Marriage Opponents Lack Critical Thinking
Righteous Indignation Rages Rather Than Reason
© November 4, 2005, Bill Myers
Myers addresses the lack of critical thinking that has typified the arguments against equal treatment of lesbians and gay men when they form families. In his home state of Texas, the debate has been over the anti-gay, anti-marriage state constitutional amendment called “Proposition 2.” Besides the fact that it duplicates existing state marriage law, like many of the other copycat amendments around the country, it is so broadly worded that it also will be used to prohibit other types of family recognition such as workplace benefits, and ability to visit, or make medical decisions for, a hospitalized partner.
The righteous indignation usually exhibited by supporters of the proposed anti-gay, marriage amendment is apparently meant to compensate for the weakness of their position.
The champions of this proposal could not formulate an argument that would bear up under serious scrutiny, so it is little wonder that they steer clear of meaningful debate. In seeking voters’ endorsement of their bigotry, they display an embarrassing lack of critical thinking.
This is reflected in their heavy reliance on commentary about how many others agree with them, in how they cite the written words of people who are not around to answer for their conclusions, and in how they dismiss valid criticism with childish rhetorical brick walls such as, “It’s morally wrong,” and, “God said so.”
A few of those who blame God for their opinions claim He speaks to them directly, but most of them simply quote the Bible to support their position. They cite the authority of books that contain numerous accounts of incredible events — people turning to salt and rising from the dead — but fail to take any responsibility for establishing its infallibility beyond repeated, strenuous assertion.
Moreover, their myopia prevents them from recognizing that skepticism of that infallibility is a reasonable position. Instead they expect everyone to be bound by law to the judgment of men who claimed to be speaking for God centuries ago, and who are no longer around to answer for any irrational prejudices they may have fostered.
Supporters of Proposition 2 also have manufactured phony criticisms of their opponents using over-the-top language. How many times have we heard someone accused of “mocking God” when all they’ve really done is challenge someone else’s poorly founded assertions about God’s political views? How many times have we heard them use an expression like “persecution” or “Christian bashing” in response to well-reasoned criticism of religious authoritarianism?
How many times have we heard disagreement with their values referred to as a lack of values? How many times has someone used expressions like “the will of the people” or “what society wants” to spin bullying by the majority as something virtuous? How many times have we heard the words “imposing their lifestyle” to refer to gay people wanting to make choices for their own lives? Precision is clearly not a hallmark of anti-gay rhetoric.
Along similar lines, many supporters of this amendment try to get a lot of mileage out of words such as “sanctity” and “fabric of society” to create the impression of a valid argument. But has one of them ever clearly and specifically articulated how the relationship choices of gays and lesbians interfere with the choices of those who opt for more traditional relationships? And if protecting marriage is the objective, how many supporters of this amendment would support a ban on divorce with the same enthusiasm?
If their argument is about procreation, how many of them are prepared to take a clear stand against marriages between heterosexual couples who are infertile, or who simply have no intention of having children? Many become evasive in response to questions such as these — and almost always pretend to be taking the high road in doing so. Consistency and forthrightness are clearly not among their strong points, either.
Finally, when all else fails, opponents of same-sex marriage tend to resort to boasting about how the majority agrees with them, or how long their view has been the prevailing one — as if either the popularity or longevity of a viewpoint should be sufficient to establish its merit. For most of this country’s history, the majority opposed interracial relationships.
If history teaches us anything, it is that effective indoctrination is all that is necessary to sustain the popularity of a poorly founded opinion. Most people understandably bristle at the suggestion that they’ve been indoctrinated, but in this case, the shoe fits. If you count the number of supporters of this measure who arrived at their conclusions independently — free from the influences of family, friends or clergy — and can demonstrate that independence by making a credible case in favor of this amendment — based on their own arguments, without relying on hyperbole, the written words of others, commentary about how many people agree with them or the claim that they speak for God — you would be left with a laughably small minority, if you could find any at all.
© November 4, 2005, Bill Myers
Myers resides in Austin, Texas, and is an ex-homophobe.