Thoughts on anti-Prop 8 arguments.

This site comes in response to friends who complained, "I don't know how to answer when Pro-8 folks say 'X'."

These arguments are meant to be discussed OUT THERE, in real life with real people, not here in the reverberating blogosphere. There are plenty of sites where you can discuss them. So, no comments here.

To those who believe in equal rights for ALL, Prop8 = PropHate. If you have any doubts that this is solely about discrimination, then try replacing "gay marriage" with "inter-racial marriage" and "gay" with "black".

Help us protect our families, defend our rights, and defeat the hate amendment.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Argument 9: this is the slippery slope

The slippery slope argument is a logical fallacy that is used to inflame fear. It's not a valid argument, but is used in debate to draw conclusions that are not justifiable.

In a recent LA Times column, a pro-prop8 columnist argued that gay marriage was Just the Beginning and something Far Worse would occur, something like the End of Religion.

Excuse me?

That's entirely bogus. This has nothing to do with attacks on religion (indeed, lots of opponents of prop8 are religious from ALL traditions). Gay marriage has nothing to do with church rights (see Argument 4), education of children (see Argument 3), nothing to do with polygamy, bestiality, or pedophilia. (interesting that the anti-interracial marriage folks years ago brought up the polygamy canard too, don't you think?)

Prop8 is about one thing only: whether gay people have the right to marry the person they love, with all the responsibilities and expectations thereof.

Interestingly, at a recent rally, pro-Prop 8 folks were telling gay rights supporters on the edge of the crowd to vote "yes" to support gay marriage. The correct answer is VOTE NO: a "yes" vote puts bigotry in the Constitution.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Argument 8: Civil unions or domestic partnerships do the same thing

Okay, straight people. Imagine telling your loved one you want to "DP" them instead of marry them. How do you think that would go over?

The fact is, separate is not equal. No one knows what a DP or civil union is. Despite the apparent protections of the CA DP laws, those are basically meaningless. One of the writers of the DP law tells the story of being in rural northern CA with his partner at a hospital, and being denied the right to be with his partner. "But we're domestic partners", said the healthy one. "Oh, we don't do that here," said the hospital. Illegal, sure, but it is little comfort that you can sue them after the fact if you need to be with your loved one NOW.

Everyone knows what a marriage is.

The CA constitution guarantees us ALL equal treatment under the law. The CA Supreme Court agrees. Basically everyone gets civil unions, or everyone gets marriage. In fact, in parts of Europe and Asia, there are explicitly two marriages: civil marriage at the government office, and a separate religious marriage, if you choose, in your church. Ministers are not agents of the state. In the US, we have a confusing conflation of combining state-sanctioned and religiously-sanctioned marriage. (Many religious are not comfortable with acting as an agent of the state, even now).

Prop8 says nothing about religious marriage: only about civil marriage.

Argument 7: Marriage is for procreation

There are two counters to this argument.

First, we do not limit marriage to fertile couples. We allow the elderly to marry. WE allow people who are sterile, or unable to have sex, to marry. We allow couples who choose NOT to have children, to marry. Our society has uncoupled marriage from procreation.

If the predominant interest of society in marriage is the production of offspring, then there would be fertility or fecundity tests, we would cause couples without children to divorce, and we would not allow the patently unfertile to marry. That we do, means that it is unjustifiable to disallow any two committed adults from marrying.

Second, gay couples have children too! We have children from previous marriages, from in vitro or surrogacy, from adoption and fostering. Our families exist now, and are not going away. So denying us marriage directly and negatively impacts OUR children, by denying them the legal protections that ensue from married parents.

Attacking our families by denying them protection is not about family values. It's about bias.

Argument 6: Gay marriage threatens children

Exactly, how can the loving, faithful, committed monogamous marriage of two gay folks threaten children?

If your child is straight, then the more examples he has of adults living in faithful marriage, the better. If your child is gay, isn't it better he has the example and expectation of faithful marriage just like his straight siblings? One thing for sure, your child isn't going to "turn gay" just because there is a gay couple down the street.

And could you please remember that WE have children TOO? by preventing our marriages, you endanger our children's wellbeing and threaten their security.

I also don't understand the "family values" that lets the Yes-on-8 campaign use pictures of other people's children--children who are, with the permission of their parents, attending a gay wedding--and use this in their attack ads. No wonder the parents are so upset. (Of course the kids whose parents didn't want them to go weren't actually there, proving that the system works.)

From the LA Times:
...a fourth of California's gay couples [have chhildren], according to census data.... For children, no other arrangement matches the security and stability afforded by married parents, because no other arrangement confers comparable status and social support. If they could cast ballots, how many of the more than 50,000 children being raised in California's same-sex households would vote to deprive themselves of married parents?

Argument 5: Gay marriage threatens traditional marriage

Oh please, HOW? I have yet to hear a plausible reason of how my marriage has any negative effect on any other person's marriage. Married gay people want the same thing as married straight people: the right to be together, to make decisions for each other, to protect one another during sickness and after death, in faithful, committed love.

Now, if you want to consider "threats" to marriage, consider Britney Spears and the one-day wonder quickie wedding in Las Vegas. Or consider serial marriages and divorces by any number of Hollywood types.

Gay marriage does not lead down the "slippery slope" to bad behavior (see Argument 9). Gay marriage does not change the values of marriage: faithful, committed, monogamy for life. Some of the pro-8 forces point at excesses from Gay Pride parades. They are no more representative of gay marriage than the college-student hook-up culture is to straight marriage.

But let's also consider what the traditions of marriage really are, shall we? The Bible is full of examples of polygamy, concubinage, forced marriage and child marriage. (Indeed, I am sure that I am not the only one amused at the delicious irony of the Mormons, with polygamy still "on the books", claiming they are the protectors of "traditional marriage").

Women for many years were merely representatives of property, and indeed WERE the property of their husbands. That was pretty "traditional" too, and still is in many cultures.

In fact, our notion of marriage based on the love and free choice of two people, is extremely modern and not the least "traditional". Marriage has already evolved along with our society and culture.

From the LA Times:
Marriage is unique because of the high social expectations that go with it. Chief among those expectations is that spouses will do whatever is necessary to care for each other -- which is valuable, because census data show that almost a third of California's gay couples have only one wage-earner, and almost a fifth have at least one disabled partner (about the same, by the way, as for straight married couples). By supporting and reinforcing the care-giving commitment, each marriage, gay no less than straight, creates social capital for the whole community.

Argument 4: My church will lose its tax exempt status

This one is also a lie, at so many levels. We have freedom of religion, freedom of association, and freedom of speech and prop8 has no effect on this either way. (For a legal counterpoint to the lies, click here.)

First, The only limit on religious speech is that churches are not allowed to actively endorse a candidate for office and retain their tax exempt status. Churches are always free to discuss moral issues. Look at the Mormons who are basically bankrolling the pro-Prop8 campaign. No limits there.

There are even white supremicist "Christian" churches which legally function in this country despite the hatefulness of their speech. Again, if that offends you, remember that to a gay person your opposition to our legal rights is a form of bigotry.

In any case, we have very very broad rules protecting even "offensive" speech in the US. Things are different in Canada and Sweden for example, where they allow more restrictions; but their experience is not relevant to our free speech laws. In the US, nothing prevents your church from preaching vehemently against homosexuality, either with or without Prop8, however misguided some of us may find that.

Second, no church is forced to marry anyone it doesn't want to. Any priest, pastor, imam or rabbi can decline to marry ANY couple who presents themselves, for any reason. The Catholics for example refuse to marry anyone who has had a civil divorce (unless the church has also annulled the marriage). No change there either.

The fact is that if your church is opposed to gay marriage, you have no problem: don't perform gay marriages.

Argument 3: Prop8 will prevent my children from being "indoctrinated"

This is one of the most ridiculous lies going. Prop8 says nothing one way or the other about teaching in schools. Even the State Superintendant of Schools says so. The fact is, parents have a right to take their kids away from courses and classes of which they do not approve. In a pluralistic society, people of all views have a right to co-exist.

The basis for this argument is anger that gays are "out" at all. The idea is that if gay marriage is legal, then those opposed have less power to discriminate , and that offends them. The fact is that gay families are already present and your children can't be shielded from our presence. Maybe your child sits next to a classmate with two dads. Maybe your teen has a friend who is coming out. This amendment makes NO DIFFERENCE to those facts of life.

Now, some people fear that since schools can't teach that homosexuality is WRONG, their children are threatened. Well, values have always come from home, regardless of what's taught in school. For example, the Catholics don't approve of divorce or contraception, even though secular society allows them. Their church continues to teach these things and their followers practice them. Hmmm, why aren't we seeing an amendment outlawing divorce or the pill?

Bigotry of all sorts remains alive and well without being taught in school. Do you find that offensive? Because it suggests that you might be a bigot? I find it offensive that you think you have the right to vote on my marriage.

i especially find it digusting that the pro-8 forces take an example of the system working well (a field trip of kids to their teacher's wedding, where several kids opt out) and twist it to use it in their hateful propaganda.

It is not discrimination against YOU to prevent you from discriminating against ME.

Argument 2: Gay marriage is wrong because homosexuality is wrong

That's an opinion, which is neither shared by all faith groups, nor supported scientifically or medically. You are entitled to disagree, but not force your disagreement into policy against the preponderance of evidence.

Homosexuality is a normal, natural variant in animals generally (not limited to primates). I like to use the analogy of left-handedness. This occurs even in the most right-handed of families, around 10% of the time and in all populations and cultures. It is an inconvenience, at most. But historically (and in some cultures still today) left-handedness is viewed as satanic (hence the meaning of "sinister" which is Latin for "left"), and a sign of error. Even into the mid-20th c. in America, lefties were forced to "be" right-handed--to be "normal"-- often at great cost --until we realized there was nothing wrong with some people being left-handed. Hmmm, sound familiar?

So, if it's a normal variant, what's to be afraid of? Any more than we are afraid of red-heads or lefties. Homosexuality persists at a low level throughout human populations. It isn't 100% correlated with genetics--almost nothing in human behavior is. On the other hand, the evidence is convincing there is a genetic component. People generally do not choose their orientation, although sexuality is a very fluid concept. And remember, nearly all gay people grew up in straight families.

Please spare us the "it's not the orientation, but the act". The "love the sinner, hate the sin" thing is offensive to those of us who understand that being gay is not a pathology and not a "sin". Most of us as humans want to be loved and have meaningful, complete relationships with the one we love. And no, that's not a justification for promiscuity: it's a plea for marriage.

One thing about gay marriage is, it promotes the same values for gays as it does for straights. Faithfully partnered gay couples raise kids, support their families, contribute to their communities. Our sexuality may not be "appealing" to the majority of straights, but here's a hint: straight sex is just as revolting to most gays.

Argument 1: My religion tells me to support Prop8

This proposition is NOT about the religious definition of marriage. This is only about CIVIL marriage and has no religious meaning. The state has an abiding interest to be sure that all citizens are treated equally under the law, and that no one is forced to live by the rules of someone else’s religion.

Thus, for example, civil divorce and remarriage is legal, although it is not allowed by the Catholics. Similarly, we aren’t required to keep kosher if we aren’t Jewish, avoid caffeine if we aren’t Mormon, or be vegetarian if we aren’t buddhist. Followers of those religions are not prevented from living their own faith values. They ARE prevented from forcing others to live their faith values.

A vote for Prop8 is really only justifiable if you believe that all should be forced to live by your religious values. That's called a theocracy, and we don't have one.

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