Leibniz, Texas and Gay Marriage

This is mildly hilarious:  ‘Texas’ Gay Marriage Ban May Have Banned All Marriages’.  It turns out that a failure to appreciate the nature of identity might have resulted in the banning of all marriages in Texas, not just the pesky gay ones.  Here’s the relevant bit of the article:

‘The amendment, approved by the Legislature and overwhelmingly ratified by voters, declares that “marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman”.  But the troublemaking phrase…is Subsection B, which declares:  “This state or political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage”‘

Whoops.  (And, strictly speaking, even without the identity trouble, it might also mean that you can have at most one married couple in the entire state.  Don’t get me started on ‘all’ in the headline.)

I thought for a moment that I should find out what the fuss is really all about.  Why would a state vote ‘overwhelmingly’ against gay marriage?  Who cares what consenting grown ups do with a willing priest?  Is there something more to it than prejudice?  I Googled ‘arguments against gay marriage’ and spent a very short moment of my life, a moment I will never get back, reading some very silly claims about what’s natural and two examples of the slippery slope fallacy which I’ll keep in case I ever teach logic again.  Satan was mentioned a lot — I can’t recall the last time someone mentioned Satan to me.  Is this all there is to opposition to same sex marriage?  Did I miss a really good argument somewhere?

  1. The only arguments against gay marriage can be applied equally against marriage in general.

    Marry in haste, repent in leisure.

    Here’s one from Groucho Marx: I was married by a judge; I should have asked for a jury.

    Norman Mailer: You never really know a woman until you see her in divorce court.

  2. ‘Is this all there is to opposition to same sex marriage? Did I miss a really good argument somewhere?’

    No, that is the essence of the arguments against gay marriage – it’s against God, or if you’re amongst the relative minority of non-religious anti-gay marriage people it’s at least ‘unnatural’.

    The God one is particularly annoying, even apart from the unlikelihood of his existence anyway religious people don’t seem to realise that they don’t actually run the country (I’m thinking of Britain here but the principle’s much the same regardless of location), and that marriage isn’t universally religious by definition anyway; it quite literally is none of their business what should be legalised in terms of civil marriage.

    The slippery slope arguments are just as stupid; I’ve read some in the past (in one of the British tabloids I think) which suggested – unoriginally of course – that it was only a small step from gay marriage to being allowed to marry animals or children. The complete lack of thinking-through giving to such ‘reasoning’ never fails to astonish.

    Not to say the ‘unnatural’ argument isn’t ridiculous too of course; the merest bit of philosophical education shows what a non-argument this is in any circumstance, besides which the recorded instances of same-sex behaviour in animals would repudiate it even it were valid.

  3. Gore Vidal said something to the effect:

    “Washington is full of lawyers. The good ones are lobbyists who make lots of money. The bad ones are elected to Congress”

    The same rule appears to apply to Austin. You’d think that after all the state-level constitutional elements and the help from the ADF and Liberty Counsel that the amendment writers would be able to get the language right, but alas, humans are indeed fallible. If we can learn one lesson from this it’s that we shouldn’t put complicated legal language – designed to establish “special rights” for the most selfish and impulsive voters – up for a popular vote.

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