Up Front by Emma Hart


Are We There Yet?

After a week in which I had to deal with someone who found the idea of a gay couple dancing too repulsive for her to be around, I've come to a decision. I'm no longer going to argue for gay marriage. Screw it, I've had enough.

I'm not going to do it. I shouldn't have to justify taking a position against discrimination. You want to continue to refuse genuine equality, you give me a reason.

Simple, really. One good reason to refuse gay marriage. One. One reason I have to think about at all to refute. And it can't be that hard, right? This argument's been going on at various pitches up to and including 'fever' for years, so there must be some good arguments on the 'anti' side, and I just haven't run across them.

So I went and asked the internet. Yes, I know, I have no-one to blame and send the therapist's bill to but myself*. Still, it didn't seem too crazy. Surely, out there in the whole wide net, there must be one reason to oppose gay marriage that holds up?

Not so much.

So instead, here's a point by point refutation of the least-crazy arguments I could find. You can check out the sources of some of these, and some more pearlers I couldn't bring myself to reproduce, here, here and (ick) here. I particularly liked 'gay partner benefits will drive hard-working small-business owners bankrupt'.

Marriage is a Christian Institution
Dead right. That's why they don't have marriage in China or India. Marriage is a secular legal contract. The only thing with any standing is the signed form. You can stand up in church all you like without it, you still won't be married.

It Says So in the Bible
Only acceptable from people who wait outside businesses on Sundays with a big pile of rocks, support polygamy and slavery and never shave their sidelocks. Even then it's irrelevant – see above. By all means don't let pre-verts in your church - or disabled people, it says so in the Bible.

Marriage is for Raising Children
There is no fertility test for marriage. We let the old and the infertile marry. Nobody actually believes that people shouldn't be allowed to marry if they can't have children – unless they're contravening the 'one penis and one penis only per marriage' requirement.

Gay Marriage Destroys the Fabric of Society
I get the feeling the other side would desperately like this to be true. Pity it isn't.

The study by researcher Darren Spedale found that 15 years after Denmark had granted same-sex couples the rights of marriage, rates of opposite-sex marriage in those countries had gone up, and rates of opposite-sex divorce had gone down

What a shitter, ay? But that's just the Scandies, maybe in the U.S…. oh wait. Rate of divorce in Massachusetts? 2.2%, the lowest in the country. Rate in Alabama? 7%. Christians have a higher divorce rate that atheists, too.

Gay Marriage is Bad for Children
Again with the reality getting in the way of a really good theory: it's not true.

The picture that emerges from research is one of general engagement in social life with peers, parents, family members, and friends. Fears about children of lesbian or gay parents being sexually abused by adults, ostracized by peers, or isolated in single-sex lesbian or gay communities have received no scientific support. Overall, results of research suggest that the development, adjustment, and well-being of children with lesbian and gay parents do not differ markedly from that of children with heterosexual parents.

That bunch of whiny pinko liberals was the American Psychiatric Association.

Governments Shouldn't Interfere in Personal Relationships
Excellent. Before you leave the playing field, would you mind levelling it?

The Paedocestiality Argument
Legalising gay marriage is a slippery slope and will lead to legalising paedophilia, or incest, or bestiality. Some kind of screwed-up depraved sub-human orgy of degradation, anyway.

Well, except in Denmark, or Sweden, or the Netherlands, or Spain… or any other country with full gay marriage. Don't fret, I'm sure it'll happen any day now. And just suggesting that a loving gay relationship is the same as raping a child or an animal is hardly offensive at all.

Marriage is a Traditional Institution That Needs to Be Preserved
Basically, we can't have gay marriage because we've never had gay marriage. To which the only answer is 'give me back your wheel'.

You've Got Civil Unions, What are you Whining About?
Separate but equal, yay! Oh, no, wait. Straight couples get a choice of how to formalise their relationship: marriage or civil union. Gay couples don't. One doesn't equal two.

Gay marriage matters just as much as straight marriage does. If you're happy that civil unions are 'the same' as marriage, we don't really need marriage, do we? If you hold the view that civil unions are good enough, and you're married, I'd suggest a quick trip to the registry office. Or you could just take the word of people to whom it matters that it matters, and stop patronising them.

There is an argument I take notice of, though it's not an argument against gay marriage. It's that we couldn't get a law passed, that too many ordinary people are opposed, and it would never be worth burning off the political capital to try it.

Well, here's what

I believe. There are a small group of people passionately opposed, and a small group passionately in favour, and like any issue, a huge mass in the middle who just don't give a crap one way or the other.

Just after we moved here, one of our councillors turned up on the doorstep to 'welcome us to the neighbourhood'. My first question was 'where do you stand on gay marriage?'. It's a question I'm going to ask and ask. I'm going to be the Little Yappy Dog of Gay Marriage until we get there. I'm going to do whatever I can to keep the issue on the table and in the right ears until we grow enough balls to do what's right.

But I'm not ever going to try to justify gay marriage. I'm done.

* My therapist's name is Ms Tanqueray

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