In a recent conversation I was having on Facebook we were discussing a post that I shared from George Takei concerning gay marriage. It was stated in the picture that was being shared that 58% of Americans believe that gays should be allowed to marry and that I am one of them.
It wasn't long before I found myself and a friend of mine in a heated argument with another friend. The arguments brought forth seem to jump from here to there and are floating in the air with no foundation. I will try to address them each here a little more gracefully than I did in the heat of the moment.
A majority opinion doesn't mean it is correctThis is a true statement, in and of itself, but if one is implying that since there are situations in which Americans exemplify their ignorance, particularly in religious matters, that this should extend to their opinion on gay marriage is a classic example of argument from fallacy. Showing that people are stupid neither proves nor disproves the correctness of their conclusion in each instance.
Some examples given during the discussion included things such as 86% of Americans not knowing how many Representatives are in the House. Or 50% of Americans not being able to list the first book of the Bible. Off the top of my head I couldn't answer the first, but does that exclude me from answering other questions which have nothing to do with this subject?
I don't want marriage to changeIn this response the pot starts calling the kettle black.
So if a person doesn't want the institution of marriage to change from heterosexual monogamy to whatever else the flavor de jour might be, they're attacked by closed-minded bigots?This is a combination of two logical fallacies, which I will address each separately. The first logical fallacy is that of appeal to tradition. Since a person doesn't want tradition to change then that means that changing tradition is wrong.
Slavery had been a tradition held for thousands of years, completely justified by the bible. The Confederates motto was "Deo vindice"(Under God, or Vindicator). The Baptist church in the South was tied to slavery and often criticized by those in the North. Early on it was said that the heathen should be slaves, and later in the American slavery days it was purely due to race, Africans being the decedents of Ham. Both of these reasons and traditions were justified by religion and upheld by tradition.
Another relic from the days of slavery was segregation and civil rights in general. Civil rights were fought for long and hard, and it took us till the 1960's to really begin the process of rectifying this unjust situation of believing that the color of one's skin is somehow determinant of the individuals status.
Woman's suffrage is yet another instance in which we have changed from tradition, and lately have made great progress on equal rights for woman. The religious have been the most adamant about continuing to control a woman's body and her right to choose. At first it was not seeing women as equal to men; once that argument was essentially lost the religious have argued that it is god that put us in our places, that woman should have the role of staying in the home, taking care of the children and that man should have the responsibilities to provide financially. Slowly this argument has been lost, more woman are empowered with education, employment, and even political power.
Tradition is the poorest excuse for continuing an atrocity.
As for the second of the logical fallacies, it is simply an ad hominem, attacking the personal character of those that disagree with your own opinion. It neither proves a point, nor adds to the conversation, rather it distracts.
Words mean something, call it anything but marriageThis argument is based on the belief that if you call the union of two men marriage it somehow dilutes the marriage that is held between a man and a woman.
So two people who have children, family, maybe god, and community, who love each other and are devoted, willing to share their entire life, property, and finances along with all the thick and thin, in sickness and in health that is sure to entail, shouldn't be known as a marriage because it is between two people of the same gender. Due to them not being married they also do not have protection in cases of inheritance, survivor benefits, Social Security, Medicaid, and a plethora of other federal programs. Also the inability to make medical decisions, especially ending life of their companion, and the often times heart wrenching despair towards the end of their spouses life when they are barred from entering a hospital room to see them.
Heterosexuals have been doing such an utterly horrid job with the institution of marriage, with the inability of keeping it sacred, whimsical split ups, cheating on each other, killing one or the other, or in any other means defiling it. I believe that we can all agree that people aren't perfect, and maybe we shouldn't argue how heterosexuals haven't actually kept it sacred, but for some reason this is often brought up. Stating this I sometimes wonder why would homosexuals want to join the band wagon that has become the train wreck of modern marriage.
A common adage, if it looks like a duck, it quakes like a duck, walks like a duck and flies like a duck, you should probably call it a duck. If two people act like they are married, are devoted to each other as married people, love one another, seek to uphold whatever covenants they have made then why should it not be called a marriage? Some say that they can just call it a civil union and be given the same rights as a marriage. But why have two words that mean the same thing? What is so special about the word marriage that it cannot be applied to heterosexuals as well as homosexuals? We should not have to rewrite all of our laws to acknowledge civil unions as equal in status to that of marriages.
Marriage is an institution brought by religionIt may be brought up that marriage is a religious institution, some even believe that the government shouldn't have anything to do with marriage. If we argue it from the point of view that it is purely a religious institution what stops me from making a religion whose institution of marriage is defined as that of one between two men or two woman, or, with a more open mind, between two individuals that profess love for each other?
If you continue to argue that your religion can have a copyright, trademark, or some other exclusive control over the use of the word marriage, is it not the case that virtually every society that we have found has had some form of marriage? From the Chinese who are a mixture of Buddhism, Taoism, and other philosophies, to the Indians and other Hindus, or many of the tribes found here in North America and South America? Did not the Romans also have marriage? Was not Pilate married at the time of the trial of Jesus? But they did not have Christianity. From the beginning of society it would seem that marriage has been a social institution that has been delegated to religion, and later regulated by government.
Certainly we see in the Bible that even in the heathen nations there was marriage, why else would the Egyptians want to marry Abram's wife? Claiming marriage as an institution of religion is ignoramus at best, and willfully missing the point at worst. Should we keep it this way for the sake of tradition? If we had not thrown off tradition we would still have slaves in the south, woman would be at home and not able to own property, but rather be property, and we would still have separate schools for blacks and whites. Slavery was another institution brought on and justified by religion. All the slave owners were religious, and it was men of good conscious who saw the hypocrisy in it that finally began to change this tradition. True freedom began when one primate realized that he did not have to be controlled by another primate, that nothing gives them authority to do so.
The real news is not about 58% of people believing that gays should be allowed to marry, it should really be that there is still, sadly, 42% that don't.