A student in defense of marriage equality

The author of the letter to the editor in the Jan., 16 issue of the Kentucky Kernel recycles many outdated arguments against the right of LGBT couples to marry. All of them have been refuted in other forums, and I intend to refute them here as well.

The author’s first argument states that social justice is fundamentally grounded on religious principles, and since religion is opposed to gay marriage, gay marriage is invalid. This is wrong for two reasons: first, it is patently false that marriage for LGBT couples is a religious issue. It is the government — a secular institution — that grants marriage licenses, not a religious authority. Marriage licenses often coincide with, but are still distinct from, a religious marriage ceremony. If the government cannot dictate to the clergy who they can perform religious ceremonies for then neither can the clergy dictate who the government can grant marriage licenses to.

Secondly, the author assumes all religions are opposed to gay marriage when in actuality there is a plethora of opinions on the issue. To say gay marriage is wrong because religion is against it ignores the opinions of many religious adherents.

Moreover, the author quotes the “religious” principle of “loving your neighbor and doing to others as you would have them do to you,” but doesn’t find it ironic he would deny his LGBT neighbors the right to marry when he would undoubtedly not like them to deny him the same right.
The author goes on to state that the gay community has never been unfairly oppressed. This is blatantly wrong. What does he call the approximately 1,293 federal hate crimes attributed to anti-LGBT bias in 2011 if not oppression? What about Matthew Shepard, Paul Broussard, Gwen Aranjo, Sakia Gunn, Rebecca Wright or any of the other poor souls murdered because of their actual or perceived orientation? And how about all the LGBT individuals who are denied housing or fired simply because of their perceived orientation?

As for the statement “No state or federal judge has ever sentenced someone to prison, death or even community service just for being homosexual,” the author is woefully ignorant of the sad history of sodomy laws and bar raids in the United States.

The author’s secular argument against gay marriage hinges on the inability of LGBT couples to procreate, since the purpose of marriage is apparently to increase the state’s population through procreation. In that case, why is the state giving marriage licenses to elderly couples, infertile couples, and couples who simply don’t intend to have kids? Should couples be contractually obliged to produce children within a certain period of receiving a marriage license? And what about adoption? I suppose the author would prefer that the 114 thousand children in the United States waiting to be adopted just stay in the orphanages as opposed to having two moms or two dads. The author fails to realize that the reason many LGBT couples are fighting so hard for marriage equality is because they want a stable committed union in which to raise a family.

In his closing paragraph the author iterates that he doesn’t believe that homosexuals should be discriminated against. However, I would argue that the exclusion of LGBT couples from marriage amounts to exactly that — discrimination.

Tyler Denham is a Biosystems Engineering Junior. Email opinions@kykernel.com

Jay says:

It is tiring to see Butler repeat the same tired arguments over and over in the comments section of this article. A truly abundant number of people have pointed out the deep flaws in his statements, and he appears totally unmoved, even going so far as to paint himself the victim of this “libelous” article. For those of us who see things differently, he appears willfully ignorant. This does not stem from his differing opinion itself, but rather from the way he has presented his claims. I particularly continue to object to his insistence on an absurdly narrow and impractical definition of oppression.

Matthew Osborn says:


Right. Like “First of all, the so-called “gay” community has not been unfairly oppressed. Ever.”

And “Same-sex unions biologically cannot contribute to the growth of the community. Thus, there is no need for the state to spend extra money, time and energy on recording and regulating same-sex marriages.”

And “Homosexuals are free to move”

It’s all very clear.

ThomasA says:

You realize that “denying gays the right to marry” and “banning anyone of the same gender from marrying” are the exact same things, right? And are you sure you watched the entirety of the youtube video above?

If you just want to argue secular points, that is fine, but your secular argument of “Marriage is solely for procreation” has been refuted at least a dozen times in these comment threads. To summarize:
1) Then why the heck do we give marriage licenses to elderly couples, infertile couples, or couples who don’t want to have children? Nothing in US marriage laws suggests it is kept solely for procreation.
2) LGBT couples can adopt to raise children. Which is a good thing. Because otherwise kids would stay in orphanages. And before you start arguing that all LGBT couples are crappy parents, read the following excerpt from the American Psychological Association;

” In summary, social science has shown that the concerns often raised about children of lesbian and gay parents’ concerns that are generally grounded in prejudice against and stereotypes about gay people’ are unfounded. Overall, the research indicates that the children of lesbian and gay parents do not differ markedly from the children of heterosexual parents in their development, adjustment, or overall well-being.”

The link to the article is below

Michael Butler says:

@Thomas, like I said in a comment on an earlier post, I use quotation marks around the word “gay” because, I primarily disagree with the use of the word as a reference to homosexuality. I infinitely prefer using it in its original meaning of “happy or glad.” I recognize that “being gay” (as you put it) is a real thing. I just don’t like calling it “gaiety” (although I use it in these discussions as it’s shorter than “homosexuality”). And, as I’ve also said before, this article is libelous.
Also, as everyone seems to keep missing in these conversations, my article was a response to an article calling for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act in Kentucky. Thus, contrary to the seemingly prevalent opinion in these discussions, I was not attacking gays (I guess since it offends you, I’ll drop the quotation marks.) I was pointing out the errors in that article and showing that there are also secular arguments against gay marriage.

@”The Dude” what do you mean in the first part of your first comment? What am I “either stupid or lying about?”
No, I’m going to disagree on your second point. It was disproven above.
Your next argument is flawed. Marriage is not a “right given [by the state] to a majority.” Marriage is first and foremost an institution not a right. You have a right to marry, but marriage is not, of itself a right. Nobody is suggesting that we deny a right to marry to anybody. This debate is over the definition of marriage. I support the traditional definition of marriage as being “the union of one man and one woman for the purpose of procreation.” Others support a broader definition which would include same-gender unions. So, in summary, I’m not saying that gays should be denied the right to marry. I am saying that NO ONE should be allowed to “marry” someone of the same gender.

Ok. History time! The “Separation of Churchand State Clause” you cite as a reason for not allowing religious arguments into this debate actually has no such meaning or intent. (This clause is, in my opinion, the most misunderstood and mis-cited clause in the US Constitution.) At the time of the Constitution’s writing, it was the customary practice of nations to establish one “official” church and to persecute the rest (England’s Anglican Church persecuted the Puritans, Catholics, and others. France, as an officially Catholic nation, warred against the Huguenots.) Because the then-colonies also had established religions (Virginia was Anglican, Philadelphia officially Quaker, Massachusetts was Puritan, Maryland had been Catholic, but had become Anglican, etc.), the Founders who drafted the Constitution decided that the best way to ensure its ratification was to include a clause stipulating, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This means that the Federal Government cannot legally establish a state church to which you must belong or prevent you from believing or practicing any religion you choose (unless, you are endangering others by said religion.) Thomas Jefferson gave us the phrase, “a wall of separation between church and state” in a letter to the Danbarry Baptist Church to reassure them that the Federal Government would not infringe on their right to practice their religious beliefs. However, this does not mean that churches (and religion) cannot take part in public affairs. Quite the contrary! If one firmly believes in his faith and endeavors to live up to its ideals, that faith will permeate every aspect of his life. This includes the public sphere. Prohibiting the public practice and expression of ones faith through speeches, discussions, voting, protests, religious philosophy, etc would be to effectively prohibit self-expression because religion is, to many Americans, an integral part of daily life.

As to the video, I agreed with about a quarter of his initial points. (Mostly those dealing with the immorality of homosexuality, but that is a COMPLETELY different debate.) So, sorry to disappoint you, but you did not correctly psychoanalyze my reasoning in these discussions. ;)

As to your second comment:
I never once even mentioned the Bible! So what brings it up? I said that the way you treat your neighbor (social justice and morality) is based on your moral code (which, in this country, is largely based on Christianity, hence my reference to “Loving your neighbor”, etc.) which is intrinsically founded upon your religious beliefs. I have read (part, not all, although I intend to read it all) of Plato’s “The Republic” but, as I understand it, even Plato (either admits, alludes, or concludes, not sure which at the moment, have to look it back up) that justice is intrinsically bound up with the morality and thus the religion of the people.

I understand the issue. I do have a knowledge of facts. And I can argue effectively. It just sometimes gets overwhelming to argue completely different tracks of reasoning with different people simultaneously, so I apologize for anything that isn’t clear, just ask and I will attempt to clarify whatever you have trouble with.

I’m not hiding behind any defense. I am just pointing out that you CANNOT attribute sayings or beliefs that are not mine to me without having it pointed out that you’ve committed libel (whether intentionally or not). And of course, I know what I meant. I MEANT EXACTLY WHAT I SAID. NO MORE AND NO LESS. So, you and everyone else on here can stop saying that I said or meant things that are not in my article or in my comments. Otherwise, you’ll only be proving yourselves to be liars.

I understand religious morals and dogma pretty well if I do say so myself. However, they have not been the topic of this discussion, so I fail to see the bearing on the matter at hand. . . . Oh, and I’m not condemning anybody here (not even the author of the libelous statements above.) I am trying to have an adult discussion on the issue of redefining marriage to legalize gay marriage in Kentucky.

I did read your article. (So, you can be overjoyed now.) I understand the “other side’s” points. I disagree with them. Hence the discussion. Btw, what bearing does your article have in this discussion? All it does is state several Biblical passages mentioning or alluding to homosexuality and say that we can’t be sure if these would permit gay marriage or not, but the way they often get translated is confusing and then list the positions of the three largest church organizations in the US (all against gay marriage, btw). But, we’re discussing the secular arguments against gay marriage here, not the religious and moral arguments against it.

The dude says:

Michael, how can you pretend to say that justice or morality is based on the bible? Have you ever heard of Plato? He wrote “The Republic,” which seeks to define what is justice and more importantly moral justice, in 380 BC. He was not a Christian.

Your religious arguments are “invalid” because you lack the understanding of the issue, knowledge of the facts and rational to argue effectively. “Therefore,” you’re coming off as an sneebish and ignorant fool.

Also, you can’t hide behind the “I didn’t say that, i inly said blah blah” defense. You know what you meant, and so did we. Otherwise, why even say those things in the first place?

As a Christian, I hope you reconsider your understanding of morals and religious dogma. Jesus washed the feet of sinners, he didn’t condemn people just because of who they loved.

Here’s an interesting article for you, I know you probably won’t read it.. and that saddens me. If you can’t understand the other sides points then you will never grow.

Thomas says:

The author’s use of invalid seems right. The definition of invalid: Not legally or factually valid, null, or faulty. Every-time you put those quotation marks around the word gay, you come off as one of those fundamentalist crazies who thinks that being gay isn’t a real thing; they just need to “pray harder”. Maybe you genuinely didn’t mean that…but that’s how it sounds.

As I said before, the author’s interpretation seems pretty spot on. That’s what I read it as, and what everyone else I know of read it as.

You should read the comment by “The dude”, right above yours, and watch that video. He makes many good points. Actually, dozens of people on these comment threads over the past eight days have made great points.

Michael Butler says:

The author is not “spot on as to what [I was] saying.” He obviously put words in my mouth and attributed beliefs that are not mine to me. This is by any definition blantant lying, or at its worst, deliberate libel. I’ll pull one specific example (there are several others in the above article, though.)

Written above: “The author’s first argument states that social justice is fundamentally grounded on religious principles, and since religion is opposed to gay marriage, gay marriage is invalid.”

He refers, of course, to the part in my article which reads, “Along the way, the letter states “Equal rights are a social justice issue, not a religious one.” This statement is true. However, social justice (and justice in general) is fundamentally grounded on the religious principles of loving your neighbor and doing to others as you’d have them do to you. Therefore, equal rights is indirectly a religious issue as it deals with the belief that all men are equal in the eyes of God by the simple fact that we all share a common nature. Thus, the religious arguments against same-sex unions have as much weight on the issue as the secular arguments for these unions.”

NOWHERE in that section do I say that because, as the above author asserts that I say, “All religion is opposed to gay marriage. And Social justice is religious in nature. Therefore, gay marriage is invalid.” I do say that religious arguments should be given as much weight on the matter as secular arguments and cannot be just shrugged off as being biased, illogical arguments as the original article stated.

Also, what’s with his use of the word “invalid”? A generalization of an institution cannot be considered “invalid.” “Invalid” refers to a faulty argument or an incorrect logical reasoning process. Therefore, the above author is doing one of two things: either he is attempting to use academic-sounding language and failing miserably, or he is trying to subtly mock my intelligence by passing the grammatical error off as mine.

Finally, I never said that the government should regulate what “two consenting adults do in the bedroom.” Your people accused me of forgetting about or willfully ignoring sodomy laws in this debate. I merely pointed out that sodomy laws were not explicitly against gay couples. I never said that I agreed with them. Furthermore, the laws were almost exclusively enforced in semi-public and public places, i.e. bars, nightclubs, etc.

The dude says:

Gay couples can raise children – effectively. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-01-21-parentgender21_ST_N.htm
So, that argument is invalid. Moreover, a family with two moms has got to be infinitely better than one with only one mom and no dad. Single mothers can adopt. So, I again don’t see your point trying to say that gay people shouldn’t be able to adopt. Frankly, I’m not sure if you’re stupid or just lying on this issue.

As for sodomy law, they were put in place specifically to discriminate against homosexuals. Saying they were just to prevent butt sex period is like saying that Jim Crow laws were in place to stop illiterate people from voting, not just blacks.

Homosexuals have the same rights as every human being. The 9th amendment says that rights given to a majority can’t be denied a minority. So, constitutionally speaking, marriage equality is God given right to all people regardless of orientation.

I will agree that you can’t dismiss religious arguments, actually any argument, just on the premise of being “biased.” I will however, as a Christian, refute religious arguments based on the separation of church and state clause.

I encourage you to watch this video on youtube. Given by a preacher. I think a lot of your arguments and ways of thinking will match up with his opening points.

Thomas says:

I think the author is spot on as to what you were saying. Just about everyone else I know got the same interpretation too.

And just how can you not connect the dots that sodomy laws were enacted to punish gays and lesbians? Your comment is actually pretty scary. You seem to be saying you have no problem with the government regulate what consenting adults do together in the bedroom. “Thus, it can’t be properly said that they were persecuted. They knew the consequences.”

Michael Butler says:


Theological arguments are rational talking points. . . . But, even if they weren’t, is it too much to ask that in “justice and rationality” in this public sphere that this author (and the others) cite what I actually said and not their interpretation of what I said? How is it justice to say I said or meant something in a published article that, if you read said article, is clearly not the case? Seems to me that your just, rational arguments are an epic failure at actual justice.

Just sayin’

Thomas B. says:

@Michael Butler:
The January 22cd letter was spot on; you’re trying to disguise theological arguments as rational, logical talking points. Rage all you want in your church, but justice and rationality will win the day in the public sphere.

You act like the world’s population is about to collapse (last I checked, the opposite was true). And why do you assume that if gays and lesbians are given equal rights, all of a sudden EVERYONE is going to turn gay? NO. It’ll be the same ~3% of the population that, generation through generation, as long as we’ve been keeping track, have been born gay or lesbian.

Phillip says:

To escape from the biological implications of the issue, not to mention reproductive rights, a gay perspective of longevity would appear bleak.

Michael Butler says:

Tyler, you obviously didn’t read my article very closely. My point in bringing up that social justice is based in the religious concept of justice and loving your neighbor was to point out that the original article I responded to could not just dismiss religious arguments as being biased and inconsequential. Therefore, your stating that I said that because religion is opposed to gay marriage and thus invalidates it is a lie. I said no such thing. Also, your assumption that I assumed all religions are opposed to gay marriage is another blatant lie. I never even hinted as much.

As mentioned in the comments on my article, my stating that gays have never been persecuted referred to LEGAL acts BY THE US GOVERNMENTS AND ONLY THE US GOVERNMENTS (including state governments.) Hate crimes are just that crimes and not legal, so your point is invalid. As far as sodomy laws go, they prohibited not only “gay” intercourse but also certain sexual actions between even “straight” couples. So, although they were more commonly enforced on “gay couples,” they were not exclusively applied to them. Additionally, these “gay” couples were breaking a law knowingly. Thus, it can’t be properly said that they were persecuted. They knew the consequences.

Additionally, you conclude by extrapolating from my arguments that I believe orphans should stay orphans rather than have two moms or dads. This one, I admit, is true. But only because nature and science has proven that the best environment for raising children is in a home consisting of a man and a woman. I am concerned for those children forced by circumstance into orphanages. But, the solution isn’t to put them in “homes” that nature herself has outlawed. I say this because it is impossible for “gay” couples to have children naturally. This, of course, is because nature has discovered that children are best raised in a home environment consisting of a man and a woman.

Jordan says:

I just wanted to point out that the person who commented on this editorial called marriage equality a fad. Someone so blissfully ignorant would never listen to anything anyone has to say on the matter. Anyway, the editorial was eloquently written. Thanks! As for the person who commented on it, thanks for reminding us just how ignorant people can be!

Just Sayin' says:

It’s funny that the author of this commentary calls any opposition to gay marriage as “outdated”. The way more than half of Americans see the pro-gay marriage position is just a sick, twisted, perverted fad among people that have no real conscience or respect for humanity or creation. Personally, I’d rather be sane, reasonable, and normal than someone that thinks any new fad or phenomena is the coolest thing ever. People so easily convinced of fads are weak, pathetic, and prone to making horrible decisions… in other words, the qualities that best define liberals in America.