Maggie: The Harms of Same-Sex Marriage (part 1)

Rob Tisinai

May 10th, 2012

Andrew Sullivan has another video in the Ask Maggie Gallagher Anything series. In this one, she is asked:

In states where same-sex couples have been allowed to marry, what harm has been brought to individuals or society at large?

Maggie names a few issues, but for now I want to focus on this one:

You see the idea and the ideal that children need a mother and father beginning to be redefined as the equivalent of a racist or mean or hateful idea. That’s on top of the problem of the silencing or the — which I’ve already talked about — the way religious institutions and religious people who in good conscience can’t treat same-sex unions as marriages begin to be treated as pariahs.

This is Maggie’s persecution theme, one that our opponents are pushing like crazy, one that I think they’ll use in their next strategy:  Overturn marriage equality in the courts as a violation of their religious freedom. But I want to tell Maggie this:

If people are calling you a bigot and equating you with racists, the problem may not be with same-sex marriage, but with the quality of your crusade against it.

So here, Maggie: these tips may help you and the National Organization for Marriage and the rest of your allies in your quest for gentle and civil treatment.

  • Don’t denigrate same-sex parenting with studies that didn’t examine same-sex parents.

Maggie, when your conduct is cruel, insulting, irrational, and downright dishonest, people may start to wonder about your character. What else are they to do? This is not an ad hominem attack. That’s when people criticize the speaker instead of examining their arguments. No, this is opposite: people are criticizing you because they’ve examined your arguments.  The problem is not inherent to the issue. It’s not us, Maggie, it’s you.

And Maggie, if we are sometimes too quick to paint our opponents as hateful and bigoted when they don’t deserve it — well, that’s wrong, but you have to share in the responsibility. You’ve made yourself the most vocal and famous warrior against same-sex marriage. That makes it hard to distinguish you from those of our opponents with kinder, gentler, and truer hearts.

Okay. Take a breath. I have more to say on that video, but I wanted to give this a blog post all its own.

Ben in Oakland

May 10th, 2012

This is how I always put it.

You are entitled to believe whatever you want. However…

When you prefer to believe something untrue because it denigrates someone that you don’t approve of, that makes you prejudiced.

When you use your belief in untrue things to hurt, disparage, or legally disadvantage people you don’t know and who have done you no harm–especially people who lay their lives on the line s that you can freely publish denigrations of them on the Internet, well…

THAT makes you a bigot.


May 10th, 2012

“You see the idea and the ideal that children need a mother and father beginning to be redefined as the equivalent of a racist or mean or hateful idea.”

No, it’s not being redefined as an inherently hateful or racist idea.

What IS hateful is to selectively use this idea of children needing a mother and father to diminish same sex couples while at the same time willfully ignoring the actual reasons why children grow up in households without two parents, which are divorce and and out of wedlock births. Neither of which will be addressed in anyway by denying legal recognition of same sex relationships.

What IS hateful is the completely dishonest use of the idea. Using it to scapegoat a small minority for the perceived faillings of the majority.


May 10th, 2012

Maggie’s career for the last ten years or so has been stirring up hate against gays and lesbians. That is $100,000s of dollars. And she expects us to just calmly, quietly take the abuse that she, Brian Brown, and their funders and supporters dish out. So not feeling sorry for her.


May 10th, 2012

It’s interesting to me that the same “religious institutions and religious people who in good conscience can’t treat same-sex unions as marriages” don’t seem to have any problem with treating unions between previously married (and legally divorced) people as marriages, even though the EXACT SAME religious beliefs denounce those relationships.


May 10th, 2012

I thought this was an especially revealing video because it shows how circular the anti-equality argument has become. In answering the question of what harm same-sex marriage has caused, what really concerns Maggie is the possibility that *she* might be perceived as prejudiced. So same-sex marriage (where it has actually been enacted) causes harm to those who oppose it by exposing their arguments (all those dire warnings and ominous predictions of harm) as false–and thus turning public opinion against Maggie instead of against the gay community.

Now, Maggie and her ilk feel that they just *have* to defeat marriage equality in order to defend their past words and actions in trying to defeat marriage equality. The “harm” marriage equality causes is that it proves them wrong. And then they look bad. So she can’t let us win. And round and round we go.


May 10th, 2012

The Economist de-constructed this interview rather well here:

Rob Tisinai

May 10th, 2012

Damn it, Meadowlark, you’ve just given away a good chunk of what going to be in Part 2. Curses!

Bose in St Peter MN

May 10th, 2012

“You see the idea and the ideal that children need a mother and father beginning to be redefined as the equivalent of a racist or mean or hateful idea.”

I spent my first 18 years in Minnesota and the next 24 in Iowa, until 2002, and the latest 3+ back in MN.

The people and the cultures I know best, as a result, tend to be pragmatic, nice, thoughtful, often wise, but avoiding pretentiousness as steadfastly as victimhood.

So, my question to Maggie is, who are the Iowans you have spoken to, and what have they said about being defined as racist, mean, or hateful by their neighbors?


May 10th, 2012

“This is Maggie’s persecution theme, one that our opponents are pushing like crazy, one that I think they’ll use in their next strategy: Overturn marriage equality in the courts as a violation of their religious freedom”

No judge will ever hear such a case, let alone side with them on it.

Richard Rush

May 10th, 2012

If Maggie is so concerned about “the ideal that children need a mother and father,” isn’t it strange that she and NOM are singularly focused on preventing gays from being married, instead of focusing on a real problem for children, such single motherhood. While the National Organization for Marriage does nothing to promote marriages for potential single mothers, they seek to ban the marriages that would actually benefit children.


May 10th, 2012

Sorry, Rob! Please write it anyway, because you will make it so much more clear . . . I always appreciate your relentlessly logical analyses of these statement by NOM and company.


May 11th, 2012

You see the idea and the ideal that children need a mother and father beginning to be redefined as the equivalent of a racist or mean or hateful idea.

I don’t think this idea is racist, mean, or hateful. I simply think it’s a piece of “conventional wisdom” that has not been sufficiently examined or criticized to see how accurate it is.

I suspect that what really matters when it comes to children is not “having a father and mother,” but having sufficiently loving and reliable care-takers and role models. I question whether the number, biological relationship to the children, or gender ratios of those care-takers and role models is all that important. And while I certainly don’t have (or am not aware) of the kind of scientific research I’d like to see back up that statement, I think there’s plenty of anecdata out there to make it a worthwhile hypothesis to explore.

One such example of that anecdata (and possibly a good start to the scientific research I’d like to see on the subject) would be the studies — already mentioned by someone else — that show that children raised by two parents of the same gender fair as well as those raised by mixed gender parents.

I would argue that another piece of anecdata comes from Maggie’s fellow Catholics: The Duggars and other members of the Quiverfull movement. (Note: I’m aware that there are non-Catholics involved in the QF movement as well. I’m simply pointing out that there is a strong Catholic presence in the movement.) Quiverfull members have often made it clear that the only way they can manage such large families is to have the older children help care for their younger siblings. Again, this suggests that successful child-rearing (leaving aside the serious concerns people rightfully raise about the QF movement) is often about having sufficient care from people in general.

I’ll also note that there is a hostorical basis of child-rearing being an affair of extende families — aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. — rather than strictly a matter restricted to the nuclear family.

I don’t think promoting a “one mother, one father” model of child-raising is hateful. I think it’s is a sign of tunnel vision when it comes to looking at ways to raise and prepare the next generation of humans.

Though as someone else — Leo, I think — pointed out, I do think it’s hateful to use that very limited understanding of child-rearing as an weapon to denigrate same gender couples and the families they create.


May 11th, 2012

The reality here in Canuckistan after 7 years of marriage equality (more than a decade for the marriages which initiated the litigation) is that some religious organizations no longer participate in a time of celebration in small towns and large. At the same time, I’m happy for those who want a religious blessing of their marriage for the churches and synagogues which have welcomed gay and lesbian couples.

As for polygamy, the only public example is an extreme splinter group of the Mormons from the U.S. – definitely not an LGBT organization – seeking to overturn polygamy laws (Google “Bountiful, B.C.” for the child abuse, cross-border trafficking of underage girls, and exploitation).

The “man marries turtle” bit from last night is difficult in Canada unless you can get a provincial birth certificate for the turtle and prove it’s not your first cousin!

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