Paige Schilt

Gay Marriage and the Slippery Slope Fallacy

Filed By Paige Schilt | April 03, 2009 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: gay marriage, gay parents, LGBT parents, logical fallacies, slippery slope

A few days ago, I was hanging out in the backyard with my son, Waylon, and his friend, Mike. I was watering the garden; they were molding playdoh into fantastic, multi-colored monsters.

"Mama," Waylon asked. "Do you like stripes?" Since my sartorial preference for striped shirts is a well-established fact, I didn't think twice before answering "uh-huh."

"Do you love stripes?"


"Then why don't you marry stripes!?" asked Waylon, in the triumphant voice of a little kid who has just mastered a classic playground rejoinder.

"Silly, I'm already married to Mommy."

"Well, why don't you divorce Mommy and marry stripes?" he teased.

"I don't want to marry stripes," I said good-naturedly.

At this point, Mike decided to enter the conversation.

"Why not? You're already gay," he reasoned.

Although the tone of our talk was light and absurd, I have to confess that I was a bit surprised at how easily a six-year-old was able to summon the classic slippery slope argument.

Luckily, my combined experience as a rhetoric teacher and an activist has prepared me to answer this particular logical fallacy.

"Just because I'm gay, that doesn't mean I think stripes would make a good partner," I said as I turned off the garden hose. "Stripes can't make dinner. They can't rub my feet. They can't even talk."

And then, just to make sure I had the last word on the subject, I tickled them both soundly and then sent them inside to wash their hands.

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I love this. I'm a little scared at how much even six-year-olds have assimilated about gay marriage as the natural state of things, but I love it.

Your'e right, Yasmin: for instance, Waylon didn't even consider the possibility that I could form a polyamorous relationship with stripes...

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | April 3, 2009 9:06 PM

But is that the fault of "gay" marriage or just that of the ubiquitousness of marriage as the relationship gold standard in our culture at large?

I can't help but bring a queer ethic to marriage anymore than I can help that such complex web of a thing as marriage ends up affecting me. But I can temper things to make something that fits me rather than permitting myself to be squeezed into a mold of someone else's making. One of the best reasons to claim queer supremacy, methinks!

And if the stripes ran in a *different* direction, yours would be a checkered relationship indeed...

Oh, Yasmin, that's bad.... Love it!

Wonderful story, Paige. I think the difference between your son and conservatives, however, is that your son will, I assume, someday advance beyond six-year-old logic. Those who still spout the "slippery slope" argument clearly haven't.