Op-Ed

Debunking arguments against same-sex marriage

With many Filipinos still not supportive of extending the right to marry to LGBT people, Peter Jones Dela Cruz looks at the “reasons” many anti-marriage equality people raise and deconstruct them one by one.

Majority of Filipinos don’t like two men or two women to get married for reasons we already know. The critics of marriage equality have come up with both religious and non-religious reasons for their objections. It’s important that we look at these reasons because they become important in discussions and debates that will affect the lives of same-gender couples.

Same-sex marriage is unnatural.

This is one of the most common arguments against same-sex marriage. It’s also one of the easiest to destroy. Supposing we say it is unnatural, so what? Is something necessarily or inherently wrong because it is unnatural? The inherent goodness of something is independent of whether it is natural or not. Typhoons, earthquakes, cancer, and gamma ray bursts are natural. Smartphones, batteries, air-conditioning systems, and computers are not.

Also, marriage is in itself unnatural. It’s a social, cultural, and legal construct. Animals don’t get married. They just mate. Heterosexual marriages are not necessarily natural. “Natural” is the wrong word. They are just common.

Nevertheless, this naturalistic fallacy just doesn’t die.

Marriage is for procreation.

If it were, why does the state allow sterile couples and seniors to get married, knowing they won’t be able to reproduce? This inconsistency destroys the argument, though. Clever marriage equality critics may then say: But sterile and senior couples are the exception to the procreation rule. Why, then, can we not extend this exception to same-sex couples?

Besides, there are many ways for same-sex couples to have children, such as in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, and surrogacy. Many straight couples actually use these techniques, too.

It’s against God’s will.

It’s against our religion. It’s against our faith. It’s against our convictions. It’s against our concept of morality. These appeals to religion and bias do not hold water in a democratic country that upholds the doctrine of separation of Church and State. Marriage equality advocates are not asking the churches to wed same-sex Filipino couples. We are asking the State. Whether this form of marriage is against God’s will is debatable even within the domain of Christian belief and should not be taken as a statement of fact that should dictate legislation.

Section 6 of Article II of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines states that the separation of Church and State is inviolable. Section 5 of Article III, on the other hand, states that no religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.

It’s also hypocrisy when we allow religion to interfere with something as private as marriage, considering there are many things religious texts admonish against but we do anyway. We do not make eating shellfish (Lev. 11:9-12) or wearing mixed fabric (Lev. 19:19) or eating pork (Lev. 11:7-8) illegal because God said these things are abominable just as sleeping with someone of your gender is.

You’re redefining marriage.

This is another argument that can be easily destroyed with this question: So what? Let’s redefine marriage to afford gay and lesbian couples the right to get married. Marriage was not always between one adult man and one adult woman throughout history and across cultures around the world. Marriage is an arbitrary concept. Christians do not have the monopoly over its definition. It’s not their concept alone to begin with. Marriage certainly did not originate as a Christian ceremony. And even if it did, it doesn’t mean it is for Christians or religious people to define and claim as solely theirs.

It threatens the sanctity of marriage.

This is another appeal to religion. Marriage is holy. Marriage is sacred. It is a union done under God’s grace, and because it’s done in the presence of God, it should only include a man and a woman because the Bible forbids homosexual partnerships.

So this is very much like the third argument that has been debunked.

First, we are not asking religious institutions. We are asking the State.

Second, that marriage is sacred is a matter of religious bias and is not a statement of fact. Again, we are a secular and democratic state, and such state does not adhere to religious dogma, especially when making and amending laws (Article III, Section 5).

Third, I personally do not think it threatens the sanctity of marriage or the sanctity of heterosexual marriages for that matter. I don’t see how the marriage of two men or two women will affect the marriages of all heterosexual couples in the country. I don’t see how such marriages will suddenly make the other marriages unholy or unsacred. It doesn’t make any sense, especially considering same-sex marriages will not be shoved down the throats of churches or their followers. Again, we are asking the State, not the churches.

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This will lead to people marrying kids, dogs, etc.

This slippery slope fallacy just does not die, too. All right, nowhere in marriage equality campaigns can you see advocacy for pedophilia, incest, bestiality, and polygamy. In addition, supposing same-sex marriage does encourage supporters of polygamy or pedophilia/ephebophilia or incest to lobby their own advocacy, then let them. They are free to do that. But their advocacy is not the marriage equality advocacy. Also, it does not mean we can stop same-sex marriage discussions dead in their tracks because we have this assumed slippery slope. My point is, same-sex marriage should be discussed in its own right. The other issues brought up are nowhere near related to same-sex marriage and are therefore irrelevant in the discussion and serve only as a distraction.

The logic behind this slippery slope goes like this: Straight unions are presumed to be superior to gay or lesbian unions, and we cannot move the limits of legal recognition of unions for the inferior minority because it may lead to moving the limits further down the scale. This slippery slope is composed of an asserted truth and an appeal to uncertain consequences.

Several decades ago, people did regard Black people and women inferior. But when African-Americans gained civil rights, were civil rights extended to monkeys? No! People understood that White and Black Americans are equal, and so the recognition of their civil rights was not a matter of moving the limits of such legal recognition to include an “inferior” race, because there was no inferior race. There was no moving down the ladder from White Americans to African-Americans down to monkeys and then dogs. When women gained voting rights, suffrage rights were not extended to cats.

More importantly, kids cannot give consent because they do not have well-developed cognitive faculties yet. Neither can dogs or monkeys give consent, let alone sign on a marriage certificate.

The genitals don’t fit.

First of all, genitals don’t get married. People do. Second, this argument assumes that marriage is done for purposes of sex only. Marriage is not defined as the union of genitals. It’s not all about sex. It’s also about commitment, togetherness, non-sexual intimacy, mutual respect, and so on.

Men are for women.

This is related to the argument above, minus the genital component. This argument assumes that because a man and a woman are needed for reproduction, thus follows that marriage should be only between a man and a woman. But we already have discussed that marriage is not solely for procreation. Besides, marriage is not necessary for procreation.

Another version of this argument asserts that men and women have complementary biological and psychological qualities that make them fitting for each other in a partnership and that same-sex couples do not possess this kind of complementary qualities. But partnerships do not require these complementary qualities between two people sharing mutual affection, because the only significant factors here are their mutual affection and their commitment. Asserting these supposed complementary differences only explain why heterosexual marriages are good and does not really say anything about same-sex partnerships, effectively rendering the assertion irrelevant in discussions about the latter. We know that despite such assumed complementary roles and qualities, heterosexual couples still break up and file for annulment. In other countries, they file for divorce. And we know many gay and lesbian couples who say strong despite the lack of such an assumed complementary biological and psychological components.

Same-sex partnerships and marriages may become a norm.

Let us look at the countries where gay couples can get married. Why haven’t gay unions become a norm in these places? Because gay marriage doesn’t change the percentage of gay people in the population. While legal recognition of such unions allow gay and lesbian people to get married, it doesn’t at all increase the number of gay and lesbian couples to a point wherein most marriages become same-gender marriages. In short, that argument is ridiculous.

Humans will go extinct.

This is like an extension of the previous argument. That humans will go extinct because of same-sex marriage assumes that too many people will get gay-married to a point wherein the population will decline. It’s absurd. At best, we can consider this argument a ridiculous digression or an exaggerated sarcasm. It doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t follow that when you legalize this type of marriage, everyone, including straight people, will start marrying members of the same sex or stop reproducing. Are people in Belgium or The Netherlands at the brink of extinction?

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United Nations’ population projections show that there will be more than 11 billion people in the world in 2100. There is so much procreation going on despite the presence of same-sex unions in many countries.

Marriage is for the protection of children.

This is another asserted truth. Notice how its true message becomes preposterous — same-sex marriage is wrong because marriage is for the protection of children. See how it becomes a dishonest non sequitur? In other words, just because you think marriage is for the protection of children doesn’t mean two men or two women can’t get married.

Marriage is not parenting. Its primary purpose is to legally bind couples and afford them privileges and rights under such state-sanctioned unions. Marriage is not for procreation, let alone for the protection of children. People get married because they want to spend the rest of their lives with the people they love. Having kids is an option, not a requirement.

The other problem with this argument is it assumes gay and lesbian couples cannot protect children or uphold their welfare. Many studies have shown that there is no significant difference in the quality of lives or the psychological development between children raised by straight parents and those raised by gay parents. The parents’ ability to raise children and secure their welfare has nothing to do with their sexual orientation.

A variation of this argument goes like this: Children of gay parents will only get bullied. Although this is more like an argument against joint adoption by a same-sex couple, it feigns as a compelling argument against gay marriage.

Bullying is wrong. No one wants their kids to be bullied. The problem is not same-sex couples raising children, but the bigotry within the society. We should be addressing this problem through educating people that same-sex unions are not inferior to opposite-sex unions. Stopping gay marriage in this case does not address bigotry; it only endorses it.

We should tell people to stop bullying anyone. Tell your kids to stop bullying other kids.

It will lead to more HIV/AIDS cases.

This argument can be translated like this: same-sex marriage is wrong because it leads to unsafe sexual practices that raise the married couple’s risk of HIV.

Gay sex is mistakenly identified as the culprit of HIV/AIDS. It seems logical. Cases are well and alive among men having sex with men. Because of that, same-sex marriage is wrong. Or so say the marriage equality critics. There’s one inconsistency, though. Lesbian women have the least cases of HIV or STIs for that matter.

The argument also assumes that same-sex marriage will encourage more promiscuity among gay men, but that is yet to be seen. One can argue that marriage creates a social and legal responsibility among homosexual couples to be together in fidelity and monogamy.

But the most important counterargument for this spurious claim is that gay sex doesn’t cause HIV. Nor does it lead to more cases on its own. The real culprit is unsafe sexual practices, such as engaging in casual sex with multiple partners without appropriate protection; and it doesn’t matter whether you are gay or straight. Two HIV-free men in a committed and monogamous relationship having sex will not get HIV no matter how many times they engage in sex. They will get tired, though, for sure. But that doesn’t mean they can’t get married because frequent sex causes fatigue.

There are more important issues.

This is a fallacy of relative privation. There are always more important issues. Poverty, territorial disputes, and peace and order problems were around when legislators debated and approved the then Anti-Cybercrime and RH bills. If they waited until all these important issues were resolved, would they have passed and approved new bills? Laws for relatively less important issues get passed every time, because legislators discuss bills in their own right without appealing to “more important” issues that have nothing to do with those bills.

As an analogy, do you skip dinner because there are hungry homeless children in your town?

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It’s special rights.

Without a law that allows same-sex couples to get married, they simply do not have an alternative. They can only live together as cohabiting couples whose unions are not recognized by the state for illogical reasons. They do not enjoy the benefits that come with state-sanctioned unions. They do not have conjugal property rights, next-of-kin rights, joint adoption rights, etc. We are not talking about petty rights. These are major rights that have major implications on the lives of couples. Currently, there are no alternatives. Same-sex couples do not even have cohabitation rights, and that’s only because they are same-sex couples.

The right to get married is a basic right. Freedom from discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation is a basic human right. Not recognizing same-sex unions is a form of discrimination and should not be exercised in a country that adheres to the principles of human rights.

Gay men can marry women.

This is an extension of the previous argument. Marriage equality critics consider same-sex marriage special rights because they argue that gay men can marry women or lesbian women can marry men, anyway. It sounds like a good argument until we dig deeper and find that most men and lesbian women do not want to marry women and men respectively. Gay men are not attracted to women and thus do not form romantic and intimate relationships with women, let alone want to marry them. So, telling them they can marry women does not make any sense.

We are a Christian country. It is against our culture.

Both statements sound valid except that they are both appeals to religion, tradition, and common belief, hence fallacious. Most of the people in the country are Christians, but it doesn’t mean that this country is theocratic. Legislators do not invoke the Bible or any religious scripture in drafting laws, and they should not. Laws are secular. They do not adhere to a common religion. Otherwise, we would have enacted laws against female non-virginity before marriage or banning of work on Sundays. The Philippine Constitution stipulates the separation between Church and State. Whereas the church can give its opinion regarding same-sex marriage, it cannot and should not interfere with or influence the legislative process of passing and approving of bills.

Regarding the Philippine culture, it has to be stressed that the culture is dynamic, not static, and that the culture and the law go hand-in-hand in shaping a nation. The culture shapes the law, but the law also shapes the culture. Neither is above the other. Laws can be established to uphold the rights of gay, lesbian, and transgender people to promote a culture of equality regardless of sexuality or gender. In other words, laws for marriage equality and non-discrimination based on SOGI can change our culture into something that is truly LGBT-inclusive.

Majority are not in favor of it.

This is very much similar to the previous argument. Just because the majority share the same opinion regarding something doesn’t necessarily follow they’re right. The reasons why eight in 10 Filipinos do not like gay marriage are laid out in this article, and we are debunking them.

When the Supreme Court of the Unites States ruled in favor of marriage equality, it ruled in favor of the rights of same-sex couples and considered their rights and dignity to be above popular opinion, culture, or religion. The SCOTUS operated under the principle of equality, reminding people that the law serves to protect the minority and that it serves to keep the majority from oppressing the minority.

It’s against the Family Code.

Of course. That’s why we’re discussing it.

Laws are not static and can be amended. This is why marriage equality advocates are lobbying for same-sex marriage. The Articles 1 and 2 of the Family Code discriminate against two-men or two-women partnerships. Changing the legal definition of marriage to remove its heterosexist veil would be a crucial step in ensuring any two adults in a committed and monogamous relationship can get married regardless of their sexes or genders.

I don’t think that the marriage equality proponents in the country are so optimistic that they see their advocacy being signed into law anytime soon. It’s going to be a long walk towards marriage equality, but we’ll walk the long path anyway.

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Debunking arguments against same-sex marriage
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