If you ask someone why they support homeopathy, they will give you reasons. Maybe that it worked for a friend of a friend, or perhaps their naturalpath gives them a warm fuzzy feeling that they just don’t get from real doctors. Whatever it might be, they will give you a reason.

If you ask someone why they want to legislate against abortions, they will give you reasons. Maybe they think blastocysts are people, or perhaps that a woman’s right to rule her own body goes on hiatus during pregnancy. Again, they have reasons.

If you ask someone why they want anti-blasphemy laws, they will give you reasons. Maybe they think that the whole purpose of humankind is to revere a deity, or perhaps they’re worried about a wrathful god smiting indiscriminately if it gets too pissed off. They have reasons too.

All those positions have reasons behind them. Sure, they are all horrible reasons, but at least the reasons are there.

cakeIf you ask someone why they oppose gay marriage, however, no reasons are ever provided. At most, they insinuate that they have a reason, but they never actually say what that reason is. It’s a very irritating thing to deal with. In the other cases mentioned, a well thought out response can show why all those reasons are terrible and should be discarded. There is something to work with. However, opponents to gay marriage don’t provide anything to refute. The position is worse than wrong. It provides nothing other than nonsensical, incoherent, non-arguments.

One such non-argument that is repeated ad nauseum is some version of “Marriage should be between a man and a woman”. That’s not a reason to oppose gay marriage, that is simply restating that you do in fact oppose gay marriage. To illustrate, consider this simplified dialogue:

“Between the options of A and B, I’d like to have A”

“No, you can’t have A”

“Why?”

“Because you can only have B”

“Only being allowed B is logically equivalent to prohibiting A. Please actually explain why I can only have B?”

“Because you can’t have A.”

Another common objection is a prediction of immanent catastrophe. They say things like ‘Allowing the gays to marry will threaten the very institution of marriage!’ or ‘It will lead to beastiality!’, or some other apocalyptic scenario. This almost sounds like a reason until you ask them for details.

“How does gay marriage threaten straight marriage?”

“It will bring about beastiality and pedophilia!”

“Wait, what? Tell me, step by step, how gay marriage could lead to either of those. And that still wouldn’t explain how it threatens straight marriage. Please provide a step by step for that too.”

“Children raised by a same sex couple with be morally bankrupt and/or developmentally challenged.”

“How? You’re just adding on more imagined horrible results. You have yet to say how gay marriage will bring about any of these.”

“Because it is a threat to the institution of marriage!”

These objections aren’t even circular reasoning. They’re just circular, void of any rationale whatever, with no part even superficially leading to another. Pressing on only brings greater vagueness.

“It’s not natural!”

“How’s that? Homosexuality is all over the place in nature. And even if it wasn’t, how is this ‘unnaturalness’ harmful or detrimental in any way?”

“Marriage is between a man and a woman!”

“I recognize that as your position, I just want you to tell me why.”

“Because gay marriage is unnatural!”

Waving your hand towards a scary sounding adjective as if, somewhere out there, amidst your haze of obfuscating babbling, there lurks an actual reason behind your position does not actually count as providing a reason. But wait! The barrage of non-sequiturs doesn’t end there.

“They can’t have kids on their own!”

“So what? How is a couple not reproducing a bad thing?”

“Having kids is the whole point of marriage!”

“How have you determined procreation to be the one/only/so-important-that-it-negates-all-others reason for marriage? And how is it harmful for a couple to have different reasons to get married?”

“But we need kids for the species to live on!”

“How would gay marriage stop straight couples from having kids?”

“Because gay couples can’t have kids, and that’s the point of marriage!”

“You didn’t actually answer my question or provide a reason…”

“Marriage is between a man and a woman!”

Even the divine command troglodytes can’t provide anything substantial to talk about.

“Gay marriage is bad”

“Why?”

“It’s an abomination!”

“In this case, bad and abomination are pretty much synonymous. Can you tell me why it’s an abomination?”

“God don’t like it.”

“From your world view, that is also synonymous with ‘bad’. In essence, you are saying A=A=A, but you have yet to say why A applies to gay marriage. What is the actual problem?”

“It’s an abomination!”

The drive to be charitable has sent me through cycles like these more times than I care to recall. It’s infuriating putting so much effort into trying to get to the root of someone’s argument while getting nowhere. Especially as it never seems to occur to the objector that there is nowhere for them to go. All objections to gay marriage fall into three categories. Claiming a ludicrous consequence without detailing how it would come about; claiming an actual, but benign consequence is somehow bad without detailing how; or variations of “cause I say so”, without detailing anything at all. It is a maelstrom of empty nonsense.

It would be so nice if just once, opponents of gay marriage would put in some thought into their objections. Spend some quality time with their ideas and get down to what they’re actually trying to say. This would have one of two outcomes. It might result a position that actually meant something. No matter how bad the newly discovered reasons might be, there would at least be something to discuss. Alternatively, reflection may help them understand that there actually is no reason to oppose gay marriage. They would have to forsake their bigoted dark side of homophobia, denounce their previous hate-based associations, and join righteous cause for equality. At the very least, they’d have to shut up and I’d have one less person to have to beat down with the logic stick.

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