The Canonical List of Rebuttals to Anti-gay Arguments Against Gay Marriage Rights

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Homosexuality is a choice.

This is not an argument against gay marriage, but an argument against gays. Furthermore, if sexual orientation is a "choice" as fundamentalists claim, then it follows that heterosexuality is a choice too. Why should one "choice" be favored over another?

Incidentally, a person's religion is certainly a choice, yet we firmly protect that as a person's right.

Don't bother explaining to a fundamentalist that the preponderance of evidence indicates that sexual orientation is not chosen, that studies show numerous biological correlations with sexual orientation, that the APA denounces so-called "therapy" to turn gay people straight, that "ex-gays" keep turning up in gay bars, etc. They don't believe in science anyway.

Homosexuality is just a behaviour! Behaviours don't have associated rights.

Like "Homosexuality is a choice," this is not an argument against gay marriage but an argument against gays. And again, although religion is just a behaviour, these people would be quick to defend their religious freedom and rights.

Moreover, if homosexuality is "just" a behaviour, then it follows that heterosexuality is "just" a behaviour as well. So would heterosexuals say that they're only heterosexual during the act of copulation or lust, and that throughout the whole remainder of their postpubescent lives, they're asexual? If not, then why would they make such a claim about homosexuals?

Like it or not, human sexuality is as much an integral part of who we are as our personalities, our intelligence and our beliefs.

Marriage exists to support sexual reproduction. Gays can't reproduce!

There are a number of flaws here. First, heterosexual couples need not swear an oath to reproduce in order to receive a marriage certificate. Heterosexual couples need not even be capable of reproducing to marry: no fertility tests are necessarily conducted for the granting of a marriage license. Elderly people who are incapable of bearing children get married all the time. Couples who simply don't want children can still marry. Marriages are not annulled by the state if a couple fails to produce children.

Furthermore, sexual reproduction is clearly possible without marriage (or do these people still believe that married couples sleep in separate twin beds and that a stork delivers them a baby?). Family units exist where nobody is married. Single moms and dads abound.

Clearly the primary purpose of marriage is not sexual reproduction.

Gays in fact can reproduce. They're not sterile. Many a lesbian has become pregnant through artificial insemination. Surrogate mothers aren't a new invention by any means.

It has been said that there's a state interest in supporting the reproductive family unit, and that is absolutely true. This can be accomplished, however, without excluding non-reproductive families; there's no reason that homosexual couples must be excluded any more than there's a reason that sterile couples or couples who simply do not wish to have kids should be excluded (and these heterosexual couples are not excluded at present). While there is a rational basis for the government to support heterosexual reproductive marriage, there is no rational basis for supporting it to the exclusion of others.

Homosexuality is unnatural! If everyone was gay, mankind would die out! Evolution would have eliminated homosexuality!

Again, this is an argument against gays, not an argument against gay marriage.

That which occurs in nature is, by definition, natural. (Research shows that homosexual orientation exists in countless species other than human beings.) It can also be said that "if everyone were male, mankind would die out," but you don't see many people trying to argue that being male is unnatural.

Assertions about evolution are curious, since the fundamentalists making them generally disbelieve evolution. Nonetheless, this claim shows an abject ignorance of evolutionary theory and of genetics in general. Traits are often determined by a combination of genetic factors and random chance, and individual factors are easily passed from parent to child without particular traits being expressed.

Nature is filled with examples of genetic variances which would ordinarily remove a person from the gene pool (but also note that gay people are not sterile to begin with) that have not been de-selected by evolution. For example, genetic variations cause harlequin type ichthyosis and progeria, both of which typically kill the unfortunate victims before they reach sufficient age to father or bear children. This is not to suggest that homosexuality is a genetic disease or disorder (since it does not qualify as either disease or disorder according to the American Medical Association or the American Psychiatric and American Psychological Associations) but merely to point out that natural selection won't necessarily eliminate traits that tend to lead to non-procreation.

It's also a fact that not everyone is gay, so conjecture about what could or would happen if everyone were gay is both silly and pointless. This argument also makes the flawed assumption that marriage exists solely to facilitate sexual reproduction.

Homosexual parents would hurt their children and make them gay!

Homosexual marriage deprives children of a mother and father.

Curiously, the same people who assert that homosexuals can't reproduce also make this claim. There's absolutely no credible evidence that having gay parents causes children any direct harm or that the children are more likely to be homosexual themselves. Quite the contrary, research by Judth Stacey and Tim Biblarz concluded that children of homosexual parents are no worse for it.

Since spawning children isn't the sole function or requirement of a marriage, children need not factor into the discussion at all, let alone whether they were deprived of anything. Besides, aren't these the same people who say gays can't reproduce?

The bible says...

The Bible is not the law of the land. Period. The First Amendment to the US Constitution, regardless of whether you like it, forbids entanglement of religion with the state. That is why it admonishes that Congress cannot make laws respecting the establishment of religion [emph. added]. Laws must have a secular purpose. Laws may not cause excessive entanglement with religion. Clearly limiting marriage to heterosexuals for the sake of something the Bible says would breach the limitations laid out in the First Amendment.

Incidentally, the Fourteenth Amendment explicitly applies the limitations set forth in the Constitution to the states.

And as Reverend Lovejoy once said in The Simpsons, "The bible says a lot of things." The bible condemns everything from eating shellfish to wearing clothing of blended fibers to touching a woman during her menstrual period to allowing women to speak at church. Most people preaching against homosexuality from the Bible just take a verse or two out of context, cherry picking what they need to justify their prejudices, while ignoring other "condemned" things entirely.

You want to redefine the fundamental unit of our society!

Does this mean that single people and children have no place in society? Our social order is comprised only of married people? This is laughably untrue.

The definition of "marriage" has never been static in any case, and at any given moment, different people already have different ideas of what it means. In some cultures marriages are still arranged. In the past, marriages have been used to end wars or seal treaties. It was once expected that the father of a bride would be paid a dowry for the privilege of marrying her. In the early 20th century it was unheard of to have two working parents, but by the end of the 20th century it was common. Definitions and ideas change over time.

The atomic unit of a society is the individual.

You threaten the sanctity of marriage!

What, and Elvis marrying people in drive-thru chapels in Las Vegas doesn't? Where were you when Britney Spears married Jason Alexander for a whole weekend?

"Marriage" as a concept clearly holds no sanctity unto itself, even for heterosexuals, who seem to do an excellent job of undermining it on their own. If the test for legitimacy of marriage is whether people of a particular sexual orientation would "undermine" its "sanctity" then heterosexuals should be forbidden from marrying as well.

Whatever "sanctity" a marriage holds exists in the bond between the married.

See also "Gay marriage would weaken a fragile institution"

Homosexuals already have the right to marry; they can marry someone of the opposite sex right now!

How strange for those who rant and rave about the "sanctity of marriage" to demand that homosexuals marry someone they couldn't possibly love. Again, it sounds as though the homosexuals take marriage far more seriously than the heterosexuals do, especially the fundamentalist ones. Those using this argument must take the position that "marriage" is a meaningless business contract; but even taking that position, it cannot be denied that the contract is being offered to a certain class of people and not to another based solely upon the sexes of those involved. This is a clearly discriminatory position.

The fact is that heterosexuals presently have the right to marry the person of their choosing (with reasonable limitations of age and genetic relationship). Homosexuals do not, at all, under any circumstances (age and genetics notwithstanding). The two classes of people are treated differently under the law, clearly.

This same intellectually bankrupt argument could be used to argue in favor of interracial marriage bans; after all, so long as white people can marry the other white people of their choice, there's no problem, right?

Homosexuality spreads diseases! Homosexuals are promiscuous! Homosexuals eat poop! Gay bowel syndrome! GLaaaaGH!

Like many other arguments, these are not arguments against gay marriage, but arguments against gays. Furthermore, they're surely arguments FOR gay marriage! Surely if promiscuity and diseases were concerns, providing the structure of marriage would tend to discourage that behaviour. Also, it is not homosexuality that causes the spread of disease, but promiscuity of any sexual orientation. The fact of a person being homosexual does not in itself cause anyone to contract any disease or disorder.

Promiscuous heterosexuals are just as prone to contracting sexually-transmitted diseases; in addition, they're far more likely to cause unwanted pregnancies (and by implication, more abortions!).

Incidentally, there is no such thing as "gay bowel syndrome."

Because I have freedom of religion, I shouldn't be forced to accept homosexual marriages!

No, freedom of religion is why you must. Because our laws must have a secular purpose, and because the government must not entangle itself with religion, limiting the rights of homosexuals for the sake of your religion would violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

Further, imagine if people of different religions and religious denominations used this reasoning: Catholics would refuse to accept protestant marriages; Christians would refuse to accept Muslim marriages; religious people would refuse to accept atheists' marriages, and vice-versa. In the end, in order to avoid offending any one religious belief, no marriages could be permitted at all!

Moreover, it is not the case that ALL religions deny same-sex unions. Many religions and religious denominations perform and recognize same-sex unions. To accept the reasoning that same-sex marriage is a denial of religious freedom (of those religions that prohibit same-sex unions) would require also accepting that refusing to permit same-sex marriage is a denial of religious freedom (of those religions that recognize same-sex unions) as well. This presents a rather obvious and silly contradiction futher emphasizing the fallaciousness of this argument.

Marriage is a covenant with God, and God says marriage is between a man and a woman.

This argument has the same problems as the freedom of religion argument and the Bible law argument.

In any case, a couple need not get married in a church at all, or be religious at all. A heterosexual atheist couple can make an appointment at any local courthouse.

Churches will be forced to marry homosexuals!

This isn't so much an argument as it is a scare tactic, and an untrue one at that. Just as the First Amendment forbids laws being written to favor religion, the law also can't inhibit religion. The state has no right to force any church to marry anybody it doesn't want to marry. It doesn't have that power now: a Catholic church is under no obligation to marry someone who has been divorced nor to marry a protestant couple, for example.

If two men can marry, then why not a man and a pig? Why not a man and his sister or brother? Why not marry groups too? Where does it end?

This isn't so much an argument about gay marriage as it is a scare tactic and a demeaning remark about gays. The idea is to suggest that somehow the love between two persons of the same sex could be no more than that between a person and an animal. It's really just an inflammatory remark that assumes that homosexuals are less human than heterosexuals, but let's consider it anyway.

The real question isn't "if two men can marry, then why not a man and a pig," but rather, "if a man and a woman can marry, then why not a man and a pig?" How about "if a man and a woman can get married, why not a man and his sister?" A man and his sister would, after all, be an opposite-sex couple. Rhetorically, these questions are identical. Better still, "if a man and a woman can marry, then why not a man and a man?"

These rhetorical questions aren't arguments; they're just inflammatory remarks which make the hidden assumption that heterosexual couples are worthy of marrying but homosexual couples are not. (It's almost circular reasoning in some respects; because homosexuals are unworthy of marriage, ask a rhetorical question that's supposed to relate that unworthiness.) This hidden assumption can be challenged and invalidated simply by asking the same question a different way, inverting or removing the assumption. If heterosexuals can get married, why not a man and his sister? If heterosexuals can get married, why not homosexuals? And if you don't like answering questions like that one, why are you asking them?

The actual answer to these questions, of course, is that it's a given society that determines what partners may enter into a marriage. In Biblical times, it was common for a man to have many wives. Even in the relatively-recent past, polygamy was practiced in the United States by certain religions and accepted by certain states. I don't know of any cases of people marrying animals.

Our society ostensibly supports freedom, liberty, and equality under the law for everybody, which our great Constitution eloquently outlines. It is this equality which same-sex couples seek to secure in their efforts to legalize same-sex marriages.

It will be expensive if homosexuals can get married. They'll start getting on their partners' insurance! Insurance will become more expensive!

Since when did the monetary cost become a deciding factor with regard to fundamental rights?

In any case, it should be the homosexuals who complain about this; after all, it is currently they who are subsidizing the cost of married heterosexuals' insurance premiums.

It's also worth noting that the government and private insurance companies are already prepared to supply benefits and coverages to presently-unmarried people, so long as they pair with anyone of the opposite sex. Nobody questions providing new coverage and benefits for these marrying people; why does cost suddenly become such an interesting issue when the marrying partners are of the same sex?

Gay marriage would be government endorsement of a dangerous lifestyle.

Again, this is not really an argument against gay marriage; it's meant to be an inflammatory argument against gays. For one thing, there's nothing inherently dangerous about homosexuality. For another, permitting something is not the same as endorsing it. It could hardly be argued that the government itself endorses all the speech and expression carried out in this country on a daily basis; it's simply the people's right, and the government takes a passive posture toward it.

Lastly, sexual orientation is not a "lifestyle." Homosexuals live their lives in as many varied and sundry ways as heterosexuals. Much as fundamentalists might like to believe otherwise, every homosexual person does not fit the narrow stereotype that the fundamentalists promote (in a way, theirs is a straw-man argument: create an artificial stereotype of homosexuals to attack as "dangerous").

The majority of people don't want gay marriage, so allowing it would be undemocratic!

We do not democratically decide on fundamental rights. The US Supreme Court ruled in Loving v Virginia that marriage is indeed a fundamental right:

The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.

Imagine if we could democratically vote on whether to abide by one of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights. What would be the point of having a Bill of Rights at all if we could just vote to ignore it?

The founders of the United States believed that people have inalienable rights that cannot be taken away or brought to a vote. These rights are enshrined in the Constitution and its Amendments (though others also exist, by virtue of the Ninth Amendment). Among them we find Equal Protection under the law. Equal protection is non-negotiable without a Constitutional Amendment.

Other civil rights issues have been unpopular, but ultimately prevailed by virtue of the unconstitutionality of suppressing them. Most recently the black civil rights movement, desegregation of public schools, and permission of inter-racial marriages were all unpopular ideas at the time, but prevailed because they were right, not because they were popular

Gays have civil unions.

Let gays have civil unions.

First, a common misconception is that gays already have civil union rights. This may be true in some locations, but it is hardly universal throughout the US.

Second, calling a two-partner union a "marriage" for heterosexuals but a "civil union" for homosexuals reeks of the failed doctrine of "separate but equal." See Brown vs Board of Education for what the Supreme Court thinks of "separate but equal" with respect to equal protection under the law.

Finally, in many location where two-partner unions exist that aren't classified as "marriage" the actual set of rights, responsibilities, and privileges associated with those unions falls short of those recognized in marriage. Not only are these unions separate, they're also UNequal.

Gays want "special rights!"

On its face, the term "special rights" doesn't even make sense. If something is a right, it isn't "special." It belongs to everybody. And according to the Supreme Court in Loving v Virginia, marriage is a fundamental right. Yet, the anti-gay extremists trumpet this "special rights" meme every time gays attempt to attain or retain any type of equal treatment, in an apparent effort to try to convince people that gays are trying to get something that other people don't have.

In fact, it's obvious in the case of marriage that the only group that could be considered to have a "special" right is heterosexuals. They can get married. Gays cannot. What these people should be saying is that they want their own right to remain "special" by preventing gays from attaining equality.

Gays don't want rights; they want acceptance

While it's true that everyone wants to be accepted, what gay marriage advocates are trying to secure are plainly rights. Like the "special rights" argument, this overlooks the fact that in the case of Loving v Virginia, it has been clearly spelled out that marriage is a fundamental right. Gay marriage advocates are often trying to undo prohibitions and protect against discrimination. None of the bills passed have included language that demands that anyone "accept" anything. Allowing and accepting are two entirely different things.

One could turn around this argument and say that anti-gay religious zealots want "acceptance" of their hatred of gays, and this is why they craft legislation specifically to oppose gays and gay rights. Further, one could expose the discriminatory attitude hidden in this argument by asking if gays should be complaining that they're "forced to accept" the heterosexual lifestyle because heterosexual marriage isn't illegal.

If gays get married, society will collapse. Plague, locusts, famine! Destruction! Doom! Sky is falling!

These are fear-monger slurs that have no basis in reality. Gay marriage has existed for some time in the Netherlands, with no apparent ill effects, destruction, doom or peril. The sky hasn't fallen in Massachusetts or Canada. No social collapse has been reported in Denmark, though their gay marriages are called "civil unions," but retain all the same rights.

Nobody has ever demonstrated a causal relationship between state sanctioning of gay marriages and any type of disaster, chaos or social disarray.

Marriage is a privilege, not a right.

See Loving v Virginia, which states in no uncertain terms that "the freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men."

Gay marriage would weaken a fragile institution.

Let us not forget who made it fragile. You can hardly blame gays for that.

But more importantly, note that this is actually an argument against gays, not an argument against gay marriage. Sure, it sounds like an argument against gay marriage at first, but think about the presumption it makes. Who's to say that gays getting married wouldn't strengthen the institution of marriage? Or perhaps do nothing at all to it? Why the assumption that it would, by necessity, weaken it?

This argument is a clear manifestation of an anti-gay bias if you stop to think about it.

Opposition to gay marriage is about preserving our moral fiber, not about discrimination

Like the argument about gay marriage weakening the institution, this is an argument against gays, not an argument against gay marriage. The argument assumes that homosexuals are uniquely capable of "destroying" some "moral fiber" in a way that heterosexuals are not.

To assert that this position is not discriminatory is laughable on its face. Imagine if nobody could get married and separate bills were introduced simultaneously to acknowledge the marriage rights of heterosexuals and homosexuals. How else could it be explained other than discrimination if one bill was passed but not the other?

I'm a gay atheist. Gays shouldn't have the right to get married!

This isn't really an argument, but it's mentioned here to point out a relatively new tactic used by anti-gay activists when spouting other nonsense in opposition to gay marriage (and weirdly, these people often start in with "the bible says..." at some point).

Some anti-gay activists seem to believe that when approaching a community dominated by non-religious people or by gay people or gay-sympathetic people, their malformed arguments will have greater credibility if they claim to be atheist, gay, or both. Yet if you read their arguments carefully, looking for hidden assumptions, these are the most bible-believing, anti-gay gay atheists you'll ever meet.

The real point is that it doesn't matter who makes these bogus arguments against gays or against gay marriage; they're still just as bogus. Claiming to be gay, atheist, from outer space or even Swedish makes no difference.

Gays can already get the rights they want with contracts, filing for power of attorney, etc!

First, this isn't even true. There exists no civil means, for example, to ensure that property can be inherited from someone to his or her same-sex partner with the same tax benefits as a married, opposite-sex couple. There are literally thousands of state-provided perks for heterosexual married couples that are not available through any means other than through marriage. It ignores the fact that there have been cases where even though a partner had power of attorney, he was still denied his right to hospital visitation; the term "marriage" carries with it an instantly understandable social connotation. This argument is essentially a straw-man, suggesting that one of the most-sought benefits- hospital visitation- were somehow the only benefit to be had from civil marriage.

Furthermore, even if we supposed that this absurd statement were true, it is surely also an argument against heterosexual marriage! Why should opposite-sex couples be permitted to wed if they can simply secure all of these benefits through contracts and power of attorney? The fact that those making this argument chose only to apply it to same-sex couples reveals the blatant anti-gay bias in their reasoning.

If gays can get married, gay marriage and homosexuality will be taught to children in schools

Like the "gays would weaken a fragile institution" argument and the "sanctity of marriage" argument, this is an argument against gays, not an argument against same-sex marriage.

Those who complain that gay marriage would have to be taught in schools (setting aside for a moment whether this assertion is even factually correct) presumably have no problem with heterosexual marriage being taught in schools (ask them!). The only way to explain this dissonance is a bias against gay people.

Churches will lose their tax exemption without a ban on gay marriage

Like the "churches will be forced to marry homosexuals" argument, this is not an argument against gay marriage but simply a scare tactic. There's no reason to believe this would happen any more than it would happen for a church refusing to marry atheists, a Catholic church refusing to marry divorcees, a protestant church refusing to marry Catholics, a synagogue refusing to marry Buddhists, etc. Since no church has ever lost its tax exemption for any of these things, there's no reason to expect that any church would lose its tax exemption for refusing to perform gay weddings.

Individuals will be sued unless gay marriage is banned

Like the "churches will be forced to marry homosexuals" and the "churches will lose their tax exemption" arguments, this is a scare tactic, not an argument against gay marriage. There is no evidence that this would happen or could happen, and the First Amendment of the US Constitution protects people's rights to their personal beliefs (and to state those beliefs publicly and in groups).

The one situation in which a person could be sued would be a state official acting in his or her official capacity. But in these cases it's not truly that individual person being sued so much as it is that person's state office being sued. If, for example, someone believed a state law was violating a group's civil rights, it could be the state attorney general's name on a lawsuit. This is merely a formality and an indication that the state itself is a party to a lawsuit.

There is no reason to believe that any individual citizen has been sued or could be sued simply for holding a particular belief and expressing that belief about gay marriage.