After the SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage, Matt wrote two articles. His first, “Gay Marriage Still Doesn’t Exist, No Matter What the Supreme Court Says”, was published on the day the US Supreme Court released their ruling. Four days later, after allegedly receiving tons of hate mail, he published his second article, “Yes, Gay Marriage Hurts Me Personally”.
What Matt got wrong
Pull up either article and pick any sentence at random. Congratulations, you’ve found one of his many errors. Both articles read like a catalog of logical fallacies. Even the titles of the articles are fallacious.
“Gay Marriage Still Doesn’t Exist, No Matter What the Supreme Court Says”: The phrase — “no matter what the Supreme Court says” — indicates an ad hominem attack on the five Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage because, you know, in Matt’s world common people understand more about Constitutional law than any judge would. The conclusion, “gay marriage still doesn’t exist”, is patently false. It does exist in the US, and it also exists in twenty other countries.
“Yes, Gay Marriage Hurts Me Personally”: His second article, which is his first article rewritten with the help of a thesaurus, is an argument based on an appeal to pity and an appeal to force all rolled in one. Pretty clever, actually. “Oh, look, the ruling has hurt me personally. Please help me because if you accept the ruling, it’ll hurt you, too.” Of course, after 2,800 words, Matt never did tell us how same-sex marriage actually hurts him personally.
Both articles ramble from one fallacious argument to the next — ad hominem, slippery slope, anecdotal evidence, appeal to force, appeal to pity, red herring, and well, pretty much all of these. For the sake of brevity, let’s skip analyzing each fallacious argument. The much shorter approach is to show what Matt should’ve done, but didn’t.
In 1967, the SCOTUS ruled in Loving vs Virginia that marriage is a “basic civil right” and that states can only limit that right if they can show a “compelling reason” for the limits. This case legalized interracial marriages, and it set the stage for the eventual same-sex marriage ruling.
The 1967 ruling defined marriage as a basic civil right, a concept most people would not disagree with. Without that definition, governments could limit marriage for the most capricious of reasons. The ruling also reaffirmed that marriage is a state issue, not a federal one, but because marriage is a basic civil right, any limitations would have to pass a “compelling reason” test. As a basic civil right, the right to marry is protected under the Constitution.
To debate the validity of same-sex marriage someone would either need to prove that marriage is not a basic civil right — dangerous territory with serious and wide-ranging implications — or show a “compelling reason” why same-sex marriage should be denied despite the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
The crux of Matt’s argument is that God defined marriage for the purpose of procreation and since gay people can’t procreate, they shouldn’t be allowed to marry. That is a fine argument for a prohibition against requiring one’s church to perform a marriage ceremony for same-sex couples, but it’s irrelevant outside of that context. The argument ranks right up there with the argument put forth in Loving vs Virginia that if God had meant the races to marry each other he wouldn’t have placed them on different continents. The short and sweet of it is that a law needs to rely on more than religious beliefs to be a valid.
Matt also tried to identify a “compelling reason” argument, but fumbled with one fallacious premise after another. For example, not all gay people, he argues, are monogamous. Matt fails to mention that neither are heterosexuals. That pesky Fourteenth Amendment gets in the way. If we agree that same-sex couples can’t marry because of a less-than-perfect track record on monogamy, then we also have to prevent every other type of couple for marrying for the same reason.
Matt is particularly fond of the fallacy of anecdote. Because a gay person somewhere says same-sex marriage shouldn’t be legal, we shouldn’t legalize same-sex marriage. Because a gay person somewhere says that if you are going to cheat or have an open marriage, we shouldn’t legalize same-sex marriage. Again, that pesky Fourteenth Amendment gets in the way. If we agree that gay people can’t marry because some of them think the idea is a bad one, or some believe in open marriages, then neither can any other type of couple marry since there are people in every demographic who believe that marriage is a bad idea or who believe in having an open marriage.
Surely one has to agree that marriage is for the sake of the children, and since gay people can’t procreate, same-sex marriage shouldn’t be legalized. Right? The fallacy here, of course, is one of an appeal to emotion. When all else fails, think of the children! The argument ignores the fact that many heterosexuals can’t procreate because of age or physical limitations or simply choose not to have children. It ignores the fact that marriage laws are not based on whether a couple plans on having children or not. It is also ignorant of the scientific progress that has put us on the verge of being able to medically assist homosexual couples to reproduce together.
While the numbers are hard to estimate, perhaps as many as nine million children have same sex parents. Preliminary studies suggest that children raised by same-sex parents are at least as well adjusted, maybe even better adjusted, than their peers raised by heterosexual parents.
“Many studies have demonstrated that children’s well-being is affected much more by their relationships with their parents, their parents’ sense of competence and security, and the presence of social and economic support for the family than by the gender or the sexual orientation of their parents,” said Siegel, co-author of the American Academy of Pediatrics report. Siegel’s statement is consistent with many other research papers’ conclusions on the well-being of children raised by same-sex couples.
Matt failed to demonstrate why same-sex marriage should be illegal. He also failed to show how legalizing same-sex marriage personally hurts him or anyone else. All Matt proved was that piling paragraph after paragraph of fallacious arguments on top of each other is a good way to get fans amongst a certain segment of undiscerning readers.