There has been a lot of talk on the subject of same-sex marriage as more and more countries are lifting restrictions and bans in place for centuries. In the United States, the debate rages on more than ever, with a Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) looming and the majority now in favor of repeal. As you travel through the forums discussing this issue, many people are shying away from the religious arguments and attempting to build cases using logical, economic, and historical arguments. Unfortunately, most of these are filled with misconceptions, fallacies, and wrong data and statistics (my personal favorite). Therefore, here are the top new arguments against same-sex marriage and why they fail the logical tests.
(EDIT: This article is written from a rare one-sided perspective. I have long ago decided that there is no balanced argument on this issue aside from a theocratic one, and that is not justifiable for civic law.)
1) “Homosexuality is absolutely a mental illness and has been recognized by psychologists as such from the beginning. It’s only because of political agendas that this has been changed.”
This little nugget brings us back to 1886, when German sexologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing decided that the only proper form of sex was for procreation. This study was one of the first to include bi- and homosexuality to the already long list including wanting too little sex, too much, wanting sex when you were elderly, oral sex, sadism, masochism, and masturbation. This study went on to be cited by many psychiatrists up to 1953, when the DSM-1 originally described it as a mental disorder and was inundated with protests from private citizens and the National Institute for Public Health (the leading medical and biomedical institute of the times and a powerful presence today).
Shortly (in relative terms) thereafter the American Psychological Association removed it in 1975 as a disorder and told all mental health practitioners to “take the lead in removing the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with homosexual orientations.” Other organizations went through similar changes, all adopting the known fact that homosexuality is not a disorder of any sort and the classification of it as such is nothing more than discrimination and stigmatization. Thus this argument is no longer valid and certainly not recent.
2) “Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) represent approximately 2% of the US population, yet are the population most severely affected by HIV. In 2010, MSM accounted for 63% of all new HIV infections”
This claim is from a CDC study in 2008 and usually accompanies a claim that homosexuality is dangerous and thus should be discouraged because of the chances of infection. It further goes on to claim that HIV is a gay disease and that it could be fought better if people were no longer gay. The CDC study also claims that 1 out of 5 gay men had HIV.
This claim suffers from both factual and source related issues. For one, the CDC put out new data in 2012, in which the statistics were slightly different. 3.5% of the nation identified as homosexual, with more women than men identifying as homosexual. The rate of infection for HIV was 47% for homosexuals, 33% for heterosexuals, and 20% IV drug use and other reasons. It also stated that 1.46 million Americans were diagnosed with HIV.
For those who like math, that means that in order to fulfill the idea that American (population 315 million) gay men (population: less than 5.12 million) have a one in 5 chance of having HIV, 1.1 million HIV positive Americans would have to be gay men. That’s 76%, not 47% and not even 63%.
For the gay disease claim, one has only to look at the worldwide data on HIV to see how utterly wrong that is as well. We rank far below the most prevalent nations in HIV. While we have a total HIV population of about 1.4 million (a 0.36% prevalence rate), countries like Zimbabwe and Mozambique have prevalence rates in the 20-30’s. The majority of that is through heterosexual relations and male on female rape.
Lastly, the argument uses a very narrow scope. If we were to look at the population who has syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, HPV, Herpes, etc. and the demographics of each, an argument like the above would be enough to outlaw all sex forever. And we wouldn’t want that, would we?
3) “Giving gay couples the right to marry would cost us far too much in our Social Security funds! Adding them to the spousal benefits program would cost us hundreds of millions, if not billions!”
Social security comes in many forms. Child support, retirement, spousal support are just a few of them. The total fund for Social Security is $768 billion for the entire program. Each worker receives a retirement benefit. The average benefit is $1,230. There are approximately 154 million people in the workforce right now (or 49%).12.8% of the nation is over 65. Our national population is 315 million. The maximum spousal benefit one can receive is 50%. Approximately 3.5% of the nation is gay. Approximately 51% of the nation is married.
What do all these numbers have to do with each other? Well:
Take the % of retirees multiplied by the population, multiply that by the percent in the workforce (thus eligible for benefits), multiply that by the average benefit, divide by two (since only half this number are married) and divide by two again (since only one spouse receives this benefit). That is the total amount that spousal benefits costs today for heterosexual couples: $6.075 billion.
If homosexual Americans act in a similar manner towards marriage statistics, then we take the above and multiply it by 1.75% (or half the gay population) then we get $106.3 million as the maximum total cost of spousal benefits by lifting marriage restrictions on homosexual Americans.
To put that in perspective, that’s 1.7% of the current spousal benefits budget and 0.0138% of the social security budget. It’s not even marginally small.
Another factor that most people fail to mention is that gay people have been paying full social security and income taxes throughout the time that straight people have but haven’t been able to enjoy the same benefits (deductions, discounts, inheritance, etc.) of which some married straight people enjoy. Homosexual people’s money is being funneled into the same programs and usages, further reducing deficits and plugging up holes in the system.
This argument was used against slavery (cost of living would go up) desegregation (housing costs would go up, social services would go up) and granting women the right to vote (voting costs would go up). Each time the change was described as dramatic, and each time the objection was defeated and the results mild.
4) “Divorce rates for gay marriage are incredibly high! In the Netherlands, the average length of a gay marriage is 1-1.5 years!”
This claim comes from a study that in conservative forums is called the Dutch Gay Marriage Study, but in the real world it is called “The contribution of steady and casual partnerships in the incidence of HIV infection among homosexual men in Amsterdam.” A less pithy title, I’m sure, and one that doesn’t quite match the argument being made.
This study was a study on the transference of AIDS in casual partnerships. Monogamous men were excluded from the study, as were all women. Oh, and it took place between 1984 and 1996. For those a little light on Dutch history, that was 5 years before same-sex marriage was legalized in the Netherlands.
The truth is since 2001, nearly 15 thousand (14,813) Dutch gay couples have married. In the next 12 years, 1,078 divorced. That’s a divorce rate of 7%, far below our national average (40-50%, depending on source and prediction). So far, 93% of gay marriages are up to 12 years long and running strong.
So the next time you come across a claim like the above, look into it a bit deeper. As we have found out, statistics are hard to beat when you have the right data.
Once again, thanks for reading, and keep searching for truth.