How to argue against gay marriage (part II)

This is certainly a diabolical exercise. I am for marriage equality, and I think most reasonable people are for marriage equality. But what if a college debate society were staging a debate, and you got assigned the "against" side?  What could you say?  Most of the stuff normally said on that side is extremely silly.  Is there anything even half-way reasonable to say against gay marriage?  In yesterday's post, I gave it my best shot.  Let's see if I can spell out that argument more precisely
  1. There's a great deal of value in knowing both of your biological parents and being raised by them (other things being equal--of course there are exceptions).
  2. The normal way of procreating for same sex couples involves a gamete donor, so that the child knows and is raised by at most one biological parent.
  3. If same sex couples are permitted to marry, their normal way of procreating will be elevated to parity with the heterosexual way of procreating.
  4. Because of that elevation to parity, we will all gradually lose sight of the value of knowing both of your biological parents and being raised by them.
  5. Losing sight of a kind of value tends to cause that sort of value to be less pursued and less protected. Possible sequelae: couples (straight or gay) buying gametes to have the type of child they prefer (an intellectual, an athlete, or whatever); rights of biological parents being less protected.
  6. There isn't the same problem with infertile heterosexual couples being able to marry, since using a gamete donor is not their normal way of procreating, but usually a last resort chosen after years of medical intervention.  THEREFORE,
  7. Same sex marriage should be prohibited (but marriage of heterosexuals who may turn out to be infertile should be allowed). 
OK, at least now the argument is clearer.  I don't think this argument is as terrible as the usual fare, but since I think the conclusion is false, obviously I can't think it's sound.  Where's the problem?  We'll see... (in part III).


Wayne said...

P3 seems pretty suspect, as does P1 to me. P3 seems to me a packed slippery slope argument. P1 I just disagree with, adopted children who never know about the biological parents aren't always yearning to know their biological parents like the media usually portrays them to be. My wife is adopted and she has her parents, and is completely uninterested in learning about her biological parents.

The best argument against gay marriage that I can muster:

There is nothing intrinsically immoral about walking around naked. But most places ban such behavior since most people find it objectionable. Making something like nudity in public legal, puts the onus unfairly on the vast majority of the public to alter their behavior to accommodate a minority's desire to be nude, which could easily be reversed... that is to say nudists could create communities of nudists where they wouldn't burden the majority's tastes. Similarly, gay couples are found to be objectionable by a great many people, and enshrining into law gay marriage forces the majority to accommodate something that could easily be simply expressed in private environments.

And like everyone else, I should say that I am in favor of gay marriage, and I think my argument against gay marriage is flawed as well... but its the best I can muster.

Craig Urias said...

I am also for same-sex marriage. If I had to argue against it, I would stretch your argument a bit further to "Slippery slope to Gattaca!"

(By the way Gattaca is now watchable for free at http://www.crackle.com/c/Gattaca/ (and commercial-free with AdBlock Plus). A great film -- provocative and just generally well-done.)

I do see a valid concern in making donor-assisted reproduction normative, in that it may take us down the path of "engineering" procreation. In Gattaca this led to a whole new level of division between the haves and the have-nots. Not only were the haves more advantaged because their of status and wealth, they were *actually better* in a particular objective (that is, genetic) sense. Very scary.

However for gay male couples I wonder how common donor-assisted reproduction really is? I would have guessed that most of them simply adopt. A surrogate is a "third wheel" of a marriage, and the arrangement is not without risks -- for example the surrogate might demand to be more involved with the child's life despite previous agreements. By contrast, a sperm donor for a lesbian couple is completely out of the picture.

Jean Kazez said...

Craig, I love that movie, and yes, that's the spirit. In fact, I really should call the argument "slippery slope to Gattacca"...except that I have in mind a variety of different consequences of seeing donor assisted reproduction as "just as good". I like your objection too...will ponder before I write part III.

xcaucasus said...

I read this with great interest. I am also in favor of gay marriage, but wonder whether there are not other good lines of argument, if this was for debating purposes.

OK, so this is a bit facetious, but it's a debate, right?

"Marriage is a relic. It mostly is not working, is overly constraining, and creates a bundle of obligations, when really personal obligations should be renewed continuously, and selectively.

By expanding to gay marriage, we are investing more into a broken system, when we should be innovating.

So let allow people to identify their commitments flexibly, but let's not reinforce a failing institution by expanding marriage to include gay marriage."

This is unlikely to be a conservative argument, of course. It likely fails in that people should be free to choose, so while I believe it would make the debate more entertaining, it has its limits...