Gay Marriage and Question Begging


Ken Zaretzke in the First Things blog on the logical fallacies under-girding much of the marriage debate:

"...Same-sex marriage is built on a foundation of question-begging and caricature. It’s stunning how much the advocates of SSM beg the question of whether opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples are similarly situated with respect to marriage–their talk of “marriage equality,” in this sense, is simple-minded propaganda. It’s also impressive how they think they can ignore a nuanced understanding of the connection between marriage and procreation, preferring inaccurate and even ridiculous caricatures of this all-important connection. 

To give an example, procreation is not the sine qua non of marriage, as the author of what Richard Posner has described as “the best book on same-sex marriage” calls it. If even the most sophisticated supporters of SSM are prone to such inaccuracies, what are we supposed to think? (Procreation is the raison d’être of marriage–a very different thing from sine qua non. Boiled down, this means the general fact of procreation is the reason for the existence of the institution of marriage–or that the marriage institution minus procreation as a general fact about that institution is meaningless, an empty shrine.)"

William Haun joins in:

"...The logical problem same-sex marriage advocates face at that juncture is that marriage is a legal institution, and government action requires at least a rational basis to proceed. So, rather than answer why society should have marriage laws if marriage is solely personal, they make empty arguments about “equality” and “civil rights.”  This particular language is able to stifle serious responses out of fear of being branded a modern-day Bull Connor. But that is not argument, it is question-begging–the logical equivalent of an emperor without clothes. Our society will be able to point this out when marriage defenders explain why the law can make some distinctions among people so long as they’re rationally based (as racial distinctions were not), and why a rational basis so exists with marital unions. Re-educating society may not change values, but as John Adams observed, facts are stubborn things–and marriage should be explained as the result of the facts of life."


  1. David in Houston
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    "Our society will be able to point this out when marriage defenders explain why the law can make some distinctions among people so long as they’re rationally based (as racial distinctions were not), and why a rational basis so exists with marital unions."

    Yeah, your side had your chance to point it out during the Prop. 8 trial, and you failed to make your case. If our society doesn't exclude non-procreative straight couples from getting married, you cannot (in good faith) use hypothetical children as a means to disenfranchise gay couples. This is aside from the fact that some gay couples ARE raising children, and the legal kinship of marriage would benefits those families, just like it does for straight-headed families.

  2. OvercameSSA
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    "you cannot (in good faith) use hypothetical children as a means to disenfranchise gay couples."

    Homosexuals are not being disenfranchised; indeed, all homosexuals have the same rights as everyone else to get married to someone of the opposite sex.

    The fallacy that homosexuals project is that homosexuals are incapable of meeting the procreative potential requirement of marriage. But the fact is that people with same-sex attraction can (and do) form meaningful relationships with people of the opposite sex, and those couples can and do create children.

    Homosexuals choose to unite with partners of the same sex that are inherently non-procreative. That's their choice; it does not prevent them from getting married. The problem that homosexuals have is that by getting married, they can no longer engage in same-sex sodomy. Well, guess what, all male-female couples involve the sacrifice of extra-marital sexual activities. If you don't want to give up your extra-marital sexual behaviors, then don't get married. Many straight individuals choose exactly that.

  3. Daniel Birkholz
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    OvercameSSA, Seems your still living in the dark ages. It's not a choice to be gay. Every leading mental health organization and psychiatric organization in the world says it's immutable. In case you don't understand what that means let me clarify. GAY PEOPLE ARE BORN GAY, like having blue eyes, dark skin or blonde hair.

  4. Son of Adam
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    That's the misinformation the main stream media spoon feeds you, Dan. Not even the American Psychological Association contends that homosexuality is inborn or genetic anymore. Additionally, there are thousands of ex-gays who testify to their change, not to mention the hundreds of identical twins in which one is gay and the other is straight.

    The claims you make are based on nothing more than political correctness.

  5. Barb Chamberlan
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    If homosexuality were an inborn trait, concordance rates for twins would be much higher than a tiny 3%. Repeating the "born that way" phrase doesn't make it true. The APA and their ilk normalized homosexuality for political reasons.

    The public interest in marriage is uniting children to their married mother and father. Severing that link renders marriage meaningless.

  6. OvercameSSA
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    @Daniel -

    All behaviors are a choice. Admittedly, it is more difficult for some people to avoid bad behaviors; whether those are inborn or not is irrelevant. The point is that behaviors are a choice, and people with same-sex attraction can choose to participate in those behaviors or not, in the same way that people with opposite-sex attraction choose whether to participate in certain sexual behaviors or not.

    No homosexual individual has ever been denied a marriage license on the basis of his sexual attraction.

    I believe that some people have more of a predisposition to having same-sex attraction than others, and that environmental factors have a large influence on whether those people decide to adopt their same-sex attraction as a way of life or decide to live in a manner consistent with the anatomical equipment that they were born with.

    People with same-sex attraction THINK they were born that way, as many an alcoholic or drug abuser THINKS that they were born that way. But the fact is, we're all born without any sexual attraction and without desire for booze or drugs. We learn these things through our environment.

  7. leviticus
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    And then we have nature 's biology; things are designed to work in a certain way. Marriage has existed since the beginning of time and is old as the book of Genesis itself.

  8. flanoggin
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    @OvercameSSA----well, if SSM was legal everywhere, everyone would also have the same right to marry a same sex partner. Your logic escapes me. Thank you.

  9. Jon
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    By "the beginning of time" do you mean 5000 years ago?

  10. OvercameSSA
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    @flannogin -

    You have to read my second comment in context with my first one. Homosexual couples cannot procreate with one another; and marriage is about procreation. If you want to get married - and fulfill the marital purpose of uniting potential moms and dads - then get married. Otherwise, feel free to go on with your same-sex behavior that you choose to engage in.

  11. Lani
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Just because you have a desire for anything does not mean you have to satisfy that desire. There is a big difference between being ABLE to do something and believing that doing so is advisable.

  12. Margaret Rudolf
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    We can only make the case for Traditional Marriage to people who have any degree of common sense and moral values. To the empty-headed, there is nothing that will convince them. They act on "feelings" and misplaced feelings at that. I tell my grandchildren that a relative and her friend are just playing house, even though they think they are married. Their two childlren by artificial insemination are to be pitied and prayed for. It is not their fault that their mom chose a perverted lifestyle.

  13. lhf
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Something to ponder from a responder to the First Things blog article:

    Let me suggest that the reason why heterosexuals are in a war over the redefinition of marriage is not out of deep concern for some immeasurable fraction of 1% of the population that will actually enter into a permanent legal contract with another SSA individual. Oh I know the sentimental arguments indicate that that’s what’s it really is about, but c’mon…we’re talking about people here.
    The reason so many heterosexuals want to redefine marriage is because to do otherwise would contradict a position they hold very, very dear. What is that position?
    What do contraception, abortion, and the redefinition of marriage all share in common? They are, each of them, about the separation of sex from procreation.
    We criticize the feminist movement, but who were the greatest beneficiaries of the contraception and abortion movements of the 1960′s and 1970′s? Who got everything they ever wanted at no apparent cost to themselves? It was the guys heading to the single bars every night who wanted sex without procreation, without responsibility. It was the married guy with the beautiful twenty-something secretary. Contraception did the job most of the time, but in the abortion movement they had a foolproof backup plan if something went wrong.
    Meanwhile, the feminist movement told young girls that it was okay to act like men and disregard the connection between sex and procreation. Once this lesson was absorbed the sexual revolution was in full swing. Disease and abortions both skyrocketed. School-aged children were–and still are–taught that “safe sex” (and safe is usually considered good and right) was sex that ended with no disease and no baby. Everything else was “unsafe.” Babies were now on the same no-no shelf as herpes.
    It took more than a generation to get us to this logical conclusion of the sexual revolution. If the raison d’etre of marriage is procreation (and it certainly is) then marriage flies in the face of the sexual revolution and must now finally be destroyed.
    College kids of course don’t think this through, and I doubt anything I wrote above would make any sense to them if they did give it a go. Why would it? Every movie, every television show, every advertisement, every school teacher has spent the last twenty years of their lives teaching them that sex should be separated from procreation. And now the question is put to them: Should marriage be redefined so that it no longer has anything in particular to do with procreation? Are you kidding me? They aren’t equipped to answer any other way than yes. And this is why contraception, abortion, and marriage are all part of the same issue.
    At its heart the sexual revolution is the license to live your life with the least amount of personal responsibility. Marriage remains a major roadblock for that revolution, which is why it must be destroyed.

  14. OvercameSSA
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Great comment by lhf.

    Funny thing how separating sex from procreation has led to a 40% overall illegitimacy rate and a 70% illegitimacy rate in Black Americans.

    I've said it before and received much disagreement, but if procreation is no longer connected with marriage, then the government should deny whatever benefits it currently gives for marriage AND deny whatever benefits it currently gives to support children born out of wedlock.

    If society does not want to encourage responsible procreation, then it should not finance irresponsible procreation either.

  15. Chairm
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    David in Houston, can you explain what "question begging" means? Feel free to use your previous comment as an example.

  16. Posted December 1, 2012 at 2:30 am | Permalink

    excellent post

  17. Posted December 1, 2012 at 2:58 am | Permalink

    David in Houston: You always :) make me laugh, so i like your comments. Now it's:

    "exclude non-procreative straight couples from getting married" :)

    Aside from the funny visualization of couples standing up really straight :), there's a double humor in your comment:

    How could the government exclude non-procreative anyone, if many couples getting married are legally in a non-procreative stage, and expected to be so (and then others have already reproduced).

    How do we find those couples the government, according to you, needs to exclude :) If our governments don't even test for genetic diseases or venereal diseases, how (on Earth) would the government test for non-procreativeness (you mean sterility, not just the couple decided not to have children, nor try)?

    Ha, ha; they don't even test for sexual attraction or 'orientation' (similarly an impossibility, or impracticality). What they might start testing (thanks to same-sex marriage advocates) is sexual organs. Thanks a lot (for the jokes). Now, i'll go and giggle for a time. You made my day :) Honest.