Responses to Opponents of Marriage Equality
Often, we hear arguments against same-sex couples' freedom to marry. There are never any coherent arguments presented (because none exist). The responses to our opponents are logical and well-thought out. Here are some of the arguments we refute much of the time. We urge you to read them and use them when you find yourself wanting to educate those who don't understand why marriage matters to the LGBTIQ community.
Maine Same-Sex Marriage Forum (WABI-5, 17 October 2012) Matthew McTighe of the Mainers United for Marriage debates Carroll Conley of the Christian Civic League. In this debate Matt McTighe provides an excellent argument for marriage equality in Maine. Most of what he said is adaptable to other states.
"We must protect traditional marriage and the traditional family."
"Protect it from what? Same-sex marriage does not cause harm to anyone else's marriage and family. No documentation exists which gives credence to this myth. In fact, European countries which have given massive legal recognition to same-sex relationships have reported no harm to opposite-sex couples and their families, and in the United States states that have legaized same-sex marriage are reporting lower divorce rates. Please articulate your concern."
"Like you, we recognize that marriage is steeped in tradition. Our aim is to preserve the best of those traditions while changing those not so admirable. At times in our social evolution, marriage was defined as only unions of the same race an religion and wives were property of their husband."
"The state shouldn't sanction homosexuality. No government of mine should force someone like me to support a relationship that offends me."
"It's not the government's job to sanction heterosexuality or homosexuality. Nor is it in a position to judge the marriages of its citizens. Once the government does this, where does it stop? Taxpayers are forced to pay for things that they are opposed or are offended by. For instance, some do not support military force but still must pay into the military's budget. It's not the government's job to tap dance around the religious concerns of Americans; it is the government's job to enforce the constitution. The Constitution says everyone gets 'equality under the law.'"
"The majority doesn't support it."
"The most important argument disputing this is our country's history. Women's right to vote, integration of the military and interracial marriages were all unpopular at one time. But our country is a democracy in which the minority is entitled to a voice and where historically the government was instrumental in changing the majority's mind by ensuring civil rights for minorities. Recent polls suggest that people's understanding of the issue is increasing."
"Gay couples should have the same benefits but not call it marriage."
"This is a political ploy for those who fear the 'M' word and one that clearly promotes separate and unequal status for one group of citizens. Civil marriage is an intricate web of legal, economic and practical protections and responsibilities from sharing club memberships to the adoption of children to tax issues to immigration. Who will make the decisions on which rights same-sex couples should have? Nationwide domestic partnership programs or any larger form of them will not suffice. Nor will they give same-sex couples the same rights as opposite-sex couples. To call it by any other name is simply not Marriage and is unacceptable."
"Why should gay people want marriage when it is a tool of patriarchy used to oppress women?"
"Marriage, as we have seen, has evolved throughout history. While it is true that women were once seen as the property of their husbands, that is no longer the norm due to the women's rights movement."
"It is only when the union between a same-sex couple is recognized that marriage is no longer viewed as a means for reproduction, or oppression, but becomes a true partnership with or without children. One that says the couple loves each other and wants to be responsible for each other. One that says the couple chooses to be a family."
"Marriage is what it always was."
"Right-wing moralizing to the contrary, "marriage" and "family" are not traditional at all. For instance, Abraham and Sarah were half-siblings, sharing a father. Jewish law once required childless husbands to marry a second time, with or without divorcing the first wife. Only the upper one-third of empire Romans had the legal right to marry; everyone else lived together outside the law. For its first five hundred to a thousand years, the early Christian church considered marriage a tainted, earthly institution, something rendered unto Caesar, and didn't officially declare marriage a sacrament until 1215. In English and American law, women did not have the right to be their children's guardians until the 19th century. While American states were battling for nearly 150 years over whether to recognize each others' divorces, Protestant denominations were roiled by the question of whether it was sinful to remarry divorced people whose ex-spouses were still alive. Marriage has always been a social battleground, its rules and borders shifting to suit each economy, each era, each class." (submitted by author E.J. Graff)
Please see A Historical Look at Marriage
"Why would gay people want to enter into a flawed institution, especially when so many straight people are miserable?"
"Although marriage has had an imperfect history and many marriages have failed, same-sex couples deserve the support that only marriage can give a committed couple. No one is saying all gay people should marry. Everyone's relationship is different and just entering a legal contract does not mean it is doomed."
"If we allow gay marriage, what's next? Are we going to allow marriage between 3 (or more) people?
When the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that laws barring black people from marrying white people were invalid and unconstitutional, opponents insisted that marriage by definition was for partners of the same race and argued the court's decision would lead to polygamy. That was not the case. The question of who can marry is a different question from how many can marry.
We are asking the government to grant same-sex couples the same rights they grant opposite-sex couples. Since the gov't has chosen to involve itself in the relationship of two individuals, for it to choose which couples get marriage rights is discrimination. We are not asking the gov't to change marriage, but to remember a group of people that were forgotten.
"What about the effects on children?"
"In the instance of children, if it takes a village to raise a child, one hopes it is a village which believes in full equality for all its people. When children are subjected to systematic prejudice on a daily basis, as are many children of gay families, it poses far-reaching problems. Marriage protects children. And since many lesbians and gay men do have children, they are denied the right to raise them within a marital relationship. Also, studies done in the last 20 years show that children from gay parents are very well-adjusted and happy. Studies also show that kids do not necessarily need just one mother and one father so much as they need good nurturers and positive role models. It should also be noted that gay and lesbian couples can adopt in New Jersey and California and a recent Stanford University study reported that there are 140,000 children in California with a gay or lesbian parent."
"The Bible says marriage is between one man and one woman; it is a religious institution."
"Civil marriage is a government institution that grants hundreds of state rights and over 1,000 federal rights. When a couple goes to the County Clerk's office for a marriage license, religion plays no role. The U.S. Constitution makes no mention of the bible or any other religious text. There is no clear definition of exactly what constitutes marriage in the bible -- for example, at least in the Old Testament, polygamy is permitted, since several of the biblical figures had multiple wives. And, kidnapping, rape and slavery are all suggested as valid means for obtaining a wife. Although gay people have had religious wedding ceremonies performed, many in the freedom to marry movement are not asking for religions to accept same-sex couples' vows. Our issue is civil marriage, not religious weddings."
"Civil marriage is the legal concept of marriage as a governmental institution irrespective of religious affiliation, in accordance with marriage laws of the jurisdiction."
Marriage According to the Bible:
"Wouldn't recognition of same-sex marriages cost businesses a lot more money?"
"The main benefit many employers provide for their employees which might be affected by recognition of all marriages would be health care benefits. Currently, many gay people cannot obtain this benefit. The additional cost would be minimal and no one would even ask this question if a company happened to have all heterosexual people working with the expectation they would all be married. Business often offer gay couples benefits already as it is in their best interest to attract the best employees and retain them. Studies suggest the impact on business of recognizing same-sex couples would be minimal. The economic impact in states which now recognize same-sex marriage has been overwhelmingly positive, significantly increasing state revenue."
"Wouldn't gay marriage mean the further breakdown of the family?"
"The breakdown of the family is our concern, too. Many including gay people, believe that families are important for society and although many marriage end in divorce, marriage fulfills an important role in supporting families and the communities around us. Families are (and should) be made of love, respect, sacrifice and commitment. The same values that led us to recognize and respect marriages between opposite-sex couples, should inspire us to recognize and respect marriages of same-sex couples. Recognition of same-sex couples and their families would be a positive addition to the diversity in our communities."
"We should just abolish marriage completely! That's what we should be fighting for."
"Currently, our system of government is set up so that married couples receive a cadre of benefits and legal protections. Although you might disagree with that, why should the institution be abolished just because same-sex couples want to have legal recognition? While many may agree with you, we are saying that since it exists in its present form, gay people should be allowed to participate. If you would like to start a movement to rid our society of marriage, perhaps you would be successful. Meanwhile, that is not our issue."
"One of the major beliefs underlying anti-gay attitudes is that homosexuality is 'unnatural'."
"In fact, according to experts, homosexuality is perfectly natural, and for humans has biological origins that occur in early pregnancy. Also, according to animal experts homosexuality is normal behavior seen throughout the animal kingdom. Being gay is like being 'left-handed' sexually - it doesn't mean there is anything 'unnatural' it is just part of the natural spectrum of human sexuality that we see reflected in humans and other animals.
Read what the American Psychiatric Association has to say in their statement: 'In the interest of maintaining and promoting mental health, the American Psychiatric Association supports the legal recognition of same-sex civil marriage with all rights, benefits, and responsibilities conferred by civil marriage, and opposes restrictions to those same rights, benefits, and responsibilities.'" Scientific Facts Regarding Homosexuality and Marriage Equality (Actually, homosexuality IS natural!)