Whenever one writes letters to legislators it is always better if it is short, sweet and to the point. The problem with that is that the lack of logical arguments that can fit into a short letter tends to limit their educational and persuasive value. Short letters simply allow room to state an opinion – one among a plethora of opinions fielded by constituents – that do little to edify, persuade or even debunk opposing arguments.
Faced with this dilemma, I am writing a letter that is in two parts. The first simply states my opinion as a constituent and asks that my opinion be considered in deciding on the merits of legislating for same-sex marriage. The second part, which can easily be ignored if the legislator is so inclined, or read if he/she sees fit to consider logical arguments, outlines various points using opponents’ logic as a springboard.
Very briefly, I would like to state my opinion that it is a travesty that same-sex relationships are not afforded all the same civil benefits in New York as heterosexual married couples. I hold this opinion even though I have nothing personally to gain from it. I am a heterosexual, married minister with no gay or lesbian children, siblings or, as far as I know, relatives of any sort. I am simply concerned that a segment of our society is being treated as second-class citizens simply because of deeply ingrained religious bias or fear of the other.
I would ask that you support the pending legislation that would recognize same-sex marriages, which was introduced by New York’s governor.
Thank you for your consideration and for reading thus far.
If you are conflicted or confused in your stand on same-sex marriage, as many are, please consider reading Part 2, in which my arguments are fleshed out more adequately.
I will simply launch into discussion using some common reasons for disallowing same-sex marriages.
MARRIAGE IS A RELIGIOUS INSTITUTION.
While this may indeed be true in some other countries, this is a fallacy in these Unites States of America. While certain wedding ceremonies are religious ordinances or sacraments, marriage falls solely under civil jurisdiction.
While all the U.S. states have marriage laws, no state requires that a marriage be performed by a religious body. In all states, a marriage may be performed by a clergyperson, but that is because the state recognizes them as officiants, along with many other civil and secular authorities.
To my knowledge, in no state is a marriage legal unless a license is acquired from the state or county prior to the event. Laws govern marriage, not religious dogma. Doctrine determines who may have their marriage performed or blessed in a church or other religious setting, but not the legality of the marriage.
SAME-SEX MARRIAGE WILL “CHEAPEN” ALL MARRIAGES.
This is only true if one or more of the participants would be considered less than fully endowed as human, adult, citizen or having rights to civil equality. This argument was used to limit mixed-race marriages in the dark days before the civil rights legislation. It was based on the person of color being of less worth than the white person. This argument can only be considered valid in the discussion of same-sex marriage if one presupposes that LGBT people are somehow less than human, less than adult and/or less than full citizens. Otherwise, it is a deliberately flawed logical argument. Do you consider LGBT folks to be full citizens of this country?
SAME-SEX MARRIAGE WILL OPEN THE DOOR TO POLYGAMOUS, ADULT-CHILD OR EVEN BESTIAL MARRIAGES.
From above, a marriage is only cheapened, and should only be limited, by certain conditions. Children are not adults and, therefore, not endowed with the ability to make life-long decisions and commitments such as marriage. Animals are not human and, as such, are incapable of making decisions that require human capacity. The arguments that if same-sex marriage is allowed the door will be opened for adult-child marriages and legalized bestiality are not only flawed logically, but blatantly aimed at simply inflaming xenophobic emotions. There is absolutely no truth in these arguments.
While not as easily refuted, polygamous marriages would not be legalized without a total rewrite of divorce laws in each state, since there would be a secondary claimant (second husband or wife) to the marriage estate. The issue of equality would still need to be addressed as there will always be an inequity in the polygamous relationship – most only allow one gender to have multiple partners, thereby violating existing civil rights laws.
SAME-SEX MARRIAGE PARTNERS WILL RESULT IN MORE HOMOSEXUALITY IN THEIR OFFSPRING.
This argument is sophistry of the worst kind. There are two basic problems with it.
The first is that it assumes being homosexual is a problem. If it were true that children raised in homosexual households would more likely be homosexual, which it isn’t, of what concern is that to the state? The percentage of homosexual parents would never exceed the statistical average of the population that they currently make up, which means that, unless they raise substantially more children that heterosexuals, the resulting percentages will not change. While mathematics refute the logic of this argument, the assumption behind it is essentially flawed for another, more important reason.
The vast percentage of the population that is homosexual were born to and raised by heterosexual parents. This still continues to be the case. If the logic of the argument stated above were correct, and the state had an interest in limiting homosexuality, it would be wise to prevent heterosexual couples from having children. That would more effectively limit the number of homosexual offspring. I am sure you can see how ludicrous that argument is.
CHILDREN ARE BEST RAISED IN TWO-PARENT DIFFERENT-SEX HOUSEHOLDS.
Even if this were true, and there is no empirical evidence to support this argument (actually there is some that refutes it), it would only have bearing if the over-riding majority of children were raised in two parent homes. More than half of children are raised in single-parent homes and their mental and physical health is statistically no different than those raised in two-parent homes, except for one factor – poverty.
Single parents are more likely to have children that are raised in poverty, which is the single most critical factor behind any inequities in health outcomes. Considering that the income levels of same-sex marriages would be similar to that of heterosexuals, poverty would be mitigated and children would be better off.
Another factor is that children are loved more and end up healthier when they are raised by parents who want them. As with any adoption or children produced by means of surrogate mothers, same-sex spouses would be very intentional about their desire for children.
There are likely many other, equally fallacious arguments against same-sex marriage, but these are the most common. I pray you will give them some thought.