:28, in which God commanded Adam and Eve to: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth . . . “?

Counterpoint: Right-wingers quote the fruitful/multiply part all the time, but they conveniently ignore the meaning of “fill.” In fact, it is a qualifying statement that foretold a point where all that multiplying would not only not be needed, it would actually be counterproductive to the survival of both the species and the planet. At the time humans received that command, if it did come from on High--and I’ll leave that question to others--there were few, if any other, humans on the planet. For thousands of years, procreation strengthened family, tribe, and nation by increasing the population, while there was still room to accommodate the increase. But some years ago, the planet reached its “fill” point, and it’s been going downhill ever since. Genesis 1:28 does not say “overflow,” so the importance of procreation must be put into its historical context and the wisdom of moderation should now prevail.

Point: Sex between people of the same gender is unnatural.

Counterpoint: If same-gender sex occurs in nature, then it is natural. And it does occur among many species of animals. In fact, scientists have discovered that same-gender sexual activity occurs most often at times when animals are struggling to survive in areas where they’re dealing with overpopulation and limited resources. Looks like animals are even smarter than humans when it comes to managing natural resources.

Point: Then we get to the ultimate lie, that marriage is primarily a religious issue.

Counterpoint: Marriage was, first and foremost, a legal arrangement between families involving--not love or personal relationships--but property. And the primary property in the transaction was the bride, who was given by the bride’s father to the groom’s family. Thus, the tradition that the father of the bride give her away to the groom is an archaic practice best left out of modern marriages, but that’s a personal choice that should be made by the bride and no one else. The second property issue in marriage was the issue: the children that came from the marriage union. They were important because the more children a family/tribe had, the greater their influence in the community/nation. Then there was the dowry, an archaic custom in which the bride’s father paid the groom and/or his family to take her off his hands. In some societies it was the other way around: The man purchased the wife from her family. Either way, money or property changed hands so that the bride could too. This is very much a legal matter, and it’s about time it was completely separated from religious control. The United States Congress should pass a law that would grant the same legal marriage rights--or whatever they want to call them--to all couples, no matter their gender makeup, then let each church decide whether they want to bless those unions, just as it’s done in so many European countries today.

Point: Marriage is a tradition that has not changed in 5000 years.

Counterpoint: Those who think marriage has always been hearts and flowers are dead wrong. The institution has long been in a state of flux as the rights of women and children have slowly come to be recognized and protected. Throughout history, traditions that are morally wrong--such as spouse and child abuse, discrimination, slavery, and war--have changed with our growth as an enlightened society, though we still have a long way to go in all these areas. And if they’re really interested in following traditional marriage practices, they’d allow polygamy again and stop providing the cover of secrecy that allows people like Warren Jeffs to get away with all their crimes. The time has come to finally end one more form of bigotry by allowing any two people who love each other to enjoy the same rights and privileges now granted to “opposite” couples, whether money changes hands or they plan to have children, or none of the above.

Point: Gays and lesbians should be satisfied with civil unions.

Counterpoint: Civil unions, civil partnerships--whatever they’re called--only grant a handful of the more than 1400 legal rights and benefits given to straight married couples in the United States. Even marriages honored by individual states are not recognized in most of the other states, and many federal rights are not recognized for same-sex couples whose unions are fully blessed in the small number of states that allow gay marriage. The battle will not be over until everyone in the U.S. can marry whomever they choose and their relationship is recognized and honored in every state and county in the country.

Point: Children need both a mother and a father in order to grow up to be psychologically healthy adults.

Counterpoint: The American Academy of Pediatrics is only one of the many professional organizations that have debunked this piece of lunacy. While it is true that children derive great benefit from developing close relationships with people of both genders, even single parents manage to overcome the missing-parent gap by having relatives and/or friends act as psychological surrogates for their children. And when two people of the same gender live together, they tend to develop roles that span the range of psychological behaviors that address a child’s needs under most circumstances, just like “normal” couples, and provide models for good behavior as they’re developing and once the children are adults themselves.

Point: Children who grow up with gay parents of the same sex are more likely to be homosexual themselves.

Counterpoint: This is another fallacy created, fostered, and promoted by the anti-gay marriage crowd. If this were true, then no one who grows up in a family with heterosexual parents would ever turn out to be gay, but that’s simply not the case. And neither are children born to and/or raised by same-sex couples any more likely to be homosexual themselves. In fact, the percentages generally follow the same average in the population that they always have: Throughout history, approximately ten percent of the population, in every part of the world, have been gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or intersex (born with organs of both sexes). In most times and places, they were forced to hide their true nature, but they were everywhere, in all eras of history.

Point: Gay marriage violates conservative values.

Counterpoint: Traditional conservatives focused on economic issues, rejecting the notion of delving into people’s private lives. In fact, Barry Goldwater, the uber-conservative of the previous generation, believed government should stay out of the issues of abortion and gay marriage, and that churches should stay out of politics--as in the First Amendment tradition of separation of church and state.

Point: The majority of people in various states continue to vote for laws and constitutional amendments that define marriage as being only between a man and a woman. Are they all bigots?

Counterpoint: In fact, the name for this situation is: “tyranny of the majority.” In fact, the history of our country is a saga of growing beyond the bigotry of the majority to the enlightenment that sprang from small minorities, such as slavery, Jim Crow, anti-Asian policies, etc. And since the debacle of Proposition 8, polls are beginning to show that more people in California have come to regret their failure to understand the true meaning of that odious law, and polls reflect similar changing attitudes around the country. It won't be long before the votes will begin to turn things around.

Point: But what if, in spite of all these other arguments, same-sex marriage is just plain wrong?

Counterpoint: Whether same-sex marriage is morally right or wrong is not up to us to decide. We should heed Jesus’ advice and leave the judging up to God (Luke 6:37). Since the legal--and even religious, in the case of liberal sects which accept gay marriage--arrangement is between two consenting adults, it harms no one, and actually has beneficial effects on the parties involved. In the end, there is no basis for using the law to prevent people from honoring what is, after all, a basic human right.

Point: The current (now former, as of this updated posting) Miss California USA claims she meant “no offense” by declaring her belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Counterpoint: Carrie Prejean can say all she wants about her belief in “opposite” marriage. But she is using her notoriety to make sure millions of same-sex couples in this country--their country too!--continue to be denied the same rights and privileges granted to her married “opposite” friends. In the end, her ongoing attempt to continue denying this basic civil right to millions of Americans is offensive!

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