Throughout the debate that surrounds same-sex marriage rights in America, several themes have been consistent among those who engage to “protect” traditional marriage. As such, the battle to win marriage equality has been a slow push. To date, six states have legalized same-sex marriage. Washington State just became the seventh now that their marriage equality bill was signed into law by Gov. Gregoire this morning.
That state joins New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia as a state that had marriage equality granted by legislation. Iowa, Connecticut, and Massachusetts had gay marriage mandated by court rulings.
Proposition 8, California’s constitutional ban by referendum on same-sex marriage was ruled unconstitutional by a federal district court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The United States Supreme Court will soon decide if they will hear the latest appeal on the Prop 8 ruling. If the lower court decisions are upheld, then marriage rights in California would be restored.
While every state that has put marriage equality on the ballot thus far has voted to deny same-sex marriage rights, the tide is shifting. A national poll conducted by Gallup last year indicated that a majority of all Americans now support same-sex marriage. California’s gay marriage ban was decided in 2008 with only 53% of voters supporting it, while a much larger percentage voted in 2000 to ban gay marriage by statute. Put simply, the American public is moving toward supporting marriage equality.
This changing tide hasn’t changed the views of anti-gay political and religious groups, though. If anything, they have become even more belligerent in their hostility toward same-sex marriage. As such, they’ve consistently pushed out a series of talking points which are similar to the ones that were passed around when the gay marriage debate first reached its fever pitch back during the 2004 election campaign.
I addressed these talking points in a column that was published in July of that year. Many of them are surprisingly resilient even today.
But are those talking points even close to being accurate? Let’s find out:
“Activist judges have hijacked the legislative process to allow gay marriage.”
“People should be allowed to vote on whether we want gays to get married.”
“We are a democracy, and majority rules. The majority will decide on gay marriage.”
- All false. We are a Republic, not a democracy. We do not get to use a popular vote to strip from or prevent rights for an unpopular minority just because we don’t like them. It’s only a matter of time before the Supreme Court finally buries the gavel on this illegal, unconstitutional process of denying marriage equality by referendum.
“Children would be harmed by gay marriage.”
- False. This was covered in testimony during the 2011 Prop 8 trial. The witness that made this claim ended up admitting that children in homes with same-sex parents would actually benefit from having their parents be legally married.
“Gay marriage threatens the institution of marriage.”
- False. Just once I’d like for someone to display clear, compelling evidence that a gay couple’s committed, monogamous, loving, and devoted relationship is in any way a threat to anyone’s marriage. To be blunt, heterosexual marriage is its own worst enemy with a 60% divorce rate and rampant adultery. Not to mention the Las Vegas drive-through weddings and annulments, rampant divorce rate, and serial adulterer Congressmen who later become presidential candidates.
“The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals just told 7 million California voters that supported Proposition 8 that their votes don’t matter.”
- False. They told the other 6.4 million California voters that opposed Proposition 8 that they were right all along.
“Gay marriage is an attack on the family.”
- False. It’s an attack on a bigoted worldview. There’s not a single family that’s placed in harms way by having a gay couple getting married.
“The Bible says homosexuality is a sin.”
- False. The Bible says nothing about loving, committed, same-sex relationships. Even if it did, it has no bearing on the government of the United States of America. The Bible is not the document on which this country was founded. The Constitution is.
“Gay marriage should be banned because they are more likely to be infected with HIV and AIDS.”
- False. Monogamous marriages are not at risk for contracting HIV or AIDS.
“Gay marriage is immoral.”
- False. There’s nothing immoral about two adults of the same sex joining in a loving, committed marriage where they will share their lives together.
“Gays aren’t interested in monogamous marriages.”
- False. Why do you think we’re fighting for marriage equality?
“Marriage has always been an institution that was exclusive between one man and one woman.”
- False. Many cultures allowed and celebrated polygamy. Including within the pages of the Bible.
“Allowing gay marriage would be granting special rights.”
- False. How “special” is the right to inheritance, adoption, next-of-kin status, or the ability to file joint taxes? The question is whether two people in a same-sex relationship can commit their lives together and have their commitment recognized by the state and federal government. At last count, there are more than 1078 individual rights that are given to heterosexual marriages by default. Those rights are granted whether the couple is married in a formal church wedding or in a seedy wedding chapel in Las Vegas.
“To allow gay marriage would cause a sliding scale toward debauchery, including the normalization of bestiality, incest, and pedophilia.”
- False. Dobson. Santorum. Scalia. Perkins. Fischer. The names of those who spout this popular slippery slope argument span the gamut of right wingnut politics. If anyone can possibly present a valid argument how my committed, monogamous relationship with my wonderful partner of over ten years might lead to sex with my cats I’d be interested in reading it. When I do read such a screed, I will then laugh at its abject absurdity.
“The courts will force churches to recognize gay marriage.”
- False. If this were true then the Catholic Church would have been ordered long ago to recognize second (and subsequent) marriages of its parishioners. The first amendment is clear in that Congress will not impose any religious tradition or prohibit the free exercise thereof. There’s not an “activist judge” in this country that would ever trample on this most revered amendment.
“The homosexual lifestyle is a chosen lifestyle.”
- False. What’s a “homosexual lifestyle?” It’s far too vague to really answer. Such a “lifestyle” is often described by the “religious right” (which in this case, is neither religious nor right) as a bar-hopping, bed-jumping lifestyle that bears little resemblance to the reality of the majority of gay life in America.
“Shouldn’t all marriage laws be banned since the government has no business being involved in the private affairs of individuals?”
- Good luck with that. People get married because they love each other. There are major tax benefits to getting married, and they have more than a thousand rights that are automatically granted with a marriage license. The asinine idea that none of this should be allowed for anyone is just another example of a straw man argument has no bearing on the discussion of same-sex marriage.
“So, what would really happen if gays were allowed to get married?”
- Simple. Gays would be allowed to get married.