“Well, we say that homosexuality is not just a form of sex, it’s a form of love, and it deserves our respect for that reason,” affirmed the late Christopher Hitchens.1 These words resonated with me as a historic decision in the United States was handed down last month by the Supreme Court, the nation’s highest federal judiciary (tasked with the responsibility to interpret constitutional law): the court announced that the Constitution assures and protects the right to same-sex marriage.2
“No longer may this liberty be denied,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote. “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”3
One particularly untenable piece I recently stumbled upon was a blog post written by Matt Walsh for TheBlaze, a conservative news and entertainment network and website founded by Glenn Beck, titled Yes, Gay Marriage Hurts Me Personally. The title is, for the most part, self-explanatory. The article is rife with ad hominem attacks, strawman contentions, non sequitur arguments, and a collection of other various logical fallacies. Normally, I wouldn’t think this type of denigration even worth the time or effort of addressing; however, if anything, perhaps doing so can serve as a timely look at the common misconceptions surrounding gay marriage and homosexuality today. For that reason, I find it useful to examine the key points Walsh presents in his post.4
Vapid Insults Over Intelligent Debate
Of course, given the incendiary, unsupported rhetoric Walsh often employs, it’s little wonder that a number of people have become enraged by his remarks. He is quick to note several of the insults that were slung his way by readers, which he uses in an attempt to illustrate a point. He writes, “There’s nothing like being called a bigoted pile of garbage in the first sentence and being told in the next that love has won.” The hypocrisy he exposes in these comments is of valid concern; notwithstanding, he proceeds to dig an even deeper proverbial hole: “Indeed, you know love has emerged victorious when a bunch of liberals are screaming in your face, calling your children ugly, and urging you to kill yourself.”
How is Walsh to know that the aspersions cast by his disapproving readers are those of liberals? Some of them could be among his own faithful readers, or conservatives, or independents, or hold any number of political stances. Perhaps he is not lumping all those who oppose his position(s) as liberals, but he certainly wastes no time using his assumption as a segue into more baseless drivel when he asserts, “Progressivism, as we’ve seen, is a bubbling cauldron of vile, hideous hatred.” He then resorts to strawman invective, as if to prove a point:
They dress it up in vacuous, absurd little symbols and hashtags and bright colors, yet the elites who drive the gay agenda are not out to spread love and happiness, but hostility and suspicion. And the obedient lemmings who blindly conform, with rainbows in their Facebook photos and chanting whatever motto they’ve been assigned, don’t really understand what they’re doing or why they’re doing it. The fact that this is the same ideology to come up with vapid slogans like #LoveWins is an irony too bewildering to comprehend.
Who are these “elites” being referenced? And what evidence is there to support the claim that those who “drive the gay agenda” (whatever that means), let alone support marriage equality, are simply out to spread hostility and suspicion? As to the “obedient lemmings” who blindly conform—who are they? (I’ll go out on a limb and assume, based on context, that Walsh is referring to those who support marriage equality.) Who are they conforming to? Who are they obeying? Again, what evidence is there to support the claim that they don’t really understand what they’re doing?
Christianity is the Epitome of Love? Really?
Walsh continues with his presuppositional fabrications:
When our culture was grounded in Christian principles, we used to think of love in the way that St. Paul described it: Love is patient, love is kind, love does not boast, love is not self-seeking. Now in this progressive dystopia, love has suddenly become something that tells you to drink battery acid and die. The difference is slight, but noticeable.
Hyperbole, much? Not to mention, why is it that St. Paul’s version of love is so hard to come by for the Christian deity portrayed in the Bible? Walsh, in typical apologist fashion, paints a white-washed picture of Christian love by cherry-picking dogmas from Biblical text, and then slides easily into the assumption that we all live in a progressive dystopia, inferring that the “love” found therein is actually a call to sling insults and aspersions at all who don’t fit his notion of what progressives define their reasoning to be. Strawmanning liberals in an effort to attack marriage equality is hardly a new low in what has been a long, hard fight for the true victims of decades of inequality; nonetheless, Walsh lends a provocative touch to the hate and fear-mongering hurled at the LGBT lifestyle and those who live it. On what basis does he avail himself? Religion, of course. Unsubstantiated faith claims.
Speaking of irony, what better example of Christian love than that of the god of Christianity? These acts of “love” committed by the Biblical deity (which are only a minute fraction) and his followers are telling:
- Angered at the supposed wickedness of humankind, God executes his children by drowning them—men, women, and children (including infants) perished in unthinkable pain and horror. (Genesis 6-7)
- God commands a father to kill his own child to prove his devotion (because being a “good” person just wouldn’t cut it). (Genesis 22)
- God snuffs out the life of the first-born in every Egyptian home not marked with lamb’s blood. (Exodus 12:29)
- God endorsed and condoned slavery and the beating of slaves. (Exodus 21: 20-21)
- God promises those who obey him that their enemies shall die by the sword. (Leviticus 26: 7-8)
- God commanded Moses to massacre all of the male Midianite children and “kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.” It’s not difficult to imagine what was done with virgins. (Numbers 31: 17-18)
- God punished the disobedient by forcing them to eat “the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the LORD your God has given you.” (Deuteronomy 28:53)
- Jesus endorses the mass murder, rape, slavery, torture, and incest of the Old Testament. (Matthew 5:17)
- Jesus speaks of eternal torment in hell, “into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:12)
- According to the Book of Revelation, God has some great things in store for us down the road, as a show of power (and how all-loving he is…or rather isn’t). Such as when he will send horse-like locusts with human heads and scorpion tails, who torture people for 5 months, followed by some angels who will kill a third of the earth’s population (which today would equate to over 2 billion people). “And in those days men will seek death and shall by no means find it; and they will long to die, and death flees from them.” (Revelation 9:6) Because it’s not enough to kill them…he plans to torture them, as well.
- And last but not least, for homosexuals? Death. Likely by a common form of Biblical execution, such as burning or stoning. Have you ever seen a stoning? It’s not pretty, as conveyed in this heartrending theatrical depiction:
The Stoning of Soraya M. (Motion Picture Trailer) | Video Credit: LionsgateVOD
If it wasn’t enough to caricature supporters of marriage equality, Walsh persists in railing upon the “traditional” form of love so often heaped upon the character of his Christian god: “But I wasn’t especially troubled by the progressive lynch mob and their vulgar, wretched, hateful ‘love.’ I’m used to it.” So it would seem, Mr. Walsh. So it would seem.
Gay Marriage Will Affect Us…for the Better.
“I’ve been more concerned by the large number of self-proclaimed Christians and conservatives who’ve repeatedly informed me that the whole gay marriage issue isn’t important,” writes Walsh. These Christians, he states, reason that the gay marriage “issue” won’t effect them: “It’s not relevant to our lives. We aren’t hurt by it. […] There are matters more urgent than truth and morality and the future of the human race. Like, what about the economy and stuff?”
Walsh has a valid point here. The legalization of gay marriage will likely have an impact on the lives of individuals and homes within society at large; however, unlike his poorly-substantiated (where are his sources?) claim that the impact will be negative, evidence indicates otherwise.
Since the announcement of the Supreme Court ruling, I have seen and heard many individuals take to the Internet, social media, and other public outlets contending that same-sex marriage, and the legalization thereof, will destroy the family “unit” of society, as well as “traditional” marriage. Various courts have found such claims to lack any evidentiary merit.5, 6, 7A In fact, in one notable case, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court noted it was asked to determine whether the state “may deny the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry. We conclude that it may not. The Massachusetts Constitution affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals. It forbids the creation of second-class citizens.“7B
Marriage is NOT a “Certain Thing with a Certain Nature and Definition”
Contrary to Walsh’s opinion, marriage is NOT a “certain thing with a certain nature and definition.” At least, not in any natural sense. Marriage is, after all, a social construct, not a natural phenomenon; a product of the culture from which it is established. If two or more consenting adults want to call their union a marriage, whose right is it to stop them?
Of course, as marriage includes matters of compelling interest to the state, such as property rights, its involvement is necessary in certain respects (e.g. dispute resolution and divorce proceedings). What Walsh fails to acknowledge is that there is a difference between the religious definition(s) of marriage and its recognition as a legal arrangement. Where in the Constitution does it say that the state can favor one (or more) specific religious denomination’s definition of marriage over another’s? Is Walsh’s version of Christianity the legal authority on what marriage is and is not? Where in the Constitutionally-outlined freedom of religion resides the sanction of a theocracy? In light of the problems inherent to these questions, the need for a separation of church and state should be glaringly obvious.
The False Equivalency
In attempting to spin the state’s legal recognition of marriage, as an arrangement outside his own biased definition, to the government mandating that “we must all pretend penguins are elephants and cats are squirrels,” Walsh seems determined to compare apples to oranges. He writes:
But I would still oppose this redefinition because it’s not true, and I prefer Truth. How does it negatively affect my life that people are all confused about penguins and cats and elephants? I guess it doesn’t, except that it would make my trips to the zoo pretty disorienting, and more importantly, I want our culture to have a proper understanding of reality. Moreover, I don’t want our government to impose an improper understanding.
How is the government, in respecting equal rights and a separation of church and state, in any way imposing an improper understanding of reality upon our culture? Comparing the legal “redefinition” of marriage to equating animals to what they aren’t is a false equivalency. As was already mentioned: marriage is a product of culture while living organisms are a product of nature, regardless of what one labels them. Unless, of course, one is simply projecting one’s own subjective worldview onto objective realities in an effort to reinforce bias.
In a particularly dogmatic outpouring of bigotry, Walsh writes that, “Gay marriage is not an essential or true institution, nor does it serve any real purpose in society. There’s no practical or moral reason for the romantic lives of homosexuals to be recognized or elevated or protected in any way. Even most homosexual activist know this, despite pushing for gay marriage.”
This bears repeating: “The…Constitution affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals. It forbids the creation of second-class citizens.“7C Even if he assumes that marriage does not serve any real purpose in society (which is incorrect), dignity and equality sure as hell do. The romantic lives of homosexuals have as much moral and practical cause to be recognized, elevated, and protected as “traditional” (or any other form of consensual, adult) marriage. Especially if equality is the intended outcome.
If by stating that gay marriage is “not an essential or true institution,” Walsh means to say that it is unnatural, why is that a bad thing? We humans are part of the natural world—ALL of us—which means that gays have just as much of a right to determine what is and is not natural as anyone else.
As for practical benefits, well, to list just several:
- The happiness and psychological well-being of children and their same-sex parents.8, 9, 10, 11
- An increase in opportunities for adoptive children to be reared in loving, nurturing homes.12, 13, 14
- Gay married couples receiving the same health and work benefits as straight couples, allowing for them to support each other (e.g. time off work for a hospitalized spouse).
- An addition of significant economic numbers to an already booming marriage industry (estimated to be worth over $51-billion) in the United States.15
- Legal protections for children, such as child support in the event of divorce, insurance coverage, and property inheritance.16
- Social security, veterans, and other government and social benefits.
- The rising generation witnessing principles of equality, empathy, and compassion being put into action.
Down the Slippery Slope We’ve Gone…or Not…
“…As different groups of fetishists enjoy their own time in the sun, you will see the institution of marriage reduced to utter nothingness,” Walsh contends. “Of course, once you erase the importance of procreation and the family, it already is nothingness, but that reality will become more pronounced as the months and years progress.”
What is the institution of marriage but that which we make it? Walsh continues to offer presuppositional arguments based on some ethnocentric notion that marriage is a thing of nature with properties that align exactly with what his definition of marriage should be. Walsh then proceeds with a bit of classic slippery-slope sophistry:
So if gay marriage can be justified on the grounds that homosexuals love each other and wish to be together, then any other group may take that reasoning and, if it can be applied consistently to their situation, use it to gain the same rights. This is how logic works. An incestuous couple can use this reasoning same as gays, so can polygamists, so can bigamists. This isn’t a slippery slope argument. We’ve already slid down the slope, and now here we are, in a place where legal marital rights can be granted to people based solely on their affections. There is no conceivable way to exclude these other groups when that’s the legal argument that just won a Supreme Court case.
Misrepresenting the legal arguments that won the Supreme Court case for gay marriage doesn’t do anyone any favors. Harry Frankfurt did well to note that, “Bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.”17 The two requirements of consent and adulthood still apply, yet Walsh sees fit to go there:
The zoophiles will have a bit of a higher hurdle because they can’t necessarily prove consent. But when consent is the only argument left in opposition to copulating with Fido, the dam won’t hold forever. Gay activists know this and don’t care, but they won’t admit it yet. Again, liberals wish to divorce morality from sexuality entirely. They have long been the “if it feels good, do it” crowd. Do you think they actually intend to try and stop the bigamy and incest enthusiasts from having their day? Why would they?
Incest and bestiality? Really? Speaking of bullshit, these tired comparisons are often riddled with it. Many incestuous couples don’t want, or cannot even have children, and the reason procreation is restricted is due to the potential for genetic defects, among other things (although, let’s not forget Abraham’s incestuous relationship with his half-sister, Sarah (Genesis 20:12), as well as Adam and Eve’s first offspring18). Bestiality, of course, fails to pass the consent requirement, and is an absurd collation, at that.
The Persecution Complex
Walsh’s article seems to carry an overall tone that comes off as, “When I discriminate against gays, it’s called religious freedom; however, when I’m criticized for my intolerance, it’s called persecution.” Unsurprisingly, Walsh’s conclusion articulates that sentiment while continuing on about his slippery-slope fallacy:
Finally, when the churches have been financially blackmailed and legally punished, and marriage has become an institution populated by all forms of depravity and corruption, all that’s left is the end of America, or what remains of it.
Some might say that’s already happened, and I wouldn’t disagree. But eventually we’ll arrive at a point where even the ones who think it “doesn’t affect them” will have to finally face the harsh reality that all of this really does, and always did.
I am glad that we’re not living in a theocracy, where religious beliefs (or even one particular set of religious beliefs) are given preferential treatment over individual freedoms. How wonderful it is that two loving, consenting adults—regardless of gender or anatomy—can enter into a committed, loving marriage, and be treated as equals in the protection of the state, and in the acknowledgement of their fundamental human rights.
Life is too significant to waste on hatred and misunderstanding. Perhaps the coming years will see compassion and empathy carry on in dispelling ignorance and bigotry, and humanity will come to realize more fully than ever that, as Carl Sagan once beautifully put it: “For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.”19
- Gay Marriage: for Better or for Worse?: What We’ve Learned from the Evidence by William N. Eskridge
- Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965 by Juan Williams
- Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America by Jonathan Rauch
- Hitchens, C. (2009, October 21). Debate Motion: The Catholic Church Is a Force for Good in the World. Retrieved July 6, 2015, from http://www.intelligencesquared.com/events/the-catholic-church-is-a-force-for-good-in-the-world/
- Elinson, Z. (2015, June 28). Supreme Court gay marriage ruling creates a new reality. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://www.wsj.com/articles/supreme-court-gay-marriage-ruling-creates-a-new-reality-1435534996
- Liptak, A. (2015, June 26). Same-sex marriage is a right, Supreme Court rules, 5-4. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/27/us/supreme-court-same-sex-marriage.html?_r=0
- Walsh, M. (2015, June 20). Yes, gay marriage hurts me personally.TheBlaze. Retrieved July 7, 2015, from http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/yes-gay-marriage-hurts-me-personally/#
- Perry v. Schwarzenegger, 570 U.S. ___ 133 S.Ct. 2652 Scribd (Northern District of California August 4, 2010). Full ruling available at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/35374462/California-Prop-8-Ruling-August-2010.
- Baker v. Vermont, 744 A.2d 864 Vermont Secretary of State (December 20, 1999). Full ruling available at: https://www.sec.state.vt.us/media/58911/98-032_op.pdf.
- Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health, 798 N.E.2d 941 FindLaw (November 18, 2003).
Full ruling available at: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ma-supreme-judicial-court/1447056.html. (Emphasis added on 6B.)
- Perry v. Schwarzenegger, Case 10-16696 Amici Curiae (Northern District of California February 7, 2012). APA brief available at: http://www.apa.org/about/offices/ogc/amicus/perry.aspx.
- Short, E., Riggs, D. W., Perlesz, A., Brown, R., & Kane, G. (2007). Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) parented families: A literature review prepared for the Australian Psychological Society. Melbourne, Vic.: The Australian Psychological Society. Retrieved July 15, 2015, from http://www.psychology.org.au/publications/statements/lgbt_families/
- Marriage of same-sex couples – 2006 position statement. (2006). Ottawa, ON: Canadian Psychological Association. Retrieved July 15, 2015, from http://www.cpa.ca/cpasite/UserFiles/Documents/Practice_Page/Marriage_SameSex_Couples_PositionStatement.pdf
- Herek, G. M. (2006). Legal recognition of same-sex relationships in the United States: a social science perspective. American Psychologist, 61(6), 607.
- Family Equality Council. (n.d.). ECDF facts. Retrieved July 17, 2015, from http://www.familyequality.org/get_informed/advocacy/adoption_and_foster/ecdf_facts/
- Goldberg, A. E. (2007). (How) does it make a difference? Perspectives of adults with lesbian, gay, and bisexual parents. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 77(4), 550-562. doi:10.1037/0002-9422.214.171.1240
- Washington, T. (2008). Throwing black babies out with the bathwater: A child-centered challenge to same-sex adoption bans. Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal, 6(1). Retrieved from http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1402928
- Snyder, B. (2015, June 26). Here’s how much gay marriage could add to the economy. Retrieved July 18, 2015, from http://fortune.com/2015/06/26/legalizing-gay-marriage-economy/
- Wolfson, E. (n.d.). Protections denied to same-sex couples and their kids. Retrieved July 18, 2015, from http://www.freedomtomarry.org/pages/from-why-marriage-matters-appendix-b-by-evan-wolfson
- Frankfurt, H. G. (2005). On bullshit (p. 61). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
- Byron, J. (2011). Like father, like son. In Cain and Abel in text and tradition: Jewish and Christian interpretations of the first sibling rivalry (p. 27). Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill Academic Pub.
- Sagan, C. (1997). The artist’s signature. In Contact: A novel (p. 430). New York, NY: Pocket Books.