I just spent 15 minutes of my life searching the internet for any well-written, non-religious arguments opposing same-sex marriage. That’s 15 minutes of my life I’ve wasted and I’m never getting back.
I am undoubtedly more passionate about the subject of marriage equality than I am about any other social or political issue. I’ve been writing about the issue – at least privately – since I was in junior high school. And as I’m writing this blog post right now, I have to wonder why I’m bothering at all. Are there people on the fence on the topic of marriage equality? Is there someone out there who needs to be convinced with my impassioned argument? Are there individuals in opposition of marriage equality who hold a rational opinion on the subject that I can refute?
These aren’t rhetorical questions. While the tides are turning and those opposing equality are beginning to fall into the minority, there does still exist a very large percentage of Americans who believe that a same-sex couple should not be permitted to be married in a civil ceremony. But why?
The Biblical Argument
There is no question that the vast majority of same sex marriage opponents will cite a religious argument or biblical argument. “The Bible says that it is wrong.” “The ‘Church’ defines marriage as between a man and a woman.”
If I were so inclined, I could reference the counter-argument to any biblical references with those passages that are obviously not followed to the same letter and literal translation as biblical references to “man lying with another man”. (That’s in quotes, but I’m paraphrasing.) We’ve all heard the counter-argument. There are plenty of Christians and others devout in their faith who would also happily counter this and argue for equality.
Regardless of any biblical counterargument, the fact remains that a religious opposition to same sex marriage is an invalid argument in a civil, secular debate. So let me be clear on how I see this:
1.) Your religion does not dictate my civil rights. Full stop. End of story.
2.) No one is suggesting that your church should be required to marry or recognize the marriage of a same-sex couple.
The “Definition of Marriage” Argument
Aside from biblical definitions, there are those who will argue that “marriage” is defined as being between a man and a woman. (I’d argue that the definition is out-dated, but that’s not relevant here.) If this were truly the crux of the argument, then a viable compromise is to remove the word “marriage” from all civil unions. Marriage would no longer be a civil institution, as it’s definition is discriminatory. All couples wishing to enter into a legal agreement that comes with obligations and rights would sign a civil union agreement, which would come with equal rights for all couples.
Suggest this to someone who opposes marriage equality, though, and they’ll likely insist that marriage and civil unions are not the same. That the word “marriage” means too much – so much more than a civil union – and they don’t want to be denied the opportunity to be married in the eyes of the law. To which I would say, yes. I agree. No one likes to be denied their human rights.
The “Next Thing You Know, We’ll Be Marrying Goats” Argument
I don’t even want to recognize this by giving it space in this blog post, but it’s out there. There are really groups of people who think this is somehow the natural progression of same-sex marriage. We’re talking about committed, homosexual relationships between two consenting adult humans – the same type of relationship that has existed since the beginning of time, with varying levels of openness in civilization throughout history.
Granting equal rights to same-sex couples is not a “slippery slope” to anything other than an increase in legal revenue for same-sex divorce.
The “Children Need a Mother and a Father Argument”
First of all, we’re talking about marriage and not raising a family – and yet the argument is still made in opposition to same-sex marriage. Second of all, children need parental love. From wherever that might come.
Point me to a “study” that has been done that shows how children from heterosexual, married couples are better students/athletes/people than other kids – and I’ll show you a study full of bias. Do children in two parent homes perform better in school? Quite possibly, as they are more likely to live above the poverty line, attend good schools, get three healthy meals a day and have at least one parent who has time to be available in the evenings. No studies (that have not been soundly and widely renounced as biased and unscientific) have shown a significant difference in the performance of children growing up in a stable home with heterosexual parents versus children from a stable home with homosexual parents.
The “States’ Rights” Argument
Okay. I guess. My opinion on Federal versus States’ rights not withstanding, the fact remains that same-sex couples should have the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples – whether those rights are granted by the Federal Government or the State Government. But since there are federal tax implications and other advantages of marriage, the ability to marry must be dictated at the Federal level. If you want to argue that we should erase those Federal benefits for all married couples, I’m willing to entertain the States’ Rights argument. (I’d still argue for equality in each individual state, of course.)