What anti-gay arguments say about the person making them

02/28/2011

Clever post title sold to pay for heating.

Anti-gay arguments. Many of us in the LGBT community have heard them for a long time. We’ve gotten so used to debunking their complete break from reality that it’s become routine. The problem is that we’ve gotten used to just debunking them and moving on. I mean, the people using these arguments generally are just using them as smokescreen for raw animus anyways, so…

However, I feel that’s failing to appreciate the raw horror that are these arguments. Let’s look closely at some of the more popular arguments used in arguments against gay rights (specifically gay marriage) and what they reveal about the type of person who’d make and/or believe them, or otherwise find them compelling.

#1) Marriage is for procreation

The common stand-by, because the ability to conceive a child by unprotected sex is one of the few things that separate same-sex couples from opposite-sexed couples. Sure, a same-sex couple can still have children from previous marriages, use IVF, enlist a surrogate, adopt, or serve as mentor for a large group of children, but they can’t conceive solely using the plumbing and DNA of the two people in the relationship…unless one is trans and pre-medical transitioning…and shut up, shut up, shut up.

As I said, we’re used to breaking down this argument logically. There’s a great post here doing so. But let’s look at this argument much more closely with regards to what it’s saying.

At it’s most basic level, it argues that marriages are solely about children and procreation. Thus, that marriage is adamantly NOT about love. And this is a rather radical belief here in 2011, thanks to the tireless work of activists who have come before.

We are used to in the 21st century the notion that marriage is a ceremony to enshrine love, to say, “I love this person so much, that I want to try and be with them the rest of my life. They are the person who understands me the best, the one who can relay my concerns and needs the best of all when I’m incapacitated, sick, or dead. They are my sweetie.”

But SSM marriage opponents are right when they say that this isn’t the “traditional view of marriage”. The “traditional” view of marriage was one of a man purchasing unwanted property off of a father, that of a daughter. Said man, would then take his new property and put it to work as a house slave to keep his house, birth and raise his children and meet his sexual needs when he so desired, regardless of her own beliefs on the matter.

This attitude has mostly died off, thanks to pioneering artists for centuries dreaming of love as a matter of the heart and feminist activists slowly building up public regard for women until it became more common to imagine them as full people with hopes, dreams, ability to love, and furthermore someone that shouldn’t be raped or devoid of the right of self-ownership.

And just like we see in the “abortion debate”, that female self-ownership is still woefully supported, we see here in the anti-gay argument the resistance to this cultural evolution.

These people are admitting that their own marriages aren’t about love. They are about duty or because someone was knocked up, or because they were told they were nothing if they didn’t have the possessions “a family”, “a wife”, “kids”.

And it’s worth taking a moment to boggle at how utterly terrifying and sad that is.

To the people that this argument resonates with. To the people making these arguments as if they made rational sense to them. To the ones to which this makes emotional sense, marriage must be a trap rather than a celebration. Something tolerated merely out of duty to tradition and fealty to perpetuating a stark patriarchy for religious reasons.

No one’s marriage should ever be that. It should be a celebration of love.

Sadly, the number of jokes about “marriage as trap” and “wife as ball and chain” seem to hint sadly, that the true “traditional” marriage may not be so long dead as we would hope.

#2) Gay marriage is a slippery-slope to polyamory, bestiality, and child-molestation

Often made with these sexual unions being marriage level recognized unions. Now, let’s leave aside the fact that recognition of polyamorous triads, quads, and so on are in fact something that society should eventually grant social recognition and protection to similar to marriage, possibly by expanding marriage. And let’s leave aside that the main perpetrator of what is socially scary about polygamy (the hideous patriarchal “harems” of certain mormon sects) are also the main backers of most of the anti-gay movement at the moment (Mormons run NOM, which is behind most of the movement fighting against gay marriage).

Leaving all aside, it’s a remarkably bad argument. Not only because it’s a raw emotional appeal that doesn’t make legal sense, but because of what it fucking screams about the person making this argument.

And the thing it screams is that the person making the argument has ZERO, and I mean ZERO concept of consent. Or if they do, that they do not value it or regard it in sexual and marital interactions.

Or to put it bluntly: “What part of consenting adults eludes you?”

This argument is remarkably popular. Such conservative stalwarts as Pat Robertson, John Cornyn, and the usual gasbags like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh have all made the argument.

Overall it might be the most popular anti-gay argument made in the fight for gay marriage.

But again, let’s point out the obvious. This statement, in order to even make internal consistent sense, has to completely ignore or devalue consent.

And to be frank, this is not an unfair statement. The conservative opposition don’t really believe in consent. Look at the “abortion debate”, look at the current Republican attempt to redefine rape, look at the constant anti-feminist resistance to the notion that rape means anything other than “white christian and her black boyfriend”.

And furthermore, the people making this argument and who this argument resonates with just don’t value consent. I don’t mean that they are rapists, per se, but that the culture of most conservative religions such as Fundamentalists, Mormons, Catholics, and many others views sex as inherently bad and sex one has chosen to commit as worse.

So if sex is inherently wrong, then there isn’t much moral difference between some consensual heavy petting and raping a child or a cow. Furthermore, there is a belief that sex is “more permissible” if one got “caught in the emotion” than if one has planned a sexual encounter, taking care to buy contraceptives and to fully explore boundaries and consent before hand.

Thus in these world views, consent actually makes sex worse because it shows a consciousness and “sluttiness” betrayed by admitting you are like 99% of people in the world and crave sexual interaction.

Now, it’s worth pointing this out, because this is a horrifying worldview that needs to die a quick and merciless death. Consent is critical in sexual interactions and respect for it needs to be unanimous or close enough. That so many are of the opinion that consent is either not a part of the marriage or sexual debate or that consent actually makes it worse, so that this slippery slope argument could at all make sense to them, shows a deep rot in our society and the relative youth of the movement to make consent a household expectation rather than a radical position.

A child or a horse can’t provide meaningful consent to either legally binding documents or sex. That they see it as equivalent shows that it’s all “bad sex” to them and thus, I fear for the sexual partners of every person who has ever made this argument.

Because their partner just argued in front of everyone that they don’t value consent in their sexual interactions with said partners.

Yeah, heartbreaking isn’t it?

#3 and #4) If gay marriage is allowed and everyone is gay married, then no children will be born and everyone will go extinct AND Homosexuals recruit and are trying to recruit me or my children into the “homosexual lifestyle”

The latter is an old standby and the former is gaining steam in the anti-gay movement as the arguments are turning towards “marriage is for procreation” arguments that I mocked earlier owing to the fact that that’s the only definable difference between same-sex parties and opposite-sex parties.

My “favorite” recent example of the former is probably Jeffrey Kuhner‘s insane assertion that it’s socially barren and a “homosexual society” or a culture that permits homosexuals will thus become extinct because homosexuals can’t create children with each other. And the latter has been seen everywhere.

Now, see, these arguments are very similar, because they both assert that homosexuality is so very desired. So very much seductive that everyone would be gay if there wasn’t such heavy social stigma against homosexuals in society. The argument of extinction, basically building on the older “gays recruit” angle to argue that legal rights would be seeing everyone switching teams because it’s just so awesome.

Now, see, let’s be frank.

There is no way. NO single possible way this is at all convincing to a person who is heterosexual or asexual.

Period.

See, heterosexuals and asexuals, and even homosexuals know that one can’t be “recruited” to the other side. You are attracted to what you are attracted to and not to what you aren’t. Nothing could make me sexually attracted to men or women.

So, what these people are doing, what they are screaming out to any who will hear is that they are very very gay. Or at least bi.

And not so much on the bi, because all of the people selling this argument the hardest often speak of homosexuality as this huge temptation that no one could possibly pass up. The extinction arguments are great, because it’s basically arguing that once the social stigma against homosexuality is gone, no one would stay in the sham marriages and we’d all go with the “obviously superior” option.

Which screams to anyone who really looks at this argument that the person who made it is flaming, is so very attracted to the same sex that they are legitimately concerned that the growing social equality of same-sex couples is threatening their marriages.

In fact let’s add

#5) Gay marriage threatens my marriage

To the list.

All three arguments, have at their core the fact that the one making the argument is feeling legitimately tempted by homosexuality. They have romantic and sexual interests in same-sex partners and are counting on social stigma to keep them from acting on it openly.

Basically everyone who makes this argument in any sense of seriousness has just come out as a Kinsey 1 at the least and considering they see it as a dominant choice, something that trumps all others, we’re talking Kinsey 4-6 much much more here. These are people who are admitting they are mostly homosexual in fighting against gay rights.

And what interests me is that this argument is relatively popular. Which provides pretty strong anecdotal evidence to a pet suspicion of mine that the majority of people aren’t heterosexual, but some flavor of bisexual.

As I said before, these arguments have no resonance for people who are really heterosexual. There is no there to tempt and it’s clear there is a vast separation in their desires for women and their lack of desires for men.

Now to be fair, it could just be bisexuality mixed with intense misogyny. The same religious cultures which short-change consent and hard-sell marriage for duty also view women as inhuman creations tolerated at best. They are instruments for birthing and raising children, a step up from possessions, who are to be resented for their femininity and weakness lest it somehow taint the masculine male by association.

These viewpoints are hardly alien and are lurking in our culture as a sort of toxic guidebook for masculinity that claims to be the only real path to being a man.

With women sold as beings to loathe, as lesser beings only good for sex, and where what matters most is one’s connections to other men, there is the basis of strong homosocial connections.

And for those just stumbling along, maybe with the slightest bisexuality, it might seem like it would be so much easier to ditch the dead weight of the woman and make those homosocial interactions homoromantic and homosexual as well in order to fulfill all needs without having to debase oneself seeking female companionship.

And for these people, I can see how the social stigma against homosexuals does seem like the only thing in their way. If gays weren’t categorized “girly men” or socially feminized, then what’s to stop the bisexual intense misogynist from sticking with the winning team where masculinity would reinforce masculinity.

And possibly more frightening is that these ultra-patriarchal societies are painful and shitty for the women living in them. If they could “choose” who they wanted to be with, with no social stigma, why would they stick around?

It’s a fear that keeps patriarchs awake at night, that their possessions might just do without them and “go lez”. It’s not rational and growing feminist victories means that people are slowly doing without those strict patriarchal relationships and striving for more egalitarian ones in all relationships. But still, it’s a crippling worry for those who are relying on social mores to keep women “in community” and ignorant of options.

Again, none of these options speaks well of the people advancing these arguments.

The point, finally

We often point to the disingenuousness, the history of equality movements, and the similarities between anti-gay arguments and anti-other-minorities arguments to show the moral depravity of the anti-gay movement and its proponents.

But we needn’t go to so much effort. The greatest horror of their statements isn’t the raw hate, isn’t the willingness to grasp any lie to make us suffer, it’s the statements themselves.

The arguments they make reveal their true characters far better than we could ever hope to reveal.

Let us take them at their word and be appalled by it.

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3 Responses to “What anti-gay arguments say about the person making them”

  1. Yiab said

    I’ve actually seen #5 used in what I think is probably its most honest sense, and what also happens to be the weakest argument I’ve ever heard with the possible exception of “nuh-uh!”

    In a debate on same-sex marriage in Canada (where it has been legal and completely equal for some years now) the man in the “con” position, one Charles McVety, seriously argued that redefining the word “marriage” to include same-sex couples would change the nature of his marriage as follows:
    when he told someone he was married, they would no longer automatically know it was to a woman.

    Yes, he seriously made an argument from semantics to attempt to deny a class of people from the legal right to sign contracts, apparently while completely oblivious that this “change” in his marriage had already happened six years ago.

    • Cerberus said

      Wow. That is serious weak sauce.

      Not just an argument from semantics, but entirely an argument from laziness and privilege.

      “If I say I’m married, they won’t immediately assume I’m straight, so I’ll have to spend a whole extra couple of words to introduce my partner.”

      Yup, thousands must apparently live as second-class citizens or be returned to second-class citizenship because his right to be lazy and suffer no further questions is more important than the humanity of others.

      Overall, that argument reminds me of “How will I explain this to my children?” one we see again and again. Yes, lord help you have to educate your children or converse with them. Better we pretend we don’t exist to save you the oh so impossible task of talking with your kid.

      • Chaos Crafter said

        And again I think it comes down to denying their own nature.
        They are worried that circumstances might exist where they have to make clear their heterosexuality. That’s not a worry for anyone comfortable with their sexuality. Someone thinks I’m gay, I don’t care – unless they make me care by their homophobic attitude. Someone thinks I’m straight? Again – who cares – I’m not available, and neither description sums up the complex of my sexual interests – but it shouldn’t matter.
        But if they aren’t sure they can prove they are straight. If they are uncertain of the truth of their belief in their own heterosexuality. If, in other words, they feel there might be a bit of an inkling that way – then and only then will it matter to them.

        I explained to a friend once that I was happy to use my work computer to look up some info for them on bestiality, because I’d have no issue with assuring people it was on someone elses behalf, and if they thought ill of me for it the problem was theirs not mine. But that I wouldn’t use my computer to look up info on my own kinks because then it might lead to questions I’d find hard to answer.
        If you’re confident of what you are it shouldn’t matter if someone else guesses wrong about it. (sadly, with the world as it is, shouldn’t is the operative word.)

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