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.
- (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?
- (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.