The SoFISHtry of the American Foundation for Equal Rights

I’ve already defended the American Organization for Marriage’s argument in “Marriage = Biology (Not Bigotry)” video from the polemical likes of Mr.Repzion. His channel is just an expression of his personal whims and beliefs. From what I can glean, there is no greater agenda motivating his editorial videos, and he doesn’t project an aura of legitimacy that should be heeded in the comprehensive context of American politics. This isn’t a knock against him but an acknowledgement of the nature of his online fiefdom. He is small fry: A guppy who darts hither and thither through the Internet’s currents, snacking on whatever his floppy fish-mouth can envelop.

Now, to bigger, more dangerous gilled creatures. (Spoiler: Gratuitous allusions and metaphors of fish to follow)

The larger piscean species to be tackled this time is the American Foundation for Equal Rights, and it’s devoted to “finding Nemo,” i.e. marriage equality. The organization also published a video in response to NOM, and before I sink my hooks into this one, I want you all to watch NOM’s video first and then view the “intrepid” Matt Baume and his stellar “refutation.”

You draw your own conclusions, but here is my commentary of NFER’s rebuttal.

00:00 – 00:25: Firstly, NOM’s video never compares same-sex couples to drug dealers and pedophiles. Actually, NOM makes a comparison between gay marriage, “drug dealing” (00:47) and “incest and pedophilia” (01:02). These are behaviors, not citizens, according to NOM. The organization simply is arguing for the prohibition of behaviors it finds destructive and not the oppression of a group of individuals. It’s attacking the actions of people, not the people themselves. There is an important difference.

Moreover, NOM is lucid in this distinction. Throughout the video, the producers change the typography of the words “people” and “behavior” to draw attention to this point. Hint: They’re bolded and colored orange. In the 00:00 – 01:12 span, the upper right hand corner reads “behavior of its citizens.” And if this wasn’t crystalline, in 03:50 – 04:20, the video directly addresses this objection.

00:26 – 00:49: Again, Baume bastardizes what NOM means by natural marriage like Mr.Repzion before him. As NOM implies at 00:15 – 00:17, “natural” refers to  and I’m sorry for the graphic imagery when a penis releases semen into a vagina due to sexual intercourse, fertilization, followed by gestation and birth can occur. This is a fact confirmed by biology and thousands of years of history and prehistory. Couples didn’t magically manifest because sets of a man and a woman just happened to live together and their tribes, for no reason, just started to call and treat their relationships as what would eventually be dubbed as marriage. No, marriage has always been about sex and the resulting children. The society, people and legality of the institution, the state to that Nancy Cott’s quote refers and the civil rights that Baume’s NFER champions, all came afterward. I’m not just talking about in time either. Their ontological cradle is “natural marriage.”

The whole “This term is nonsense…[marriage] is something that comes from people, a set of laws” schtick is actually the nonsensical claim. Baume’s denial here is like saying a documentary about salmon spawning in rivers is not natural because the cameras, video and sound editing and David Attenborough’s dignified inflections is “something that comes from people, a production created by human technologies.” It neglects the fact the subject of the documentary, the root of the whole enterprise, is a natural phenomenon. Likewise, Baume ignores that the whole reason for marriage, as an institution, is the biological reality of procreative sex.

Moreover, Baume just begs the question in favor of same-sex marriage advocates. He does not demonstrate why NOM’s foundational premiss is faulty, and his asserted alternative is just left without any justification. Granted, it’s a tall order discrediting millennia of successful human reproduction and a biological tenant so apparent, people understood and repeatedly applied the principle way before microscopes made it possible to see sperm, with their flagella, rushing to fertilize egg cells. Instead, it’s easier to not engage your opponent’s argument and falsely conflate people with behaviors again by claiming, “with this term, NOM is calling gay people unnatural.” This statement patently isn’t true as a thorough scouring of NOM’s video will vindicate.  However, there will be more on what appears to be the blatant refusal to do honest discourse later in the post.

00:50 – 02:05: Here’s where it becomes apparent that Baume just wants to discredit NOM without that little something called intellectual honesty. Baume’s sophistry really starts to shine, and any charitable interpretation of his mistakes thus far, i.e. honest errors in reasoning, becomes less and less likely.

He says, “It’s not so surprising that NOM gets their terminology so wrong because their definition of marriage defies reality. Here’s what NOM thinks marriage is…”. Then, he attack NOM’s list of effects of marriage as if these are necessary characteristics of the institution, or its definition.

See, the verb “is” usually accompanies a sentence or phrase that would be considered a definition. For instance, with Baume in mind, sophistry is “a subtle, tricky, superficially plausible, but generally fallacious method of reasoning.” However, the list Baume targets is not expressed with the verb: “Natural marriage creates children, best raises children, protects women, civilizes men, [sic] lowers crime, poverty, and welfare.” All these verbs are extrinsic contrasted with the intrinsic is. They are a posteriori results of marriage and not a priori prerequisites of it. Hence, any of Baume’s thrusts are striking a straw man. For example, NOM’s video never argues that marriage categorically creates children like Baume insinuates. NOM is highly aware that sex is what puts the buns in the oven because the organization bases their entire video upon that fact, which Baume conveniently ignores and only now acknowledges here because he can levy it against NOM’s credibility. Though, he assuredly doesn’t draw any real blood here or throughout his rebuttal. He hits ketchup packets, whose crimson substitute, unfortunately, looks legitimate enough to many who will view his video and take his words as gospel.

Furthermore, anyone who knows anything about this debate should realize NOM’s definition of marriage, like each pro-family group, is delineated as a union between one man and one woman. It’s common knowledge. Baume certainly knows it. He also shows the ability to differentiate between a definition and an effect and what NOM means in this section because he says later, “That’s actually true. Marriage has a stabilizing social influence…”. Therefore, pinning that list of effects as a definition is like saying a pro-choice group’s definition of abortion is that it liberates women, gives them control of their body, etc., It’s a definition no one defends because it isn’t one. It takes a slimy panache to pull such a stunt, a feat Baume continually attempts to outdo.

For example, in regard to natural marriage “[sic] protecting women and civilizing men,” Baume spouts this glorious tidbit:

At least to NOM’s credit, this is sexist against both men and women. This is a hard claim to debunk because it doesn’t make sense, but what NOM seems to be saying is that if gay people can get married, then men will start impregnating women and then leaving them to go commit crimes. This is offensive to just about everyone but most of all, to reality.

What?!?! Baume’s statement is baffling. Nowhere in the span of NOM’s video is such a ludicrous notion even implied, let alone explicitly stated. For NOM, natural marriage has the aforementioned functions. That is all. The charges of sexism are off-kilter because in NOM’s video, the text underneath at 01:12 – 01:30 unpacks what is meant by “protects women” and “civilizes men.” That’s the context of their definition that both “defies” and “is offensive…to reality.”

Lastly, Baume’s contention that the children of same-sex couples are on equal footing with those of heterosexual ones is more contentious than what he portrays. Try here and here. I’ve also read that both sides have used studies with cherry-picked selections, so let’s say for the sake of intellectual honesty, the scientific jury is still out on the question whether same-sex households are equivalent in child rearing to heterosexual homes.

02:06 – 02:23: Once again, Baume demonstrates his uncanny, arbitrary and selective listening skills. The phrase that seems to go through one earhole and right out the other without leaving an impression in his grey matter is “as a whole.” Gay people comprise how much of the overall population? Four or five percent at most. Hence, it is political idiocy granting superfluous benefits under the law to a small minority whose plight amounts to a triangle demanding to be known as a square. It would be crafting an extra class of civil rights for a group of individuals whose choices  the free expressions of one’s sexual proclivities, homosexual or otherwise  afford them no “inalienable” or “self-evident” entitlement to such privileges. To succumb in this manner is not being fair or reasonable. The governance of our whole society is hardly supposed to be dictated by the whims of the irrational few.

Now, let me be transparent: Do gay members of the workforce deserve to be fired or denied employment based on their sexual orientation? Absolutely not. Do gay children deserve to be bullied at school? Good gracious no! Should gay people be derided as “fags” and suffer other malicious slurs? Of course not. They should be given the basic human dignity all imperfect people deserve. And I believe this truth entails gay couples having access to life insurance, hospital visitation, etc., all of which I feel civil unions ought to guarantee.

Ultimately, I’m as much an enemy as the gay civil rights movements chooses to make me. It all depends on you. You can march for what is fundamentally yours, and I will walk shoulder-to-shoulder in stride, or you can continue to tread on forbidden ground and trample the essential freedoms of others in your struggle for “equality.”

Every time you sue a Christian baker for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding, coercing a person to violate his or her constitutionally protected religious and moral conscience, you fashion a foe. On each occasion you slander someone who publicly expresses discontent at anal sex, a behavior completely enacted by free will, you raise an adversary. In each moment you indoctrinate our children at school with the lies that a gay lifestyle, consciously pursued, is as healthy as a heterosexual one, and thereby a viable and normal alternative, you forge opposition. Your scorched earth-tactics in this war are growing tiresome. The “tolerance” you so crave is becoming exhausted. We are weary as you tear up our constitutional rights “as recompense for your imagined slights.” Our ranks are swelling; a storm is coming. When it breaks, know that it was your lack of restraint that stirred this furious tempest against you.

The lesson of this ominous forecast, Mr. Baume? Whatever is left, if and when the proverbial straw breaks the camel’s back, it probably won’t be “the land of the free,” and that outcome doesn’t bode well for American society, as a whole. Moreover, the conditions now that are stoking these fires are not paradise for all either.

To summarize, NOM and I contend redefining marriage is and will have implicit and contingent negative repercussions for everyone. It’s clear Baume paid little attention to NOM’s and its listed consequences, so I’ll add more: the weakening of the family, a mediating institution against the reach of the state, the forfeiture of any logical ground to withstand the lunacy that is polygamy, polyandry and bestiality and the path to new judicial precedent in family law  as the litigation of custody battles in experimental same-sex families, in principle, would then be applicable to heterosexual households, the impoverishment of civil discourse, societal abandonment of common sense and the commoditization of women and children as chattel. That’s scratching the surface of the opportunity cost of granting “ancillary benefits” without proper qualification. Alas, this is “justice”; this is now America.

02:24 – 02:42:

There’s only a predatory hatred of gay people to be located within those words if and only if Baume and his allies want such meaning to lurk there. “Merely validates sex partners” refers to the erroneous legitimization of behavior between individuals solely because it’s amorous. It wasn’t intended to denigrate gay people, as Baume falsely asserts. The only one entering the “realm of invasive, personal attack” is Baume, whose blatant misrepresentation of NOM’s video and repeated cries of prejudice are so baffling inappropriate, dishonesty instead of mere fallacious reasoning is fast becoming the only explanation for his utterly feeble rebuttal. He accuses more than he argues, inventing bigotry when no such menace exists. Any attempt at civil debate becomes impossible if all he does is take umbrage at genuine logic.

Moreover, “What’s love got to do with it?” Nothing. The fact the partners, gay or straight, love each other is irrelevant, as the notion of marrying for love is a relatively recent Western addition to the institution. Do political or arranged marriages cease being marriages because the man and woman don’t love each other? Do loveless marriages not exist? Being in love is not a necessary condition of marriage, although I submit it’s certainly conducive to a happy, “until death do us part” endeavor.

02:43 – 02:57:

Once again, both sides of the debate claim academic studies as support to their conclusions. Personally, I haven’t read the studies to fairly ascertain for whom social science is a handmaiden. What I have read is that both are proliferated with statistical and sampling fallacies. Baume, for the first and only time, correctly asks for these statistics. However, he promptly returns to form when declaring their non-existence.

I’ll let Professor Robert Oscar

First, it is highly suspicious that studies into same-sex parenting generate a similar “no difference” hypothesis even though we know that the death of a parent, divorce, adoption, and third-party reproduction do cause different outcomes in children, when those aspects are studied outside the label of same-sex parenting. The only way that a same-sex couple can raise a child, is if there was the death of an opposite-sex parent, a divorce or breakup of a heterosexual couple, an adoption, or some kind of third-party reproduction. And on all these latter family issues, the social-science record is clear. Children grieve for dead parents for their whole lives. Divorce has catastrophic effects on children. Adoptees are almost four times more likely to commit suicide and reveal a host of other difficult outcomes. Children of sperm donors were revealed to have many more adjustments problems in a huge 2010 study that was commented on, by Elizabeth Marquardt. And now research into children of surrogacy contracts shows that they have greater levels of depression, disruptive development, and even higher rates of some forms of cancer. Then there is research into the Cinderella Effect, which finds that the highest indicator of risk for abuse of children is the presence of a non-genetically related guardian in the home.

How is it possible that hundreds upon hundreds of studies into same-sex parenting find that when gay parents are involved, none of these family dynamics produce differential outcomes?

I hate to tell you, but it’s not possible.

Now, it bears elucidation: Death of a parent is not always associable with same-sex parenting. However, I believe refers to a situation in which a single parent dies, and his or her child is then moved to the other biological parent who now is living with his or her same-sex partner. Moreover, surrogacy, in-vitro fertilization and adoption are natural developments of same-sex marriage. In other words, they are very applicable to same-sex families.

Hence, contrary to Baume, the studies and statistics do exist. When gay couples are removed from the equation, studies are lucid that biological, intact families are preferable for child-rearing. However, when gay couples are considered in this same type of research, the evidence for this conclusion vanishes even though “the only way that a same-sex couple can raise a child, is if there was the death of an opposite-sex parent, a divorce or breakup of a heterosexual couple, an adoption, or some kind of third-party reproduction.

Curious, very curious.

02:58 – 03:19: 

Baume once again asserts, “It’s true in some states that companies might have to do business with gay couples, but that has nothing to do with marriage.” Au contraire, Monseur Baume, there is such a thing as a marriage industry. Where do the decadent wedding cakes, lovely flower arrangements and funky bands come from for both the ceremonies and receptions? Companies have and will do business for gay couples planning their weddings. Plus, it’s been well popularized about florists or bakers suffering lawsuits for refusing service to a gay couples because it would be in violation of their constitutionally protected right to abide by their religious and moral conscience. I’ve even watched a video where Baume comments on situations such as these. Granted, “fund” is an unusual word, and perhaps NOM could be more clear, but government coerced endorsement of something citizens find morally repugnant is what’s at issue here.

I also maintain the subject can be reasonably inferred because of the box floating next to Baume’s head with NOM’s video reading, “Gov’t ‘can override your religion [sic].’ Court rules: Businesses not allowed to reflect faith of their owners.” I also wager the “taxes” refer to the funding of this abuse of federal power, although this connection is more tenuous.

I’m not sure how Baume does not make this realization, as involved and well-versed he is in the happenings involved in this civil rights issue. Certainly, this absence is embarrassing for a “journalistic” show called “Marriage News Watch” that describes itself as “a news and editorial program” at the end of the video.

What the forever slippery Baume is not silent about is that gays have to “file extra returns and pay extra taxes because the government does not recognize those relationships.” This is a red herring, as it is not pertinent to the topic at hand, and civil unions could remedy this issue rather than a radical overhaul of humanity’s first institution. It also fits in nicely with the victim-narrative Baume is broadcasting: NOM is oppressive to gays and wants government to enable that prejudice.

03:20 – 03:59:

Ok, the crucial assumption of this whole push for same-sex marriage is that heterosexual and homosexual relationships are essentially equivalent; therefore, they deserve equal treatment. Ah, but they’re not. Only sexual relations between a man and woman can create human life. Marriage arose because of this biologically affirmed phenomenon. On the other side, a man and a man or a woman and a woman, no matter how many times they try, will never conceive a child without help from outside of the bedroom. In-vitro fertilization, renting out a woman’s womb to compensate and the industry that provides these services are seriously questionable. Women and children are reduced to chattel to be bought and sold. Sounds familiar? The antebellum American South built their society on a similar practice.

Ruminations on the past aside, marriage, by definition, only pertains to couples that can engage in procreative sex. Therefore, NOM’s video is not advocating for “separate but equal” or anti-miscegenation-type laws, as Baume insinuates. A black man and a white woman, vice versa or any racial combination between a man and a woman can still result in offspring. So appeals to Loving v. Virginia are misplaced. Moreover, NOM’s video tacitly recognizes this distinction; Baume dismisses it because marriage, in his view, is mere consensual commitment between loving adults. Human history and biology vastly attests otherwise.

04:00 – 04:15:

No, no, no! NOM’s video never calls gay people “uncivilized” nor deems them as not a part of “civilized society.” If anyone is being demeaned and treated as unfit of dignity, it’s NOM by Baume’s slanderous commentary. NOM refers to the institution, properly understood, as the foundation of civilization. It isn’t even directly talking about heterosexual couples let alone homosexual ones. Again, this is obvious, as any honest viewing of NOM’s video will demonstrate. Plus, the vindicating words are elevated right next to Baume’s countenance.

How stupid does he and AFER believe us to be?

04:16 – 04:38:

Here’s Baume’s concluding and knockout punch:

So let’s see: NOM just compared an entire minority group to criminals, called them unnatural, said they are less fit to raise children, demeaned their relationships and called them uncivilized. And then they say, ‘That’s not bigotry.'”

Except it isn’t. None of these accusations are true.

I would like to add NOM claims “natural marriage creates the best possible family for children.” Their video never says gay people “are less fit to raise children,” as Baume would have us believe. Rather, it means the arrangement or union of same-sex marriage is not conducive to child-rearing. This is not an assessment of gay people’s parenting skills. It’s an evaluation of environment. It’s akin to saying a cage around a diver best protects while swimming with sharks, while a cageless diver is implied to be less safe. This isn’t a reflection of the diver’s swimming ability. The diver is not being questioned. Of course, if gay people choose “to swim sans a cage” and believes themselves as impervious as those who choose to “surround themselves with iron bars,” such folly can and should be challenged.

So, Baume’s wild haymaker does not land. However, it’s so off-target, his charges so false, the video ends with the disclaimer that “The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of AFER or its legal team.” Good think too as Baume’s counterstrike comes off as a low-blow. It’s not just sophistry; it’s slander in what appears to be uttered in actual malice.

Fish stink,

Modus Pownens


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