Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Marriage Equality - Simple answers to NOM's complicated lies

There is no justifiable reason to deny the gay community (and I am speaking about lgbts in a colloquial sense) the right to marry. However, what the gay community seems to be lacking is a way to break this issue down into simple, true points which demonstrates the necessity of marriage equality in spite of organizations who mobilize people (through ignorance and fear) against marriage equality. By refuting the points of one of these groups - the National Organization for Marriage - with accurate, simple information, we can not only prove the need for marriage equality but also show the basic emptiness of arguments against marriage equality.

As evidenced by its talking points, the National Organization for Marriage is taking a highly deceptive tone in its supposed "defense of marriage."

The idea that "marriage has to be defended" is nothing more than a cynical talking point designed to take attention away from the true issue - the lives of same-sex couples and especially the livelihood of children in same-sex households.

And it is a talking point which fuels NOM's tactic of creating division on many levels - same-sex households vs. heterosexual two-parent household, the lgbt community vs. the heterosexual community, the black community vs. the lgbt community and so on. This "divide and conquer" strategy, created via a passive/aggressive subterfuge, is designed to appeal to people's fears, jealousies, and ideas of religious superiority rather than their belief in basic fairness.

The truth of the matter is marriage is not "under attack." It has never been "under attack."

But what is under attack is truth, integrity, and basic fairness for the hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples and especially their children who seem to be nothing more than chess pieces in NOM's game of exploitation and manipulation, as evidenced by the following talking point:

NOM - "Gays and Lesbians have a right to live as they choose, they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us."

 Truth - Allowing gays and lesbians to marry does not "redefine marriage" for the entire country because they are not forcing heterosexuals to engage in gay marriage. It's 100% false. And the gay community don't have a right to live as they choose, per the currently unequal laws of this nation in terms of employment, housing, etc.

Unfortunately, generalizations and straw man arguments encompass more of NOM's talking points. The following are the list of said talking points, as well as logical answers which refutes them:

Answers to NOM's "Frequently Asked Questions"

NOM - 1. Are you a bigot? “Why do you want to take away people’s rights?”
“Isn’t it wrong to write discrimination into the constitution?”
A: “Do you really believe people like me who believe mothers and fathers both matter to kids are like bigots and racists? I think that’s pretty offensive, don’t you? Particularly to the 60 percent of African-Americans who oppose same-sex marriage. Marriage as the union of husband and wife isn’t new; it’s not taking away anyone’s rights. It’s common sense.”

Truth - This an unfair generalization of the argument for marriage equality. However, if one was to go there, one could point to the many instances of those claiming to protect marriage making homophobic comments which belie the claim that they simply believe that "mothers and fathers matter to kids."

For example:

Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage has called homosexuality “an unfortunate thing” which represents “at a minimum, a sexual dysfunction.”

Jason McGuire of New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation (NYFRF) has compared marriage equality to child abuse.

Alveda King, a conservative African-American activist, called marriage equality "genocide."

National Organization For Marriage of Rhode Island executive director Christopher Plante called same-sex families "tragic situations" akin to families with divorced or even dead parents.

The Minnesota Family Council (who is partnering with NOM to stop marriage equality in Minnesota) recently pushed information on its web page linking the gay community to bestiality, pedophilia, and the consuming of urine and human excrement.

NOM - 2. Isn’t the ban on gay marriage like bans on interracial marriage?

A: “Bans on interracial marriage were about keeping two races apart so that one race could oppress the other. Marriage is about bringing two sexes together, so that children get the love of their own mom and a dad, and women don’t get stuck with the enormous disadvantages of parenting alone.” “Having a parent of two different races is just not the same as being deprived of your mother—or your father.”

Truth - Racists believed that interracial marriage would create genetically inferior children. Some opposing marriage equality claim that it would create conditions placing children in danger.

But neither view is backed by science. Children born from interracial relationships are not inferior. In that same vein, the majority of studies which look at children in same-sex households have found that they suffer no adverse effects.

NOM - 3. Why do we need a constitutional amendment? “Isn’t DOMA enough?”

A: “Lawsuits like the one that imposed gay marriage in Massachusetts now threaten marriage in at least 12 other states so far. We need a marriage amendment to settle the issue once and for all, so we don’t have this debate in our face every day. The people get to decide what marriage means. No-end run around the rules by activist judges or grandstanding San-Francisco-style politicians.

Truth -  Organizations like NOM favor voter referendums where they pour millions of dollars into commercials and flyers which rely on inaccurate studies or the repetition of false horror stories designed to scare people into voting against marriage equality. NOM brags about how people in states like California and Maine voted against marriage equality, but the organization always omits the part about how these voters were manipulated by fears of the "gay agenda coming for their children." NOM and other organizations opposing marriage equality are probably fearful of defending their arguments in court because as lawyer David Boies said, "the witness stand is lonely place to lie."  We saw this in the 2010 Proposition 8 trial when no one from NOM testified for the California law banning gay marriage.

NOM - 4. What’s the harm from SSM? “How can Adam and Steve hurt your marriage?”

A: “Who gets harmed? The people of this state who lose our right to define marriage as the union of husband and wife, that’s who. That is just not right.”

Truth -  What about the rights of same-sex couples? Also, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, 33 percent of female same-sex couple households and 22 percent of male same-sex couple households reported at least one child under eighteen living in their home and no doubt, that number has increased. And according to Gary Gates, a demographer at the University of California, Los Angeles, Black or Latino gay couples are twice as likely as whites to be raising children. What about the rights of these families?

NOM - “If courts rule that same-sex marriage is a civil right, then, people like you and me who believe children need moms and dads will be treated like bigots and racists.”

Truth - This is a distortion. Same-sex households are not in competition with heterosexual households. Children need family environments which give them love and support.

NOM - “Religious groups like Catholic Charities or the Salvation Army may lose their tax exemptions, or be denied the use of parks and other public facilities, unless they endorse gay marriage."

Truth -  No religious group (or any individual for that matter) will be forced to endorse anything.  Those are just words used to scare people. And tax exemption controversies have nothing to do with marriage equality, but rather how far should religious exemptions go if religious charities demanding these exemptions are using tax dollars. For example, is it fair for Catholic Charities in Illinois to have the right not to allow gays to adopt children they care for even if these charities are receiving over $30 million in tax dollars (after all, the gay community does pay taxes).

NOM - “Public schools will teach young children that two men being intimate are just the same as a husband and wife, even when it comes to raising kids.”

Truth - This is a lie. The nonpartisan webpage Politifact found that this claim was inaccurate. In Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is legal, same-sex intimacy is not in the curriculum. Even those who oppose marriage equality, such as Marc Mutty - who helped lead the charge against it in Maine - said that this claim is hyperbole geared to motivate people through fear.

In reality, conversations about same-sex households probably happen already in schools amongst the students themselves. Again, according the 2000 U.S. Census, 33 percent of female same-sex couple households and 22 percent of male same-sex couple households reported at least one child under eighteen living in their home. It's safe to say that a vast number of these children attend public schools. Is it fair for them not to be able to talk about their families?

NOM - “When the idea that children need moms and dads get legally stigmatized as bigotry, the job of parents and faith communities trying to transmit a marriage culture to their kids is going to get a lot harder.”

Truth -  . Allowing same-sex couples to marry does not "legally stigmatize" two-parent heterosexual families as "bigotry." Same-sex couples with children are not in competition with mother/father couples. And to infer this is saying that families should be subjected to a caste system where one family is inferior to another simply because of make-up. That is un-American.

NOM - “One thing is for sure: The people of this state will lose our right to keep marriage as the union of a husband and wife. That’s not right.”

Truth - What about the rights of same-sex couples or same-sex couples and their children? Don't they have a say in this matter?

NOM - 5. Why do you want to interfere with love?

A: “Love is a great thing. But marriage isn’t just any kind of love; it’s the special love of husband and wife for each other and their children.”

Truth - Giving same-sex couples the right to marry does not interfere with anyone's marriage or the love of their children.  And love in a same-sex household between partners and between parents and children is no different than in a heterosexual household. Here, NOM is trying to define love, something they often accuse gay activists/ the state of doing.

NOM - 6. What about benefits? Don’t gay couples and their kids need the benefits and protections of marriage?”

A: “If medical proxies aren’t working, let’s fix that problem. If people need health care, let’s get them health care. Don’t mess with marriage.”

Truth - It goes beyond medical proxies. Why should gay and lesbian tax-paying citizens have to jump through hoops to get the same benefits as heterosexual marriage couples? And often these extra burdens are extremely costly. Plus they are not easily recognized like the currency of marriage is. Imagine having your partner of 20 years in the hospital with a serious injury, and having to explain why, exactly, you qualify to be by his or her bedside.

NOM -  “The issue isn’t benefits, it is marriage. Local folks can decide benefits. This is about the meaning of marriage, our most basic social institution for protecting children."

Truth - There have been  instances in which organizations who claim to be simply "protecting marriage" have interfered with local communities deciding these issues of  benefits on the claim that granting these benefits is a "backdoor way" to gain same-sex marriage. In Wisconsin, a "morality group" is trying to overturn the state law which allows gay couples to have hospital visitations.  Also, marriage in itself does not protect children from abuse, neglect, etc. However, the denial of marriage rights harms children. Not only children of gay parents, but also children who have gay family members, who constantly hear how controversial their loved ones supposedly are.

NOM - 7. Isn’t divorce the real threat to marriage?

A: “High rates of divorce are one more reason we should be strengthening marriage, not conducting radical social experiments on it.”

Truth - Denying same-sex couples the right to marry does not hinder the high rate of divorce. Nor does it strengthen heterosexual marriage. Also, it's highly offensive to say loving, tax-paying couples make up a "radical social experiment."

NOM - 8. Are you saying gays cannot be good parents?

A: “Two men might each be a good father, but neither can be a mom. The ideal for children is the love of their own mom and dad. No same-sex couple can provide that.”

Truth - The ideal environment for raising a child is one that provides love and support. No one is bashing the heterosexual mom/dad dynamic by pointing out the simple fact that this dynamic is not the reality for a lot of families. Also, multiple studies demonstrate that children in same-sex households are not harmed by this environment. NOM's definition is not only offensive -- it's intellectually vacant. Under NOM's definition, single mothers and fathers are just as "bad." Lastly NOM's point is very contradictory. There are many households where children are not with "their own" mom and dad, i.e. adoptive households.

NOM - 9. What about older or infertile couples? If they marry why not same-sex couples?

A: “Every man and woman who marries is capable of giving any child they create (or adopt) a mother and a father. No same-sex couple can do this. It’s apples and oranges.”

Truth - Again, not all families have a mother and a father in the household. If we base the worthiness of families based on this dynamic, how soon will it be before we start bashing single-parent households or heterosexual married couples who choose not to have children?

All in all, NOM's talking points are nothing more than smoke and mirrors. They are a perfect example of the saying -  "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Furthermore, they are also strategically worded to take all onus off of what NOM, as an organization, actually does on a daily basis. NOM's talking points are also deeply offensive to many (LGBT people and supporters alike). And perhaps most of all: They do not come close to matching the reality of the world.

Talking points developed by Jeremy Hooper and Alvin McEwen. Feel free to link to or copy and paste these points.

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Steve said...

Thank you for focusing on the issue of how this issue hurts children. A lot of people don't like us but don't want to hurt children. The other side has co-opted the children argument. The fact is, children exist in GLBT headed families. Thousands of them. They need the stability and security that civil marriage brings to their family. I think we should be making a bigger deal out of this and should be pointing out the specifics of how children are hurt.

Audrey said...

Adding to your comments about Maine, in the referendum, the ballot question was hopelessly unclear: "Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?" (from http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Maine_Same-Sex_Marriage_People%27s_Veto,_Question_1_%282009%29) This meant many voters who would have voted "no" (the vote IN FAVOR of equality) were coerced, by political-rhetorical manipulation, to in fact vote "yes" (AGAINST equality).

Todd Eliot said...

Utterly blown away by your point-by-point refutation of NOM's lies.

Richard said...

This is all wonderful, the points are right on target but your preaching to the chore.

BlackTsunami said...

Actually this is one of the times where the choir does need preaching to. We have been allowing the other side to run the argument and surrendered several points (especially about children in same-sex households) to them.

The talking points are a way for us to freshen up our argument as well as to serve as guide which we can use on so many levels. Also, the talking points have been linked to other areas that are not necessarily lgbt-run. This is good for our allies.

Queer john said...



Great job! Read it, share it, make it viral.

BlackTsunami said...

Thank you for that my friend.

Donny D. said...

Interesting how NOM tries at least twice to artificially insert race into the discussion with their conflation "bigots and racists".

Anonymous said...

The biggest lie: "There is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage."

The Constitution protects INDIVIDUAL rights. The fundamental constitutional right is the right 'to marry', not the right 'to marriage'. A person is born with the right to marry. Sometime later, that person decides to marry, chooses the partner they want to marry, and that partner chooses them. Their marriage creates a family, which, in the traditional model does not yet include children. The interest of the state in civil marriage is essentially an interest in protecting and supporting families. Some protections affect the couple (survivor rights, inheritance rights, various public and private spousal benefits) and many more support their children. The fundamental right to marry provides LGBT couples and their families with access to the protection and support that the state provides, through civil marriage, to families. To deny marriage to LGBT couples denies their children that support and protection. Children do not choose their parents, and the children of LGBT couples are being penalized because of who their parents are.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mr. Hooper and Mr. McEwen, for these excellent rebuttals to NOM's mind-boggling claims.

nash984954 said...

I feel I must say something about the LGBT community and their taking care of their own as well as their adopted children. There is not a monopoly on heterosexuals giving children a good upbringing. In spite of what they claim. I'm from a broken home and my father was not around at any time hardly, during my childhood. My mother became severely depressed due to my half-brother's head injuries that left him convulsing and with the mind of a four year old. My mom ended up in the state hospital in their psyche ward. My sister and I initially went to a Pentacostal orphanage that was nothing more than a Christianity indoctrination center with a "hypocrits and inmates running the asylum" kinda thing. We had chapel at 9 AM everyday, nightly devotions each for an hour or more. Just a lot of study on how to save souls for Jesus. That was from the age of 8-10, a full two years. So, I left there going to a Methodist orphanage, but not a lot of religious indoctrination there, I felt they cared as much as they could, but i still felt most of the time during my 10 years of institutionalization, unloved and uncared for except for food and a bed, and public school education. I would have gladly accepted being adopted by a loving and supportive couple, gay or otherwise. The prevailing theme back then regarding gay people was derogatory and an issue of making fun of gay people. One of my first experiences with a gay person was a guy in a red Mustang driving around the block whistling at me and wanting to have sex with me. I am not gay, nor have I ever been with a gay person sexually. But this whole thing about villifying gay people just did not stick to me, I didn't believe gay people were pariahs or any such crap as that, as I was told. I was one of the few in my high school who was friends with some of the rumored gay people, but I liked them for who they were not because I was like them as I was accused of being. The racial bias I was taught never stuck either, I was frequently called an N-word lover. I know for a fact that I have known gay people that were very caring, loving and exceptionally good people, on the other hand I have known many more so called Xians NOM type people who were and are the biggest a**holes on the planet.
Just though I'd add my two cents worth. NOM is criminal.

Ryan said...

Love the talking points, but I feel one more should be added. In Amendment XIV, Section 1 of the Constitution of the United States, it states:
"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

The one part I want to emphasize is "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of the citizens of the United States" This to me means that no state can abridge the right to marry to exclude same-sex couples.

Furthermore, Amendment IX of the bill of rights states: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
While Amendment IX is highly debated, it does state that the listing of the rights allotted (enumeration) does not deny other rights.

While NOM argues beliefs and arguments based in religion, they cannot deny the law as agreed upon by the people and elected officials.

Anonymous said...

Good to see that the NOMsense is being tackled head on. Because if these unbalanced and dangerous fanatics are allowed to get away with targeting one group with a lie-based campaign of smears and hate, who knows where they will aim their scatter-gun of bigotry next?

doggygirl said...

I for one am sick of hearing NOM and their ilk use children as an argument to disguise outright hate and fear. My husband and I are a hetero couple who for our own non-medical and personal reasons have decided not to have children and by NOM's argument that makes my marriage invalid, which I find extremely offensive. But we're man and woman...so it isn't valid by their definition too...?? Of course when I trolled NOM's FB page and posed the question of my own marriage's validity, their illogical less-than-capable-of-reasoning fans told me the question was "childish". Once again proving that an intelligent and reasonable debate with these people is a physically impossibility since there is no reason or logic behind their arguments, only fear and hate. I saw a quote on FB the other day: "Having a debate with a religious regressionist is like playing chess with a pigeon. The pigeon craps all over the board, knocks down the pieces and then flies off to tell its friends that it won the game". Too true.