Same-sex marriage (SSM) in New Jersey
Arguments against SSM, with rebuttals, that were
Organization for Marriage
In this essay:
"SSM" refers to same-sex marriage;
LGBT refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transsexuals
Among the various national groups working for and against equal rights for LGBTs -- including same-sex marriage -- the largest, most active and most effective appears to be the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). They opposes access to marriage by loving, committed same-sex couples.
The essay below analyzes statements by NOM with possible rebuttals.
We hope to write a similar essay to cover statements by Lambda Legal, also with rebuttals. They promote marriage equality.
Arguments against same-sex marriage (SSM) by The National Organization for Marriage (NOM):
Their page "Same-sex marriage: Answering the toughest questions" contains many suggestions for persons opposing SSM. It includes a series of specific talking points. 1 Some of their comments are:
- "Strong majorities of Americans oppose gay marriage."
Rebuttal: We asked our coworkers to interpret this phrase. All responded that the statement was a factual error because it implied that most Americans oppose same-sex marriage. That is, if one conducted a poll of a representative sample of American adults, most would oppose SSM.
However NOM used the phrase "strong majorities" instead of "a strong majority." One could certainly craft a speciality poll to ask only Southern Baptists, or only evangelicals, or only Republicans, or only voters from Alabama, or only African Americans, or only retired folks about SSM and find a strong majority in each case opposing SSM. Most or all of the responders would be Americans. So their statement is literally true if it is carefully analyzed. However, the vast majority of readers will probably be left with the impression that NOM has stated that most American voters oppose SSM.
Most Americans certainly were opposed to SSM in the 1990s. However, paper by Jeffrey Lax and Justin Phillips of Columbia University indicates that by 2009, a majority of voters in six states (California, Connecticut, Massacusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont) supported SSM. 2 The rate of increase of support for SSM has been so great in recent years that three major national polls show that a majority of Americans from coast to coast and border to border now support same-sex marriage:
The polls' margins of sampling error is typically ±3 to ±4 percentage points.
The statement on NOM's web site has the potential to seriously damage the reputation of NOM. We have written NOM suggesting that they review their page. We asked for a response. However, if past experience is a guide, we won't receive a response.
- The NOM site suggests that most effective argument to change the mind of a supporter of marriage equality is: "Gays and Lesbians have a right to live as they choose,
they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us.
- NOM left out bisexuals.
Same-sex marriage involves more than gays and lesbians. Some SSMs are composed of one bisexual and one lesbian or gay person; some are composed of two bisexuals. "Gay marriage" and "homosexual marriage" are not being debated; the conflict is over "same-sex marriage."
- The statement is untrue. Gays and lesbians do not have the right to live as they choose. Even though they are in a mutually loving and committed relationship, they are not allowed to marry. Similarly, Interracial couples were not allowed to marry prior to the 1968 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia. African American couples could not marry prior to the 1860s after the conclusion of the Civil War.
- Of course, lesbians and gays don't have the right to define marriage in a state or in America. NOM, Lambda Legal, the Roman Catholic Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and every other group involved in the SSM conflict recognizes that lesbians, gays, and bisexuals do not form a majority in the U.S. Only a majority of voters in a citizen initiative, or a majority of judges in a court, or a majority of legislators in a legislative body can redefine marriage to include same-sex couples. Lesbians and gays are not trying to create laws or pass their own court rulings in favor of SSM; they are merely trying to obtain the approval and support of the public, judges and legislators who alone have that power.
- NOM suggests that the phrase "ban same-sex marriage" should not be used. Rather, one should say that they are opposed to the redefinition of marriage or that they are for "marriage as the union of husband and wife." Their reasoning is that when "banning" is used in public opinion polls or debates, they lose about ten percentage points in support. Many Americans are opposed to government intrusion in people's lives and thus any talk of banning or of denying human rights is liable to create opposition.
Rebuttal: Being for "traditional marriage" means that a person wants to encourage opposite-sex couples to marry. It says nothing about the person's attitude towards same-sex marriage. One can be in favor of both. One can be in favor of opposite-sex marriage and opposed to same-sex marriages. Opposite-sex marriages are not impacted by granting same-sex couples the right to marry, except in one way: opposite-sex couples will then be forced to live in a country where all loving, committed couples can marry regardless of their gender.
- NOM is promoting a constitutional amendment to "settle the gay marriage issue once and for all."
Rebuttal: A constitutional amendment is not necessarily a permanent solution. Any change to a constitution -- whether it be of a state or of the nation -- can be repealed in the future. One example is prohibition, which did such wonders for organized crime. Another example is Proposition 8 in California. On election day in 2008 voters changed the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. The vote was close. If 2% of the voters against SSM had changed their minds, the proposition would have failed. However, public opinion has changed since then. Surveys have shown that if Proposition 8 would have been scheduled for Election Day in 2012, the vote would be about 44% in favor and 56% opposed. 3 Proposition 8 would have failed.
- NOM states that "Marriage is about bringing together men and women so children can have mothers and fathers."
- There is a major item of truth in NOM's assertion. Studies have conclusively shown that children fare better in two-parent families when compared with one-parent families. This is largely because many single-parent families are impoverished. Also, a single parent who holds down a full time job has less time to parent her or his children.
However, recent studies show that the gender of the parents in a two-parent family have little effect on the childrens' outcome. Two mothers, two fathers, or a monther and a father can and do successfully raise children. If there is any deficiency in a lesbian-led family due to the lack of the presence of a male parent, it can be overcome by making certain that there are significant male role models in the childrens' lives.
- Marriage is about a lot more than two adults coming together to raise children. Some opposite-sex adults marry with the intent of not conceiving. We allow opposite-sex adults who are infertile to marry. The state has not the slightest concern over such couples. Thus, why can we not allow same-sex couples to marry?
- There are hundreds of thousands of children in orphanages and foster homes, which are far less than the optimum setting for their developments. If there are some same-sex couples who are willing to adopt them, why not let the latter marry?
- NOM asks the question: "Do we want to teach the next generation that one-half of humanity—either mothers or fathers—are dispensable, unimportant."
- The educational systems, media, etc have been promoting the idea that students should be free to pursue any career. Women are not longer limited to being teachers, librarians, stay-at-home mothers, and nurses. They can enter any profession, and become professors, legislators, doctors, etc. When society allows women such freedom, it does not denigrate the status of men. Allowing two men to marry and raise a family does not denigrate women; it simply recognizes that two men can perform the task with excellence, just like a man and a woman can. Allowing two women to marry and raise a family does not denigrate men; it simply recognizes that two women can perform the task with excellence.
- There is an associated concept that is not included in NOM's "Answering the toughest questions" page. However it was raised by Maggie Gallagher, NOM's chairperson and founder, at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee in Rhode Island, she discussed the concept of "responsible parenthood" that is being promoted by many religious and social conservatives. She said that:
"We do not believe that our marriage laws are discriminatory. We think that marriage is the union of husband and wife for a reason … [because] the unions really are unique. They are the only ones that can make [new] lives and connect those children in love to their mother and father." 4
The implication is that parents raising children whose DNA is not related to both parents are engaging in irresponsible parenthood. Lesbian couples who wish to raise a family usually rely on artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilization to conceive; the result is that the children contain DNA components from only one of the parents. Most gay couples and some lesbian couples who want to raise children adopt, in which case neither parent typically contributes to their children's DNA. These are the the same arrangements as are experienced by infertile opposite-sex couples -- who Maggie Gallagher presumably feels are also practicing irresponsible parenthood.
At the hearing, local lawyer Joseph V. Cavanagh also mentioned responsible parenthood. He said that:
"... by leaping into this abyss, we will undermine forever the ideal that marriage between a man and woman is the preferred family — which it should be and always has been in human history. It doesn't mean that same-sex couples can’t have relationships. But let’s not redefine marriage. The difference is the difference. It’s a man and a woman who only themselves, uniquely coming together, can perform this act of love between themselves, to have a child, children, and raise them. That’s what we’re talking about. That’s what marriage is. ... Same-sex marriage with all due respect, is an oxymoron." 4
Full disclosure: I am an adoptive parent of a daughter -- a professor at Ryerson University -- of whom I am very proud. But I am as mad as Hell at Maggie for denigrating my family because of a lack of a DNA link between me and my daughter.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Same-sex marriage: Answering the toughest questions," National Organization of Marriage, at: http://www.nationformarriage.org/
- Jeffrey Lax and Justin Phillips, "Gay rights in the states: Public opinion and policy responsiveness," American Political Science Review, Volume 103 (3), 2009.
- Nate Silver, "The Future of Same-Sex Marriage Ballot Measures," FiveThirtyEight blog, 2011-JUN-29, at: http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/
- Katherine Gregg & Tom Mooney, "R.I. same-sex marriage bill packs the halls," Providence Journal, 2011-FEB-10, at: http://www.projo.com/
Copyright © 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Parts originally written: 2011-JUL-08
Latest update: 2011-JUL-08
Author: B.A. Robinson