Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Totally Gay Arguments

TODAYonline published a letter from one Stanley Teo on 5 October 2016 titled "Inequality of marriage should continue". Hopefully, the title was selected by an editor, and not of the author's choice. It does not augur well for persuasiveness when one's arguments begin with an endorsement of inequality. 

My interest was immediately piqued. A part of me hoped that the conservative right had finally stumbled on some solid arguments against gay marriage. These hopes were quickly dashed. Mr Teo simply rehashed the same old, evidence-free assertions.

He argued that allowing same-sex marriage is a slippery slope. He asked, if love and commitment were the only requirements for marriage, then what about incestuous unions and polygamy? This incest argument always comes up. Occasionally, bestiality is thrown in, you know, just to up the yuck factor. 

This is a straw-man argument. No one ever said love and commitment were the only criteria for marriage. Mr Teo employed this fallacy to mischaracterize the position of gay marriage proponents, to allow himself a score a cheap point (what about incest/polygamy?) against a fabricated position. Gay marriage supporters say that allowing gay marriage celebrates love between two consenting adults. Gay marriage supporters also point out repeatedly that gay marriage does no harm to any person, and does not injure heterosexual unions. This "do no harm" principle is an important limb of the arguments in the pro-gay marriage camp. Mr Stanley Teo completely ignores this and proceeds to assert a false equivalence between gay marriage and incest, which clearly cannot be said to "do no harm". I should not need to, but for the sake of conservatives reading this blog, I should add that this applies, mutatis mutandis, to bestiality.

And what about polygamy you ask? In my humble opinion, if the parties entering into the polygamous relationship are doing so with full transparency and mutual consent, then I respectfully submit that it is neither ours nor the State's business to butt in (no pun intended). 

Not satisfied with making just one fallacious point, Mr Teo then went on and brandished the Conservative's argument du jour -  "but think of the children!" he cries. You could almost imagine the tears well up in his eyes as his sluggish mind turned to all the poor kids who had to grow up with two fathers or two mothers. 

"Same sex parents are detrimental to kids!", he laments. Teo then went on to adduce a bevy of peer-reviewed literature to back up this bare-faced allegation...wait, what? he didn't? Oh I am sorry, yes, I forgot that people like Mr Teo are often quite allergic to the idea of "evidence" and "science". 

I apologize. That was unfair. I am sure Mr Teo had upon him good academic authority for making such assertions, much like climate change deniers and flat earth theorists. I mean, sure, it may well be a settled view among academics that climate change is real or that children brought up in a same-sex family fare just as well as peers who grew up with heterosexual parents, but hey, why let facts get in the way of prejudice right?

Furthermore, such arguments completely ignore the fact that marriages routinely break down, e.g., by divorce or death in the family. Going by his logic, should we also make divorces illegal to "protect the children"?

For some one who is anti-gay marriage, Teo sure makes some totally gay arguments. 

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