Don't Make a Right

Ten Wrong Arguments for Same-Sex Marriage Refuted

In 1996, when the first Gallup poll on so-called same-sex marriage was taken, those opposed to legally redefining marriage held a comfortable lead (68 percent to 27 percent) over those who favored redefinition to include same-sex relationships. But after steadily eroding for over a decade, the pro-marriage margin evaporated by 2010. At the end of 2012, 53 percent of the public polled "favorable" to same-sex marriage, compared to 46 percent polling "unfavorable." (For 18-to-29-year-olds, the favorable/unfavorable polling in 2012 was 73 and 26 percent, respectively.)1No wonder that, after 32 straight defeats at the ballot box, gay marriage referenda won the day in four states in the 2012 general election.

Within the span of a few years, public consensus about the most primal, essential, and natural of all human institutions was turned on its head. But how? How did a social contrivance that would have been unmentionable, if not unthinkable, a generation ago become the "civil rights issue of our time" in the popular imagination?

Part of the answer lies in the success of homosexual activists in recruiting the mainstream media, academia, Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to push its message. But the bigger answer is not in what they've done, but in what the vast majority of the rest of us haven't: tell the emperor that he is naked.

When confronted with this spectacle, many of us have remained silent: some because of apathy or indifference; others because of a laissez-faire attitude about personal morality; still others out of fear of being viewed as a bigot, homophobe, or moralizer; many, because our thinking has been muddled by the moral rhetoric of civil rights, equality, and freedom. As a result, we have largely failed in what George Orwell called "the first duty of intelligent men"—that is, to re-state the obvious.

To help dispel the moral fog cloaking the king, so that the intelligent and willing among us can fulfill our duty, I here present rebuttals to the ten "best" arguments for same-sex marriage.

1. There is nothing morally wrong with homosexuality, because homosexual orientation is genetically determined.

After years of searching for the "gay gene," scientists have concluded that there isn't one.2 While they still maintain that there is an inheritable influence toward homosexuality, they concede that the prevalence of environmental factors in the backgrounds of homosexual persons (particularly sexual abuse, sexual experimentation, and absent or dysfunctional parents) indicates that sexual orientation is the result of an unsettled combination of nature and nurture.

Yet, even if sexual preferences were 100-percent genetically determined, sexual behaviors are not, unless we deem humans to be nothing more than stimulus-response organisms fatalistically controlled by their instincts.

Then again, if the genetic argument is sufficient to establish the morality of behaviors associated with homosexual orientation, it ought to be sufficient to establish the morality of all other sexual orientations as well. In that case, if, as the L. A. Times has reported, "many experts view [pedophilia] as a sexual orientation as immutable as heterosexuality or homosexuality," how could adult-child sex be judged as anything worse than a morally neutral lifestyle choice?3

2. Examples of homosexual behavior abound in nature, dispelling claims that it is unnatural, abnormal, or immoral.

All sorts of conditions and behaviors can be found among the animal species in nature—everything from birth defects and disease to incest and cannibalism. The existence of something in nature does not imply that the thing is normative with nature.

But if we insist on taking our moral cues from the animal kingdom, we will have no basis, apart from our personal tastes and preferences, on which to object to rape, fratricide, infanticide, theft, and cruelty, to name but a few behaviors currently abhorred. There is a reason we call certain acts "animalistic."

But let's move from the abstract to the concrete—from "homosexual behavior" to anal sex, for example. When an organ designed for procreation is inserted into an organ designed for waste elimination, we recognize it as a dysfunctional act precisely because it doesn't conform to the natural and normal function of either organ.

3. If a same-sex couple isn't marriageable for reproductive reasons, neither is a sterile or elderly couple.

Marriage, like humanness, is based on design, not function. A human being is no less a human being because of defect, disease, stage of development, or stage of decline. In the same way, a marriage is no less a marriage if, because of age or infertility, a man and woman cannot have children. Although their union may be incapable of fulfilling a primary marital function, it, unlike a same-sex union, conforms to the marital design and essence.

4. People should be free to marry whomever they love.

If marriage is primarily about love, why shouldn't a loving brother and sister be allowed to marry each other, or a father and daughter, or an adult and child? Moreover, why should marriage be limited to two people? Why shouldn't loving groups of three, or five, or even twenty individuals be allowed to marry?

Ridiculous? Consider that only six years after Canada redefined marriage to accommodate same-sex couples, the Canadian Supreme Court upheld the legality of common-law polyamorous relationships.4 The descriptions of the households considered in the ruling indicate the types of associations covered:

(1) a woman and her male partner who live and have relationships with two other adults in the household (they also have a child living in the home) and who have agreed that each can pursue relationships with others, (2) a woman who lives with two other men (two of her teenage sons also live in the home), (3) a husband and wife who live with another adult (and the married couple's two young children and the third person's teenage children), and (4) a man who lives with a woman and another man (with whom he is raising a two-year-old child).5

Once marriage becomes the right to marry whomever one loves, there is no rational basis on which to exclude any constellation of associations man can imagine, even ones that include non-humans. Indeed, over the last several years there have been incidences of individuals "marrying" dolphins,6 bridges,7trees,8 and even oneself.9

5. Heterosexual marriage is a social construction that marginalizes homosexuals.

Marriage is a natural institution that predates civilization, the state, and all other human institutions. Its design reflects the design of nature, in which multiplication, proliferation, and flourishing result from complementarity, not sameness.

In fact, a man and a woman, joined in a committed, lifelong, and exclusive union, form the only social structure able to produce children, establish a stable home, and prevent the personal and sociological pathologies associated with sexually transmitted diseases, divorce, adultery, fatherless homes, and single-parent families.

A same-sex union cannot constitute such a structure because it fails to satisfy the fundamental axiom of design—"form follows function"—whereby the form, or design, of a thing derives from the function it is intended to serve. In the case of marriage, that function is to produce and nurture children in a stable environment.

Hence, gay rights advocates have it exactly backwards, as it is "same-sex marriage" that is a social construction, not traditional marriage.

6. Traditional marriage laws are discriminatory against same-sex couples.

Traditional marriage laws apply equally to everyone regardless of sexual orientation. That's right—any person, whether straight, gay, lesbian, or bisexual, can get legally married in any of the fifty states. Although common restrictions apply concerning the ages, kinship, and sexes of the interested parties, there is no restriction based on sexual orientation.

For instance, while a straight man is free to marry the woman of his dreams, he is prohibited from "marrying" his best friend in order to become the friend's insurance beneficiary, just as a homosexual man is prohibited from "marrying" his same-sex partner for tax or insurance purposes.

The fact that most homosexuals choose not to marry under the restrictions that apply to everyone doesn't insinuate inequality any more than it would if a social organization wanted to be treated as a church by the IRS but chose not to conform to the definition of a church.

Indeed, the homosexualist rejection of marriage as it has been known from time immemorial demonstrates that gay agitations over "marriage equality" are not about equal access to the institution; they are about redefining the institution for special interests.

Imagine if, in the name of "tax equality," Bill Gates were to propose that "nonprofit organization" be redefined so that he and Microsoft could enjoy the same tax benefits as Rick Warren and Saddleback Church; why, Gates would be excoriated, and rightly so. The same would happen to a white man who sought to have the definition of "ethnic minority" changed so that he could receive affirmative action benefits, or to a civilian who insisted that the designation "military veteran" be altered to make him eligible for VA benefits.

7. Objections to same-sex marriage are no different from those marshaled against interracial marriage.

Again, the natural argument, or the argument from nature, against homosexual marriage is based on design. Mixed-race heterosexual couples can consummate their union because, like heterosexual couples of the same race, their physiology is complementary. Same-sex couples cannot. What's more, it's not even clear what could constitute consummation for same-sex unions, either legally or practically.

Thus, while laws banning interracial marriage unjustly exclude couples who, by design, are able to fulfill the natural function of marriage, laws banning same-sex marriage merely reflect the incongruity between the "form" of same-sex couples and the "function" of marriage.

8. Children flourish as well (or better!) in gay and lesbian homes as in traditional homes.

The American College of Pediatrians reports that children raised in homosexual homes "are more likely to experience sexual confusion, engage in risky sexual experimentation, and later adopt a same-sex identity."10 And it is not hard to understand why.

Because homosexuality affects less than two percent of the population,11 the odds are overwhelming that a child raised in a homosexual home will be heterosexual. But same-sex parents cannot model how their child should relate to the opposite sex in courtship, dating, and marriage. They cannot credibly teach their heterosexual son or daughter how to understand their sexuality or experience it in a manner consistent with their design. They can only model a transmogrified version of romantic love that puts their children at risk for sexual confusion, confliction, and dysfunction.

Such children are also four times more likely to be victims of family breakups. Whereas 66 percent of first-time heterosexual marriages last ten or more years, only 15 percent of same-sex relationships last as long.12 Consequently, children in same-sex homes have four times the risk of experiencing the dysfunctions of divorce—namely, domestic violence, poverty, anti-social behaviors, lower scholastic achievement, and sexual abuse.

That last item is of considerable concern, given that it is common for same-sex relationships to be open (i.e., non-exclusive) in nature and the fact that, at best, only one parent is biologically related to the child. Compared to children in homes with both biological parents, children in single-parent homes with a co-habiting partner have an eight-fold greater risk of experiencing neglect and abuse.13

As for the cheery conclusions of pro-homosexual parenting studies, they have been competently refuted.14 The serious research flaws in those studies include: the small, non-random samples used; the lack of independent verification; and the failure to account for socioeconomic differences.

9. Given the prevalence of divorce and dysfunctional marriages, gay marriage could only improve the institution.

As already noted, the rates of dissolution and dysfunction in homosexual households are far greater than those in the homes of heterosexual married couples. Thus, the answer to failed and failing marriages is not redefinition, novel family structures, or a "new normal," but the strengthening of the existing institution against corrupting influences.

10. Gay marriage won't adversely affect anyone.

Gay marriage will lead to more children being raised by homosexual couples. In addition to the negative consequences already mentioned, children born with the help of a sperm donor, egg donor, and/or surrogate mother could be the biological product of three adults and legally attached to two others. Such a situation creates not only identity confusion for the children, but also legal confusion for the courts. As the custody case of "M.C.," a little girl with three legal parents, painfully shows, such structures unnecessarily increase the likelihood that children will be separated from their biological parents when courts intervene.15

Same-sex marriage is also a threat to religious freedom. Anti-discrimination laws have already been invoked to sue or to force out of business individuals and institutions that, because of religious conscience, refused to: offer adoption services to same-sex couples, provide fertility treatments to lesbians, promote the "virtues" of homosexuality to their foster children, hire gay church youth workers, and provide services for same-sex weddings.

In one of the most egregious cases to date, involving a Christian photographer in New Mexico who declined to take pictures of a lesbian commitment ceremony (New Mexico does not recognize same-sex marriage), the state supreme court ruled that the photographer needed to set aside her religious beliefs as "the price of citizenship"!16

With gay marriage as law, all persons and organizations, regardless of their religious convictions, will be (and are being!) "educated" to, as one gay rights attorney put it, value and reinforce homosexual family structures "in the same way that society values and reinforces heterosexually based family structures."17 Or, as someone else once said, "to call good evil and evil good." •

1. Gallup Politics (Dec. 5, 2012):
2. Tracy Clark-Flory, "Study: There is no 'gay gene,'" (Dec. 11, 2012):
3. Alan Zarembo, "Many researchers taking a different view of pedophilia," Los Angeles Times (Jan. 14, 2013):
4. "Canada polygamy ruling: Win, loss, or draw?", Polyamory in the News (Nov. 26, 2011):
5. William C. Duncan, "The More the Merrier," The American Spectator (Sept. 2, 2010):
6. "Brit Jew marries dolphin," Ynet News (Dec. 29, 2005): 
7. "Jodi Rose, Australian Artist, Marries 600-Year-Old French Bridge LePont du Diable," The Huffington Post (July 8, 2013): 
8. "Johnny Depp Doppelganger Marries Tree," The Huffington Post (Dec. 12, 2013):
9. "Nadine Schweigert, North Dakota Woman, 'Marries Herself,' Opens Up About Self-Marriage," The Huffington Post (May 25, 2012):
10. "Homosexual Parenting: Is It Time for Change?" American College of Pediatricians (March 2013): 
11. Michael Medved, "Does it matter if only 1.4% of people are gay?", USA Today (May 24, 2011):
12. Timothy J. Dailey, Comparing the Lifestyles of Homosexual Couples to Married Couples, (Family Research Council):
13. Andrea J. Sedlak et al., Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS–4)—Report to Congress (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services):
14. Den A. Trumbull, M.D., et al., "The Effects of Marriage, Civil Union, and Domestic Partnership Laws on the Health and Well-being of Children: In Reply," Letter to the Editor, Pediatrics (Nov. 1, 2006): Mark Regnerus, "How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study," Social Science Research, 41:4 (July 2012), pp. 752–770.
15. Jennifer Roback Morse, "Why California's Three-Parent Law Was Inevitable," Public Discourse (Sept. 10, 2012):
16. Elane Photography v. Vanessa Willock, Supreme Court of New Mexico (Aug. 22, 2013):
17. Arthur S. Leonard, "Lesbian and Gay Families and the Law: A Progress Report," Fordham Urban Law Journal (Summer 1994):

From Salvo 28 (Spring 2014)
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Regis Nicoll  is a retired nuclear engineer and physicist, a Colson Center fellow, and a Christian commentator on faith and culture. He is the author of Why There Is a God: And Why It Matters, available at Amazon.

This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #28, Spring 2014 Copyright © 2024 Salvo |


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