Because the long arc of the universe bends toward justice.

This post is intended to be part of your toolkit when it comes to standing up for marriage equality for all loving, committed couples, regardless of the gender of each spouse.

It’s for pro-equality folks who are confused or baffled by how to respond to anti-gay or anti-equality remarks.

The offending remarks are often stated by well-intentioned people who have learned to parrot the lines they hear from socially conservative Americans, from their religious leaders, and from certain political parties, and from certain news media.  But accusing people of being hateful or bigoted doesn’t help change hearts or minds.

Below are sample anti-equality statements (S), followed by sample replies (R).  The replies are in italics.  As new remarks are made and given air-time within the mainstream media, I’ll update this post and add replies.

1. PROCREATION

  • (Statement) “Gays, lesbians, and same-sex couples can’t have children.”
  • (Reply) Gays, lesbians, and same-sex couples can have children in any number of ways that Americans raise a family:  through adoption; through blended families as a result of a previous marriage; and through artificial insemination. 
  • (S) “Marriage is about procreation.”
  • (R) At one point long ago, for strategic reasons among royalty involving maintaining heirs to the throne, that was true.  Today, there are plenty of couples who are married and are unlikely to procreate.  Consider men and women who meet and fall in love in their 60s, 70s, 80s, or older: they probably have no intention of starting a family!  There are also infertile couples, and couples who marry and simply don’t wish to have children.  And there are the less frequent marriages between, say, an 80-yr-old millionaire with 20-something-year-old gold-digging wife.  In addition, once a woman in a heterosexual marriage is beyond child-bearing years, shall the couple be required to divorce?

2.  GENDER

  • (S) “Every child deserves a mother and a father.”
  • (R) Is this still true if the couple included a physically abusive mother and a neglectful father? Is it in the best interests of the child or children to remain in that household for the sake of having both a mother and a father?  What if both parents were active alcoholics and emotionally absent? How does that compare to every child deserves a stable, loving parent, whether there’s one or two committed parents, whether two men, two women, or a woman and a man, as long as the parent or parenting couple is loving, present, available to the children, demonstrating mutual care and generosity of spirit?
  • UPDATE:  Please read the comments for an additional response about this point.  –Liz
  • (S) “Marriage has always been between a man and a woman.”
  • (R) More and more countries, and six states in the U.S. and the District of Columbia, allow and affirm marriage equality, indicating that marriage is between two loving *people* who make certain commitments to each other.  And the institution of marriage is far from perfect.  There have been shot-gun weddings, pre-arranged marriages, and strategic marriages in order to protect one’s land, wealth, and royal lineage.  It wasn’t too long ago when women  in the marriage were married off as property, transferred from one male-headed household to another.

3.  IMPOSED INCLUSION

  • (S) “They’ll impose the gay lifestyle onto heterosexuals and religion.”
  • (R) Just as no one can force religious communities or clergy to perform interfaith wedding ceremonies, no one can force those same communities to be required to provide same-sex marriage ceremonies. Marriage licenses are obtained through city hall or the county clerk’s office, not at your preacher’s pulpit.  Not to mention, so far it’s been heterosexual politicians, clergy, and supporters of reparative therapies who have been imposing the *heterosexual* lifestyle onto gays and lesbians.
  • (S) “They’ll teach the gay lifestyle in school.”
  • (R) The wholeness of humanity, not a select range of lifestyles, is what’s presented in our classrooms, including our collective history based on skin color, gender, nationality, and more recently, sexuality.  In addition, the heterosexual lifestyle has been over-represented, and until recently it’s been left unexamined, just as picture books and history books in the U.S. had been over-representing White society in the face of a diverse culture. Gay people and same-gender marriages exist, as do single-parent households, multi-racial families, extended families living under one roof, adoptive families, etc. Mentioning in a fictional or non-fictional story–even in a children’s book–that a child has two moms or two dads gives a snapshot of reality to balance out what otherwise would be an inaccurate portrayal that all of society is and has been White, able-bodied, middle-class, and male.

4.  ACCUSATIONS & MISINFORMATION

  • (S) “Gays are pedophiles.”
  • (R) If this were true, there would be headlines everywhere every week about “another gay person is arrested for pedophilia.”  There have been far more stories about sex scandals involving clergy and even politicians than about gays or lesbians.
  • (S) “Gay marriage will destroy the social fabric of our lives.”
  • (R) Again, where are the headlines from Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, the three other U.S. states that provide for marriage equality, and the District of Columbia, pointing to such unraveling? It appears that if the social fabric is deteriorating, it’s because of systemic racism, structural classism, Islamophobia, elitism, violence, and a national financial crises.  And if marriages fail, it’s because of adultery or irreconcilable differences, not because of two men or two women across town getting married.

Long-term, stable, committed couples who love each other and have a generous spirit lead to cohesive households, which in turn lead to cohesive communities.

Comments on: "Toolkit: Responding to common anti-equality remarks about marriage" (7)

  1. Melinda Harris said:

    The response to “every child deserves a mother and a father” needs some work. I have a big problem with the knee-jerk response always being something about child abuse. It’s defensive. It points fingers of blame where they may not belong. And it invites people to consider gay parents only as an alternative to abusive ones, not as a NORMAL and healthy family structure that already exists.

    From my perspective (as a child and youth advocate), these are the truths we need to work with:

    1. Every child deserves to be wanted. Added talking points –> Because gay couples don’t “accidentally” get pregnant, at least we can be assured that children who are born to these parents were treasured even before they were born.

    2. Every child deserves a loving, consistent, and physically-present parent.

    3. It is easier for two committed adults to raise a child than it is for one committed adult to raise a child. Unfortunately, the economy, the divorce rate, and the rate of out-of-wedlock births have left us with a lot of single parents who struggle to do and be everything their children need for them to be.

    4. It’s true that children need to experience a balance between male and female role models in their lives. Traditionally, it has been assumed that the two most important people to play these roles would be the heterosexual biological parents of each child. There is nothing wrong with that dream/hope/goal. However, it is clearly NOT the experience most American children are having. Churches, neighborhoods, and communities have always been important in the healthy development of young people, creating a scaffold of support around children and their families. Parents are not the only people who nurture and mentor young people; in fact, youth notoriously choose adult mentors who are NOT related to them. A child with gay or lesbian parents is never going to be isolated from all adults of any gender.

  2. Two Cranes said:

    Melinda, thanks for chiming in!

    I especially like this talking point: Every child deserves to be wanted. Added talking points –> Because gay couples don’t “accidentally” get pregnant, at least we can be assured that children who are born to these parents were treasured even before they were born.

    I’ll add a note to the main text and encourage readers to look at the comments.

    Blessings,
    Liz

  3. Liz,

    Thanks very much for starting this blog and this work.

    I would add another category of tools to your toolkit: discussion of just what marriage is. A few years back I posted the following on another blog:

    “Marriage is not about sex but about kinship.

    “Anybody can have sex without getting married. They can even have on-going affairs, lifelong relationships—even families—without being married.

    “However, if they want their chosen kinship to be acknowledged and affirmed publicly, if they want their families to be honored and protected by the government, they have to get married.

    “In a sane world, people would be glad to take a couple’s word for it when they said they intended to put up with all the hassles and grief of taking care of each other for years on end. People would rush to celebrate and support them, do everything possible to help them stay together.”

    Thanks again for your advocacy,
    Michael

  4. Two Cranes said:

    Michael!

    Great to see you here, and thanks for this important comment. I’d love to have a link to your original post. I went looking for it but came up empty.

    Blessings,
    Liz

  5. [...] glad to see her creating a new advocacy space. The post which just caught my attention is this one: Toolkit: Responding to common anti-equality remarks about marriage. This post is intended to be part of your toolkit when it comes to standing up for marriage [...]

  6. Thanks, Liz.

    As you will notice, I’ve linked to your blog from The Empty Path, in a post called On marriage.

    I originally developed the “marriage as kinship” argument in a letter to Quakers of Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting & Association (SAYMA). The version from which I extracted my comment above was in a Walhydra’s Porch story called Till death do us, etc..

    Thanks, again.

  7. Two Cranes said:

    Thanks for the links, Michael. I see for the first time that the links in the comments are barely darker in typeface that the rest of the comment’s text, so I’ll have to look into the HTML to see if I can make those links more distinguishable.

    Thanks so much for linking *back* to this post from your own blog. At each event I attend in Minnesota to work for marriage equality, I come away with one or two new bits of research that might get us a different result whenever there’s a question on the ballot for “the people” to vote on the rights of GLBTQ people.

    Blessings,
    Liz

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