I’m from Sweden. I have been told that many of us Swedes have a tendency to toot our own horns. I think that sounds like a euphemism for something thoroughly enjoyable, but they mostly mean that we tend to point out the good points of our country every chance we get.
This might be true. I also think that it’s true that Sweden is a pretty decent place. It might even be great, in some respects. It is however not perfect. For instance, we don’t have gender-neutral marriage laws; that is, gay marriages aren’t allowed.
Even if Sweden generally is a comparatively good country for LGBT-persons, I still think the legal rights and general climate for these groups should be improved. I have always believed that allowing gay marriages would be one of many positive steps that should be taken.
There are however tons of websites out there that go on and on about how gay marriages are wrong, how homosexuals getting married to each other will destroy the very foundation of society and how it’s not really an expression of homophobia to not want gay couples have the same rights as straight couples.
Now I’m here to tell you that I have finally seen the light. I have finally seen the danger of men marrying men and women marrying women. Above is a picture where I try to capture this evil. It’s just a rough, quickly drawn sketch because that’s all I had time for, but I think that it still captures the feeling of dread that we all should feel about such acts. Clearly the two women joining together in love are a vile, society-wrecking menace.
Oh, and on a completely unrelated note I just want to tell you that I love both sarcasm and satire.
The reason for my sudden insight is a Swedish organization that is “trying to preserve marriage as a union between a man and a woman” and their website to further this goal. This website is brilliant. I mean, they mostly re-iterate the very same arguments I have seen many times before, but still, they have me convinced.
Some of you might be tired of the entire debate, but I think that it’s still very important (for several reasons that will be presented later on) and therefore I will present the information on that website for those of you who are not Swedish-speaking.
They have a number of arguments, all brilliant, that are repeated again and again, and again, throughout the site. I will try to collect these arguments here and give my own comments on them.
1. Marriage is an ancient tradition and has always been a union between a man and a woman. The life giving union of a man and a woman has been the very foundation of society and that it has been in existence since before the formation of nation-states.
They start out strong, bringing out this “this is the way it’s always been”-argument in the beginning of a petition they have written, protesting gay marriage.
Of course, there are some tiny objections against the claim that marriage as it exists today is the way it’s always been. There have been some changes. For instance, wives are no longer considered the property of their husbands, it isn’t standard practice to arrange marriages for your children and people are allowed to marry people of a different social standing, skin color or religious denomination.
But despite those minor changes throughout history, it is true that marriage is an ancient tradition and as such it should naturally be preserved. All ancient traditions that helped shape our societies should be preserved. Like for instance the abundant slavery that was a cornerstone in the formation of almost all of our civilizations.
OK, so that was a bad example. But still. I’m sure change is still always bad; no one wants a change in the basic structure of our society right?
2. If we loosen up the concept of marriage to include people of the same sex, that will open up for further changes. People will want to marry members of the immediate family, animals and minors.
Yes, of course, this issue can not be treated separately. This is a slippery slope where one thing will obviously lead to another. If we allow consenting adults to marry each other because they love each other and want to spend their lives together, that is obviously going to lead to people marrying their dogs. Provided that the consenting adults are of the same sex, of course.
And it is perfectly reasonable to equate same sex marriage with incest and bestiality. Those things are obviously related and I can’t see how anyone could think that such a comparison is in some way offensive.
3. Heterosexual and homosexual relations are fundamentally different. The union between a man and a woman is a fertile one, while homosexual relationships can’t without help lead to children. This is no small difference; the future of the entire human race depends on it.
This is a great argument. It’s so hard for anyone to refute that two men or two women can’t have children, so obviously we can’t allow them to marry. If we allow that, we will endanger the entire human race.
For instance, imagine that there are two young guys living next door to me. They have fallen in love, moved in together and lived in a blissful relationship for several years and they want to spend the rest of their lives together and because of that they have joined together in a civil union.
Now imagine that gay marriage is suddenly allowed in my country. The lovely young men next door are ecstatic and immediately go and get married to each other.
Naturally that would stop me from ever finding a woman to spend my life with. I will never get children, because there are some gay couples who are married instead of just living together. The connection is so obvious and irrefutable that I won’t even bother explaining it, just like these web pages never seem to explain it.
And besides, it’s obvious that gay marriages are wrong since they can’t produce children. That’s why infertile people, like those who have undergone a vasectomy or women past menopause, aren’t allowed to marry.
Wait, what, they are? Oh, well, anyway… I’m sure the point is still valid; homosexuals can’t marry because that would be an infertile relation, and heterosexuals can marry no matter if their relation can result in children or not. There, that’s clear as day.
4. Marriage is the best thing for the children. Children need parents who have a long term commitment to caring for them. It is the parents who have given the child life and the institution of marriage is designed to strengthen the long term relationship between the man and the woman in favor of their children.
Heterosexual couples are obviously always more likely to have a long term commitment to their children, and more likely to make well informed, planned decisions to have children.
When a man and a woman get children together it is always the product of a long and arduous process of adoption or artificial insemination, which forces them to really think things through and discuss it with several other people.
Homosexual couples however can have children by complete accident or on a whim, without any thoughts or plans for the future.
No, wait, that’s the other way around. Oh well, anyway, even if it sounds likely that homosexuals would have that long term commitment to their children, there are other arguments.
Imagine again that there is a married gay couple living next door to me. Now also imagine that I have gotten married to a woman and have children. The fact that there are homosexual people married to each other out there will naturally change the way I raise my children. If there are homosexual married couples out there I won’t be able to provide a long term commitment to my children.
And besides, if there are homosexuals married to each other just like the children’s parents are married to each other, the children might grow up to believe that homosexuals are just like everyone else. That would probably be bad, for some reason.
5. The institution of marriage protects fidelity. Traditionally marriage is heterosexual and monogamous but according to Andrew Sullivan another view on relationships is common within the gay community. According to him, homosexual men “have a need for additional sexual contacts in a relationship between two men.” This would by extension weaken the longevity of marriage, leading to more divorces.
Andrew Sullivan is an author and political commentator. Also he’s gay. Consequently he knows what he’s talking about. I mean, he’s gay so of course he can speak for every other homosexual man.
If he says that homosexual men are less likely to be faithful and commit to long term relationships we can be certain that he knows what he’s talking about. Just like when Ann Coulter says that women can’t handle money, shouldn’t be allowed to vote and shouldn’t be in the military.
Ann Coulter’s views are of course the view of every heterosexual woman, since she is one herself. And the views expressed by Andrew Sullivan are shared by all homosexual men, since he is a gay man.
And of course there is never any infidelity in heterosexual relationships. Who has ever heard of a man cheating on his wife or a woman cheating on her husband? There is no such thing as heterosexual infidelity, so even if only a small fraction of the homosexual men adhere to Mr. Sullivan’s image of them, they would still present an unprecedented behavior into the world of marriages and destroy the entire institution.
So, obviously marriages, old and new, gay and straight, would all somehow be affected if we introduced gender-neutral marriage laws. There would be a lot more divorces, anyone can understand that.
Never mind that statistics show that during the 15 years homosexual marriage has been legal in Denmark, divorce rates among heterosexual couples have gone down and the rate of new marriages has gone up. Or that Massachusetts, a US state currently offering same-sex marriages, has some of the lowest divorce rates in the country; almost half that of the national average.
Statistics always lie, so such nonsense presentations of facts should be taken in stride. Just because gay marriages don’t have any proven ill effects anywhere is no reason not to believe that it will cause an irreparable breakdown of society if we allow it here.
6. Marriage is between a man and a woman and that is an expression of the fact that men and women need each other. Separately they are incomplete but when a man and a woman marry they form a complete unit.
Yes, that’s why we don’t consider singles functioning members of society. Children, widows and widowers, bachelors and spinsters, celibates, nuns and monks, catholic priests and others who for some reason aren’t married are clearly incomplete persons.
If we allow gay people to marry each other they will be incomplete. If we continue to disallow it however, they will probably find a suitable partner of the opposite gender instead and then they will be complete. It’s all so simple.
7. The institute of marriage is important to society and changing it to let men marry men and women marry women will lessen its importance, which would prove harmful to society.
Of course, the importance of marriage is seen much more clearly if a lot of people live together with the person they love without even being allowed to marry.
8. It is not homophobic to be against gender-neutral marriage laws. In Sweden we already have a form of civil union into which homosexuals can enter and get basically the same legal rights as you would get in a marriage.
This is true. In Sweden civil unions, or registered partnerships as we call them, are of pretty much the same legal standing as a marriage. The only real differences are the name and that a marriage can only be between a man and a woman, while these unions can be between two men or two women.
It is basically a “separate but equal”-approach, of the same kind as during the days of government regulated segregation in the United States. And we all know that segregation is a great idea, because…
No, wait. I can’t really go on anymore. I can’t even pretend to find an argument to why segregation is good. I notice that I couldn’t really pretend to have any good support for the other arguments presented either. I tried to sound positive and have just a bit of a sarcastic tone to everything, but I found that my pro-gay marriage subtext was rapidly becoming actual text.
If I still somehow haven’t been able to express my utter contempt for these arguments against gender-neutral marriage throughout the text, I will tell you now: I’ve really been lying this whole time. I think that all of the arguments I have presented are utter bullshit.
I have never been presented with a single good argument against gay marriages. All the arguments I’ve ever seen has been firmly grounded in emotion. They say the ubiquitous “Oh won’t someone please think of the children!”-line, they warn us that the very structure of society will crumble under the pressure from gay marriages and that the human race will actually die out if we allow “them” to marry.
People who are against gay marriages make it sound like if gays can marry this will affect every single heterosexual marriage as well. It seems that in their reasoning people will stop marrying people of the opposite sex and stop having babies and being productive members of society, if we allow this to pass.
In the real world, where we have rational arguments and can look objectively on facts, we can see that isn’t really the case. In fact, we could argue that one relationship rarely affects another and people will continue being with the one they love, regardless of what the marriage laws say.
So, why is this important to me? I have tried to argue that marriage laws don’t really affect who people will fall in love with and spend their lives with. I have stated that at least in my country civil unions give gay couples the same rights as straight couples. So, aren’t there more important questions to focus on?
Well, this is important for several reasons. First of all I think that it’s important to expose this sort of shoddy argumentation for what it really is, in all areas. People are often coerced into thinking things that aren’t true through statements like those, which look like sound arguments.
In cases like this that is dangerous. Here large groups can promote things like discrimination, segregation and homophobia under the disguise of caring for children and the society. People trust them because people aren’t critical enough sometimes and can’t expose such bad arguments.
This issue is also very important in itself. I really do believe that it is important to allow gay marriages. I will now give you a quick list of reasons for that, which you can critically examine and pick apart at your leisure.
1. Segregation is bad.
This one is obvious to me. In racial segregation it was said that blacks and whites should have the same facilities, at different places. This only served to further the idea that blacks and whites are fundamentally different, which leads to racism.
When we today say that homosexual and heterosexual unions should be separate things with separate names, we are really saying that homosexuals and heterosexuals are different and should be treated differently. That way lies homophobia and bigotry and I frankly feel that the world has had enough of that.
Wait, I don’t really feel that I need more arguments. Homophobia is bad. Every step on the way towards treating homosexuals and heterosexuals the same helps eliminate homophobia and anti-gay bigotry and that is good for society.
Now, I’m not gay myself. I’m not exactly straight either though. A comprehensive study into my own sexual orientation could actually be interesting, but I’ll save that for a possible future post. Regardless of my orientation though, I can see the ill effects of homophobia everywhere.
One of the worst effects of this is that one of the leading causes of death among young homosexuals is suicide. It is easy to see why, when everywhere in society there is a constant berating of homosexuals.
It must be especially tough when you’re growing up. When you are just discovering your sexuality and find out that you aren’t like everyone else around you, you would need to know that it’s ok.
We don’t need groups who claim that homosexual relationships are kind of like incest and bestiality, that gays are prone to infidelity and that they can’t care for children. We don’t need religious groups who say that homosexuality is an abomination and a sin. And we don’t need laws that state that homosexual relationships are fundamentally different from heterosexual ones.
I think that we should do whatever we can to further understanding and fight bigotry. There are a lot of young homosexuals who think that suicide is the only way out from the mental and physical torture of homophobes. If we can change the climate in society at enough to spare at least one of them from that feeling, I think that is worth a tremendous amount of effort.
Allowing gay marriage is a good step on the way towards convincing people that there aren’t any important differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals, and it requires very little effort.