Opposite-Sex Sisters

Those of us who don’t support redefining marriage think gender matters.  We think the absence or presence of a man and woman is a relevant difference between relationships and we think our language should reflect that reality.  We think it matters, most significantly, in the lives of children who do best when both their mother and father are present and involved in their lives.  Therefore, having a unique term for a unique relationship seems appropriate.

However, some people find it offensive that anyone would think it is appropriate to use different terms for different relationships simply because the gender of the people involved is different.

If you find yourself in a conversation with someone like that, I think there is a way to help cut through the clutter and help them see the other side of the issue.

How is that you ask?  Ask them if a guy and a girl with the same parents are sisters.

Since I have a sister in real life, I simply ask them if my sister and I are sisters.  It will take them a moment, but after furrowing their brow to contemplate the absurdity of the question, you can see an internal dialogue taking place that I imagine goes something like this:

Well of course your sister and you aren’t sisters.  That’s a pretty stupid question. Not only are you a bigot, you’re a moron too. You’re a guy and she’s a girl.  You’re siblings, not sisters.

At this point the look on their face changes as they have a moment of recognition.

Ooooh, I see what you’re saying.  You’re saying there are other cases in which we distinguish between relationships depending on the gender of the people involved and no one thinks anybody’s civil rights are being violated.  I’ve never thought about that. I don’t suppose I do think a guy and a girl are sisters, they’re siblings.  No one would take it seriously if a guy wanted to be referred to as his sister’s sister. But…maybe some guys really wants to be part of that sisterhood that he sees so many other people enjoying and maybe he’s offended that his relationship with his sister is denied that sisterly recognition simply because of his gender.  No…that’s just weird.  

At this point they’ll probably make eye contact briefly, then look away again.

Goodness, this really is complicated. I wonder if he’ll go away if I say “SEPARATE IS NOT EQUAL” really loud.  If it’s reasonable to use different terms to distinguish between sibling relationships because of the gender of the individuals, why can’t we do that in other kinds of relationships as well? I don’t know. 

Long Pause

I wonder why this guy hates gay people so much.

Many people are sympathetic to the effort to redefine marriage simply because they consider themselves kind people. Most of them would not be likely supportive of any other effort to change our language to eliminate gender differences.  So why are they supporting this one?

For those who are undeterred when confronted with their own logic inconsistencies and insist that there can be no peace on earth until marriage has been redefined,  I will insist that from now on they refer to my sister and I as sisters.

Legislating Morality is Bad?

As you have conversations about the definition of marriage, you may have an exchange that looks something like this.

You: I think the definition of marriage should be a man a woman because the purpose of marriage is not just to make adults feel good. It is good for kids to have both their mother and father present in their lives and the current definition of marriage recognizes that it is important while still allowing people the freedom to make other arrangements if that is their choice. After all, same-sex couples in Washington have all the rights and benefits of marriage already.

Your Friend:  You’re just trying to impose your religious values on the rest of us.  It’s fine if you believe in mythical stories about deities, but you can’t make everyone else be just like you.  Stop trying to impose your morality on everybody else.

Of course you aren’t trying to force everyone to be like you, and you may resent the implication. In fact, you like freedom and you think people should be free to make choices that you wouldn’t make. But you don’t necessarily think our public policy should encourage it.

However, now that the accusation has been made, you might be tempted to retreat from your position simply to prove that it’s not true. But that would be a mistake, and here’s why.

Everyone is legislating their morality.  EVERYONE.  The idea that “you can’t legislate morality” is just as irrational as saying that you support “marriage equality.”  It only makes sense if you refuse to think about it.

You see every legislative idea is fundamentally a moral one because every law is a statement that certain things are “good” or “bad”, desirable or undesirable.

If you don’t believe your secular, leftist friends are moralists, simply find a bucket of chemicals and act like you’re going to pour it into the creek. Not only will you discover their strong moral compass, but you’ll also discover that they are perfectly willing to use the force of law to compel you to live in a way that is consistent with their sense of right and wrong.

Of course the point here is not that people should be able to pour chemicals into creeks, but to help you respond when your secularist/leftist friends piously scold you for trying to impose your morality on others.

If they’re honest, they must admit that they are also trying to impose their morality on others.

Yes, the idea that marriage between a man and a woman provides unique benefits to children, society, and the next generation is, at least in part, a moral position.  However, the idea that homosexuality and heterosexuality are equally desirable, that children should be taught about both in school, and those who disagree should be forbidden from running their businesses and non-profit organizations in a way that is consistent with those beliefs is also a moral position.  It’s simply a different moral position.

The point here is not to focus on who is the greater moralist, but to move beyond that truly irrelevant discussion that focuses on the personalities in the discussion to an actual discussion about the implications of the policies and the ideas they represent.

Those trying to redefine marriage prefer to talk about people rather than ideas. They want to talk about how nice gay people are or how mean you are. Both of which, depending on the individuals involved, might actually be true.  But it’s not relevant.

Proponents of genderless marriage prefer not to talk about the implications of their proposals.

They don’t want to talk about the fact that same-sex couples already have the rights and benefits of marriage.  They don’t want to talk about the impact of encouraging situations in which children are intentionally denied one of their parents.  They don’t want to talk about the fact that even if marriage is made genderless, there still won’t be “marriage equality.”  They don’t want to talk about the loss of personal freedoms that is necessary to achieve their concept of “equality.”

They want to prevent those conversations from happening by accusing those who think critically about the subject of being a moralist. Fortunately, now that you are equipped with a bucket of chemicals and a creek, they’re going to have a harder time doing so.

The Myth of Marriage Equality

Proponents of same-sex “marriage” talk constantly about “marriage equality”.  It is an attempt to hitch their wagon to the real civil rights movement and also puts people who disagree in a position of being against equality.

What they want you to believe is that allowing people of the same gender to get married is “marriage equality”. They use the terms “same-sex marriage” and “marriage equality” synonymously and say things like, “we think any two people who love each other should be able to be married.”  We’ll call this The Beatles standard for marriage…”all you need is love”.

The problem is, even those who support redefining marriage don’t believe this.

Marriage is limited in four ways.  You can’t marry someone who is under 18, you can’t marry someone who is already married, you can’t marry someone who is a close relative, and you can’t marry someone of the same gender.

Do you know anyone who really believes all restrictions should be lifted so any two people who say they love each other can get married?  Me either.

The discussion about same-sex “marriage” only addresses one of four limitations on who someone can marry.

That means that even if proponents of redefining marriage prevail this year, there will still be literally millions of potential couples in Washington who could come to love each other that would be denied a marriage license either because they’re too young, close relatives, or already married to someone else.

That’s only “equal” in the Animal Farm, “four legs good, two legs better”, kind of way.

If we actually adopted The Beatles standard for marriage, because nobody’s love is better than anyone else’s love, then we would eliminate all restrictions on marriage. After all, how exactly does one go about proving that two people don’t love each other?

Still, the fact is, those who support same-sex “marriage” really just want a different kind of marriage inequality.

We may disagree on whether it is good public policy to give marriage licenses to people of the same gender, but can’t we at least be honest with what we’re talking about?

Falsely claiming the moral high ground, proponents of redefining marriage put their opponents in the position of being against equality.  Pot meet kettle. But this tactic is consistent with a general pattern of framing the debate as good people v. bad people.

If your primary rhetorical tactic is to challenge the intentions and decency of those who disagree with you, or attempt to disqualify them from the debate because they go to church, it says something about the strength of your arguments.

Still, this approach has been effective, but only because we have allowed ourselves to be intimidated by these ad hominem attacksAnd make no mistake about it, they are ad hominem attacks, even if they come from the side rather than head on.

However, now that you’ve thought about it, I hope glass shattering alarms go off in your head every time someone says they support “marriage equality”.  Then, I hope you start humming Beatles songs, which will beg the question “is it true that love is all we need”?

Once everybody has admitted that a profession of love really can’t be all that is needed for a marriage license, we can have an actual conversation about the subject that consists of more than who is mean and who is nice. Once that happens, we win.