The Right’s fatal mistake in the conflict against same-sex marriage

In that immemorial contest of wills and strength known as tug of war, from the get-go, you never concede more than half the rope to the opposition. It bestows an overwhelming advantage to your opponent that results in this undignified position:

Most people call it defeat. The Left dubs it as “the wrong side of history.” In response, the Right needs to emphatically disparage the phrase and others like it. Yet, in their folly, conservatives don’t discredit it for being question-begging and fallacious — consensus or success in the Culture War does not make the position the truth. It also assumes fatalism, an impossible claim to knowledge of how events will unfold. Instead, conservatives ingest this poison pill we’re not forced to swallow. We hand them more than enough rope to tug nooses tight around our necks.

Over at Maverick Philosopher, Bill Vallicella offers this as wise counsel to any self-appointed champion of the Right: “As I have said more than once, if you are a conservative don’t talk like a [insert favorite expletive] liberal. Don’t validate, by adopting, their question-begging epithets and phrases.” That means don’t use terms like “white privilege,” “war on women,” “rape culture,” “assault rifle,” “Islamophobia,” “disproportionality of force,” “income inequality,” “class warfare,” “xenophobia,” “social justice” and yes, “same-sex marriage.”

If my posts here and here haven’t been abundantly lucid, there is no such thing as a same-sex marriage. It’s a contradiction in terms, an ontological impossibility. In the same way the concept of bachelorhood intrinsically requires a man to be unmarried, the concept of marriage, in principle, requires the type of relationship to be procreative. All same-sex couples cannot procreate, no matter how many times they lovingly bump uglies. A pregnancy will not occur because it cannot occur, as dictated by the laws of nature. On the contrary, most opposite-sex couples can procreate. In fact, a pregnancy is prone to occur when a male and female have coitus. When two women or two men engage in sex, there is no chance. Zilch. That’s a huge difference between heterosexual couples and homosexual couples. Plus, emotional love is not what makes a marriage, otherwise there would be no such thing as an arranged marriage. So, like the fact married bachelors do not exist, marriages between individuals of the same sex whose unions are innately infertile, by definition, do not exist either. Therefore, the Right should object to the use of “same-sex marriage” at every turn, as any rational person would to “square triangle” or “massless body.”

The burden of proof falls upon same-sex marriage advocates. They push “marriage equality” — another one of their dastardly sayings — for same-sex couples, but the slogan implies as it stands, there is marriage inequality. It assumes heterosexual and homosexual relationships are one and the same, yet there is an imbalance in the sight of the law. As rationality in the practice of debate and making of public policy mandates, the same-sex marriage movement must show that marriage law is unjustly discriminatory. Mind you, it’s a very heavy burden to bear, as it requires an understanding of what marriage is, which if properly recognized, lays irrevocably entrenched in the same-sex marriage movement’s path. The Right’s duty is to make same-sex marriage advocates attempt to hoist that burden repeatedly and publicly, a responsibility we have shirked to our detriment by permitting the term.

Likewise, we have also foolishly conceded the phrase “same-sex marriage ban.” How can what amounts to a logical impossibility be banned in the first place is a feat well beyond my cognitive prowess. It also is ridiculously puerile and imprudent to prohibit what not only what doesn’t but cannot exist.

Moreover, lets scrutinize what actually is a ban, shall we? By definition, according to Google, “it’s an official or legal prohibition.” As such, every ban has an object to which it is directed. For example, “The university banned smoking from campus.” Smoking is the object of the predicate banned. In other words, whatever is outlawed must be defined for there to be a ban. Now, states that have not legalized same-sex marriage have been categorically alleged to have constitutional bans barring same-sex marriage. Well, take a look. Many — not all as media assert — of the so-called “bans” are not directed toward same-sex couples. These amendments affirm one type of relationship as marriage; they don’t “ban same-sex marriage.” Missouri, for instance, makes no mention of other types of relationships. So, the elevation in status of one sort of relationship over others is as much a ban as Missouri recognizing the channel catfish as its state fish. It’s no prohibition against any other species just like many of the state amendments’ contents is no prohibition against same-sex marriage. They actively elevate something in particular in status, while bans directly relegate something in particular in status.

As a an act of degradation, bans also intimate a period of decriminalized experience with their objects of interdiction. There is a familiarity with something that is banned. Books must be read before they are barred from schools. Drugs must be used before they become illegal substances. Then, same-sex marriages must have been instituted if they are banned. Of course, that’s false, as redefining marriage, up until roughly 15 years ago, has never been considered before in history. However, what it does subtlely convey, by those who proliferate the term, is that same-sex marriage, i.e., the love between same-sex couples, was the norm, which can be obfuscated and expanded to mean regular, typical and morally permissible, especially given the ethical relativism infesting society. There connotes a bias fitting a narrative of victimhood that these big, nasty constitutional amendments are bans passed in animus against gays and that their pre-established rights were cruelly stripped away from them.

As a rhetorical weapon, such a myth is lethal to our cause. Therefore, when applicable, it is vital to deny there is a ban against same-sex marriage, just like there is no such a thing as same-sex marriage. They will inevitably channel Saul Alinsky and denounce you as bigoted for trying to be rational, but this claim too is baseless. Hold them to task to justify their slanderous indictment, as the unsustainable burden proof again falls upon them. We can’t afford to continue to forfeit more and more ground. The debate can’t be in terms that already make us the oppressor. If the fight is fair, same-sex marriage has no chance.

Ensure that it is,

Modus Pownens


10 thoughts on “The Right’s fatal mistake in the conflict against same-sex marriage

  1. I’d like to comment on the main gist of your post, which can be summed up by this quote:

    “Therefore, when applicable, it is vital to deny there is a ban against same-sex marriage, just like there is no such a thing as same-sex marriage.”

    I don’t think you understand that bans can also be implied, as well as expressed. To use your smoking analogy, if a college campus said, “No addictive substances shall be ingested or inhaled on campus,” then that would be a ban on smoking as well. To put it in the marriage context, these states affirm that marriage is between a man and a woman, but in practice it means that couples of the same gender cannot obtain marriage licenses.

    In that regards, then, your definition of marriage doesn’t recognize the legal consequences of marriage. Marriage rights aren’t about getting everyone to agree on what a marriage is. It’s actually about letting people have equal access to the rights and privileges that other couples have. Intellectually sticking your head in the sand and saying, “Nope, no marriage here,” doesn’t make the problem go away.

    1. Siriusbizinus, thanks for commenting. A couple things:

      Smoking is clearly a subset of addictive substances. As addictive and consumable through inhalation, smoking can be easily deduced as an addictive substance. It’s obviously that it is logically entailed in “No addictive substances shall be ingested or inhaled on campus.” Although it can be deduced that a same-sex couple does not qualify as a marriage in “That to be valid and recognized in this state, a marriage shall exist only between a man and a woman” (Article I, Section 33, Missouri state constitution), it does not follow that this is a ban, prohibition or act against same-sex couples. Such an inference is not logically entailed. The two sentences obviously have different logical content.

      For them to be logically comparable, they would have to read as follows:
      “No addictive substances shall be ingested or inhaled on campus.”
      “No same-sex relationships shall be recognized as marriage in state.”

      True, the affirmation of relationship type A as marriage results in no benefits for relationship type B in the same way a ban on relationship type B would also net no benefits. The empirical effect — “in practice,” as you write — is still the same: same-sex couples with no benefits. Is this state of affairs in regard to same-sex couples unjustified? No, as your insistence about the legal benefits of marriage doesn’t recognize that “civil marriage” requires a marriage for said benefits to be applicable. Of course, we disagree on what constitutes a marriage, but this is besides the point, which is that it is prudent in regard to public policy for law to adhere to definitions and concepts, lest it become ineffectual.

      Does this mean gay people don’t deserve rights or somehow lesser than straight people? A resounding “No!”, as I believe for “the pursuit of happiness,” reformations to civil unions and the tax code are a reasonable compromise if rights are all that the gay lobby is after. And, for the record, none of what I wrote here is “Intellectually sticking (my) head in the sand and saying, ‘Nope, no marriage here,'” to just wish the problem away, as you so erroneously accuse.

      1. Hello there! Thank you for your reply to my comment and on my post! I’d like to address a couple statements you made here, though:

        (1) “[I]t does not follow that this is a ban, prohibition or act against same-sex couples. Such an inference is not logically entailed.”

        Actually, to the quoted constitutional provision, it is a ban as applied to same-sex couples. This is because it prohibits same-sex couples from having lawfully created marriages from being recognized or obtaining lawfully valid marriage licenses from the state. Therefore, it does logically follow from the premises.

        (2) “[A]s I believe for “the pursuit of happiness,” reformations to civil unions and the tax code are a reasonable compromise if rights are all that the gay lobby is after.”

        This scenario is equivalent to separate but equal. Separate institutions for different relationships, but having the same legal effects. Some of my law school colleagues and I bandied this possibility about once, but ultimately it cannot stand just as segregation couldn’t stand. If law students could figure that out, then yes, SCOTUS could too.

        1. Something just tells me we’ve come to an impasse here. The language of the provision does not forbid anything. It demarcates what is recognized as a marriage. The result means no benefits for same-sex couples, who were “married” in another state, but all that can be inferred is it’s an affirmation of one type of relationship, not a prohibition against another. A same-sex relationship is not an illegal union, as you insinuate by saying it’s actively prohibited, forbidden or outlawed or banned. It simply isn’t recognized. It’s similar to the relationship between a “decriminalized substance” and a “legal substance.” Reformations to the tax code or the expansion of rights of civil unions is all that’s needed to fix this incongruity across state borders, not the redefinition of marriage.

          I fail to see how this is “separate but equal.” The immaterial rights you so speak of are not comparable to degrees of quality of material water fountains or bathrooms. You either have the them, or you don’t. There is no in between here. It also presupposes that the relationships are intrinsically the same, which I’ve shown, they’re not. Moreover, comparisons between race and choice of relationship are equally misapplied. Treating two different things differently in the sight of the law is hardly akin to racial injustice of the Jim Crow South.

          And I surely hope law school taught you appeals to authority are bad arguments. Do you honestly believe that every ruling the Supreme Court makes is the correct one? If you’re talking about United States v. Windsor, the decision was not even unanimous but 5-4 with some scathing dissents. So, what’s your point here? Consistent appeals to what happens in the courts have little room in our discussion here, as I’m arguing from philosophical definitions, which jurisprudence assumes are true, otherwise the discipline is worthless. I feel you’re “talking over” my contentions by referring to such and such case or what this judge ruled entirely misses the point.

          1. Hey there! I’ll address both replies in this comment if I may.

            Comments to blogs are a dreadful mode of discourse for the kind we are having. For the sake of brevity, I am probably coming off as terse and maybe even rude. If we were speaking, I’d have my demeanor to indicate that I intend no ill will or condescension. Directness on the Internet sometimes breeds inaccurate communication, and I do apologize if I have sounded unnecessarily forwards in my communications.

            That being said, I talk about the Supreme Court because, as a practical rule, they do control the state of things with regards to hot-button issues. If 5 justices agree on something, then it is law for the courts, which places a burden on other law. Whether this is wise or not is a whole other matter entirely, and it certainly could take up larger corners of the blogosphere. Suffice it to say that I am merely indicating a practical limitation on the legal issues surrounding marriage.

            Additionally, in philosophy appeals to authority are not good things (for instance, because most of the time authority is disputed). However, in court, authority does bind a lower court’s capacity to do things. This is one of the fundamental differences between a purely philosophical argument and a legal one.

            Now, with regards to “separate but equal,” it would be akin to Jim Crow South. This is because same-sex couples are asking for the same legal rights as heterosexual couples, and not the same biological rights. Such a distinction, I think, is unimportant to what you are arguing in your defense of heterosexual marriage. However, the same-sex position is the one that will win under the current state of the law.

            1. No worries, siriusbizinus. You have been accommodating and civil. If anyone has come off as terse, it’s me. The fact, however, is I don’t view you in an antagonistic light. You’re clearly of good faith and have no ill will to me, which is appreciated.

              I understand the importance and implications of the hierarchy of courts. I’m not sure how you see that federal judges are overruling the democratically-decided state amendments as a good thing. If anything, does it not establish a precedent for a similar future issue, one that you might not be in favor of legalization? If same-sex marriage is to become the law of the land, do you not want it to occur by democratic processes and not by oligarchical fiat?

              With Jim Crow, again, they seemingly have the same legal rights but don’t enter into the appropriate type of relationship to get those legal rights. Marriage is defined and recognized in accordance to a type of relationship, not in the characteristics of individuals. For my side, they are asking for special privileges, and their plight amounts to a for-profit business demanding the tax breaks of a non-profit organization.

              Now, I can see how a couple who is legally “married” in California moves to Mississippi and don’t have the same legal benefits is problematic. But I think it gets tricky in regard to federalism and states’ rights here and mandates the redefinition of legal marriage.

        2. Granted, WordPress comments are not the best medium for rational discourse, so I don’t mean your brevity in comments is unexpected or unjustified. However, my responses are based on what I can best infer from our dialogue.

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