Thirteen Bad Arguments for Same-Sex Marriage
Now that gay marriage is our most talked-about domestic policy issue, it is time to rebut faulty arguments that bedevil it. While we could provide biblical and theological grounds for what follows, we will focus on the practical and social effects of changing society's first and most basic institution.
Bad argument No. 1
"Gay marriage is a basic human right."
There are huge differences between constitutional rights with few restrictions (such as the rights to life or free speech) and other rights with important restrictions, which do not carry the right of universal access. We already recognize that not everyone has the right to enlist in the army, but that one must be of the proper age, physical condition, citizenship, and philosophy—anarchists and pacifists need not apply. We also agree that certain persons do not have the right to marriage—children, multiple partners, family members, and those already married.
Bad argument No. 2
"Gay marriage is a civil right."
This is based on the false assumption that homosexuality is the same sort of human difference as race. But while the difference between sexual orientations is profound (one desires the opposite sex and procreates while the other does neither), racial difference has no intrinsic bearing on love and marriage. This is why philosophically opposed African American leaders such as Shelby Steele and Jesse Jackson agree that "gay marriage is simply not a civil rights issue."
Bad argument No. 3
"Opposition to gay marriage is discrimination."
Let's not mistake rational restriction for unconstitutional discrimination. Just as we rightly restrict marriage against polygamists, there is no constitutional reason why we cannot continue to restrict marriage to what all civilizations have defined for millennia: the union of a man and woman. This does not deny anyone the "equal protection of the laws," since this restriction applies equally to every individual.
Bad argument No. 4
"Marriage has changed through the centuries, so gay marriage would be just another development in its ever-changing definition."
True, our understandings of sex and the role of women in marriage have grown. While these changes are important, they are trivial when compared to the agreement across time and from East to West that the social institution of marriage is about the union of sexual opposites for, primarily, the procreation of children, as well as intimate companionship.
Bad argument No. 5
"Opposition to gay marriage is a violation of the separation of church and state."
It is true that Western marriage and family law stem in part from the Judeo-Christian tradition, as do many of our other laws. But the separation of church and state (assured by constitutional law) is different from the enforced separation of religion and politics, which is forbidden by the First Amendment.
Bad argument No. 6
"Marriage is necessary for gays to gain important legal benefits."
Homosexuals don't need marriage to gain most significant legal benefits. For example, hospital visitation depends on the wishes of the patient. If families disagree about medical treatment, even marriage won't solve the problem, as the Terry Schiavo case has demonstrated. The answer is medical power of attorney, which is open to anyone regardless of sexual orientation. Another example is Social Security benefits. Children's benefits are not dependent on the marital status of their parents, and the only certain benefit is a one-time death benefit of $255. A wife can access her deceased husband's Social Security, but if she has had her own work history, her Social Security benefit would usually be higher than the survivor's benefit—and she must choose one or the other. Most other benefits are based on work history.