Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Over at The Apostate's Chapel there's been a lively discussion over California's Proposition 8. Here are some of the arguments offered up by the opponents of same-sex marriage (these are actual quotes):
- 98% of the world’s population does not recognize same-gender marriage
- The majority finds this lifestyle disgusting and we do not want to see it, much less issue special rights because of it.
- SSM supporters are out of step with fellow Americans.
- SSM denies all children in those relationships the connection to one of their biological parents. Because of this, I remain unconvinced it is a step forward.
- People who adopt are not responsible for the failure of the original family. Same sex couples intentionally deny a child one of their biological parents.
Right, so lets address these points. Whether or not most of the world recognizes same-sex marriage is not a valid argument. If 98% of the world thought men were not competent to run their own affairs and needed a guardian, would that not still be a violation of rights? Stick any argument in place of the group in question and the argument stays the same. This is also called argumentum ad populum or appeal to the majority.
Whether or not most people find same-sex marriage disgusting is also not a valid argument. Many people found interracial marriages disgusting. It was only through granting those rights that people came to see that there was nothing unnatural about a relationship between two people of a different race. This is not only argumentum ad populum, but outright bigotry.
Whether or not supporters of same-sex marriage are in the majority of American people is also not a valid argument. While, in many things we live by majority rule, the US Constitution (specifically the Bill of Rights) is in place to guarantee that individual freedoms are not impinged upon. Minority groups should not be oppressed or discriminated against just because the majority of Americans don't like them or don't want to be icked out or don't want to give up their own privilege. It's also, once again, argumentum ad populum.
Same sex couples do not deny children their biological parents any more than opposite-sex parents. This is a perfect solution fallacy and a guilt by association fallacy based on an appeal to emotion. It's also missing the point that we don't deny marriage to couples of the opposite-sex because they also adopt, use artificial insemination, use sperm banks, and use surrogate mothers. If those practices are wrong, then they should be protested and changed. But I don't see same-sex marriage opponents calling for the end of any of these practices.
It's also one of my pet peeves. "Do it for the chiiildren," they yell. Yes, let me tell you about the children.
I know a couple that could not have children naturally. They applied for and were approved to be adoptive parents after going through a rigorous set of classes, tests, and inspections. They agreed to be foster parents so that they wouldn't have to wait as long on the adoption process. They requested two children, preferably siblings and preferably a boy and a girl.
Within weeks they received a call that three siblings were in need of a home and asked whether they would consider adopting all three children. The children came from an abusive home and were removed from their father and mother for their safety. The couple agreed. They took the children in as foster children while the state worked to place the children with any remaining living relative. As it turns out, none of the relatives wanted to raise the children and the couple was given permission to adopt the children.
After a year of monitoring the children in the couple's home, the adoption was finally approved and these children were recognized as their children by the state.
What do you think of this couple? Do you honor their altruism or do you find them repugnant for denying these children a home with their natural parents? Would your opinion change if the couple was in a same-sex relationship instead of an opposite-sex relationship? If so, why? If you again say it's for the children I ask you for evidence that this family is not loving and supportive and that the children will not have a better life with this couple. Evidence to-date supports same-sex families as healthy.
If you find yourself cringing inside at the thought of having same-sex couples marry, perhaps you should question your motives. Are they based on sound arguments and science or are they based on personal beliefs and biases? And ask yourself, do you want your own life ruled by someone else's personal biases or do you want them to give you the same freedoms they enjoy?
After all, look what will happen if gay marriages are made legal in the United States:
Update: Adding a link from Toniya about traditional marriage.