Saturday, June 23, 2007

Right wing hysteria: Matt Barber on Gay Marriage

I have never understood the rabid resistance to gay marriage. As a hopelessly heterosexual man myself, and with few gay acquaintances, I have no dog in this hunt. I just don't see how allowing gays, or anyone else for that matter, to get married, effects my or anyone else's life and relationships in the ways the social chicken littles imply. The arguments, as Matt Barber illustrates, are comically shrill, alarmist, and frankly, absurd.

"With its 2003 Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court circumvented the constitutional process and arbitrarily imposed 'same-sex marriage' on the people of Massachusetts in what amounted to a brazen and contemptuous act of judicial activism. Now members of the liberal Massachusetts state legislature have surrendered to the demands of the militant homosexual lobby and have betrayed both the citizens of Massachusetts and the democratic process by preventing voters from weighing in on this crucial issue.

Prior to Goodridge, the concept of a man 'marrying' a man or a woman 'marrying' a woman was widely and properly considered preposterous. However, with their decision in Goodridge, four of the court’s seven social mad scientists have zapped artificial life into a cultural 'gay-marriage' Frankenstein monster. And that radical and bizarre new concept has been terrorizing the countryside every since. "

Let's count the panic words, shall we? Circumvented the constitution? Arbitrary impositions? Brazen, contemptuous, judicial activism, liberal, surrendered, demands, militant, betrayed, prevented votes, social mad scientists, monster, radical, terrorizing the countryside, and in later portions, leftist extremism. This guy is a slogan machine. It's time to hang tight and pull together, all for one, and one for all. Oh, and note the constant use of scare quotes around the term "marriage" when it is applied to gays. Now one might oppose allowing such a thing, but the concept is not unclear, so this is just an attempt to create another panic word.

All of this because the Massachusetts legislature chose not to support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. I'm sure if a drunk was apprehended banging on the White House gates in confusion, Mr. Barber would describe it as our brave troops thwarting a major terrorist attack.

Then come the silly arguments, in machine gun rapid fire:

"Recognizing that 'if everything is marriage … nothing is marriage at all,' the good folks of Massachusetts decided to fight back and to defend the cultural cornerstone of legitimate marriage."

The religious right give away their myopic black and white thinking with statements like this. Just as it is absurd to describe an atheist as "someone who doesn't believe in anything", since they pretty much believe everything else that everyone else believes, it is absurd to claim that allowing gays to marry makes "everything marriage". People still can't marry their siblings, minors, members of other species, or more than one person. All that changed is the requirement that the people getting married be of opposite sexes. This is not complicated.

"If the 1913 law [that prevents homosexuals from coming from other states to marry in Massachusetts] is repealed and homosexual activists have success with like-minded judges, then we can expect the “gay marriage” levy to break, flooding the countryside with Hurricane Katrina-like destruction to the marriage and family foundation upon which our society rests.

Really? And how exactly is allowing people who are in relationships anyway to get a legal recognition of that relationship going to do all of this? These are questions that are never answered by the anti-gay-marriage chicken littles. They offer no evidence for their claim at all. Instead, they give themselves away as intellectual cranks by asking a lot of inane questions instead.

"What possible justification would there be for preventing polygamist marriages once the true definition of marriage is done away with?"

The same justification there is now. Frankly, I see no conflict between the goals of marriage and polygamy, but in any case, changing the sex prerequisites of those allowed to marry says nothing at all about the number of people that may marry. Again, we see the myopia of people like Mr. Barber: if it isn't the way he thinks it should be, then there can be no rule at all.

More amusingly, the "true definition of marriage"? True according to what? Perhaps Mr. Barber needs a refresher on the No True Scotsman Fallacy. He also needs an education on world history. Monogamy is a relative newcomer on the scene. Polygamy was the dominant definition of marriage for thousands of years, and is still the majority societal preference:

"According to the Ethnographic Atlas Codebook, of the 1231 societies noted, 186 were monogamous. 453 had occasional polygyny, 588 had more frequent polygyny, and 4 had polyandry"

So the idea that heterosexual monogamy is some sort of universal standard of marriage is nonsense. Mr. Barber's version is the minority view. He next moves on to incest:

"And what about incest? A brother and a sister? A father and a daughter? If it’s discrimination to prevent same-sex couples from “marrying,” then why not couples who just happen to be blood relatives?

Because those marriages are not allowed for health and other reasons that would still apply just as much in a society that allowed gay marriages as one that didn't. Again, we see that Mr. Barber's view of the world is: those who share my religious views, and all those other anarchistic evil bums.

"Once the castle gate of traditional marriage bursts open and that 'gay marriage' creature escapes — there’s nothing to contain him … anything goes."

This is a point of view that need only be considered for a moment by anyone with even average intelligence to be rejected as absurd on its face. If this is the best the anti-gay-marriage contingency can manage, it is no wonder they are losing this battle. They offer no evidence to support their views, and their arguments fall apart at the slightest touch. The reason is obvious: their opposition to gay marriage is rooted in their religious traditions, all this talk of logical arguments leading to their position is just a big rationalized smoke screen. Luckily, we have a first amendment to protect us from that, and judges who recognize that fact. That doesn't make them activist judges, it makes them competent ones. Keep in mind that Judge Jones from the Dover trial went from staunch conservative Bush appointee to activist judge according to this crowd, all because he disagreed with them. That's really all "judicial activist" means coming from people like Mr. Barber.

I'll go one further and give people sympathetic to Mr. Barber's view some arguments from a completely pragmatic heterosexual perspective on why we should allow gay marriages:

1) Population control. Homosexuals can't breed, not without a lot of help anyway. Given the ever-swelling human population, and the problems associated with that, anything that encourages people to enter relationships likely to remain childless is a good thing.

2) Family structure for children. By not allowing those homosexuals who do have children to marry, and form a stable home environment for the child, the anti-gay-marriage crowd is preventing the very thing they claim to support.

3) Disease reduction. Anything that encourages monogamous relationships is going to have a positive impact. Again, the anti-gay-marriage crowd is preventing the very thing they claim to stand for, by criticizing homosexuals for having multiple uncommitted sex partners while denying them the advantages of leaving such a lifestyle that the rest of us can enjoy.

Off the cuff, and somewhat tongue-in-cheek, and it still beats the arguments offered by the entirety of the anti-gay-marriage faction. They are going to lose this battle, as they slide further and further into political obscurity, and it can't happen soon enough. Of course, then they'll have more time to protest evolution and abortion...


Unknown said...

Well said. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

This is axactly why folk like you should be let no where near any decision making bodies.

You put your finger on it when you said "I have never understood the rabid resistance to gay marriage"

Go do some serious study on it and when you are half informed then maybe try make some intelligible comments.

ScienceAvenger said...

A little suggestion Jennifer: When impugning someone else's intelligence, best not to make fundamental grammatical errors in the process. The audience might notice.

More to the point, by all means, if you have something to say against gay marriage that can actually be defended with real scientific evidence, or isn't completely contrary to standards applied anywhere else, then let's see it. I've yet to see an argument that came close. All the arguments I've seen look like poor rationalizations for an emotionally derived position.

Brain said...

This is axactly (sic) why folk like you should be let no where near any decision making bodies."

Nice. It's good to see this person is so supportive of the democratic process, and that they are capable of constructing such an airtight case for their position on this issue.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the time to break down Matt Barber's ridiculous arguments and respond point by point. I wouldn't have had the patience.

Anonymous said...

and arbitrarily imposed 'same-sex marriage' on the people of Massachusetts

Oh no, so I will be forced to marry a person of my own sex? That's pretty scary.