This week I came across a comment under an item in The Spectator in which a young man declared that he had never read an argument against same-sex marriage.
I believe him. Although the media refers to a “same-sex marriage debate” no such debate has happened. Serious scholars and intellectuals that oppose same-sex marriage (and there are many) have hardly been given equal airtime compared to advocates. In fact, in my country, the state sponsored media usually find a token bigot to speak against same-sex marriage, typically a middle-aged redneck. In contrast, the same-sex marriage position is advanced by attractive, educated and erudite people.
It is the oldest trick in the book. At risk of committing a reductio ad Hitlerum, Streicher was a master at portraying all Jews as fat, sly, big nosed, sleazy and dirty. He understood that associations can be learned. The terminally uncritical people that comprise our society are exactly the sort of person most easily manipulated by such presentation.
The arguments for same-sex marriage are weak. They can be exploded with very little imagination or effort. The arguments made on its behalf are mostly appeals to emotion, and to consensus. Since movie stars and rock singers have made this their cause célèbre, it naturally follows that anyone who is enlightened and sophisticated will also embrace the position. Sometimes their arguments go to tragic extremes. Same-sex marriage is frequently equated to the liberation of slaves or giving the franchise to women.
But, people sometimes ask, what arguments are there against same-sex marriage?
Arguments against something require more effort and energy than peppy slogans – “Love is love!”. They require people to listen for longer than the 15 second attention span that news companies assume of their audiences. Worse, arguing against same-sex marriage is a form of opposition to a popular revolution. Like all revolutions, same-sex marriage is driven by grievances, resentments, fears, and the thrill of “freedom” and removal of restraint. All revolutionaries have enjoyed this mixture of controlled anarchy. The untying of old restraints while paradoxically exerting power to forge new ones.
Nonetheless, here I present a number of arguments that I believe are serious responses to the arguments of same-sex marriage advocates. They are not enumerated according to strength or importance and there is more arguments I could have included.
#1. Same-sex marriage deviates from history
Throughout history there is no evidence anywhere that any human culture ever practised same-sex marriage as a valid institution. Conversely, the humanity of the whole world – in places both remote and populated; in deep jungles and tropical islands as well as urban centres – have all developed a concept of marriage reflecting natural law.
Some cultures have demonstrated little technological development, such as the Australian Aboriginal culture, but nonetheless developed complex kinship laws across a staggering range of tribes and languages. It is a remarkable cultural achievement for an oral society, and indicates the historic importance human experience has always attributed to pairing, children, and the orderly management of relationships.
Marriage has obviously differed in different places and times. Some societies have practised the taking of multiple wives by a man. In more rare circumstances, (and always under economic and environmental pressures), some societies have allowed polyandry, where multiple men are married to one woman. This is usually intended to prevent the breakup of a small parcel of land to the new families that would result from normative monogamous marriages. Other societies have permitted concubinage.
Obviously these are sub-optimal forms of marriage, but the one thing that marks them all, is that they follow the natural law: men marry women; women marry men
A culture must greatly despise history and the wisdom of their forebears to lightly brush such a brute fact aside. Humanity, in all of its varied cultural experiences over many millennia has found that marriage is a form of union that exists between men and women.
In all cultures, its principal object concerns the succeeding generation, and its secondary effect is to create harmony and stability within societies and between families. Indeed, even something as alien as polyandry exists primarily as a social remedy to stabilise a family’s future.
Some historians have gone to great lengths to try to challenge this reality. Their arguments end up being perverse. They refer to Nero, a moral exemplar to be sure, “marrying” a boy he castrated who was meant to take the place of a teenage girl he had killed. Alternatively, they reference the various satiric references to “marriage” between homosexual men in ancient Rome. Yet, these “marriages” never had the force of law, and activist historians seem strangely averse to discussing the attendant, virulent, and disgusting pederastic culture of both ancient Rome and ancient Greece.
Ancient Rome practised sexual anarchy and perversion on a scale that even same-sex advocates do not approach. The consequences were grotesque. The abuse and misuse of slaves, children, women, and even criminals was utterly deplorable. To use such a society as a justification, or even as a model, for what marriage ought to be is deranged.
When something has no historical warrant, this must raise important questions. Chief among them would be: why have societies never done this before?
#2. Same-sex marriage is sterile, destroys family and genetic trees, and turns children into products
In same-sex marriages the natural issue of children is an impossibility.
Two men, or two women, who are exclusive to their sexual partner, and who claim to have no orientation or desire for the opposite gender, are sterile. By definition. Their relationship cannot yield children. It is an infertile coupling.
The only way they can have children is with the help of a male donor (for lesbians) or the hire of a female womb and egg (by gay men). In both cases, the child becomes a transferable product who must be separated from a biological parent. This represents one of the cruellest consequences of same-sex marriage ideology. By design – not by natural accident or due to a physical disorder – but by design, a child is removed from one of their own parents.
They are then placed in a situation where they are told they have “two daddies” or “two mummies”. A child does not need to be very old before they realise this is an impossibility. Thus, one of their “daddies” or “mummies” will have a primacy the other does not, because one – and only one – actually contributed the genetic material that has been subsumed into the physical, spiritual, emotional, and psychological complex of the new human person. The children can see a biological similarity to themselves in only one parent. Never in the other.
When this happens in a heterosexual situation – whenever children are not raised by their biological parents – we regard it as tragic.
Single mothers who bear children to multiple fathers are regarded with contempt, even by a morally degraded society. It is understood even within the social sciences as a sub-optimal arrangement. Adoption exists as a result of trauma and tragedy, for no child is given up for adoption unless one of these things has occurred. Blended families, with “steps” are always the result of divorce or the death of a previous partner, and therefore involve heartbreak for the children as well as parents. Even infertile partners who cannot conceive and seek surrogate wombs or laboratory assistance are regarded with pity and compassion. They are fortunately in the minority among heterosexual relationships.
Note that what is regarded as tragic, aberrant, sad, or dysfunctional in heterosexual unions, is the normative course for homosexual ones. Homosexual relationships can only “bear children” through the routes and avenues that are seen as lamentable in heterosexual relationships.
There will be long-term consequences for this because it causes the concept of the family tree to disintegrate, and makes kin relationships between people utterly arbitrary. For instance, how many grandparents does a child raised by gay men actually have? Does the child have four, or six? Do the parents of the surrogate mother count as true grandparents? What about the parents of the sperm donor? Is it possible for a situation to arise in a society where people who are directly genetically related to another person may not be identified or acknowledged as a relation? And what of uncles and aunts? Cousins and nieces? What about inheritance? What of the children whose biological grandparents of the biological parent they never saw, decease and leave a legacy?
The concept of family as a kinship network with intricate economic, genetic, and relational linkages ceases to exist. This has severe ramifications for children who may develop medical conditions that require knowledge of kinship. I expect to see, in the future, adults raised by same-sex couples seeking for genetic relations to provide compatible organ donors, or trying to find whether particular medical conditions run in the family. To do this they would be forced to rely on natural law after all, because the construction of a true family tree always reflects the biological realities of nature. Same-sex marriage pretends that biological realities are non-existent. It transposes an invented family tree.
For those who object that all of these problems could exist in “messy” heterosexual families, I would agree. Adopted children may find it just as hard to seek out a medical history. The children of a mother whose relationships are transitory may never know who their father or grandparents really are. The key difference, however, is that when these situations arise in heterosexual relationships, it is either unavoidable or the result of clearly identified moral and relationship irresponsibility. When it happens in same-sex partnerships, it is by design. It is on purpose.
#3. The philosophy that allows same-sex marriage must logically allow everything else
“Slippery slope fallacy,” shout same-sex marriage activists dismissively, “next you will be telling us that same-sex marriage will lead to polygamy!”
This is to misunderstand the slippery slope fallacy – and the fact that slippery slope arguments are not always fallacious; after all, if you are standing on the very edge of a real slippery slope and someone pushes you over, the resulting puree of human remains was definitely foreseeable in advance.
Moreover, this dismissive charge is to be ignorant of history. Twenty years ago we were told that civil partnerships between same-sex partners was the simple granting of property rights to a disenfranchised group: “After all, it’s not as though they are going to be getting married in churches!” At the time, there were indeed people who saw the logical and necessary translation of civil partnerships into marriage. They were derided for mounting slippery slope arguments. Yet their argument has proven precisely prescient, which means that this is not a fallacy.
I have tirelessly attempted to explain to same-sex marriage advocates that a slippery slope fallacy (as distinguished from argument) is an attempt to prove that something will inevitably follow something else without establishing strong causal links (X = Y = Z). For instance, as I read in the Guardian this morning, it was opined that electing Trump as President means the United States is now going to become worse than North Korea. This is a slippery slope fallacy. There is no warrant given at all to why one event must inevitably lead to another.
To return to the argument. The philosophy that drives same-sex marriage effectively dissolves marriage as a meaningful institution, at least, it does if the philosophy is consistently applied. I suspect, however, that it will be only arbitrarily applied for the time being.
If there is nothing special about the gender of people being married, then why is there something special about the number two? If gender must be eliminated from the definition of marriage to include homosexuals, why do homosexual desires get preference over polygamist desires? Or close-kin desires?
Surely this is both arbitrary and discriminatory. After all, if love is love, then Mormon fundamentalists and Muslims in loving, traditional, Islamic-approved plural marriages should be able to access the institution as well. Why should their love be less honoured and less validated than the love of homosexual people?
It’s a matter of rights. Polygamists have been discriminated against, persecuted, and even killed – as in Utah during the early years of the Mormon sect. Yet polygamy has a rich history, and is even entwined into the religion of 1.6 billion people. Don’t these people have rights too? Don’t they deserve marriage equality?
Here we see that the very same arguments for same-sex marriage apply equally to virtually any coupling, relational model, or sexual orientation imaginable. This is an indisputable philosophic fact, and represents the most powerful answer to same-sex marriage opponents. After debating this issue intensely for a long time, I have never received a single meaningful answer to this conundrum, although I have received some spectacularly angry and hostile responses that have verged on tantrums.
Same-sex marriage is entirely predicated on a concept of individual rights, and the unproven assumption that homosexual people are “born that way” and would be otherwise denied love and family. It is a matter of fairness, we are told. It is a matter of civil liberties. It is a matter of including a marginalised portion of the society.
But polygamists and every other off-the-beaten-path sexual group similarly claim to have orientations as well. It is natural for them, they say. These people claim that as they are in loving, voluntary relationships they cannot understand what threat it poses to society for them to be married as well. Indeed, there is a sizeable polygamist community where women enunciate the benefits of their relationship with every bit as much passion as that of homosexual activists.
If “love is love“, and there is no material or substantive difference between heterosexuals and homosexuals – if it is all a matter of rights, freedoms and individual liberties – then there is no foundation for stopping the marriage train at some arbitrarily decided point.
Think about it for a moment. Under the philosophic framework that advances same-sex marriage, what possible valid arguments exist against, say, polygamy, or step-sisters and step-brothers marrying? Why do the arguments of homosexual activists not apply to these situations at well? What possible valid argument under this framework can be given so as not to extend marriage to polygamists, for instance?
Ironically the only way to stop the envelope expanding is for same-sex marriage advocates to appeal to the arguments made by true marriage proponents, the very same arguments that they claim to have invalidated. Needless to say, if you a forced to contort in such intellectual gyrations, the basic irrationality of the position is clearly revealed.
#4. The unhappiness of children of same-sex partners
There is no equivalent to be found among children of heterosexual parents. In recent years, children of same-sex partners have actively opposed same-sex marriage. As the children of same-sex partners increasingly grow to adulthood, I suspect we shall see more of this.
These children – now grown up – have sought to participate in same-sex marriage debates (in opposition), and have written open letters. Articles have been published.
While often acknowledging that they were raised lovingly by same-sex partners, these children often feel an inexpressible sense of sorrow and emptiness. Maturity leads them to conclude that it was being deprived of one of their biological parents. They talk of longing for a mother who understood their trials as they grew up, or wishing for a father to lead them into manhood.
One of these children, a woman by the name of Heather Barwick, wrote the following for The Federalist. It is a typical example:
Growing up, and even into my 20s, I supported and advocated for gay marriage. It’s only with some time and distance from my childhood that I’m able to reflect on my experiences and recognize the long-term consequences that same-sex parenting had on me. And it’s only now, as I watch my children loving and being loved by their father each day, that I can see the beauty and wisdom in traditional marriage and parenting.
Same-sex marriage and parenting withholds either a mother or father from a child while telling him or her that it doesn’t matter. That it’s all the same. But it’s not. A lot of us, a lot of your kids, are hurting. My father’s absence created a huge hole in me, and I ached every day for a dad. I loved my mom’s partner, but another mom could never have replaced the father I lost.
I grew up surrounded by women who said they didn’t need or want a man. Yet, as a little girl, I so desperately wanted a daddy. It is a strange and confusing thing to walk around with this deep-down unquenchable ache for a father, for a man, in a community that says that men are unnecessary. There were times I felt so angry with my dad for not being there for me, and then times I felt angry with myself for even wanting a father to begin with. There are parts of me that still grieve over that loss today.
She goes on to explain that many grown-up children of same-sex marriages feel like they cannot be honest. Children of divorced parents, she says, have the freedom to express the unhappiness they felt with their situation but not children raised in same-sex marriages.
Some might argue that children of heterosexual marriages could say the same things if they were adopted or if there was a divorce and they were deprived in some way. I would respond that the objection itself is a false equivalence.
It’s a false equivalence for this reason:
Many of the people “going public” with their concerns were raised by same-sex partners in a loving, social, supportive and functional environments (functional in the sense of an absence of neglect, abuse, or poverty). Yet, as adults they have written open letters and articles like the one above.
But, how many times do you find the inverse? How often do children of functional, loving, supportive heterosexual marriages write articles and open letters in which they express a sense of loss or sadness as a result of being raised by two parents of opposite genders? You do not find children of happy heterosexual marriages actively opposed to heterosexual marriage. In fact, they are more likely to value marriage, not fight against it.
The best homosexual marriages raise children who often express sorrow at missing out on one of their biological parents. The best heterosexual marriages do not.
This suggests – all other things being equal – that children of homosexual partners are expressing concerns that need to be taken seriously. They feel deprived. Not deprived of love; or stability; or money; or peace; or support. Deprived of gender. In particular, deprived of the gender of one of their biological parents.
This suggests that the gender of parents is not irrelevant and not insignificant, at least not for many of the children of same-sex partners. In turn, this calls into question the bedrock of same-sex marriage philosophy which uses the Beatles’ Argument(TM), that all a child needs is love. Love, is all it needs. And if it gets love, then it does not really matter if they are raised by a village, or two dads, or two mums. If they are loved, nurtured and nourished then they will thrive and grow up to be happy adults.
Countless anecdotes from real children raised in same-sex marriages or partnerships renders this claim false. And we know that the plural of anecdotes is data.