Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dismantling the NOM Talking Points

We like to know our enemies. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has a website with a page of talking points for their argument against Same Sex Marriage (SSM). We tried to re-create the web page as much as Blogger would allow. No emphasis is added to their text. The original page can be found here. The authors at NOM have crafted a nice outline with the many seemingly secular variations of the same old religious arguments that have been used to discriminate against gays who wish to marry. Steve and I could not decide on who would take this article apart. So we chose to collaborate our efforts. Responses are color coded:


Answering the Toughest Questions

Strong majorities of Americans oppose gay marriage. Supporters of SSM therefore seek to change the subject to just about anything: discrimination, benefits, homosexuality, gay rights, federalism, our sacred constitution. Our goal is simple: Shift the conversation rapidly back to marriage. Don’t get sidetracked. Marriage is the issue. Marriage is what we care about. Marriage really matters. It’s just common sense.

No one is seeking “to change the subject to just about anything.” The things you mention are part of the discussion. Opposition to gay rights and discrimination of homosexuals is very real and is in large part committed by the very same people who want to “protect marriage.” In addition, while the majority of Americans may oppose gay marriage, a higher percentage opposes a Constitutional Amendment banning it. http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/relationships/gaymarriage_poll_030922.html


Extensive and repeated polling agrees that the single most effective message is: "Gays and Lesbians have a right to live as they choose, they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us."
This allows people to express support for tolerance while opposing gay marriage. Some modify it to “People have a right to live as they choose, they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us.”
Language to avoid at all costs: "Ban same-sex marriage." Our base loves this wording. So do supporters of SSM. They know it causes us to lose about ten percentage points in polls. Don’t use it. Say we’re against “redefining marriage” or in favor or “marriage as the union of husband and wife” NEVER “banning same-sex marriage.”

However, it is about “banning same-sex marriage.” Semantics and PR statements do not change that. I still have not heard a valid argument from the Religious Right explaining how “redefining marriage” affects the majority. As stated previously they feel that by allowing same-sex marriage it will infringe on their Freedom of Religion. In my opinion, this is not true and is a red herring. By allowing same-sex marriage, it will affect their ability to discriminate and feel superior.

• Marriage is between a husband and wife. The people of [this state] do not want marriage to be anything but that. We do not want government or judges changing that definition for us today or our children tomorrow.
• We need a marriage amendment to settle the gay marriage issue once and for all, so we don’t have it in our face every day for the next ten years.

As noted above, a higher majority of Americans oppose an amendment than actually oppose gay marriage. I would also argue that from a legal standpoint, it would appear to be unconstitutional to ban same-sex marriage via a constitutional amendment. How does one explain the purpose of the ban without bringing religion into it (violation of First Amendment) and denying rights to one that others enjoy (Fourteenth Amendment)? I also wonder about the legality of a Federal, nationwide ban via the Tenth Amendment.

• Marriage is about bringing together men and women so children can have mothers and fathers.

The elderly marry. People that do not plan to procreate marry. People that cannot procreate marry. This point is irrelevant AND alludes to the religious nature of the discrimination.

• Do we want to teach the next generation that one-half of humanity—either mothers or fathers—are dispensable, unimportant? Children are confused enough right now with sexual messages. Let’s not confuse them further.

This is not a valid argument. How does this argue that one-half of humanity is dispensable? It is hyperbole. Will gay marriage be anywhere near even with hetero marriage? Not a chance. The numbers are not there. I would also point out that pleas “for the sake of the children” should be an automatic argument nullification much like calling someone a Nazi. It is simply used to circumvent a logical argument.

• Gays and Lesbians have a right to live as they choose; they don’t have a right to redefine marriage for the rest of us.

See above.


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.”

This is a false comparison: Allowing SSM has nothing to do with the value of a mother and a father in a family. African American opposition does not negate the fact that this is a civil rights issue. In this case, the African Americans who oppose SSM can be added into the heterosexual majority. African Americans do not have the last say on what qualifies as a civil rights issue.

I would also that this line of questioning is deflecting. They are not answering the question at hand, but deflecting the charge of offensiveness back at the questioner.

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.”

Original bans on Interracial Marriage existed because one race was seen as less than human. The same arguments are being made today. The real issue here is the legal admittance that it is OK to be gay. Marriage normalizes homosexuality.

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.”

“Activist judges and grandstanding San-Francisco-style politicians.” This is coded language for Extreme Liberals and Gays.

Again, the majority of Americans oppose a Constitutional ban and it likely illegal via the Constitution.

4. What’s the harm from SSM? “How can Adam and Steve hurt your marriage?” (Lets take a moment to laugh at the obvious Adam and Steve joke...OK, continue).

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.”

Not liking an idea does not make it “not right.” This logical fallacy is an Appeal to (scriptural) Authority? How could the creator of the universe be wrong about this?

A: “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.”

Spade = Spade

What do children, moms, dads, bigots and racists have in common? They are all being used to not answer a question and avoid actual answers!

“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."

No one needs to “endorse” SSM any more than they need to endorse hetero marriage. These institutions may be held accountable for refusing to hire and individual due to sexual orientation. But they don't have to like it.

“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.”

Public schools will not have to teach children anything. They will see it themselves. Children are the yardsticks of culture. They already know that these relationships are fundamentally identical. Eventually, they will teach us.

Where do public schools teach anything about marriage to begin with? This is just a veiled attempt to appeal to the ”THINK OF THE CHILDREN” argument and getting a bonus shot at evil, secular public schools. “Godless public schools? Boooo….hisss…..”

“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.”

Bigotry is difficult to maintain while simultaneously attempting to claim moral authority.

No one is saying that children do not need moms and dads. They just might have two moms or two dads. Studies show that they grow up fine and are no more gay than you. Maybe that’s a bad comparison…

“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.”

Again with “that’s not right.”

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.”

For you to acknowledge the love that exists in a gay marriage, you first need to recognize their humanity.

Oh, but its special love, Adam! God has blessed that marriage. Not Satan!

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.”

Sooo, you’re OK with Obamacare?

A: “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. “

What are we protecting the children from? An example of a loving committed partnership is a good example. There is no evidence that children raised by gay parents are any more likely to be gay. The real thereat to marriage is divorce, which at last count was much more prevalent (approximately 50%) as opposed to between 2%-10% of self-identified gays in the US who may wish to marry.


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.”

Allowing a minority group to have the same rights as the majority is not the same as conducting a radical experiment on marriage. That would also imply that SSM has never been attempted before. It is in fact practiced in ten countries. To date, none of these societies have collapsed.

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.”

http://www.livescience.com/culture/gender-parenting-100208.html ttp://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/118/1/349http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/514477 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/10/lesbians-child-abuse-0-percent_n_781624.html

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.”

NOM and their president love the apples and oranges comparison. It’s a great way to deflect an argument without actually answering anything.

As we have stated, the arguments against SSM have no rational validity. Nom's talking point script is a series of emotional appeals and re-packaged dogmatic statements. They maintain that the definition of marriage is central to the well being of society. We reject that claim. We say that it is society that is changing the definition. Marriage is a lifelong commitment between two consenting adults. The gender of those adults has no negative effect on the children who are raised in the home, or the lives of the people in the community. The only people affected by this are those who cannot overcome their own fear and hatred. As for the children who will grow up in a culture that eventually accepts same sex marriage. In a few years, they wont even notice.