Friends With Benefits

Maybe someone can explain to me, rationally, the straight case against gay marriage.

The statements I’ve seen thus far have been rather vacuous, characterized more by well-I-just-think-it’s-wrong dismissals than serious, thoughtful misgivings. Others put forward self-contradicting arguments that are absurd on their face, unwittingly making the case for gay marriage while underscoring the writer’s own ignorance.

Here’s what you commonly hear once you get the detractors to cease their frantic, seething, hair-pulling, Bible-thrusting frenzy and articulate their reasons for opposition:

Marriage is an institution between one man and one woman.

A non-argument. Simply re-stating the current definition of marriage does nothing to justify its exclusiveness.

It denigrates the institution of marriage.

I fail to see how husband and wife, upon hearing that the gay couple down the street just got hitched, will subsequently flush their rings down the toilet and call it quits. How does the prospect of someone else getting married make yours any less meaningful? And how does the idea that others can get married make it a less attractive option for men and women who love each other? Another non-argument.

Marriages are for ensuring the continuation of the species.

No, procreation is for ensuring our continuation, and I think nature has that part set on auto-pilot. I’ve seen some strange arguments against gay marriage, but I don’t think even the most extreme conservatives would argue that gay marriage will cause people to stop fucking.

But marriage IS for procreation.

Wow, really? They should require fertility tests, then, when straight people apply for marriage licenses. And no old people, either. They need procreation like they need to be behind the wheel of a car.

Slippery slope: People will want to marry children.

There is an entire body of national and state law that states children do not have the right to make adult decisions until, well, they become adults. Those laws have never been eroded, and they won’t be invalidated by gay marriage either.

Slippery slope: People will marry their dogs!

Riiight. Allow consenting adults to marry, and suddenly there will be no defense against inter-species marriage.

This is a silly, flailing argument that nevertheless needs to be addressed so we can move on to more serious discussion. Animals, like children, cannot legally give consent to such pairings. Therefore, I think we’re on solid legal grounds when we exclude bestiality. Reductio ad absurdum is the last refuge of those who cannot put forth a rational case.

Slippery slope: Incestuous family members will want to marry!

Please. First, such relationships involving children are child abuse, plain and simple. And as a rule, adult incestuous relationships are discouraged, if not outlawed, because of the danger inbreeding poses to the potential offspring of such unions. Unfortunately for anti-gay zealots, gays don’t have the capability to produce deformed offspring.

Slippery slope: Groups of people will marry!

Then why hasn’t group marriage occurred in any of the countries that already allow gay marriage?

Besides, there are plenty of legal reasons to limit the number of individuals who can be part of a marriage contract, one of them being the need to prevent fraud — groups of people getting together and sucking resources from the system like it’s some group discount at BJ’s.

Gay marriage allows gays to recruit more members.

Ah…now we’re getting down to the real reasons people oppose gay marriage: fear and loathing of homosexuals, and a belief that gays simply wish to make their “lifestyle” more attractive to lure more straight folk.

This is the argument implied by Deb, the detractor I linked to above: “To me, being gay for some is the only way that otherwise really awkward people can ‘fit in’ to a group. Who wouldn’t ‘choose’ that over being isolated, especially now that our entertainment industry has glorified being gay to such a huge extent.”

So, all gays started out as “awkward” people who found their true calling in having sex with other men/women. Like I said, absurd.

Next, they’ll want adoption.

And then, of course, gays will recruit the children and abuse them, much like the catholic church.

This argument is an appeal against gay adoption, the merits and drawbacks of which can be debated later. It does not directly address the issue of gay marriage, since many straight couples do not have children.

Second, the argument implies that exposure to gays is inherently harmful to children. Deb, the writer I linked to above, made a particularly revealing comment to this effect — one that goes to her own laughable ignorance:

Case in point…I have a friend who’s gay. He has pictures of naked men all over his apartment. He’s a great guy, very nice, very responsible and very successful. Should he be allowed to adopt a child if he gets married to his boyfriend? Would you put a child in a hetero home with pictures of naked women (or men) all over the walls?

The none-too-clever insinuation is clear: Gays, while “nice” and “responsible” on the surface, are voracious horndogs whose obsession with sexuality would undoubtedly spill over into their child-rearing. Placing kids with these people is akin to child abuse.

And while I’m at it, I’ll offer one final, damning quote from Deb:

I’m fairly sure those with my view are going to lose in the end. Can’t put the genie back in the bottle and all…But I’m sad about it. I do see that our society/culture is taking a nosedive in the civility and focus on the common good sense. Not sure it was ever really that strong except for a time in the mid-fifties (if you were white), but still.


Overall, opponents of gay marriage can’t offer a reasonable case against gay marriage because there is none. They appear to be motivated more by the “yuk” factor than any broader, rational concern for society.

It’s been said elsewhere, and I think it bears repeating: “These arguments serve mainly to obscure the issue, not illuminate it. Conservatives say they abhor gay marriage because they value marriage. The truth is they abhor gay marriage because they abhor gays.”

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6 Responses to Friends With Benefits

  1. Deb says:

    Ouch! Ok, fine, ten points to you. I’m not going to argue with you because you are entitled to your opinion, as am I to mine. You may disagree and think I’m wrong, but I was being honest.

    I don’t think this is an easy issue. I have vascillated back and forth on it myself for ages, asking the same questions: “What do I care? What harm would it do?” etc…But I keep coming back to the same conclusion that it bothers me.

    Maybe you’re right that it’s the “yuk” factor as you put it, but let’s be clear on one thing, I don’t hate homosexuals, nor do I think they “recruit.” I do think that exposing young children to overt homosexual behaviors can be confusing to them, sorry but I do. Does it convert them? Doubt it, but it’s something that needs explaining to them because even small kids “get” the “it takes a mommy and a daddy to make a baby” concept (they don’t know about IVF unfortunately). So lots of parents don’t want to be forced to explain to their kids why so-and-so has two mommies, or two daddies, or whatever. Now all of this can happen without marriage, I grant you, and so I guess I wonder why do I harp on marriage if that’s the case? Sure does throw my argument–as you said–out the window. I agree.

    But something still bugs me about it. I’m just stream-of-consciousness writing here (as I was to a degree in my post and comments, but since you don’t know me, you woudn’t know that)–but it baffles me as to why homosexuals are asking to be married? Seems to me the same reasoning must apply in their case as applies in mine as a straight person, but since I’m obviously having so much trouble articulating it, I’d like to know what their explanation is. Is that too much to ask?

    My initial point was merely to take apart the arguments we hear so often in the press…the ones about money and and the ones about “luuuuuv.” I wanted to do that
    a) Because I don’t buy it for some reason
    b) Because those really aren’t the reasons straight people get married (not really, rarely occurs to 90% of married people I know, myself included, even love isn’t enough when society allows for people–straight or gay–to NOT get married and live together without being stigmatized)
    c) Because I can’t help but feel the real reason is something else…Something more agenda driven, and I’m trying to figure out what it is!

    Part of why I feel this way is that the statistics just don’t bear out that homosexuals want to be married! In VT and Hawaii, they aren’t marrying anywhere near the same percentage of their populations as straight people. Why is that? I have no idea, I just tried to posit answers, and you took that to mean I’m “anti-gay,” that’s not true. You can think it if you want, but it’s not true.

    I only know why I got married, and a large part of it had to do with validation, belonging, societal recognition, a sense of permanence between my husband and me, lots of esoteric shit in addition to love. Then there was the kids and legitimacy thing.

    While I agree with you that marriage wasn’t put in place for the purpose of perpetuating the species (I don’t recall saying that exactly), I do think it was put in place to ensure that the offspring would be cared for once had. You’re right, biology has us on autopilot to reproduce, but not to take responsibility (legal or otherwise) for the results of our coitus. I do think this was part of it way back when, and now it’s psychological.

    There is still stigma tied to divorce, and to bearing children out of wedlock. All sorts of statisticians will tell you that illegitimacy and various ills such as crime, drug abuse, etc…tend to go hand in hand. No, not just because the kids are born to unwed parents, but more likely because one of the two parents isn’t legally bound to stick around and help raise that kid to be a productive member of society. Even single parents who are educated and well-off face difficulties in this area.

    So to me, if we’re going to allow gay couples to adopt, then we should allow them to marry. I do feel that a two parent household (or an intact, predictable environment, how’s that) is important for a kid’s self-esteem. Just want that to be clear.

    What does worry me though is that “discrimination” as a word is being used right now like a weapon by the homosexual community. Rather than seeing that it’s really hard for even thoughtful straight people (whatever you think of me, I hope I can get credit for TRYING to understand my own viewpoint) to wrap their brains around the concept of gay marriage (whether it’s the “ick” factor or religion or whatever holding them back), and to be TOLERANT of that point of view long enough to work together to overcome it, they seem to go on the attack. Calling me names (“ignorant” “homophobe” etc…) only makes me more resistant, and validates my perception of an “us and them” culture!

    If what homosexuals truly want is to be treated equally, then it seems they should stop going on the attack. Because when I hear “discrimination!!!” I start to think that this is the word that will be used to intimidate adoption case workers and others into making some pretty scary exceptions. But make no mistake, I have the same fear of ANY group that bandies about the term “discrimination” every time they don’t instantly get what they want. I used to work in HR for a company, it was nearly impossible to fire someone who was gay for this reason (or black or hispanic or a woman, you name it). We settled more lawsuits than you can shake a stick at, ALL of which were totally unfounded. This experience colors my view.

    I’m not saying straight people are perfect, just saying that because marriage for us is the status quo, the system tends not to take much shit from us when we abuse the institution or misuse it. If you want to interpret this as a privilege, that’s your call. I don’t.

    I hope you better understand my views now. I also hope you can find a way to explore this complex, emotional issue without calling people names and casting aspersions on their intelligence in the process. It may win you the argument in a technical sense, but it doesn’t do what I think you’d want it to do which is change the minds of people who are more inclined to share my views. Since I would hope that’s what you want in the end, you might want to consider a more “tolerant” approach.


  2. Gian says:

    Why do people always assume that gay men and lesbians have an agenda? My reasons for wanting to marry are many. One, I am so completely in love. Two, I want to know that if something were to ever happen to me, my spouse would have the same rights and protections that all married couples have.

    To say that you are not homophobic, then espouse that we shouldn’t have the right to marry is ludicrous. We live in a society in which certain groups have privelege (namely, white heterosexuals). When that privelege is called into question, people get scared and revert to hateful rhetoric. It happened when women wanted to vote. It happened when African-Americans wanted to be treated equally. This same sort of backlash happened then, and it is happening now.

    What is so wrong with wanting to make a commitment to the person you love? I don’t need the law to tell me I love my partner, but would be nice to know that the taxes I pay, just like every other citizen, benefit me equally. Because right now I pay higher taxes than my heterosexual, married counterparts with approximately 1000 less rights. Is that equality? I think not!

  3. Eric says:

    Deb wrote:
    I only know why I got married, and a large part of it had to do with validation, belonging, societal recognition, a sense of permanence between my husband and me, lots of esoteric shit in addition to love. Then there was the kids and legitimacy thing.

    …and that is why so many of us believe that marriage (and nothing less) should include same sex couples. If the concern is that marriage is a religious sacrament (as some have said), then I would accept Civil Unions; so long as Civil Unions are the only possible state sanctioned bond for opposite-sex couples as well.

  4. mandy says:

    I just about agree with every argument that I have read thus far. I am a straight woman, I don’t feel a ‘yuk’factor towards gays. I truly feel that sexuality and spending the rest of your life with someone is a personal issue that should’nt even be a controversial issue to the entire public. I have taken a lot of intrest in the marriage subject and read both arguments. I have thought and been opened minded. I feel that marriage is an age old religious tradition that I hold very sacared. It has been abused by many. (Straight people who have been divorced, please take note of this) Marriage is between a man and woman until death do us part. It seems to me that a lot of gay people agrue their right to marry out of their continuing war of acceptance in society. I think that the government should give an alternative to reconizing gay communions. Come up with another way to recognize gays legally spending the rest of there lives together. An alternative ceremony. Please don’t use something that is held of value to some people as a religious tradition and mock it. Quit trying to change something that has been around for centuries as the highest level of commitment between a man and a woman. Straight people still live in this country and our morals, values and traditions have been altered quite a bit to suit others. Maybe if people could find a way to co-exsist without attacking others feelings and beliefs things would run more smoothly. Why, why do gays want to use marriage as their commitment to each other. Is the bigger issue to prove a point. Please enlighten me on this, I need a valid arguement to change my mind. Forget about adoption and people marring aliens and dogs. If you change something like the grounds and meaning of marriage, you do degrade it. Ever heard the saying that you got to stand for something. Tradition is something that holds things together. Get your own tradition.

  5. Jacob says:

    Mandy Wrote:
    Please don’t use something that is held of value to some people as a religious tradition and mock it. Quit trying to change something that has been around for centuries as the highest level of commitment between a man and a woman.

    Not to long ago, marriage was defined as the union between two people of the same race in this country. This was a traditional law that came from before the United States even came to this.

    Now, I ask you this: Just because it was traditional for it to be illegal for a black person to marry a white person, does that mean that it shouldn’t have changed?

    We are all human, and as humans, we all have the unalieable right to freedom.

    Definitions change, so do cultures. Does that make the change wrong? No. Change brings release from the shackles of the past. Your religion, by way of the constitution is completely separate from the state of the government, therefore noone would be forcing your church to make a “mockery” of itself, yet gay and lesbian couples will be able to have the same rights that you and I were both born with.

    I do not ask you to like it. I do not ask you to agree with it. It is your right not to if you chose so. However, the least you can do is allow these people the same rights that we have, and they desirve.

  6. Heather says:

    Hi, my name is Heather, I am a high school student at Glen Burnie High, in Maryland. I am writing in to you to agree with certian points in your comment on Gya marriage. I agree with tha fact that they jump to conclusion that we are discrimanating when we don’t give them what they want. But the one thing that is diagree with is that you say that the reason you got married was the sense of belonging, societal recognition, a sense of permanence between your husband and you, so why shouldn’t gays have the same right to have that. Why can’t they have the benfits of marriage, why should they be looked down upon when they ask to be together through marriage. It makes nbo sense to me why people just can’t be tolerant to other people’s belifes, there is no reason in this world that i see that gay marriage is wrong. Some people eyes they believe that is agianst God, yes it says in the bible that it isn’t right, but for the people that diagree and want to go agianst then fine that is there choice. I believe that they should have the right to be married as any other person straight or not. As for the kid part that you mention, about how that could affect that way people respond to them on the issue and them understanding that they have two mommies or two dadies besides the American sterotype of a perfect family, well as for that my aunt is gay and her kids turned out completely understanding that they have two mommies, when people found out about her they did not look differently at them, they understood that that is what her mom choose to do they did not make jokes or tease her for it, they accepted it and I use to live in a town of rednecks in Texas one of the most untolrenat group of people you will ever met. But for some reason even if they did not believe it was right they accepted it. I don’t mean to argue any points I am just saying I don’t understand why it is so hard for people to accept the fact that they want what we all want. I mean what does it really do to you? In my opinion it doesn’t accually affect you at all, I have yet to see any one to be affected by the fact that people are gay or them being married… Very sorry if things are missed spelled or it is hard to read, when i speak my opinion i seem to just run with my thoughts…Thank you for reading my thoughts.. I truly enjoyed reading your opinion..It was insightful and good to hear someones eles point of view about something that they actually know what is going on..Thank you

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