Responses to Opponents of Marriage Equality
Often, we hear arguments against the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. There are never any logical and coherent arguments presented because none exist. The arguments for the right to civil marriage for same-sex couples are logical and well-thought out, and there is a great deal of documentation available to support these arguments.
Here are some of the arguments we hear from our opponents which need to be repeatedly refuted. We urge you to read them and use them when you find yourself wanting to educate those who don't understand why marriage matters to the LGBTIQ community.
Maine Same-Sex Marriage Forum (WABI-5, 17 October 2012) Matthew McTighe of the Mainers United for Marriage debates Carroll Conley of the Christian Civic League. In this debate Matt McTighe provides an excellent argument for marriage equality in Maine. Most of what he said is adaptable to other states.
"We must protect traditional marriage and the traditional family."
"Protect it from what? Same-sex marriage does not cause harm to anyone else's marriage and family. No documentation exists that gives credence to this myth. In fact, European countries which have provided legal recognition to same-sex relationships have reported no harm to opposite-sex couples and their families, and in the United States the states which have legalized same-sex marriage are reporting lower divorce rates. Please articulate your concern."
"Like you, we recognize that marriage is steeped in tradition. Our aim is to preserve the best of those traditions while changing those that are not so admirable. At times in our social evolution, marriage was defined as only unions between people of the same race and religion and wives were property of their husband. Those once-acceptable practices changed over time as our society evolved."
"The state shouldn't sanction homosexuality. No government of mine should force someone like me to support a relationship that offends me."
"It's not the government's job to sanction heterosexuality or homosexuality. Nor is the government in a position to judge the marriages of its citizens. If the government did that, where would it stop? Taxpayers are already required by law to pay for things that they may be opposed or offended by. For instance, some Americans do not support military force but they are still required to pay into the country’s defense budget. It's not the government's job to judge personal relationships or to tap dance around specific religious concerns; it is the government's job to enforce the constitution. The Constitution says everyone deserves 'equality under the law.'"
"The majority doesn't support it."
"The most important argument disputing this is our country's history. Slavery and child labor used to be legal and totally acceptable in this country. Women's right to vote, racial integration of the military and interracial marriages were all unpopular at one time. However, our country is a democracy in which the minority is entitled to a voice and to have their civil rights protected by our government and our judicial system. Historically our government has been instrumental in changing the majority's mind by ensuring civil rights for minorities. Ongoing polling, and the number of public figures who have changed their stance on marriage equality show that people's understanding and acceptance of the issue is increasing daily."
"Gay couples should have the same benefits but not call it marriage."
"This is a political ploy for those who fear the 'M' word and one that clearly promotes separate and unequal status for one group of citizens. Civil marriage is an intricate web of legal, economic and practical protections and responsibilities that extends from the sharing club memberships to the adoption of children to tax issues to immigration. If we don’t give same-sex couples all of the protections and rights guaranteed by marriage, who will make the decisions on which rights they should and should not have? Nationwide domestic partnership programs or civil unions will not suffice. Nor would they give same-sex couples the same rights as opposite-sex couples. To call it by any other name is simply not Marriage and is unacceptable."
"Why should gay people want marriage when it is a tool of patriarchy used to oppress women?"
"Marriage, as we have seen, has evolved throughout history. While it is true that women were once seen as the property of their husbands, thanks to the women’s rights movement, that is no longer the norm."
"It is only when the union of a same-sex couple is recognized that marriage is no longer viewed as a means for reproduction, or oppression, but becomes a true partnership with or without children. Marriage says the couple loves each other and wants to be responsible for each other. Marriage says the couple chooses to be a family."
"Marriage is what it always was."
"Right-wing moralizing to the contrary, "marriage" and "family" are not traditional at all. For instance, Abraham and Sarah were half-siblings, sharing a father. Jewish law once required childless husbands to marry a second time, with or without divorcing the first wife. Only the upper one-third of empire Romans had the legal right to marry; everyone else lived together outside the law. For its first five hundred to a thousand years, the early Christian church considered marriage a tainted, earthly institution, something rendered unto Caesar, and didn't officially declare marriage a sacrament until 1215. In English and American law, women did not have the right to be their children's guardians until the 19th century. While American states were battling for nearly 150 years over whether to recognize each other’s divorces, Protestant denominations were roiled by the question of whether it was sinful to remarry divorced people whose ex-spouses were still alive. Marriage has always been a social battleground, its rules and borders shifting to suit each economy, each era, and each class." (Submitted by author E.J. Graff)
Please see A Historical Look at Marriage
"Why would gay people want to enter into a flawed institution, especially when so many straight people are miserable?"
"Although marriage has had an imperfect history and many marriages have failed, same-sex couples deserve the support that only marriage can give a committed couple. No one is saying all gay people should marry. Everyone should have the choice whether to marry or not. Everyone's relationship is different and just entering a legal contract does not mean the relationship is doomed."
"If we allow gay marriage, what's next? Are we going to allow marriage between 3 (or more) people?
“When the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that laws barring black people from marrying white people were invalid and unconstitutional, opponents insisted that marriage by definition was for partners of the same race and argued the court's decision would lead to polygamy. That was not the case. The question of who can marry is an entirely different question from how many can marry.”
“We are asking the government to grant same-sex couples the same rights they grant opposite-sex couples. Since the government has chosen to involve itself in the relationship of two individuals by creating the institution of civil marriage, for it to choose which couples get marriage rights is discrimination. We are not asking the government to change marriage, but to include a group of people that have been excluded."
"What about the effects on children?"
"If it takes a village to raise a child, one hopes it is a village which believes in full equality for all its people. When children are subjected to systematic prejudice on a daily basis, as are many children of gay families, it poses far-reaching problems. Marriage protects children. Since many lesbians and gay men do have children, they are denied the right to raise them within a marital relationship. Studies done in the last 20 years show children with gay parents are usually very well-adjusted and happy. Studies also show that kids do not necessarily need just one mother and one father as much as they need good nurturers and positive role models.”
"The Bible says marriage is between one man and one woman; it is a religious institution."
"Civil marriage is a government institution that grants hundreds of state rights and 1,138 federal rights. When a couple goes to the County Clerk's office for a marriage license, religion plays no role. The U.S. Constitution makes no mention of the Christian bible or any other religious text. There is no clear definition of exactly what constitutes marriage in the bible. For example, in the Old Testament, polygamy is permitted, since several of the biblical figures had multiple wives. And, kidnapping, rape and slavery are all suggested as valid means for obtaining a wife. Although gay people have had religious wedding ceremonies performed, many in the freedom to marry movement are not asking for religions to accept same-sex couples' vows. Our issue is civil marriage, not religious weddings."
"Civil marriage is the legal concept of marriage as a governmental institution irrespective of religious affiliation, in accordance with marriage laws of the jurisdiction."
Marriage According to the Bible:
"Wouldn't recognition of same-sex marriages cost businesses a lot more money?"
"The main benefit many employers provide for their employees which might be affected by recognition of all marriages would be health care benefits. Currently, many gay people cannot obtain this benefit. The additional cost would be minimal and no one would even ask this question if a company happened to have all heterosexual people working with the expectation they would all be married. Many businesses already offer gay couples benefits as it is in their best interest to attract the best employees and retain them. Studies suggest the impact on business of recognizing same-sex couples would be minimal. The economic impact in states which now recognize same-sex marriage has been overwhelmingly positive, significantly increasing state revenue."
"Wouldn't gay marriage mean the further breakdown of the family?"
"The breakdown of the family is our concern, too. Many people, including gay people, believe that families are important for society and although many marriage end in divorce, marriage fulfills an important role in supporting families and the communities around us. Families should be made of love, respect, responsibility, sacrifice and commitment. The same values that led us to recognize and respect marriages between opposite-sex couples should inspire us to recognize and respect marriages of same-sex couples. Recognition of same-sex couples and their families would be a positive addition to the diversity in our communities and would increase the stability of our society."
"We should just abolish marriage completely! That's what we should be fighting for."
"Currently, our system of government is set up so that married couples receive a cadre of benefits and legal protections. Although you might disagree with that, why should the institution be abolished just because same-sex couples want to have legal recognition? While many may agree with you, we are saying that since it exists in its present form, gay people should be allowed to participate. If you would like to start a movement to rid our society of marriage, perhaps you would be successful. In the meantime, that is not our issue."
"One of the major beliefs underlying an anti-gay attitude is that homosexuality is 'unnatural'."
"In fact, according to experts, homosexuality is perfectly natural, and for humans it has biological origins that occur in early pregnancy. Also, according to animal experts homosexuality is normal behavior seen throughout the animal kingdom. Being gay is like being 'left-handed' sexually - it doesn't mean there is anything 'unnatural' it is just part of the natural spectrum of human sexuality that we see reflected in humans and other animals.”
“Read what the American Psychiatric Association has to say in their statement: 'In the interest of maintaining and promoting mental health, the American Psychiatric Association supports the legal recognition of same-sex civil marriage with all rights, benefits, and responsibilities conferred by civil marriage, and opposes restrictions to those same rights, benefits, and responsibilities.'" Scientific Facts Regarding Homosexuality and Marriage Equality (Actually, homosexuality IS natural!)