How to Defend Your Support of Gay Marriage Rights

This is a controversial subject that's been in the news more and more in recent times. It's not just gay people who support the rights of gay people to marry and enjoy the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts - many straight people also support this as a right. Unfortunately, many discussions of marriage rights degenerate into shouting matches over the morality of homosexuality. So when broaching this sensitive topic, it is important that you keep the discussion focused on the marriage issue in order to successfully defend your supportive view of gay marriage rights. See step 1 below to find out more.


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    Calmly present your arguments clearly and without hostility. Everyone is allowed an opinion. If someone else's doesn't mix with yours, that doesn't mean you're more entitled to yours than they are. It just means that you need to be calm and persuasive.
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    Remember that you are not likely to change anyone's mind today. Just giving someone food for thought is enough for one day.
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    Attack, Parry and Riposte. Of course, this doesn't literally mean you attack your opponent here. It means, you can take the initiative and bring up a point that bears discussing. Let the other person respond. Then "parry" - that is, you rebut their statement. "Riposte" after they rebut your rebuttal - bring up a new point. The objective is to have a good, two-sided debate, and to do that, you have to be strong enough to speak your mind, but secure enough to allow them to speak theirs, too.
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    Spot the appeal to maintain traditional views. If the argument focuses solely on how "traditional marriages" have historically been, then a logic fallacy is being committed. Just because something has been done one way for a long time does not mean it's the right or only way. "Traditionally," people were racist and sexist and got around in horse-drawn carriages. The fact that there is a "tradition" does not make the behavior right in the modern context. Depending on the culture and time, marriages were also "traditionally" meant to solidify business or political alliances, and had little to do with the emotions and future of the bride and groom. In modern times and most Western countries, we take a dim view of this tradition. If your opponent is worried about the "redefinition of traditional marriage," don't fight him on that - agree, and heartily state that marriage has already been redefined, many times, and thank goodness that is the case, otherwise, as recently as 1967, an interracial marriage (like the one that produced Barack Obama) would be illegal.
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    Take It Point by Point. Don't scatter your discussion, focus it on one point at a time. Here are some examples of the arguments made by those who wish to deny marriage rights to gays, and possible rebuttal answers:
    • The argument: Society needs traditional marriage to promote new families and children who will become the leaders of the next generation. Same-sex marriage does not promote this. Rather, it promotes the wants of individuals.
    • The response: Ask if this person is really saying that marriage should exist only for the purpose of producing children? Many marriages produce no children at all, but are either childless - whether by choice, or due to infertility or age - or are home to adopted children. These marriages are no less marriages in the eyes of the federal government, or of God (ask, "Don't you agree?"). Those people are accorded no fewer rights because the two married individuals do not procreate - nor should they be. Many same sex couples either produce natural children or adopt, create new families, and are no more self-serving to the individual than any opposite sex marriage in which children are dearly wanted. The desire or ability to procreate should not determine which rights a married couple should have.
    • The argument: Gay marriage robs a child of a two-parent family, and studies show that a child without one or the other parent is more likely to be stricken by poverty or drug abuse.
    • The response: The children do have two parents. What children are robbed of, and you cannot deny this, is the day-to-day influence of one parent of each gender. That's not optimal, and it should not be argued - all children, in an ideal scenario, would have a mother and a father in the home. However, that's not always what each child gets - even with straight parents. Children suffer the loss of a parent due to all sorts of different causes: death, divorce (especially when one parent moves far away), drug abuse, or abandonment. As to the "poverty and drug abuse" allegation - this is not supported by facts. Conveniently, many opponents of gay marriage ignore the fact that there are far more children doing well while still not being raised by a mother and father in an intact family than there are in dire straits. But in many committed gay families, there are two parents in the home, with children who are well-adjusted and successful in school. In fact, a recent study showed that for the very best parental situation, one would need to be sure a child was raised by a pair of lesbians; these children turned out to be more well adjusted and have better IQ scores than their peers being raised by their own bio moms and dads.
    • The argument: It's not about Civil Rights. Gay rights should not be equated with the struggle of African Americans for their Civil Rights, they were never slaves.
    • The response: Nonsense. It is about Civil Rights. Civil Rights means the rights accorded to each and every citizen of the United States being equal and across the board to all citizens. It isn't just about slavery. It's about equality under the law of our land. That means African Americans and gays and women and anyone else who's being denied equality under our Constitution. Thankfully, the black Civil Rights movement has greased these wheels considerably, and provided a template so that other minority groups experiencing discrimination can achieve more equal treatment in decades rather than the centuries it took for African Americans to get as close as they have (though there's still a ways to go, there, too).
    • The argument: It's a slippery slope that will lead to incestuous marriage, or even bestiality in marriage. Just because a brother and sister are in love and want to marry, the law forbids it for good reasons. If Gay Marriage is allowed, then where will it end? Why not allow polygamy, too, for that matter?
    • The response: This is the most spurious argument of all, and it's just a ridiculous one. Gays want the same rights as straights. Incest will still be disallowed. Bestiality will still be disallowed. Marriage should be the committed relationship between two persons of consenting age which is lawful in all other ways. The "slippery slope" is all in the minds of these poor people - they are so afraid their way of life is being threatened that they are grasping at whatever straw seems to be waving their way.
    • The argument: Why would traditional marriage be in Federal Law? - President Clinton signed the federal Defense of Marriage Act into law on September 21, 1996. If traditional marriage was wrong, why would one of our former presidents, with the support of the House of Representatives and Senate, sign it into law? Of course, the Federal Government has made mistakes in the past on subjects such as slavery and suffrage. The difference is that slavery has been abolished and all Americans have the right to vote, while the Defense of Marriage Act is still in law.
    • The response: This one's just funny. Let's think about it. First of all, nobody, as far as anyone can see so far, has said that "traditional marriage is wrong." It's fine - for traditional couples. The reason the Federal Defense of Marriage Act was signed into law is because it was politically expedient at the time for Clinton to sign it into law. The base of support for Gay Marriage that exists today did not exist then. And, as the other person points out, The Federal Government "has made mistakes in the past, on slavery and suffrage." (Former President Bill Clinton now regrets signing the Defense of Marriage Act, calling the law unconstitutional.[1] Additionally Clinton has requested that the supreme court justices overturn the DOMA.) Now you can point out that it is making a mistake here, too. The difference is that "slavery has been abolished and all Americans now have the right to vote." Exactly. Those laws were wrong then, and the Defense of Marriage Act is just as wrong - we just haven't gotten to the point yet where it's politically expedient to abolish the Defense of Marriage Act. Yet. It may still be the law for now. But have no doubt that it will be abolished eventually, just as the others were. This argument absurdly takes the stand that the fact that it hasn't happened yet is proof that it never should.
      • Section 3 of DOMA has been found unconstitutional in eight federal courts, including the First and Second Circuit Court of Appeals, on issues including bankruptcy, public employee benefits, estate taxes, and immigration. As of 2012, five of those cases are awaiting a response for review in the U.S. Supreme Court.
    • The argument: The Bible speaks out against gays. Since the authors of the Bible were inspired by God, then God must be opposed to homosexuality, and since marriages are done through God, there can be no same sex marriage.
    • The response: First, let's address the specific religious point: Actually, the Bible says little on the subject; the usual citations are from Leviticus and Romans; nothing about it is mentioned in the 10 Commandments, and Jesus is silent on the subject. Religious leaders have also spoken out against sex before marriage and contraception, implying that the only time sex is 'permitted' by God, is to reproduce. Yet, couples who cannot have children are permitted to marry and have sex, so the argument loses air. Second, let's refocus the argument on marriage, and away from the general issue of homosexuality: Marriages may indeed be done "through God", but the issue is that they are also civil contracts performed and sanctioned - and awarded special benefits - through the State (the actual state you live in, and/or the Federal government). We depend on our separation of powers, the separation of Church and State for civil contracts and laws - a religious objection to a civil union of any kind (including gay marriages) must not be allowed. It is not reasonable, nor should it even be legal, for the Federal Government to enforce discrimination based on religious views. Homosexuality is not illegal in in any state (since 2003). Marriage between gays should not be denied simply because people of certain religious affiliations find it "icky" or because it's "against their religion." Unless you intend to criminalize homosexuality again, you have two law-abiding citizens who pay exactly the same taxes and must obey the same laws as their straight counterparts, but who are being denied equal rights and benefits under the law of the land. That's discrimination, and it is most definitely a Civil Rights issue.
    • The argument: They're arguing over a word. Why not just call it a Civil Union, or just keep Domestic Partnership, and let those unions carry pretty much the same rights and benefits as traditional marriage, without calling it marriage?
    • The response: Because separate but equal is not equality, and it is not good enough. "Pretty much" has never been good enough for any minority group, and never will be. Every citizen should be accorded equal treatment under the law as a Constitutional right in the United States of America. That simple. Besides, if your opponent wants to say that "marriage is just a word," then what's the big deal to him? The truth is, marriage is far more than "just a word," and that's why it's so important. And your opponent knows it.
    • The argument: Statistics say that gay people or gay couples are more violent/abusive/involved in drugs etc.
    • The response: Although the accuracy of those reports are usually quite dubious, bringing down each of these claims individually by checking the authenticity of these statistics would be time-consuming. You could ask your opponent to produce or cite the source of those statistics (usually s/he will say, "Uh... um-mm... hmm. I can't think of where I saw that right at this moment but...") Besides, it's irrelevant to whether or not marriage rights should be available. If any citizen is convicted of illegal (abuse or drugs) activity, s/he should be incarcerated. But even felons can get married. That's not to say that there's any truth to the notion that gays are more abusive or violent or prone to drug use, but you make your point by saying that whether or not it was true, it would still not be relevant.
    • The argument: I don't care what they do as long as they don't shove it down my throat. I don't want to hear about it, or have to see them kissing in public.
    • The response: Whoa. By that measure, straight people may not realize it, but every single conversation with every heterosexual person in ANY kind of relationship is shoving it down our throats, and everywhere we turn, we see straight people kissing in public. Look: Think about the last time you met someone new. How long was it before they said, "My husband and I ..." or "I was just telling my fiancé..." "My girlfriend..." Doesn't that tell you everything about that person's sexual orientation, without you even asking? Meanwhile, the gay person is supposed to dodge around any questions that probe into relationship or marital status. The reality is, while gay people are fine with being mostly discreet about overt or gross sexual conduct (something you can't always say about straights), gay people did NOT agree to take some sort of vow of silence and never ever mention their significant other. And when you think about it, it's a terrible thing to impose on anyone - gays must avoid any mention of their spouses or significant others, or else they must choose to lie about it, switching pronouns and the like. This ruins any hope of having an actual relationship with the person who was lied to, because it's poisoned by lying at the very start. So before you impose this on gay people, think about how many times per day a gay person witnesses some innocuous form of heterosexual affection or sexuality - and get over it if what the gay person you're looking at isn't doing anything more than that.
    • The argument: The courts and judges should stay out of it - they're trying to hijack the will of the people by legislating things voters have already decided. We should let the majority rule - if the people vote it into law, that's the way it should be.
    • The response: That is absolutely wrong. This is precisely what judges and courts are for - to adjudicate matters of inequality between parties. The courts exist to protect minorities in our country from the majority. Yes, this is a democratic society, but it can never simply be "majority rules," otherwise we might still have things like slavery. Just because one group outnumbers another, it does not mean the minority does not deserve equal treatment. The court rulings are meant to, not promote an agenda, but rather, to keep agendas out of Constitutional issues and look at the law only - not the biases of the opposing sides.
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    Avoid the temptation to make the discussion about the rightness or wrongness of being gay in general. Keep focused on the marriage issue. That may be difficult, because it's going to be awfully tempting to the other person to make it about homosexuality in general. The truth is, that's most often why they oppose gay marriage - because they oppose gays on general religious principle. But re-focus the discussion by reminding your opponent that you are not talking about religious rights or views - reinforce the separation of Church and State idea. The government should not be in anyone's church, telling them what they have to do or accept. Neither should the church be in our government, telling it to treat one group of its citizens differently than all the others.
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    Talk about places where gay marriage is already legal. Take a look at Canada. Gay marriage was legalized across the country on July 20, 2005. Did the traditional family suddenly break apart that day? Did straight couples suddenly feel the love and meaning of their relationships drain dry? Did moms and dads start abusing their kids and clawing for divorces? Did crime rates suddenly skyrocket? Did all hell break loose on that day? Not to anyone's recollection. Did any straight marriage suddenly become meaningless, or lose its value? Did gay marriage suddenly result in fewer straight marriages? No? What did happen that day? A lot of people became very happy. A lot of people are now granted equal rights. And that's pretty much all that happened that day. The same can be said about the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa, and very soon, Vermont and Maine. And California, for a little while - since then, contrary to what the doomsayers feared, California did not experience a gigantic earthquake and slip into the sea during the five months gay marriage was legal.
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    Recognize when it's done. Don't beat a dead horse - discuss it until you have nothing further to add, and neither does your opposition, and then graciously agree to disagree, if nothing more.


  • Be respectful of your opponent's position and attempt to educate, rather than ridicule.
  • Bring up new motivations in response to arguments from the opposing side rather than repeating the ones you have already used. This brings new food for thought.
  • Remember that your opponent in this discussion is often talking from a place of deep conviction, either religious or generally moral, and is unlikely to be swayed, but is definitely sincere.
  • Religious ideals are deeply and dearly held, and it's right that they are. The problem is that rather than following those beliefs to simply keep themselves on that path, many of these well-meaning people wish to set that same path for everyone else, as well. Reminding our opponents that their religion is not our government may be the best we can do - we can't always hope to change their ideals or views, but we can always do something to change our government.


  • Don't let the discussion turn into a debate of homosexuality in general. This is a matter of personal ideology. Instead, argue only the civil merits of marriage rights - not the religious attributes.
  • Don't yell or swear. You'll only reinforce the idea that gay people or their supporters are unreasoning and dangerous.
  • Don't let it go on forever. Baby steps.

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Categories: Human Rights | LGBT Marriage