The Supreme Court recently refused to hear five states’ appeals to uphold their bans on same-sex marriage, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in all five of those states – Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin – and perhaps legalizing it in six more. Pending further hindrances, this means that same-sex couples can now be legally wed in 30 of 50 US states.
Americans tend to have a lot of national pride and consistently regard their nation as the best in the world. In her relatively short existence, America has accomplished a great deal: she has perpetuated religious freedom, abolished slavery and greatly bridged many gaps in race and gender equality. With these notable social and religious advances in mind, and assuming we are the greatest nation in the world (very debatable), perhaps this recent Supreme Court judgment and supposed progress should be viewed in a different light: There are still 20 states in which same-sex couples cannot be legally wed. This demands a question:
How is this still a thing?
How are homophobic attitudes still accepted and prevalent in today’s society? Before I go any further, I want to make my stance clear: Believing that “traditional marriage” is any more valid than same-sex marriage is immoral bigotry. It has no place in modern society, deserves no voice or respect, and should never be tolerated by anyone.
If this sort of attitude was merely contained in quiet pockets of discontent throughout the country, it would not be as big an issue. There will always be margins of people who staunchly defend bad ideas, it’s simply something that must be tolerated for sanity’s sake.
But this is not the case with the anti-gay marriage lot. These people constitute nearly half of modern America. While it’s hard to find any two surveys that present the exact same numbers, the number of Americans who believe same-sex marriage should be illegal hovers around 40-45%. Some even go so far as to say that gays aren’t afforded equal protection by the US Constitution.
Even some of our leaders at both the state and national levels believe this, which in turn directly impacts their legislative and political decisions. Yes, there are positive shifts in leadership and we are headed in the right direction, but there should be no pushback against same-sex marriage at all, and there still is. Further down I use Michele Bachmann as a prime example of this dynamic, and it should make you super uncomfortable when you see how this elected official argues her case against same-sex marriage. But to hold you over till then, just know that Texas Governor Rick Perry compared homosexuality to alcoholism, as “something you may have the genetic coding” for, “but…have the desire not to do that.” So that’s neat.
But before you continue reading, I would encourage you to look for the part of the Constitution that strictly disallows homosexuals from being married. I would link you to it if I could, but I can’t. It doesn’t exist.
So if it isn’t in our Constitution, what are the arguments against legalized same-sex marriage? It seems many come from the Bible; however, these arguments seem unfounded as arguments against same-sex marriage in any legal sense because in America, our laws do not come from the Bible or any religious doctrine. Decisions regarding the legality of some practice stem from the Constitution, and when that fails to address something, new laws are crafted through strict moral reasoning or legal precedent. Despite what some politicians practice and preach (‘God would tell me, ‘George, go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan.’”), it is in fact unconstitutional to base any law on the the Christian faith, or any faith for that matter (enter stage left: separation of Church and State). Therefore, any arguments against the legality of same-sex marriage from a religious standpoint are legally irrelevant and should be immediately disqualified. Though this nails the coffin on all religiously based arguments, I’m still going to discuss a few. There are other reasons these should be dismissed as well.
That said, the first (and most secular) argument I’ll address is that children simply need to have the influence of a male and female parent. In the article linked there, Dr. Kyle Pruett of “YaleMedicalSchool” – whoever wrote that probably didn’t have a mom to teach them about spaces, only a dad to teach them about letters – claims the following:
By 8 weeks of age, infants can tell the difference between a male or female interacting with them. This diversity, in itself, provides children with a broader, richer experience of contrasting relational interactions—more so than for children who are raised by only one gender. Whether they realize it or not, children are learning at earliest age, by sheer experience, that men and women are different and have different ways of dealing with life, other adults and children.
Following this line of thinking, it would seem that only males raised by straight parents are capable of knowing how to properly treat women, while males raised by two men (or even a single father) are simply doomed to a life of drinking PBR and earning their right to wear wife-beaters. Or worse – they could turn out gay.
One Illinois Catholic organization in particular chose to shut down its adoption center rather than allow gay parents to adopt, which was required of them if they were to continue receiving state-funded aid. Apparently to some, you’re better off raised in an orphanage than by same-sex parents.
Dr. Pruett goes on to make some of the most painful gender generalizations possible, as if all males and females are exactly alike. He claims that “Fathers encourage competition; mothers encourage equity,” because all dads are sports obsessed freaks that scream and cuss at the TV, (pay attention, Junior – that will be your job one day) while mom passively shakes her head as she cooks his dinner in the kitchen.
Fathers are also rule-breakers who “push limits” while mothers are the safer ones who “encourage security.”
The way in which they communicate is even different. Dr. Pruett, in his most cliché sexist claim of all, states that “Father’s talk tends to be more brief, directive and to the point. It also makes greater use of subtle body language. Mothers tend to be more descriptive, personal and verbally encouraging.” This is the oldest stereotype in the book. Women are blabby and emotional, while men are cold, concise and efficient in the way they communicate.
By far the best, though, is when Dr. Pruett really puts his neck out and writes: “FACT: A married father is substantially less likely to abuse his wife or children than men in any other category.”
First of all, I’m not sure how any non-married father can abuse his wife, seeing as…well…he doesn’t have a wife. Second, there’s no footnote or link to back this up. Then again, typing “FACT” in all caps screams “truth,” so I take it back.
FACT: Dr. Pruett’s study is a bunch of bullshit.
Yes, there are behavioral differences between men and women, even in the approach that they take to parenting. But those differences differ from house to house, person to person. Take for example, Cameron and Mitchell from Modern Family. While they are fictional characters, they are anything but typical representations of Dr. Pruett’s stereotypical male. They present a prime illustration of the sort of emotional and communicative diversity that Pruett argues isn’t possible in a same-sex marriage. Cameron and Mitchell both possess qualities exhibited by individuals in a heterosexual relationship that Pruett states are crucial to a child’s development, so surely their child does not lack the sort of diverse “experience of contrasting relational interactions” as Pruett suggests.
There aren’t just two categories of people. Yes, there will be homosexual couples who do a bad job raising children: it’s kind of a hard job. That’s why so many straight couples fail at many aspects of parenting today. Case in point: Straight parents who raise their children to think there’s something wrong with same-sex marriage.
Moving on to another argument against same-sex marriage, the most direct appeal to religion in support of “traditional marriage”: A simple pull of Bible verses.
Christianity has drastically changed over the past few centuries. It’s arguably the most reformed and progressive of the “Big Three” religions. A huge reason why that’s true is the willingness of Christians to write off parts of the Old Testament as outdated and unreasonable, signs of the times only temporary in their truth.
For example, Christians no longer consider it sinful to eat pork or rabbit, despite pigs only having a split hoof and rabbits only chewing the cud, when animals that we are allowed to eat should have split hooves and chew the cud (Leviticus 11: 3, 6-7). If we’re wrong about that, then bacon is sending everyone to Hell (but bacon is probably worth it).
Leviticus 19:19 directs us to “not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material,” a command that is a second iteration of Deuteronomy 22:11. Say goodbye to those polyester and wool blends.
Another practice condoned by the Old Testament is slavery. Yes, we can have slaves (Leviticus 25:44), whom we may beat to our hearts’ content as long as they don’t die as a result (Exodus 21:20). There are plenty more verses that provide slaving guidelines, in case you’re thinking of giving slavery a go.
All of these examples and others are disregarded in modern society, and for good reason. They are no longer relevant and even immoral in some cases. How would you react to someone who told you in all seriousness that your 50/50 polyester and wool shirt with a stain from the delicious Wendy’s Baconator you just ate constitutes a double sin? I would guess it would be about the same way you treat the Mormons that show up at your door: with respectful disregard.
So why are the verses about homosexuality in the Old Testament (e.g. Leviticus 18:22) still regarded by many as Holy Writ? These are verses that are mere pages away from instructions on how to beat your slaves and murder your non-virgin wife; yet while we regard these verses as perversions of modern ethics (except the NFL…they still dabble with the wife one), the verses about the sin of homosexuality are still valid to some. It’s a disgusting, willfully ignorant and inexcusable fault of reason and ethics.
Now before you claim that the Covenant of the New Testament has rendered these Old Testament commands toothless, and you would never quote verses like Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 or Romans 1: 26-28 to argue against same-sex marriage, you have to realize something. There are still heavily trafficked websites (38,270 Facebook likes) that adamantly claim that “homosexuality is clearly condemned in the Bible,” and they do so citing Old Testament verses. But the author does want you to “understand that [he doesn’t] hate homosexuals…we, Christians, should pray for the salvation of the homosexual.” The homosexual. Really.
While some of you may be in the right, there are still many wearing their hats on their asses.
Another common argument is that marriage is for procreation, and there are plenty of Bible verses that back this up. Let’s assume for a moment that this is good grounds for a legal ban on gay marriage (it’s not). If marriage is for procreation, then that would imply that any marriage that could not produce offspring would be forbidden by God; therefore, men cannot marry other men, and women cannot marry other women.
We can’t stop there, though. Older couples whose reproductive days are behind them? They can’t get married.
Sterile people can’t either. You have a health defect that has rendered you impotent? Sorry.
This would have to apply to everyone who is incapable of reproducing for any reason. It doesn’t matter how strong your emotional attachment is, or how happy you make each other, or how much you want to spend the rest of your life with that person. If you can’t reproduce, then according to this argument, God doesn’t want you to be married.
And that’s the God that people want to believe in? I hope no one would acquiesce to that. It wouldn’t make you too well-received in certain circles.
As I mentioned before, this would not be as big a problem if it lay only in quiet minorities around the country, but unfortunately it is a big issue on a national political scale.
Michele Bachmann, commonly known as the least intelligent member of Congress in recent memory, once discussed Arizona’s recent anti-gay bill with Wolf Blitzer. I encourage you to click on that and watch the interview yourself, but I’ll tell you the highlights of Congresswoman Bachmann’s arguments.
It’s easy, because she only makes one argument. Apparently, the anti-gay bill is actually about tolerance:
We need to respect both sides, we need to respect both opinions. Just like we need to observe tolerance for the gay and lesbian community, we need to have tolerance for the community of people who hold sincerely held religious beliefs….[Same-sex marriage] is a decided level of intolerance. It’s effectively eviscerating the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech, expression, and religious expression for the people of Arizona…We are treating people who hold sincerely held religious beliefs differently. What we’re talking is tolerance on both sides and it is not tolerant to force people to violate their religious beliefs.
Then asked by Blitzer if she thinks AZ Governor Jan Brewer would veto the anti-gay bill, Bachmann said she thought it would be vetoed, which “will prove to not serve us well in terms of tolerance in the United States.”
Pardon me, but what the hell does she think tolerance is? It seems that for Bachmann, tolerance of the homosexual lifestyle means that she just has to accept that they exist. However, when you turn the table, tolerance of anti-homosexual religious views involves passing a bill that disallows homosexuals’ own right to marry. I think she nailed it. Bachmann: 1, Homosexuals: 0. Seems like some good old fashioned two-way tolerance to me.
I guess I’m just missing the part where legalizing gay marriage is forcing “people to violate their religious beliefs.” If they believe it is a sin to be gay, then all they have to do is not be gay. Apparently in Bachmann’s imagination, if you give homosexuals an inch they’ll take a mile – except the inch is the right to be married, and the mile is the part where they immediately start forcing straight people to have gay sex.
By Bachmann’s logic, we should tolerate ISIS, because to do otherwise would be “treating people who hold sincerely held religious beliefs differently,” and it’s not cool to “force people to violate their religious beliefs.” It’s intolerant, for Christ’s sake, right?!
No. Tolerance constitutes allowing something to happen regardless of your personal feelings or political biases. Therefore, it is tolerant for Bachmann and any nutjobs like her to allow homosexuals to marry. It is also tolerant for homosexuals to understand that certain religious folks find their lifestyle sinful; tolerance does not, however, require them to not marry in order to appease those who otherwise disagree with their lifestyle.
Michele Bachmann is one person, yes. But there are many other politicians like her. Her overwhelming popularity has enabled her to spew bigotry and lies all over the country, feeding selectively retentive minds that are starving for affirmation. She is one person, but the problem is much bigger because of her and those like her.
Lastly, because I have to address this, if you think being gay or lesbian is a choice or that you can “pray the gay away,” you’re an idiot. Because science.
Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” This very true theory is what allows the anti-gay agenda to survive, and our refusal to use reason and compassion has allowed that lie to thrive.
This isn’t just a social issue for media and political debate. There are lives being lost because of this intolerance, and it has to stop.
Read scientifically vetted articles about the biology behind homosexuality. Watch the movie Milk, or Brokeback Mountain if you’re feeling really bold. Watch the documentary For the Bible Tells Me So and see how that makes you feel. Research LGBT suicide statistics.
This isn’t just about the right to marry, it’s much bigger than that. Ignorant intolerance that leads to the insufferable feelings of alienation is putting ropes around necks and guns in mouths. America’s prejudice toward homosexuals is killing innocent people who cannot and should not have to change who they are, and it should make us all sick.
Edited (heavily) by Tess Sadler. She’s awesome.