The Ethical Dilemma: What to Say to the Anti-Gay

The Ethical Dilemma: What to Say to the Anti-Gay

The Ethical Dilemma is Joan Reisman-Brill’s weekly advice column featured on TheHumanist.com. Click here to read all of Joan’s columns.


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What to Say to the Anti-Gay: I have a number of conservative, religious associates who subscribe to the school of “marriage means one man and one woman.” I can’t always come up with articulate responses to their stubborn objections to gay marriage. Do you have any good humanist retorts I can use?

—What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Dear What’s,

Gary Stein, a columnist for the Florida Sun Sentinel, recently published a terrific list of common objections to gay marriage and pithy retorts. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’m just going to quote him (with permission), with a few tweaks [and my two bits in brackets] for TheHumanist.com readers. Referencing the fight over Florida’s same-sex marriage ban, Stein lays out a number of familiar refrains:

My religion says same-sex marriage is wrong. Good. I respect that. Don’t marry somebody of the same sex.

The Good Book says it’s immoral. That’s enough for me. The Bible also says you shouldn’t gossip, shouldn’t eat a ham sandwich, shouldn’t have tattoos and shouldn’t remarry after a divorce. And there are slaves in the Bible. Is that good enough for you?

People have voted against same-sex marriage. True. And there are people who would vote for slavery if it were on the ballot. Basic human rights should not be voted on.

The Founding Fathers didn’t have same-sex marriage in mind. Actually, I don’t see anything in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence about marriage, although I did notice something about “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” If the pursuit of happiness means same-sex marriage, who are you to deny that?

The purpose of marriage is to have children. How are same-sex couples going to do that? By that logic, if a straight couple wants to get married but they don’t want to have children, they would be out of luck. [And, by the way, lots of LGBT couples are finding ways to have children.]

Children need a mother and a father. Half of the marriages in this country end in divorce, which means a lot of kids don’t have both a mother and father at home. Ideal? No. But most of the kids make it through life okay. Maybe you should worry about keeping straight marriages together, rather than keeping same-sex couples from marrying.

Same-sex marriage is a threat to the very sanctity of marriage. Did you miss the part about the 50% divorce rate among straight marriages? [And how many straight marriage problems have anything whatsoever to do with LGBT marriage?]

I think it’s creepy what same-sex couples do. Is anybody forcing you to look at what goes on in the privacy of somebody else’s bedroom? That would be creepy. It would also be a crime.

Same-sex marriage will ruin society as we know it. Same-sex marriage is now legal in 18 states and the District of Columbia, with more states getting on board all the time. Life has gone on pretty normally in those states. [And many people will attest that society is actually enhanced with same-sex marriage.]

Thanks to Gary Stein for putting together this list of tired objections and fresh responses. He sounds like a humanist to me.