Need to persuade someone same-sex marriage is right? Here are all the popular arguments against marriage equality – busted.
1 Same-sex marriage is a modern invention.
There were same-sex unions in ancient Greece and Rome, some regions of China, such as Fujian, and among Two Spirit people and others in the Native American peoples.
In Europe, there is evidence both the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches blessed ‘brother-making ceremonies’ akin to same-sex marriage.
In late medieval France, male couples vowed to live together sharing ‘un pain, un vin, et une bourse’ – one bread, one wine, and one purse.
Sadly at other times, lesbian and gay couples were persecuted. It’s time to take the best bits of history, not the worst bits.
2 Gay marriage causes floods and earthquakes.
We checked the weather data for the first day of same-sex marriage in the capital city of every country that has passed it so far.
There was not a single drop of rain in the capitals of 17 of them: The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, New Zealand, England, Wales, Scotland or Luxembourg.
Admittedly, it rained a bit in Copenhagen and Paris when the first Danish and French gay couples wed. But mostly passing same-sex marriage looks like a good way to almost guarantee a day of sunshine.
3 Civil partnerships or civil unions are good enough.
The rights and responsibilities offered around the world in marriage ‘equivalents’ vary. Civil Partnerships in the UK were very different from PACS in France, for example. Both countries later saw sense and allowed marriage for all.
Marriage equality means same-sex couples are treated fairly in their own countries and anywhere else where marriage is equal. Alternatives don’t guarantee that.
But most important, is the lesson of history that ‘separate but equal’ is never equal. Full gay marriage means that gay and lesbian citizens are equal citizens, not second-class, and are properly respected by society.
4 The government has no ‘right’ to interfere in marriage which is a religious institution.
Marriage has existed (in some cases including same-sex couples) before most of today’s major world religious were even thought of.
It has always involved civil or legal rights and responsibilities, rather than being purely a religious undertaking.
In many countries, including France, Bulgaria, Belgium, The Netherlands and Turkey you have to register in a legal ceremony before undertaking the religious aspect of marriage.
In the US, Britain, Canada, Ireland and Spain – religious groups are allowed to conduct weddings where both the legal and religious parts happen together. But even there, the religious celebrant is acting as an agent of the state. And if the legal red-tape is not dealt with (like the signing of a register) then the marriage is not recognized, even if it has been conducted ‘in the eyes of god’.
The proof? Divorce is always through the courts. The state always holds ultimate power over marriage.
5 It goes against religion.
Some religious leaders have likened same-sex marriage to slavery and child abuse or even demanded death for those who wed.
Luckily in many countries which have passed same-sex marriage most people, including people of faith don’t agree with them.
And others want to marry gay couples – including some Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Neopagans and more. If you believe in religious freedom, you should support their freedom to do that.
This is not the secular world fighting the spiritual one. It’s religious fundamentalists against progressives of all faiths and none.
6 Churches, synagogues, mosques and temples will be forced to conduct weddings against their will.
This myth has been raised in every country where gay and lesbian marriage has been introduced. In reality, the laws have protected faiths from having to marry people.
7 Marriage is an ancient institution and we shouldn’t change it.
This ‘institution’ is no way static. Heterosexual marriage is now about romantic love – it used to be about power games.
Many of us have abandoned the idea of brides being treated as property, of dowries being handed over to sweeten the deal and of arranged marriages. We no longer allow unions between close cousins to promote political or strategic ties, as practiced by European royalty.
Polygamy was common in the past – particularly in religious history. Now those same faiths are against it. You may not know that there have been times when group marriage, involving multiple partners of both genders, has been permitted.
Sometimes change is good.
8 It will be people marrying dogs next.
Gay marriage supporters are clear they are talking about a relationship between consenting adults. They don’t want marriage between grown-ups and children, as children that’s child abuse. And animals are not humans and can’t consent.
Worth noting too that polygamists throughout history have never used homosexuality to justify their unconventional marriages.
9 Gay and lesbian marriage undermines straight marriage.
Marriage has been around in one form or another for thousands of years and has weathered far bigger changes than this.
Allowing gay and lesbian people to ‘buy in’ to marriage makes it more popular and, therefore, stronger.
The only way gay marriage could weaken heterosexual marriage is if it was so vastly superior that everyone would ‘switch sides’.
Do you really believe straight men would abandon their wives and end up clamoring to enter into same-sex unions?
10 Marriage is for raising children and gay and lesbian couples can’t have kids.
We all know straight married couples who don’t have children. Should they be forced to divorce? We also know that religious leaders happily marry couples where one or both is infertile. They admit it.
Increasing numbers of gay, lesbian and bi single people and couples have children. They give children a loving, caring home and are often excellent parents. Some adoption and fostering agencies say that gay people’s understanding of bigotry and prejudice gives them a particular strength when it comes to helping vulnerable kids.
If other children benefit from being part of a loving, stable, married family, shouldn’t that also be on offer to adopted kids who need stability more than anyone?
11 Marriage benefits society so shouldn’t be touched.
Marriage does benefit society. It creates loving, stable, supportive links between two people and that can ripple out to all around them, linking and helping friends, families and communities.
Love is an ultimate good. The phrase ‘charity begins at home’ really means that love begins in a loving, stable home and reaches out from there to support people who come into contact with it. Gay people are a part of that and marriage will support them.
12 Most people are against it.
The polls so far have indicated that when a serious debate starts in a country about same-sex marriage, there’s a shift in attitudes. Increasing numbers start to support it. By the time the law passes, most support it. After it becomes law, the support keeps going up.
And if you still don’t agree with same-sex marriage, just don’t get married to someone of the same sex.
13 Gay relationships don’t last.
A typical divorce rate for heterosexual marriages in Australia, the US, UK and Western Europe is around 30% to 40%. Same-sex marriage hasn’t been around long enough to come up with reliable figures for our divorce rates but the figures so far don’t look very different to this.
In Norway and Sweden, for example, one study found a slightly higher split-up rate among same-sex couples. But in Denmark it was far lower than among straight couples. So there’s no way you can say gay and lesbian couples are more likely to divorce.
If you were going to ban people from getting married just on the basis that they are at higher risk of divorce, you wouldn’t allow heterosexuals who have previously divorced to re-marry. Second marriages are far more likely to end. But we all deserve second chances.
14 Same-sex marriage is going to happen anyway, so I don’t need to do anything.
Around the world, this is a massive fight. It has been hard and it’s going to get even harder.
The people fighting same-sex marriage are every bit as passionate as the LGBTI community and, more often than not, far better funded.
If you want a fair future, stand up for it every chance you get.