Anti-gay Arguments We Don’t Bother With (And Should): Part 2

Gabriel Arana

January 29th, 2009

This is the second post in a five-part a series about anti-gay arguments that get the short shrift in public debate; we examine them here. Readers are encouraged to contribute to the discussion below.

#2: If you let gays marry, then you will have to allow polygamous, incestuous or inter-species marriage.

This is, essentially, the “box turtle argument.”

Interpreting the statement literally: it is clear that legally recognizing gay marriage does not entail doing so for polygamy, incestuous marriage, or marrying animals; these are all separate propositions. The legal determination of what a marriage is can be specified so as to allow gay marriage but not extend to marrying a box turtle. In the same way that certain states have provisions in their constitutions defining marriage as “between a man and a woman,” it could also be specified that marriage rights extend to same-sex couples but — if one is really so worried about people marrying box turtles and the rest — not to (1) more than two people; those who are (2) blood related; and (3) animals.

The “box turtle” statement above is really making the case against gay marriage by not making the case: It is not telling you what is wrong with gay marriage, but rather saying that if you allow gay marriage then you will have to allow something else you might not like.

But the literal meaning is different from the underlying argument. The question being asked is: how does the argument for gay marriage — loosely construed as “you should be able to marry the person you love” — fail to extend to polygamy, incest, or inter-species marriage? The problem in encountering the argument is that it asks you to argue — on a case-by-case basis — against polygamy, incest, or marrying animals, or show how the argument for gay marriage is different from an argument that could be made for these things. Further underlying this statement is the belief that relaxing the restrictions (viz. procreation) on marriage will lead to future deterioration in the definition of marriage and, as an inevitable result, social anomie.

1) Well, if you can just marry whomever you love, what stops you from allowing X type of marriage?

This is a twisted overgeneralization of the criterion “whom/what you love.” Gay rights advocates off-handedly state this — as opposed to simply biology — as the criterion for being able to marry someone. Maybe we should be more specific from the get-go to pre-empt this, specifying that you should be able to marry the person you love as long as they meet X requirements and this is why X requirements are important, but this is a bit unwieldy.

The assumption is that you disagree with X type of marriage, which isn’t a trivial point (for instance, I happen to think Mormons who practice polygamy should be able to structure their families as they please so long as the marriages are not coerced and the participants are of age). This question asks you to get off-track; you end up arguing against polygamy or incest. Nevertheless, here are some general thoughts that I hope BTB readers with different opinions will be able to add to.

Polygamy: My strategy here would be to shift the burden of proof and make a devil’s advocate argument.

For those who cite procreation as the basis of marriage, polygamy should be fine given that it is an efficient way to increase the population. Also, polygamy might even be more “natural” than two-personal marriages given the assumption that men are sexually voracious; this version of marriage accommodates what people think is a biological predisposition to promiscuity among men. It is really the philosophical basis of straight marriage that supports polygamy; those arguing against gay marriage on the basis of procreation have the burden of showing why polygamy is wrong.

Incest: Here, you can’t use the biology argument against anti-gay-marriage people given that children of incest are more likely to have genetic deformities. But you can say that children of gay couples are not prone to this same problem either because they are adopted or naturally conceived by non-genetically-related couples (barring blood-related gay couples). The argument against incest — preventing genetic abnormalities — is sufficient enough in itself to distinguish this case from gay marriage.

For those who are religious, the Bible is packed with divinely sanctioned instances of incest. But I try to steer clear of Biblical arguments, which are tedious and rarely fruitful.

Inter-species: This is the most ridiculous. Marriages are partnerships and animals are not capable of rational decision making to enter into one. Also, marriage involves questions of inheritance, taxation, making medical decisions, etc. that animals cannot make. Anti-gay activists make this argument in response to the statement that one should be allowed to marry whom one loves. But of course it is implicit that we mean humans.

2) Relaxing the restrictions (viz. procreation) on marriage will lead to future deterioration in the definition of marriage and, as an inevitable result, social anomie

I think it is important to frame this as an “opening up” of marriage. As conservative columnist David Brooks of the New York Times has argued, respecting the sanctity of marriage should include allowing gay marriage. It is actually strengthening relationships and families. Outlawing gay marriage actually leads to a “breakdown of society” by discouraging healthy relationships.

The best argument against the “breakdown of society” charge is not hypothetical, though: it’s the state of Massachusetts, which has one of the lowest divorce rates, highest levels of education and income in the country; since gay marriage was legalized, the divorce rate has only dropped. The sky hasn’t fallen there and there is little evidence to suggest that the state is about to allow polygamy, incest, or inter-species marriage.

Timothy (TRiG)

January 29th, 2009

Interestingly, I came across a short essay about this on Slap Upside the Head only the other day.

I don’t quite agree with Mark there. For a start, I think the “choice” argument is a non-starter. If our sexuality were a choice, it would still not be a choice with moral consequences. (And besides, wouldn’t everyone be bi?)

Also, Matt Slick used polygamy and animal marriage as arguments against same-sex marriage on his radio show. I wrote about that at


Timothy (TRiG)

January 29th, 2009

Phew. I’ve just read my essay again. It was written a while ago. I’ve grown up a bit since then.



January 29th, 2009

It’s not a logical connection. One thing doesn’t entail the other. Gay marriage and polygamy are seperate issues.

The connection is that both are illegal by virtue of the fact that they run counter to traditional Christian ideas of sexual morality. If Gay marriage becomes legal then this seems to entail that other behaviors / relationships considered wrong in traditional Christian sexual morality be reconsidered (at least) if not accepted. In all fairness, in the USA at least, polygamy really should be reconsidered, since Mormanism once advocated this and the majority religion (Christianity + a nominal cultural Christianity) determined it to be illegal. So, I would think that at least within the USA a strong civil liberties case could be made for polygamy. Legal acceptance / affirmation of the one would seem entail the the reconsideration of other in that sense.

But, the only connection is that both types of behaviors / relationships are disapproved by traditional Christian sexual morality. There’s no other internal connection.

All the logic in the world won’t make this argument (such as it is) go away.

Gabriel Arana

January 29th, 2009

Craig — good point. I’ve never really understood this argument and have always wondered whether the person was being genuine or not, thanks for making it a bit more clear for me.

There indeed does not seem to be any internal connection except for the fact that Christian morality (at least modern) has disapproved of all these and so refuses to draw distinctions among them — it’s a false dichotomy they have, straight marriage vs. everything else.


January 29th, 2009

You have a good point that anti-gay folks have a hard time objecting to polygamy. Polygamy promotes “traditional Judeo-Christian”, is biblical, promotes heterosexuality and re-affirms male leadership and submissive wives.

My argument against the polygamy analogy is that a three-or-more-person-relationship is inherently a completely different type of agreement than a two-person marriage. In a plural marriage, a majority could override the wishes of a minority and could even merge with other plural marriages.

Ben in Oakland

January 29th, 2009

Actually, in the other post, Jason D made much the same point as Craig. but Craig’s is a bit more explicit.

Gabe wrote: “It is really the philosophical basis of straight marriage that supports polygamy; those arguing against gay marriage on the basis of procreation have the burden of showing why polygamy is wrong.”

Polygamy seems to be primarily a heterosexual phenomenon as it has been practiced throughout history through the present day. I have known a few het polyandrists, and I once saw a photo essay of three very cute boys who were allegedly in a polyandrous relationship, but they were cute boys and it was a photo essay directed towards gay men.

As I have said repeatedly, gay marriage as proposed is quite the opposite of polygamy. If hets have a problem with polygamy, maybe they should start talking about THAT among themselves instead of somehow, as always, blaming gay people for their actions. that might show a bit of honesty.

oh, wait. If hets can’t blame gay people for what hets do — divorce, child molestation, polygamy, venereal disease– then there wouldn’t be any scapegoats. And we all know what happens when that happens…

…people have to start telling the truth and take responsibility for their own lives.

Timothy Kincaid

January 29th, 2009


I think it may be more accurate to say “I would think that at least within the USA a strong civil liberties case could be made for considering polygamy.”

If one considers polygamy on its own merits, I doubt that one would find it either functional in modern society, or absent of significant social harm.

But you are quite right that at the heart of it, the slippery slope arguments are really about upholding religious doctrine.

Bill Ware

January 29th, 2009

This is the simplest way I can think to state it:

“Each person would be allowed to marry the person they choose as long as that marriage would be allowed you if you were of the opposite sex.”

This should eliminate all that “slippery slope” nonsense.

Bill Ware

January 29th, 2009

Polygamists coerce 14 year old girls into marriage because any woman who has developed a sense of dignity and self respect would not want to share her husband with somebody else.

Jonathan Justice

January 29th, 2009

As usual, the projection is the clue to the place the speaker is coming from. Here social anomie is indeed the problem. The slippery slope argument is being made by folks so afflicted with the belief that other people are not real that they have serious difficulties grasping the concept of mutual consent or the ongoing work a good marriage is. When Mrs. Haggard tells Oprah that she had a dandy sex life with Ted, and almost no clue that he might be having sex with men, she is also telling us that he was putting one over on her. It would also appear that he was putting one over on those men as well. These problematical relationships were all getting short changed by someone who just could not bring himself to disclose these rather important considerations-social anomie for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Lying about legal and social policy considerations in public is another form of social anomie. (‘Nota bene’, Mr. Warren.)

With tradition in that kind of shape, the need to support stable, honest, productive couples in the most public ways should take priority. It might even be good for children.


January 29th, 2009

I think it is important to look to what society defines marriage as, in contrast to what individuals or institutions consider as marriage for themselves. Society does not require married couples to procreate, nor does it require couples to have the capacity to procreate. Soceity appears to qualify marriage as the affirmation of a relationship of two persons, nothing more, nothing less. Should individuals or institions wish to apply a different definition or different requirements to marriage, they are free to do so for themselves. The fact of the matter is that society does not require anything more.

In regards to the polygamy/incest/animal arguments, they are fairly simple to distinguish:

1) Polygamy: without discussing the moral or social implications of permitting polygamy, this extension would create a whole new set of rights which no one in society currently enjoys, homosexual and heterosexual alike. The extension of marriage to homosexuals is based upon granting an existing right to a group in society who has been excluded on the basis of an immutable charactersitic – the right exists, but it is being denied to certain persons. Regardless of whether polygamy is right or wrong, that issue is completely separate from the same-sex marriage issue.

2) Incest: this has been prohibited in many societies for various reasons, one of the more prominent of which is the preservation of familial relations and prevention of abuse. Due to the importance that family plays throughout one’s life, it is wise to prohibit the development of sexual relationships, which can often result in the abuse of power differentials and the breakdown of essential, life-long family relationships. As well, by preventing homosexuals from marrying someone of the same sex, you are preventing them from marrying anyone of the gender to which they are attracted. By prohibiting incest, you are merely removing a handful of people from the 3 billion persons of the gender to which you are attracted – hardly an equivalent restriction.

3) Animals: this argument angers me, because it is the most irrational and desperate of them all. Animals cannot give legal consent, end of argument. Marriage is a contract, in the eyes of the state, and thus animals are completely out of the question. With same-sex marriage, we are talking about consenting adults. There is absolutely no logical way to think that same-sex marriage somehow leads to human-animal marriages. This argument, in my opinion, automatically identifies the speaker as someone incapable of rational thought on the subject.

I currently live in a jurisdiction that permits same-sex marriages, and am extremely thankful for that right. If society wishes to take that right away, then I will respect that decision. So long as you also take away that right from barren women, impotent men and senior citizens, in addition to dissolving all childless marriages.


January 29th, 2009


I accept that correction.

I have no opinion on the social merits or de-merits of polygamy.


January 29th, 2009

And I should say that the most common anti-gay-marriage arguments I encounter among my friends are (1) it will imply polygamy & other previously-frowned-upon sexual behaviors, and (2) pastors will be forced to perform gay marriages against their conscience / will. Neither of these is very reasonable upon examination, but both seem to be quite powerful emotionally.


January 29th, 2009

The other aspect of marriage that does not fit with either polygamy or incest is the nature of the legal relationship between spouses. The only way to supercede the rights of one’s blood relatives (or relatives through adoption) is to marry. Without a legal spouse, the existing siblings, children and/or parents of the individual are designated basically equivalent rights over, say, the decision to withhold life support (e.g., Terry Schiavo). Once a marriage occurs, the spouse is now considered the most important relative the individual has, because the state and society are recognizing that a new family has been created between the two spouses, which supercedes, but does not totally replace, existing relationships through other family units. Removing the gender requirement from marriage does not change this essential nature of marriage, in the way that polygamy or legally-recognized incest would.

With polygamy there are numerous potential “most important” relatives to at least one individual, and there is no way under the current law to designate which spouse is primary. It gets even more complicated in truly polyandrous situations, where everyone is married to everyone else.

With incest there is already a blood relationship, one that is shared again with many other members of that blood family, leading to the same confusion about which relative is primary. We must also remember that legal marriage/incest – at least among first cousins – is allowed in nearly every state, with various restrictions on the practice.


January 29th, 2009

The problem with this question is that it distracts from the real issue. Does the state have a compelling reason to deny gays and lesbians the right to marry?

The answer cannot be “well if we let gays and lesbians get married, then we should allow incest, polygamy, etc.” since it doesn’t answer the question at all. Its really just expanding the question.


January 29th, 2009

The whole polygamy argument seems to me a heterosexual issue being pushed onto gay people. Every polygamy advocate that I have seen on TV or heard on the radio involved a man with multiple women.

Despite the fact that a man already has the right to marry a woman in all 50 states and the territories, he cannot legally marry multiple women. So legal opposite sex marriage has not led to legalized opposites sex multiple marriage.

I am not familiar with a significant movement for same sex polygamy. If one were to develop, they could ally themselves with the current polygamy advocates, but I don’t see the general gay and lesbian community (or the wider heterosexual community) taking much interest.

Regan DuCasse

January 29th, 2009

This examination is a clearly and unequivocally reveals that heterosexuals who argue against marriage between gay couples, don’t really have a case against it.
That his subject is brought up as a case repeatedly in any given open forum, is beyond tedious.
It’s as if the question has NEVER been answered and keeps getting asked again and again, or brought up again and again.

Why do they think that such repetition is a case against marriage equality unto itself?
That is rhetorical is proof of that.

Just as abolition and racial intermarriage and desegregation has been articulated, the assumption is of damage and devaluation to institutions the dominant culture felt they invented and can’t share.

They are assuming then inferior quality, even less human qualities for gay people, and therefore can’t argue the difference between an attribute they won’t accept as opposed to a REDUNDANCY of relationships in their conjectures.

We have pointed out PRIMACY between the spouses as the state’s interest for marriage.
We’ve pointed out that exclusion based on non procreation isn’t legal anyway.

We’ve pointed out the negative consequences of polygamy, because of historical context and experience.

We’ve even pointed out the negative consequences of mixed gay and straight marriages.
The courts pointed out clearly that since heteros can marry each other, and have that choice there is no merit in denying gay people the option to marry someone who shares that same quality of also being gay.

And even with no such consequences in evidence in other countries or states where marriage is legal for gay couples, there is STILL a tenacious stubborn quality to insisting the conjecture is truer than the reality,

The opposition’s arguments ARE in fact, silly and have no bearing on gay people.
But have MUCH bearing on THEIR ability to stick to the merits that are about BOTH gay and straight.

Their other argument that gay people are obligated to defend polygamy and all the rest, makes even LESS sense.

There IS no significant amount of people representative of polygamists that are defending themselves and who never had to wait for gay marriage, or the incestuous… to make THEIR case.

The opposition should know by now if they were going to, they would have LONG before now.

Can’t whoever they are talking to figure that out? This shit ain’t even rocket science.

And the moral issue is even LESS in their favor.
The most depraved, irresponsible and loveless straight person is assumed to have redemption in getting married. Even THEY are considered a worthy participant, however marginally they can manage such a relationship.
Even if incarcerated for life.

This argument FOR marriage equality should be about that belief in marriage and IT’S qualities, not rationalizing the injustice that not even the most devoted and loving gay couple are unworthy of it.


January 29th, 2009

Stand next to a Mormon and say: “If we get gay marriage approved then we will work for making polygamy not illegal.”

See what happens.

[You see the fastest change in human emotions known to medical science. You will see the Mormon shift from delight, then to abject skepticism and then to squinty-eyed sarcasm… all in about 10 seconds.]


January 29th, 2009

>> JOHN: The whole polygamy argument seems to me a heterosexual issue being pushed onto gay people.

No, the two sides are entirely talking past one another. It sounds like YOU think that conservatives are trying to equate hx with polygamy, when they are really equating the ARGUMENT in favor of hx marriage with those that support polygamy – that is, when you remove any one of the traditional parts of the definition of marriage (two people, hetero, non-related), you are making an argument to devalue the others.

Now, you may not find that a valid argument, but it has nothing to do with the ‘similarities’ between relationship types.

AND, underlying these three requirements (hetero, dual, non-related) are biological and sociological principles of health.

This forum has helped me formulate this view, and I will post on it and give you the URL later.

Timothy Kincaid

January 29th, 2009


you are welcome to state your views here, but we are not a referral service and do not promote links to offsite debates over our site’s topics.

And before you write your thinking on this matter, you may want to take note that your notion about the ‘removal of any “traditional parts” of marriage devalues the other restrictions’ has been addressed quite clearly in the commentary above and also that any wild assertions about “health” that you may imagine have probably already been addressed at this site. Redundancy and rehashing what has been debunked are not likely to win you any converts but rather to earn you complete dismissal of your comments.


January 29th, 2009

A thought suddenly occurred to me reading through these posts: since some American states are constitutionally barred from recognizing gay marriages, someone with a same-sex spouse from another state or country could legally marry an opposite-sex spouse in such a state, since it considers the person as single. An academic case, I know, but it intrigues me a little.
On the marrying-animals matter, you can be more succinct: no-one is suggesting marriage between anything other than consenting adults. Animals don’t fit.


January 29th, 2009

danielg wrote: “This forum has helped me formulate this view, and I will post on it and give you the URL later.”

I don’t think that statement is the least bit true. I glanced at your website (provided by Grantdale in another thread). You have been yammering on about all this for a long time. I think it is less than honest for you to present yourself as just looking at this issue for the first time. In fact, you tried to hijack the Part I arguement (about heterosexual and homosexual men could both marry a woman, so there is no discrimination) with the veyr subject of this post: the polygamy red herring.

You can have whatever view you want, but you don’t help your arguement by pretending to be a naive newbie to this whole area of discussion and ideas.


January 30th, 2009

“any wild assertions about “health” that you may imagine have probably already been addressed at this site. Redundancy and rehashing what has been debunked are not likely to win you any converts but rather to earn you complete dismissal of your comments.”

So true…

“Now, you may not find that a valid argument, but it has nothing to do with the ’similarities’ between relationship types.

AND, underlying these three requirements (hetero, dual, non-related) are biological and sociological principles of health.

Sociological principles of health… sounds very interesting, yet, this has been adresses before and you have had no interest in formulating or expressing a rebuttal.

The biological argument seems to go in hand with your sociological principles of health.


January 30th, 2009

I generally dislike the “anyone should get to marry whom they love” and never use it. It makes a good soundbite, but it’s just bad ethics. Anyone who has more than two seconds to talk should use a more healthy argument.

Jason D

January 30th, 2009

Some related points on these subjects:

I: Polygamy.

1. – To be fair, we’ve “been there, done that”, not so with gay marriage.
2. – We’re capitalist, so we don’t appreciate anyone monopolizing resources — so one man marrying up all the available women in the area is rather counter to capitalism.
3. – Polygamy isn’t group marriage. It’s serial monogamy without divorce. How is this at all different from the popular “Baby Daddy” setup where one man has children with several women — except that he hasn’t married any of them? We essentially have defacto polygamy, making it legal may or may not help.
4. – Polygamy extends rather easily from heterosexuality. One does not need to involve gays at all. If marriage is “between one man and one woman”, nowhere in there do I see a limit on polygamy. Joe marries Sarah, Joe Marries Barbara. Two marriages — each marriage only has one man and one woman, just happens that the groom in each wedding is the same man.
5. – Another point about group marriage vs. polygamy. In polygamy, each wife is married to the husband but NOT to the other wives. Thus another reason why it’s fudamentally heterosexual.

II: Incest.

1. – Marriage is consensual institution. Dan Savage once talked about this. He basically said that a marriage is equal partners, but family dynamics preclude equality, there’s always a dominant and submissive person in any family relationship. Children are usually dominated by parents, who are dominated by grandparents. There’s a lot of power-dynamics in a family — thus how can we say that a child every truly “consents” to marrying a parent?

2. – Marriage is the only time in one’s life that you get to choose who you’re related to. The family you’re born with, you’re stuck with. Marriage is your choice, you choose your next of kin. A marriage license makes this official. The law recognizes this kinship above most other arrangements. Thus, in a legal sense – family members are ALREADY “married” under the law. Birth certificates are a quasi-marriage certificate between parent and child. At least far as how the law treats blood relatives and how the law treats spouses, it’s not exactly interchangable, but close enough that it would be legally redundant for a father to marry his daughter.

3. – Like with polygamy, we’ve been there, done that. In fact, like polygamy, incest is in the bible, without much criticism of either practice.

III: Beastiality.

1. – Marriage takes place between consenting parties. We cannot ascertain whether or not an animal understands what marriage is, let alone determine whether they willingly consent of their own volition. Consent is a major part of the structure of our legal system, and is too basic to be overturned. Many crimes are crimes soley because consent is not given(theft, rape, assault), to do away with consent is implausible, impracticle, and would do more harm than good.

2. – The law does not recognize animals as citizens or persons, it recognizes them as property. They have no legal standing as anything other than property. Similar to birth certificates, a dog license could be construed as a quasi-marriage contract as well, albeit with limited legal impact.

3. – Marriage is based on consent from BOTH parties. I may want to marry Brad Pitt, but he has to consent or it’s not happening. Gay couples have been seen at rallies, on tv, on courthouse steps protesting. Each is clearly interested, and understanding of what they seek. We’ve heard, supposedly, from human beings about their interest in marrying an animal…but where is the animal? Where is the dog-human support group? Where are the letters to congress from cats? Where are the geese protesting outside the courthouse? Where are the op-ed pieces written by horses? Where are the lobby groups made up of iguanas? Where are the commercials written and directed by whales? In short, we’ve seen zero action from the animals on this subject. Until we begin to see such action, this argument has no merit. The same holds true for inanimate objects, plants, and the deceased, until we see any effort from these entities to obtain the right to marry humans, there is no slippery slope leading there.

IV Final thoughts.
The legality of incest, polygamy, and beastiality are not contingent on heterosexuality. In many respects they can proceeed directly from heterosexuality, with no need for the existence of gays, bisexuals or even transgender people. If a man can marry a woman, why not 3? If a man can marry a woman, why not his sister — she’s a woman! If a man can marry a woman, why not his female dog? Thus, whatever measures in place that are keeping these from happening under the rubric of heterosexuality do not suddenly disappear when homosexual couples are given the same rights and responsibilities.

Ben in Oakland

January 30th, 2009

Json– as always, brilliant. Especially your last paragraph. I actually started writing something along thosel ines myself, but i haven’t had a chance to finish it. I may still finish it, and may with your prmission include your last paragraph–properly credited, of course.

I will say this much right now– an extension of oyurl ast paragraph. All of the arguments against gay marriage avoid the obvious. Any man and any woman can get married, and no one will question anything about it if 1) they are clearly a man and woman (and even that can be fudged) 2) they have proper ID indicating they are hwo they say they are and are of legal age. A man can certainly marry his sister as long as they don’t tell the clark. a man can marry three women as long as no one ifnds out aobut it.

In other words, the defenders of marriage already allow polygamy and incest– as long as no one suspects or finds out. As you rightly note:

Thus, whatever measures in place that are keeping these from happening under the rubric of heterosexuality do not suddenly disappear when homosexual couples are given the same rights and responsibilities.

I would add: in fact, they do not keep them from happening at all. but there is clearly no great demand to marry one’s sister or three women or a dog. It’s just a reason they think up to justify what they cannot justify by any other apparently rational means.

Of course, the real, professional haters do not need rational means. There quite willing to say “I hate fags” and leave it at that.

How refreshing!

Larry in Miami

February 1st, 2009

How many Canadians have married box turtles since they approved marriaage equality?

Ben in Oakland

February 2nd, 2009

It has taken me a few days to write this, so it is a little bit late.

Here’s the reality of Danielg and his ilk. No matter how much they try to paint, in “rational” terms and “scientific” arguments, their opposition to gay people being included as full members of the human family, it always boils down to ideology. Gay is bad. Straight is good. Any attempt to equate hetero and homo is bad because straight is good and gay is bad. Don’t confuse him with reality. Or, as Regan put it so eloquently: “This examination clearly and unequivocally reveals that heterosexuals who argue against marriage between gay couples, don’t really have a case against it.” Except that gay is bad and straight is good. Which isn’t much of a case.

Here is some real reality, as opposed to ideological reality.

Gay marriage doesn’t threaten straight marriage, or heterosexuality, or the heterosexually-based family. In fact, an argument could me made that it might help to preserve more straight marriages and more heterosexual families. No more Ted Haggards and his ilk. No more down low. No more sham marriages and devastated spouses. No more Bobby Griffiths. And of course, we won’t beg this question: what about OUR families? Don’t they matter?

Gay Marriage may be said to threaten conservative religious faith, in the sense that CRF tends to puts all of its eggs in the basket of “We know the absolute truth and the mind of G and we are his representatives on earth.” And being wrong on homosexuality– as CRF is– would lead one to question that, or so they think. Of course, they are as wrong on that as they are on so many issues. That basket and that alleged threat to CRF are also matters of faith, and ironically, necessary articles of faith to keep the pews and the collection basket full, and to sustain anti-gay preachers in their quest for power and self-righteousness, which they call righteousness, and which I would call holiness built on the backs of others. However, the reality is that people believe whatever they want to believe, without evidence, and therefore, without fear of contradiction. That’s why the Catholic Church did not fall either from the discovery that the earth was not actually the center of the universe, or from its ongoing problems with pedophiles who have received the “charisma” of the priesthood. That is why Protestant churches continued on despite the discovery that there were no such things as witches, and that the Catholic Church is not the Whore of Babylon. (Gotta love that biblical color!!!) That is why there are still Catholic Churches and Protestant churches.

Gay marriage becomes a threat because religious orthodoxy requires that reality conform to it. (If reality made the same demand, it would be be the death of orthodoxy as we know it). I frankly don’t care about religion at all, except when it threatens me and those I love. (Funny how what is supposed to bring peace, joy, fulfillment, love, and union with the Divine somehow becomes an obstacle to those very things. Believe what we say or we’ll hurt you).

The actual “threat” of gay marriage is normality for gay people. Normality threatens heterosexual hegemony–the myth of heterosexual superiority and the reality of heterosexual privilege. Normality threatens a major cash cow for the religious right and the AXIS (Anti-eX-gay-Industry-Stuff) powers. Normality REALLY threatens those who wish they were straight, but who actually aren’t. Normality threatens having a scapegoat to blame for what you cannot or will not take responsibility for. Kids getting molested? Blame the queers rather than the unfitness of some heterosexuals for parenthood, or a church hierarchy that is so twisted by its fear of sexuality and its desire for absolute control, that it cannot tell the difference between fearful destruciveness and godly morality. Normality threatens certainty.

So what does all of this have to do with marriage and danielg? He proposes that gay marriage is bad, and cites a whole bunch of reasons and alleged dire consequences if gay marriage is accepted. But those dire consequences are in fact not an argument against gay marriage, but an argument for normalizing prejudice against gay people. They have no basis in reality.

So let’s talk about reality.

Here’s the reality of the situation as it stands today, the reality of the sacred instruction of heterosexual marriage. ANY man and ANY woman who appear to be of marriageable age, who appear to be consenting, who appear to be not entirely crazy, who give no reason for a clerk to think that they shouldn’t be married, and who have $50 for a marriage license, can get married. That’s reality. As Dan Savage pointed out when he and Terry were denied a marriage license, the clerk would allow him to marry a woman he had just met at the front of the line because he was a man and she was a woman. But he couldn’t marry Terry, despite their years together, despite their son.

Here’s some more reality for danielg.

It is not required that the man and woman know each other, or have even met before they decided to get married. Arranged marriages between complete strangers are common throughout the world today, have been common throughout history, and have been blessed by the church repeatedly. So much for the specialness of hetero marriage. Yet, my friends Andy and Paul, and Lance and Peter, devoted couples for 40 years, are legal strangers to each other.

It is not required that they love each other, as arranged marriages show. On the very day the Bill Clinton signed DOMA, Richard Ramirez, also know as the Night Stalker, and imprisoned for life for his crimes against women, married a woman he had never met. All that was required was that he was a man and she was a woman. If he kills his new wife, he can get married again next week. History is full of murderers, serial marriers (is that a word?), wife beaters, husband poisoners, gold-diggers, and political marriages where both parties are miserable.

It is not required that they procreate, be capable of procreation, want to procreate, like children, are capable of loving and supporting children, or even have murdered children. For the second time this week (that I know about), a man killed his wife and children, and thankfully, himself. But had he not killed himself, he could marry a new woman next week, with the blessing of church and state, because he is a man a she is a woman. No one will question it. Yet my friend Deb, who has devoted her life to raising a wonderful, well adjusted little boy who would be just another piece of third world refuse heading towards an early and unmourned death were it not for her, is legally barred from marrying the woman she loves and giving M a complete set of parents. And therefore, M is barred from having a set of married parents, and all the legal and social benefits that that would allow. So much for the sake of The Children (TM).

In other words, procreation is not required for marriage, except when gay people are involved, at which point it suddenly becomes of paramount importance. But the children of gay people– 70,000 in California at least– and the unwanted, castoff children of irresponsible heterosexual procreation that we are often adopting– well those children don’t matter all.

On a side note, and another argument against insisting that marriage is all about procreation: Not only is procreation not required for procreation, but marriage is not required for procreation. Any man and woman can have a child for one simple reason: THEY CAN. We don’t license it, train for it, or really, even care. Some woman just had her second litter, giving us 14 kids in two batches. We tax payers will have to support them, because she doesn’t have a job or skills or money. The father is not in the picture. Some communities are plagued by unwed mothers, often barely adults, having multiple children by multiple fathers. No requirement, and only a little concern, that those mothers and fathers ever marry, let alone to each other. And what does my marriage have to do with these people? Absolutely nothing.

Likewise, the so-called arguments regarding incest and polygamy NEVER seem to come up when the discussion is about heterosexual marriage. The defenders of marriage already allow polygamy and incest to some extent, and with little of the concern that suddenly is exhibited on this issue when gay marriage is brought up. Otherwise, there is no real mechanism in place to prevent any of these things, only to discourage them with a touch of don’t-give-a-damn. Sometimes polygamy is allowed explicitly, as in certain parts of Mormonia, and in a good deal of Islamia. Gay marriage certainly has nothing to do with that. And any man can marry three women as long as no one finds out about it. Bigamy or trigamy is not unknown; we have a hit TV series on the subject of heterosexual polygamy. Gay marriage certainly has nothing to do with that. A man can certainly marry his sister or daughter or mother as long as they don’t tell the clerk, or if they lie or fudge on the marriage application to disguise their relationship. Gay marriage certainly has nothing to do with that.

Jason wrote this: “Thus, whatever measures in place that are keeping these from happening under the rubric of heterosexuality do not suddenly disappear when homosexual couples are given the same rights and responsibilities.” I would add, and just did: in fact, they do not keep them from happening at all. But there is clearly no great demand to marry one’s sister or three women or a dog, not even by heterosexuals, and we all know how THEY are. It’s just a reason homophobes think up to justify what they cannot justify by any other apparently rational means. The irrationality shows here best: the only reason to oppose polygamy, incest, and bestiality is because gay marriage is opposed. Otherwise, straight people would be doing it. That’s not a reason. And of course, despite danielg’s idea that one must follow the other, this has NEVER happened anywhere where same sex relationships have been recognized. The question is a red herring. If they are allowed, it is because heterosexuals will choose to allow it. They are in the majority.

But we gotta stop the gays from getting married, because why then would we have any basis not to allow these things.

Why indeed? Incestuous marriages, with their increased probability of genetic problems, couldn’t be enough of a reason. Power relationships in families couldn’t be enough of a reason. The often exploitive and abusive nature of polygamous relationships could not be much of a reason. The definitely exploitive and abusive nature of adult-child sexual relationships could not be much of a reason. The inability of animals to consent to, let alone fulfill, a marriage contract could not be enough of a reason.

And the willingness of religious denominations, who are not so arrogant to believe that they know intimately the mind of G, and are willing to marry same sex couples, CERTAINLY could not be enough a reason. Obviously, what do they know of the mind of G? If they knew as much as danielg, they certainly would not be proposing that gay people be given a break.

In short, all of the rationalizations boil down to just this: we don’t like gay people, or we think G doesn’t, or something like that.

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