In Australia right now there is debate over whether the country should allow homosexuals (and possibly other genders) to legally marry outside the traditional man-woman marriage. Unfortunately, both sides of the debate have bad arguments that often sway the less thought focussed of us. I thought I would delve into these poor arguments.
Note: If you are unfamiliar with the state of non-heterosexual relationships in Australia, I added an addition at the end for you to get the basics.
I have tried to get as many from both sides of the argument, however, it was much easier to find poor arguments for the pro-campaign due to there being more arguments in total. This was not intentional, it is just how it is. If you do think of another poor argument for either side feel free to contact me and I will check it out.
PRO: 26 other countries have same sex marriage
This is the argument that started me thinking this article was something I wanted to write. It came in the form of an picture on the Australian Labor Party Facebook page (think what you will of politicising SSM). It is based true facts at the time of publication, however it is using those facts to make a statement that makes no sense from a logical perspective. It makes the argument that becasue someone else is doing it then we should be doing it. If you can not see how that might be a bad argument then here is another fact:
72 countries have same sex relationships criminalised. So… does that mean we should criminalise it?
I could list a lot of things other countries do that Australia would frown upon or oppose, but I would be wasting words if that single fact didn’t get the point across. Most of us learned not to do things just because our peers do when we were in primary school. I personally was taught to weigh things with reason before following others. Of course that doesn’t stop people being sheep and following the leader.
CON: Children need both a father and a mother.
Speaking of cliffs being leapt off, here is one of those cliffs that the con campaign uses… an appropriate one that works this weekend becasue it is Father’s Day in Australia… but it is based upon very wobbly facts, facts that the research does not back up.
Research shows that the type of parenting is far more important than the sex of the parents and while men and women can parent differently, there is evidence that two mothers are as effective as a father and mother… note that there is not a large enough sample size to determine if the same was true for two fathers.
If you are interested, then here is a summary from a 2010 study: Do children need both a mother and a father?
Note: The original paper that the article above refers to was part of a minisyposium on the subject available here: Wiley Online library
PRO: Love is reason to allow marriage
This is an argument for Same Sex Marriage that is often plastered on picket lines at protests, this idea that love equals marriage. Which is true, but not true.
Marriage by definition has always been traditionally about a contractual obligation by two parties of opposite sexes to cohabitat, most often with sexual relations (sex is not actually a requirement in some cultures and situations). Optimally love is involved, but not always. It is not a requirement to love in a marriage, never has been. It has been a highly preferred state though as such a situation leads to mutual benefit for both parties. Such situations have existed thorugh history. Levirate marriage, being when a man takes his deceased brother’s wife into his houshold as his own wife is a perfect example of this.
Likewise many people love eachother wihtout ever getting married. marriage is not the sole ownership of the idea of love. teenagers, same sex couples, adulterers, and many more all love each other and never get married. In fact there is a huge subset of heterosexual Australians that live in solid and loving relationships and never get married. Just becasue they love each other does not mean they do, or should.
CON: God defines marriage as a man and woman
Ok, this one I agree with (see this response to people saying otherwise), but this argument is a religious one, not a political one. It actually applies to the religion in question, not Australia as a whole. This makes it an excellent statement for Chrsitians to consider, but does not actually help people in a political context.
Consider if a Muslim came up and said we should have the death penalty for homosexuals because the Quran (word of Allah) says so. I am reasonably sure Christians whould snort and walk off… well guess what an atheist would do if a Christian used the bible to argue the point on marriage?
Basically: keep this argument in its correct arena… with Christians.
PRO: A significant religious person agrees for SSM
Ok, this feeds into my last point, but this time it is on the other side of the debate. What we see here is the Pro campaign trying to use religion to sway religious people. Which may sound good, until you realise they are using people to represent the religion, not scripture.
So basiclaly the argument is: “This guy here supports Same Sex Marriage… oh yeah, and he does some job where he wears a robe.”… suddenly that sounds much less reliable as a backing for your argument, especially as the job in quesiton has a rule book saying the exact opposite.
CON: Marriage is for children.
This is different to that father/mother statement, rather this is focussed on the purpose of producing a child. It is an argument that bases itself on the correlation between marriage being between a man and woman and that to produce a baby you need a man and a woman. But it is a correlation, not a causation.
For many millenia married couples have not been having children (either by choice or not), likewise many children are born out of marriage. Marriage does not cause babies, although it can increase the likelyhood of them.
I personally was married for almost 5 years before my first child was born, even then she was a result of IVF. We likely could have tried till our deaths and never got a child due to fertility problems (me, not her). Now, this argument puts my marriage into question, becasue if my wife and I were married 100 year earlier then we likely would be childless. Should we have been allowed to get married at all?
Of course then there is the issue that in Australia it is perfectly legal for same sex couples to have children despite not being married… so this is probably the worst argument for the No-campaign.
I actually find this one the most annoying… becasue it misses the point entirely and if anything, it hurts the argument more than any other. If marriage was equal for everyone then every one would be able to get married. Wait a second… that is what we already have, everyone can get married… to the opposite sex.
You see, this is not a fight for marriage equality, we already have marriage equality. The problem for the pro campaign is not equality… it is the definition of marriage.
There is a great article here about this issue. Basically marriage is not recognised as a right for non-heterosexuals simply becasue there is a defintion for marriage that has a long history. That definition has stated what it is… and it is equal for everyone. In fact it is a human right for people to get married to whom they want of the opposite sex.
To use a less sophisticated example to make my point:
The definiton for maternity leave is “a period of time a mother is paid while off employment when giving birth to a child.” If I were to argue the way people argue for “SSM Equality” then if equality is to be met then I, as a man, should get maternity leave… nay, I have a right to it!
If you think I am being silly… good, glad you agree with me.
So what now?
Please, please, please use some of the good arguments… they are out there. I know becasue I have heard them. Leave these arguments above where they should be and become a bit wiser.
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This is, of course, happening in many countries, however, Australia is unique in this debate for several reasons. I have summarised a few points to inform people of the current situation:
Homosexuality occurs openly in public. Homosexuals have the same rights as heterosexuals concerning displaying their relationship. Thus they may kiss, hug, and hold hands legally without discrimination.
In Australia, a-de facto relationship status is recognised by the government as a couple in a sexual relationship but not married, they are treated as married for numerous issues relating to law. For most states, the sexual relationship is not limited to just male-female ones. Thus for most states, a homosexual relationship can be treated as ‘de-facto’.
Here is a link to help understand the term FAMILY LAW ACT 1975 – SECT 4AA De facto relationships
In Australia the definition of marriage is enshrined in the Marriage act as being between a man and a woman, thus to change the legality of marriage requires changing the Marriage act.
Homosexuals in Australia can not be discriminated against by law.