My attempt at an objective analysis of some popular points:
|Pro-Gay Marriage Ban Arguments||Evaluation||Anti-Gay Marriage Ban Arguments||Evaluation|
|“Homosexuality is morally wrong.”||WEAK. While people have the right to campaign for laws based on their beliefs, civil laws are not obligated to honor them. This opinion is actually irrelevant to the issue.||“We’re born that way and should be treated equally.”||WEAK. Establishing that something is natural is not the same as showing that it’s good or deserves to be protected. Further, while fairness is a virtue, equality is not automatically universal, but is dependent on a number of factors—insisting on immediate equality is an attempt to circumvent discussion.|
|“It would open doors to abuses like polygamy and bestiality.”||WEAK. Even if this actually would be the case, it would be irrelevant. You can’t ban something because it might lead to something else. The issue has to be considered only on its own merits.||“Banning gay marriage fosters discrimination and harassment.”||WEAK. Like the opposing slippery slope argument to the left, even if this is true, it’s not relevant. Laws are not based on whether or not they might be interpreted in ways that will lead to positive or negative behavior. Certainly mistreatment of others is bad, but laws cannot be altered because they might contribute to a more civil citizenry.|
|“It would encourage more homosexual activity.”||WEAK. This seems related to the subjective belief argument above, and seems rooted in discomfort about others. Ultimately, such concerns are irrelevant to the issue of whether or not there’s a right to gay marriage, or whether it will substantially impact society for the worse.||“The government has no right to exclude people from marriage or punish morality.”||WEAK. Of course it does. Consenting adults cannot marry if they’re siblings, and divorce courts punish people for adultery all the time. The issue here is whether or not homosexuals should or shouldn’t fall into the category of marriages that can or should be banned, not whether or not such banning can or should exist. It does and it will.|
|“It would erode religious liberty.”||WEAK. This is undeniably true—it’s already happening around the world where gay marriage has been legalized—but this still does not override a right to marriage if that right exists. However the gay marriage issue is settled, religious freedom needs to be especially protected somehow; it’s integral to American ideals, character, and law.||“There have always been many kinds of families.”||WEAK. The examples often offered here are relatively rare and alien to the current environment. It’s easy for opponents to say that such exceptions, if anything, prove the rule by their rarity, that such arrangements probably wouldn’t foster tranquility here and now, and that such are precisely the kind of undesirable innovations they fear gay marriage will promote (though this last part is a fallacious argument).|
|“It would do further damage to the institution of the family.”||STRONG. If this can be demonstrated, not just theoretically, it’s a compelling argument. Certainly, marriage is regulated and defined by civil governments to promote domestic prosperity, and if gay marriage substantially threatens that, then continuing the ban must be respected.||“It’s inconsistent with civil rights and the Constitution.”||STRONG. If it can be demonstrated that gay marriage cannot and should not continue to be banned under our laws, then all other arguments for or against it are moot. Claiming that something is a right does not make it so, but if something truly is a protected right, then nothing can trump that.|
As every argument save the last one in each column is spurious, I’d like to see the national conversation focus on those bedrock issues. The evidence and ideas we all submit to the public should only involve research and rights, facts and families.
It might be helpful in our debates if we started by asking these questions:
If you support the gay marriage ban and are talking to someone who doesn’t, ask: “Hypothetically, if it could be absolutely proven that gay marriage would damage the lives of American children, would you oppose it? What if it could be shown that American law clearly has to exclude gays from marrying?”
If you oppose the gay marriage ban and are talking to someone who doesn’t, ask: “Hypothetically, if it could be absolutely proven that gay marriage does not harm American children, would you stop opposing it? What if it could be shown that American law clearly has to allow gay marriage to exist?”
The answers to these questions would show us where fruitful communication could happen, and would help us better understand each other’s motives.