Five (Poor) Arguments Against Gay Marriage

Today’s New York Daily News includes a piece by Seth Forman with “Five arguments against gay marriage.” In one short article, he recaps five of the most ill-informed, fear-mongering talking points out there about marriage equality. Here’s a quick check on his rhetoric:

1. Religious freedom: “People who believe in the sanctity of traditional marriage may soon wind up on the wrong side of ‘enlightened’ bigotry.”

It takes quite a bit of gumption to express an open desire to discriminate against a group of people on solely religious grounds and then take umbrage for being rebuked. Somehow, opponents of equality developed the idea that their religious beliefs could dictate what the law is for everybody. Fortunately, that is not true. And fortunately for them, nobody is forcing any church to change its beliefs or act out of accordance with them. Whether or not willfully discriminating amounts to bigotry can only be decided by the consciences of those who do.

2. Rights of children: “Social workers showing preference to heterosexual couples in foster care or adoption placement will lose their jobs or face lawsuits.”

There is no valid reason to show preference to heterosexual couples. Children grow and thrive as successfully in same-sex families as in opposite-sex families. Thus, any social worker who does show preference could in no way be motivated by concern for the child — only bias against same-sex couples.

3. Whither Traditional Marriage?: “It may be old-fashioned to believe women are still necessary to domesticate sexually predatory men. But most social arrangements in which men operate without attachment to women are deeply dysfunctional. Many gay advocates tacitly admit as much.”

Old-fashioned? Or absurdly misogynistic? This argument falls flat for a number of reasons, and not just for its archaic use of gender norms or its hypothesis that marriage has always followed a “Leave It To Beaver” model. What Forman is saying is that gay men should marry women so they become less “predatory,” and presumably, lesbians should be concerned about domesticating men. How he thinks such relationships will strengthen the institution of marriage is unclear, but it begs the question of whether he has ever met someone from the LGBT community.

4. Education: “In 2006, a federal judge in Massachusetts ruled that schools have a duty to teach children that there’s moral equivalency between homosexual and heterosexual relationships – and have no obligation to let parents opt their children out of such instruction.”

This is a gross distortion of what was decided. The ruling stated that parents do not have a right to exempt their children from learning about same-sex families on religious grounds. Given the ever-increasing likelihood that students at a school are actually part of same-sex families, the greater offense is that anybody would try to erase those families, let alone shun them as morally inferior. Children are going to see, interact with, and learn about same-sex families whether marriage equality is passed or not. Shouldn’t school be a place where questions can be answered?

5. Husbands: “Think there are too few marriageable males now? Ask sociologist Orlando Patterson what happens when men are no longer tied to marriage through child rearing.”

It’s unclear how this argument is all that different from #3. Apparently Forman thinks that unmarried gay men add to the population of “marriageable males,” assuming anyone accepts the notion that there is an epic shortage of them. He also leaves no room for the possibility that gay men might be quite eager to be “tied to marriage” and raise children.

If these are the best arguments that can be mustered against marriage equality, one wonders why the debate even persists.