“YOU! No Marriage for YOU!”

Rob Tisinai

February 4th, 2013

Self-described Catholic blogger Brandon Vogt recently published Rebuttals to arguments for same-sex marriageHe tries to disprove 10 common same-sex-marriage arguments, but merely highlights the most common mistakes of his own camp. I’m addressing each of his 10 points in separate posts as a kind of back-to-basics review of our opposition.

This time Vogt tries to deal with weakest link in “traditional marriage” reasoning. But the weakness is fatal, and he can’t raise the dead.

Vogt writes:

6. If same-sex couples can’t marry because they can’t reproduce, why can infertile couples marry?

This argument concerns two relatively rare situations: younger infertile couples and elderly couples. If marriage is about children, why does the state allow the first group to marry? The reason is that while we know every same-sex couple is infertile, we don’t generally know that about opposite-sex couples.

Really? That’s the reason? You’re saying you let infertile couples marry simplybecause you don’t know it? That if you did know, then you’d be happy to ban their marriages?

You’re saying if it weren’t for those pesky medical privacy laws, you’d go up to women who’ve had hysterectomies and say, “You! No marriage for you!” When would you do this? When they’re in their hospital beds recovering? A form letter when they got home? Or would you let them get all the way to city hall before you turned them away with a scoffing laugh?

Surely you don’t mean this. Surely you’re not saying the only reason you aren’t so callous and cruel is that it’s not practical!

Oh, but apparently you are:

Some suggest forcing every engaged couple to undergo mandatory fertility testing before marriage. But this would be outrageous. Besides being prohibitively expensive, it would also be an egregious invasion of privacy, all to detect an extremely small minority of couples.

Another problem is that infertility is often misdiagnosed. Fertile couples may be wrongly denied marriage under such a scenario.

I get it. I can hardly believe it, but I get it. You’re willing to let this “extremely small minority of couples” to marry only because stopping them would inconvenience the worthy couples.

But, no, I still don’t buy it. Not only would you have to be a sadist, but there’s also this: you’re willing to let elderly couples marry when we know they’re infertile, so you must not be the monster you appear.

Or are you?

But why does the government allow elderly couples to marry? It’s true that most elderly couples cannot reproduce (though women as old as 70 have been known to give birth). However, these marriages are so rare that it’s simply not worth the effort to restrict them.

Face Palm
Credit: dancerher@deviantart.com

So now you want us to believe you’d be perfectly fine going up to your widowed grandmother and saying, “You! No marriage for you!” and the only reason don’t is that…”it’s simply not worth the effort to restrict them.”

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. That’s — wait…

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

That’s funny. Start with the logistics: We already check people’s identification and age when they apply for a marriage license, so there’d be no extra effort there. City clerks might even be relieved — they could just say, “Sorry,” and get back to the rest of their work. One less form to process. Also, if the restriction were enforced, elderly folk might stop showing for licenses altogether. Restricting marriage rights for the elderly would end up saving us a good deal of effort.

At this point I think Vogt is just making up crap in desperate attempt to plug the biggest and leakiest hole in his boat. I’m not saying he’s dishonest. I bet he believes this crap he’s making up, but once again I have to wish: if only we had a word for an aversion to homosexuality so powerful that it interfered with one’s ability to reason!

To be fair, Vogt doesn’t stop there.

Also, elderly marriages still feature the right combination of man and woman needed to make children. Thus they provide a healthy model for the rest of society, and are still capable of offering children a home with a mother and a father.

Okay. To start with, elderly couples are exactly the wrong combination of man and woman needed to make children. I’m not just playing with his words here. If the point is to model the appropriate marital couple for procreation, especially for the next generation, this fails completely. Suppose young children ask, “If marriage is about making babies, then why can grandma marry her boyfriend,” and they’re told “Because grandma and her boyfriend are the right combination for making children.” A sensible child will shut that down with a solid, “Nuh uh!” And a less sensible child will merely be confused — which is exactly what Vogt was trying to avoid in the first place.

As for this notion that an elderly couple is capable of offering children a home with a mother and father, I have to ask: How many of these couples? And for how long? Vogt needs to remember that every single time his side offers us a study on the dangers of same-sex parenting, it turns out the study didn’t analyze same-sex households, but is instead based on opposite-sex households that didn’t hold together, households where the parents were split up by divorce, separation, or death. The science our opponents rely on actually suggests it would be best to place children in a home with a low risk for instability, which means an 80-year-old newlywed straight couple has no advantage over two 35-year-old same-sexers in a long-term relationship.

Perhaps I’ve mocked Vogt too much on this one. To confess, it’s one of my favorite topics: nowhere do our opponents expose their inhumane, ridiculous nonsense as when they’re trying to explains why infertile straight couples can marry while infertile gay couples cannot.

Tomorrow: Will same-sex marriage hurt children?

John W

February 4th, 2013

Vogt also fails to address the seven states that specifically allow certain couples — close cousins — to marry only if they’re certifiably infertile.

Those states violate all of Vogt’s objections: privacy, possibility of misdiagnosis, effort required to sort out couples by fertility.

Ben In Oakland

February 4th, 2013

It’s funny how they always draw those lines of separation in such as way as to include the people they’ve already decided are worthy, because it’s too much trouble to exclude them, and exclude the people they’ve already decided aren’t worthy, because it’s too much trouble to include them.

And of course, he already believes that gay people can’t possibly be a good model for heterosexuals, though the 40% divorce and illegitimacy rates for heterosexuals are such a good model.

And yet, my many friends that have been together for decades already, and the literally hundreds more I personally know about, somehow manage to model what a good marriage is, despite all of the forces arrayed to destroy their relationship.

And yet, how many heterosexual couples, with religion and children to demonstrate their privileged status as god’s favorites, can’t manage to stay together despite all of the forces of society, church, custom, and promises before god arrayed ot keep them there?

Heterosexuals have a great deal to learn from us. Unfortunately for them, they have very little to learn from antigay bigotry, except how to flail around trying to justify it when facts, logic, and experience just dont support it.


February 4th, 2013

There’s one point I never see from our side on these particular questions. The other side, when explaining why the infertile or elderly should be grandfathered (oy!) into marriage, explain how it’s a “healthy model” for procreation or childrearing or some such. And, frankly, it’s an argument I think has some teeth. Allowing these people to marry could possibly add value to the institution and encourage others; the same could be said for same-sex couples.

To think such a model ends just before same-sex couples is narrow-minded and homophobic, and the younger generations are increasingly saying so.


February 4th, 2013

The logic of this argument, when extended, leads to mandatory divorce for fertile opposite sex couples who do not bear children within a specified time frame, say, three years, because they are not fulfilling the purpose of marriage, thus, their marriage is a sham.

While state marriage laws provide for childbearing, they do not mandate it. To the best of my knowledge, no state asks “Do you intend to have children?” as part of applying for a marriage license. It is not against the law, or against the dictates of any religion, to remain childless. The Roman Catholic Church upholds virginity as a virtue, otherwise nuns and priests could have marry and have sex (ahem).

For persons past the normal childbearing years (which can be several years before 65, if 65 is the definition of “elderly), this argument leads to them living together in sin by definition of the Roman Catholic Church. For it is a sin for two people of the opposite sex to live together without being married, according to the Church’s teachings.

The real question is not why does the government allow infertile people to marry. The real question is why does the Roman Catholic Church allow infertile people to marry. There is nothing in civil law that prevents a religious body from setting its own rules about who may marry within it.

So, why does the Roman Catholic Church allow infertile people to marry? And why doesn’t it mandate an annulment if no children are borne within, say, three yeas? Mr. Vogt, we’re waiting.

David in Houston

February 4th, 2013

Question #6 should be: If same-sex couples can’t marry because they can’t reproduce, why can infertile couples marry, and why can elderly couples marry, and why can straight couples that don’t want children marry?

Answer: Rush Limbaugh. He’s made a mockery out of the institution of marriage by getting married four times. Yet no one sees that as a threat to the sanctity of marriage. In addition, he’s NEVER had children. So why do straight people like Newt have the right to define their marriage(s) however they see fit, regardless of Vogt’s fabricated non-legal definition of marriage?

Priya Lynn

February 4th, 2013

The thing for me that really ruins Vogt’s argument is that he claims its okay to let elderly, infertile, and intentionally childless heterosexual couples marry because they model the ideal of a marriage being about raising children. But many same sex couples have children and somehow they’re not supposed to be a model of a marriage being about raising children?! Its nonsensical on the face of it. A same sex couple with children better models marriage being about children than a childless heterosexual couple does.

If this is about setting examples for children then Vogt should want same sex couples with children to be allowed to marry and infertile or intentionally childless opposite sex couples prevented from marrying.

Bigots like Vogt’s claimed concern for marriage being necessary for the sake of children is just an utter sham.

Priya Lynn

February 4th, 2013

Vogt also said “But why does the government allow elderly couples to marry? It’s true that most elderly couples cannot reproduce (though women as old as 70 have been known to give birth). However, these marriages are so rare that it’s simply not worth the effort to restrict them.”.

By that logic its not worth the effort to stop gays from marrying either because gay marriages are also quite rare in comparision to the number of heterosexual marriages that take place.


February 4th, 2013

And Priya Lynn for the win!! That last point was the one I was going to make. If it’s a numbers game, and the numbers of older individuals is small, then the number of LGBT people getting married should, concievably be as small if not possibly smaller. As a population we are nubered anywhere between 3-10 percent of the total population. Take from that number, the number of LGBT people who actually get married, and the number is even smaler than that, probably a total of 30 percent of the 3-10 percent of the population. Every way they look at the argument, it’s a loss for their intelligence.

Timothy Kincaid

February 4th, 2013

Vogt’s elderly example-setting exception is more insidious than it appears on the surface. If may seem benign until you ask, “for whom is this example set?”

Limiting marriage to the fertile would adequately demonstrate to most children that marriage is the confine within which children are to be conceived. But the inclusion of the elderly as an example, has nothing to do with conception, it has to do with parameters.

In short, his argument is that allowing elderly man – elderly woman marriage does not provide an example of fertility, but it provides an example of man-woman marriage. Marriage has to be limited to man-woman so as to reinforce the notion of man-woman pairing. And the reason to exclude man-man marriage but include man-woman marriage is because only one reinforces the model he seeks.

Ultimately this argument boils down to non-fertile heterosexual marriage is allowed because its heterosexual.

But to return to the question of ‘whom’ – for whom is this modeling?

As I noted, most kids don’t need heterosexual reinforcement. They just are.

No, the only children who need the ‘elderly heterosexual marriage is okay because it’s heterosexual’ message are those for whom this is not a given.

The anti-gays are not lying when they say, ‘it’s about the children’. It’s definitely about the children. The ones very much like we used to be.

Vogt wants, supports, and defends non-fertile heterosexual marriage as an example to those children who are not inclined to heterosexuality. He opposes same-sex marriage precisely for the same reason: if same-sex marriage is sanctioned, then it sets an example for other same-sex attracted children to follow.

Vogt may claim that people are free to enter relationships of their choosing, but that is the opposite of his intent. He opposes anything that would in any way encourage the stable unions of same-sex couples.


February 4th, 2013

In reality medical tests before marriage aren’t unheard of. They were introduced when the eugenics movement picked up a lot of steam in the 1910s and 1920s. Another reason was that the cause of some diseases became understood, so people could be tested for things like syphilis. In fact some states still require blood test. A requirement for a fertility test wouldn’t be too unrealistic. It’s pretty easy to do for men.


February 4th, 2013

“Rush Limbaugh…he’s NEVER had children.”

And perhaps the ONLY fact that makes me believe in a higher power. Or at least to give thanks to that supposed power.

Ben in Oakland

February 4th, 2013

Timothy, you have a more detailed description of what I was trying to say.


February 4th, 2013

This argument that same-sex marriage must be prevented because it’s the wrong model for kids is an extension of the argument that homosexual legality itself should be prevented. It’s the argument you’ll hear whenever the subject of curriculum content acknowledging gay people is broached.

It’s exactly the same reasoning behind the now repealed ‘clause 28’ in the UK or laws against the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ in Russia. I’ve no doubt people are hearing about it now in Uganda to justify the proposed additional criminal penalties.

It’s the argument for extinction. Our opponents will push for death, failing that, incarceration, failing that, silence, all depending on our present degree of social acceptance within the given society.

Neon Genesis

February 4th, 2013

A much shorter response is that gay couples can reproduce through the use of artificial fertilization, therefore this bigot is wrong. The end.


February 5th, 2013

I’ve read people argue that, no, infertile couples are good because they possess the equipment necessary for procreation, even if they can’t procreate themselves.

Lovely self-refuting argument there: “the ability to procreate is fundamental to marriage except that it isn’t”.

It’s also really shallow. Does society have an interest in protecting certain relationships because of some conceptual ability the parties have to procreate or because it is good for kids to be raised in stable, loving environments?


February 5th, 2013

Rachel: protecting certain relationships is not really about raising children. Married couples themselves contribute to social stability and the general welfare, in terms of physical and mental health, productivity, treatment of property, and a host of intangibles.

The whole “procreation” argument is another red herring.

Rachel H

February 5th, 2013

Good point, Hunter – that needs to be stressed. Nonetheless, I think it’s worth pointing out that focussing on the brute physical ability of a couple to procreate is to completely miss the point, even in the context of a discussion about raising children.

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