Alex Blaze

Never using religion, nor biology, to argue against same-sex marriage

Filed By Alex Blaze | October 13, 2008 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Marriage Equality, Media, Politics
Tags: biology, Connecticut, gay marriage, marriage, marriage equality, New York Times, Patricia Galloway, religion, same-sex marriage, Wesley Galloway

If there was proof that people who actually follow LGBT issues should be writing about them for even traditional media sources, this article could be it.

An article about two activists who are working against same-sex marriage in Connecticut yesterday in the New York Times says that it's here to inform us that the activists use "biology, not religion" to make their arguments.

Their super-biological argument? A man and a woman are needed to make a baby, so marriage should be limited to heterosexual couples.

I'm not really offended as a gay man; that's pretty much the same "argument" that the Religious Right has been making for over a decade. I'm more offended as someone who studied biology in college that that would be considered even a scientifesque argument. And I'm more than a little offended as someone who's followed LGBT closely for years that the Times would think that this is news.

Because, seriously, is there anyone among us who thinks that the Religious Right wants to marginalize LGBT people because of a sincere belief in their religion?

Here's the Galloways' argument:

"It takes a man and a woman to create children and thus create a family," Mrs. Galloway, 60, told a legislative panel in Connecticut last year as it was considering a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. [...]

The decision was cheered by gay couples who argued that civil unions, despite giving them the same rights as married couples, were something less than marriage. But it has caused consternation among opponents of gay marriage, many of whom, like the Galloways, say their objections are not based on religion or morality, but in nature.

A minority opinion agreed with these two jackasses:

"The ancient definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman has its basis in biology, not bigotry," he wrote, adding, "As many courts have recognized, the primary societal good advanced by this ancient institution is responsible procreation."

This argument is in no way, shape, or form "biology." And I wonder if it's even an "argument."

I honestly don't even know what it means for an argument to be "biology." Biology is a science, and science doesn't make policy arguments. People use data gleaned through the sciences to make policy arguments, but there's no experiment or study out there that will result in a bill.

And same-sex couples are definitely biological, as in, they're living creature. Living beings who form families and communities as much as any heterosexual couple would. Sometimes children through adoption or high-tech options, and those children are living, making them biological as well.

There's no biology in their argument, but I take more issue with the implication that generally the Religious Right relies on religion to push their garbage:

The Galloways represent one side of a debate that is often charged by undercurrents of bigotry and religious belief. The court's ruling on Friday went on at length about the history of discrimination against gay people.

While they are Christians, the Galloways say they refuse to use religion to defend their view of marriage because it just muddies things. And they insist they are accepting of everyone, regardless of sexual orientation.

By protecting heterosexual marriage, what "we're trying to do is protect the foundation of society," Mrs. Galloway, a volunteer worker from Trumbull, Conn., said in a telephone interview on Saturday.

And of course they're accepting of everyone, because a homophobe would never say that they aren't homophobic. Duh!

The myth the Religious Right pushes is that they're nice people who don't really care about LGBT rights, but who, after in-depth and dispassionate religious study, came to the conclusion that gays are less-than. Or deserve to be exterminated, depending on whom you ask.

It was never bigotry sown to add political expedience to other projects. These folks never felt an authoritarian impulse to control others' sexuality. And these people never bought into the lie that society will be destroyed (destroyed!) if gays are allowed to live freely.

Nope, to the New York Times and other "liberal" media, it was a quirkier feature of provincial religion, what Real Americans believed because their Small Town religious values told them to. It couldn't be simple homophobia, now could it?

It's dumb to call this argument "biology," and it's buying into their mythology to call it "religion." It's just stupidity, as the Galloways themselves prove:

"The fact that we as a couple married later in life and tried to have children of our own, but were unable, we probably value children more than most people who didn't have to spend as much time thinking about it," said Mr. Galloway, 48, a certified public accountant. He said that all that reflection, in addition to parenting classes they have taken, had only reinforced their belief in traditional marriage, and that children are better off in a stable environment with a mother and a father.

No, not having children and taking a few parenting classes doesn't make them experts on child development and psychology. And being married without children while arguing in front of a state legislature that marriage's only purpose is raising children doesn't make them wise philosophers.

It just means that they're full of shit.

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I've never heard an argument against gay marriage that wasn't specious and contrived.

I'm married, in what appears to the world as an entirely straight marriage. There's nothing about a gay or lesbian couple marrying that can devalue our marriage in any way, shape, or form. Only the couple themselves can do that, through their own behavior. I've heard the "it devalues my marriage" argument so many times, it makes me sick. It's complete baloney! So is the "marriage is for procreation" argument - procreation is a possible byproduct of marriage, but in reality marriage exists because many humans function best when they pair-bond, and that applies just as much to gay and lesbian couples, as to straight. Many couples cannot procreate, or choose not to, and for those who can't, adoption exists - and should be kept as an option for all committed couples, but that's another issue I feel passionately about.

I support all efforts to make marriage legal for all, there is no legal justification for not doing so. However, I believe our best legal path might be to induce states to use the term "civil union" to denote the rights and privileges bestowed upon a couple by marriage - in other word, change the legal language - then leave the term "marriage" to the religions of the world to use to describe the sacrament of marriage. Unfortunately, the fundies have wormed their way into the government at too many levels in this country, and that is a very bad thing.

Oh yeah, don't you just love these sort of people, kind of like Palin claiming to have a tolerant attitude in the VP debate.

By this reasoning then, marriage should be strictly regulated, and only allowed to couples who plan and have the ability to procreate. So along with a blood test, a fertility test should also be required.

Sorry Galloway, trying doesn't count, afraid you two need to get divorced, since you aren't able to have children.


Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | October 14, 2008 2:45 AM

Claire Humphrey-Henry, a Massachusetts daycare operator and mom with whom and her spouse, Vickie, my wife and I shared a double civil wedding in Toronto five years ago, muses frequently about how much power these people credit us with -- power enough to destroy civilization as we know it: "I marry my wife and, suddenly, married hets everywhere feel a sudden urge to divorce. I turn on the tap and wells all over New England run dry. I go to the supermarket and, zap, there goes the food chain. Yeah, Lesbozilla, that's me! More powerful than a hydrogen bomb, ending civilization wherever go!"

If one truly examines biology, one finds that many species practice it.

I don't usually like to use personal examples; however, this is germane:

My dad is.
Six of my cousins (only one other not "in the closet." Are gay. My mother's brother, whom I have never met, is reportedly gay."

My former coworker and her brother are gay.

My best friend (out) and her sister (in) are gay. The sister gets family financial support. My friend is begged to return to God.

The fear that keeps me awake at night is what if they tested us and found a genetic link that could be removed?

Nevertheless, to imply that biology and genetics are not part of the day equation is to deny empirical and scientific (twin-studies) to the contrary.

Your point is well taken regarding the Galloways' infertility.

The Galloways are using a classic philosophical argument called "the teleological argument." This is the simplistic idea is that one can figure out the function of a thing from its form.

That works when one is looking at a fairly simple thing, like a hammer. Its purpose is to drive nails. A strong teleological argument can be made not to use it as as a can opener.

But a person, and a human society, is far more complicated than a hammer. The existence of certain interlocking anatomical parts cannot mandate traditional heterosexual marriage any more than the existence of strong sexual urges mandates unbridled promiscuity. The fact that something is useful in one way does not mean that it must be used in that way, or must not be used in two or five or a dozen ways.

Second, the fact that heterosexual sex is the basis for human reproduction means nothing other than the fact that, on average, heterosexual sex will produce babies on a regular basis. (It is interesting that this fact gets lost in the debate about sex education.) But the connection between breeder sex and marriage is unstated. Yes, heterosexual sex leads to babies. So...why does that mean marriage must only be limited to heterosexuals? It's as if "marriage" can only be used for one thing, so if we don't pick baby-making as its raison d'etre, then "marriage" blows up and disappears.

Having just seen Bill Maher's "Religulous", and seeing the near-total inability of people to engage in critical thinking of the simplest kind, I am not surprised at the Galloways' logical confusion. Not geniuses. But I'm a little worried about the legislators listening to this information. As a US Senator interviewed in the movie said, you don't have to take an IQ test to become a US Senator.

With compassionate friends like the Galloways who are "accepting of everyone," what else could we ask for?! Gosh, Alex. Do you want the moon?

*rolls eyes*