Answering Advocates of Gay Marriage

Katherine Young and Paul Nathanson. “Marriage-a-la-mode: Answering Advocates of Gay Marriage.” Paper presented at Emory University, Atlanta, GA (May 14, 2003). Katherine K. Young is professor of the history of religions in the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University where she teaches in the areas of comparative religion, gender, ethics, and Hinduism. Paul Nathanson, a researcher in the same faculty, is a freelance editor and author of Over the Rainbow: The Wizard of Oz as a Secular Myth of America.

Claim 1: Marriage is an institution designed to foster the love between two people. Gay people can love each other just as straight people can. Ergo, marriage should be open to gay people.
Claim 2: Not all straight couples have children, but no one argues that their marriages are unacceptable
Claim 3: Some gay couples do have children and therefore need marriage to provide the appropriate context.
Claim 4: Marriage and the family are always changing anyway, so why not allow this change?
Claim 5: Marriage and the family have already changed, so why not acknowledge the reality?
Claim 6: Children would be no worse off with happily married gay parents than they are with unhappily married straight ones.
Claim 7: Given global overpopulation, why would anyone worry about some alleged need to have more children in any case?
Claim 8: Marriage should change, whether it already has or not, because patriarchal institutions are evil.
Claim 9: Gay marriage has had historical and anthropological precedents.
Claim 10: Banning gay marriage is like banning interracial marriage.
Claim 11: The case for gay marriage is more “poignant” than the case against it.
Claim 12: Gay marriage is necessary for the self-esteem of a minority.
Claim 13: Anyone who opposes same-sex marriage is homophobic.
Claim 14: Exceptions could be made for religious communities that disapprove of gay marriage, or religious communities could simply add their rites to those of the state.
Claim 15: To sustain an “ethic of caring and responsibility,” we must include gay people in every institution.
Claim 16: Norms of any kind at all are discriminatory.
Claim 17: Almost everyone believes in equality. How can we have that if gay citizens are denied the same rights as other citizens?
Claim 18: Winning the struggle for gay marriage is important for the cause of gay liberation.
Claim 19: What about majority rule in democratic countries?
Claim 20: But gay people are a small minority. Allowing them to marry would mean nothing more than a slight alteration to the existing system and would even add support for the institution. What’s all the fuss about?

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