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Opinion | Opponents of gay marriage succumb to faulty logic

By Marjorie Schinner
On November 17, 2011

I am writing in response to Olivia Brough's essay "For Our Generation, old litmus tests could be a distraction" in Nov. 15's edition. Brough and others who share her views on homosexuality, use bad logic to argue their cases. In the article, Brough argues that changing the definition of marriage to include homosexual couples would open up the definition to other changes, such as the inclusion of polygamous marriages and makes the institution of marriage arbitrary. This argument is called the slippery slope and is recognized as a logical fallacy.

Saying that allowing homosexuals to marry opens the institution up for worse things, such as polygamy and bestiality, is avoiding the issue. By saying that gay marriage should not be allowed because it may open the way for polygamy only says that polygamy is wrong, and gay marriage can't be institutionalized because polygamy is the issue at hand. It is not a valid reason for why homosexuality itself should continue to be banned. And there is no reason for people like Brough to fear that polygamy will become the next object of debate in the national discourse because it has already been discussed multiple times in the course of American and world history. And if it truly is such an offence to the institution of marriage, Brough should have no fear that her arguments will continue to stand up against it, as they have long before she became aware of them.

Polygamy has been illegal in this country for decades. National opinion does not support its institutionalization and shows no signs of changing. I also doubt there is little chance that bestiality will soon become up for national debate, as it is illegal in most societies around the world, including this one, and is never mentioned unless Republicans are making an argument against gay marriage.

Brough also argues that religion has become synonymous with backwards thinking and is "used by some as an easy excuse to dismiss and not tolerate someone else's opinion." A point that pro-gay marriage advocates have not yet made, but one that seems glaringly obvious to me, is that other than logical fallacies, the only reasons standing behind the defense of marriage are religious. America's government is fundamentally secular, where one person's religion cannot be imposed unwillingly upon another. The fact that religious people and religious groups are telling others that they have to adhere to the marriage laws and customs dictated by one religion is the enforcement of religion and violates the First Amendment rights of every American who is not a Christian.

It is not that religious people are inherently wrong in their way of life, or in their personal values and beliefs, but that they are wrong by enforcing those beliefs upon people who don't want them. Unless those against gay marriage can come up with a secular argument that does not defy logic, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the definition of marriage are unconstitutional violations of people's rights. Brough also makes the claim that America has more lenient views on homosexuality than a country like Iran and therefore homosexuals should count their blessings. Just because rights in America are being violated a little less than in other societies doesn't mean that rights aren't being violated.

But there is one point on which I do agree with Brough: gay rights are being worked out over time; they are being worked out as we speak with people who are advocating for legislative and social change, such as the overthrow of DOMA and the federal legalization of gay marriage. When these changes are made, then gay rights will be worked out.


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