Why Gay Marriages are Wrong


Against same-sex marriage

Analysing the arguments against same-sex marriage
Do the arguments against same-sex marriage stand up to examination? Let's tackle some of the most common and see...

Religious people can use all these arguments but have some more to offer:

marriage is defined by scripture and tradition as involving a man and a woman
marriage between one man and one woman is a religious sacrament

Homosexual acts are immoral:

We'll be giving space to this issue in the near future, so we'll ignore it for now.
But even if homosexual acts are immoral, that may not be a reason to forbid same-sex marriage, because:
the purpose of the law is not to enforce purely moral rules
marriage is no longer used or required to make a sexual relationship a moral relationship

Marriage is a fundamental and unchangeable institution:

It's true that marriage is a fundamental institution of society.
It's not true that marriage is an unchangeable institution.

Not only do different societies differ in their institutions of marriage, but even in Western society marriage has changed a great deal.
Perhaps the biggest change is that marriage is now a partnership of equals, which was not the case originally...
"The inequality of men and women was intrinsic to the traditional family. I don't think one could overstate the importance of this. In Europe, women were the property of their husbands or fathers - chattels as defined in law."
Professor Anthony Giddens, BBC Reith Lecture 1999

Some ways in which marriage has changed:

polygamous marriage was accepted in many periods of history and is still accepted in parts of the world (although not in the West)
in mediaeval Europe marriage was not based on sexual love, nor was it regarded as a place where such love should flourish
marriage is now gender neutral:
wives and children are no longer the property of the husband
a woman's property does not become the property of the husband on marriage
the husband is no longer regarded as "the head of the household"
marriage is now racially neutral:
US states now accept that marriage can take place between people of different races
the age at which people may validly marry has been different at different times in history
marriage no longer has to be for ever:
there's little social stigma in ending a marriage
divorce is now easier
divorce no longer requires one of the partners to show that the other partner was at fault
divorce is now available on demand - this indicates that both partners must continue to consent to be part of a marriage if it is to survive; the consent given at the wedding is not sufficient if either partner no longer wishes to be part of the marriage
changes in the approach to divorce demonstrate changes in the way in which courts and legislatures regard marriage
property and children's rights in divorce are regularly changed
people who want to have sex or children are under no pressure to marry

Marriage is traditionally between persons of opposite sex:

This is a powerful argument. Virtually all societies have reserved the status of marriage for heterosexual unions.
The existence of a few historical examples of same-sex marriages does not make any difference to this.
US law requires the partners in a marriage to be of opposite sexes:
"...the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife."
Defense of Marriage Act, 1996

If the opposite sex of the partners is a fundamental attribute of marriage then same-sex marriage is not possible - whatever sort of union same-sex partners are joined in, it is not marriage.
It's possible to create a new form of relationship and call it a 'same-sex union' or even a 'same-sex marriage', and be quite open about the fact that this is a specifically same sex relationship, and different from a marriage.
But that wouldn't help at all, because those opposed to same-sex marriages usually want to stop the creation of any same-sex relationship akin to marriage - and gays who want to marry each other want to have a real marriage, not a special sort of marriage reserved for partners of the same sex.
A great deal of the argument over same-sex marriage centres on this issue.
Protagonists of same-sex marriage usually agree that opposite-sex marriages are the 'norm' but don't agree that opposite-sex marriages are the best or the only form of acceptable permanent partnership.
Their opponents usually argue that there is no "fundamental right for people of the same sex to marry".
But ask yourself this question: "Should societies be able to extend the scope of marriage if they want to do so?"

If same-sex marriages are recognised then bigamous, polygamous, incestuous marriages and marriages with animals must be recognised:

This argument has no merit at all; there are plenty of reasons for rejecting these other types of marriage that don't apply to same-sex marriages:
polygamous marriages exploit women
incestuous marriages risk producing children with damaged health
giving incest a seal of approval weakens a taboo that is vital for preserving the family as a safe place for children
Anyway, nobody is actually arguing for the legalisation of any of these forms of marriage (except for a small group in favour of polygamy), so there's no danger of having to recognise them.

Same-sex couples can't have children:
The argument that procreation is an essential element of marriage is usually only brought up in the context of arguing against same-sex marriage.
American law, however, has regarded procreation as absolutely vital to the state's interest in regulating marriage:
"Were it not for the possibility of begetting children inherent in heterosexual unions, society would have no particular interest in encouraging citizens to come together in a committed relationship."
Speech in US House of Congress

But when you look at it in detail, the argument that same-sex marriage should be banned because same-sex couples can't have children is not a very good argument. Consider these points:
the primary purpose of marriage is no longer to have children; other purposes are now seen as equally or more important
society does not make having children a requirement of marriage (and would be universally condemned if it tried)
society does not make marriage a requirement for being allowed to have children
religions have downgraded the procreative element in marriage
society does not insist that those who want to marry demonstrate that they can and will have children
heterosexuals who cannot have children are allowed to marry
heterosexuals who don't want to have children are allowed to marry
heterosexuals who don't want to have sex are allowed to marry (although the partners must have agreed to this before marriage)
heterosexuals who can't have sex because one partner is in prison for life are allowed to marry
heterosexuals can use technical assistance to have children
same-sex couples can have children using the same methods
heterosexuals can adopt children
so, increasingly, can same-sex couples
infertility is not a ground for divorce
But, and it's a big but, there is still something very persuasive about this argument against same-sex marriage, even if one accepts all the points made above.
Marriage and the conceiving and rearing of children do seem in some way fundamentally linked.
It may be a species survival instinct. Suppose that some catastrophe destroys modern civilisation and humanity returns to the Stone Age: in such an event monogamous, committed, heterosexual and productive relationships between men and women are the only thing that will enable the species to survive.
If this instinct is the cause of our unease at abandoning the procreation argument, then we can say that it has served humanity well in the past, and may do again, but has no use at present and should be ignored.
We're eager to receive your thoughts on the subject, and will add some of them to the site. Email us at
Society has an interest in promoting marriage as the environment for procreation and child-rearing
This is true, but:
on its own it doesn't show that same-sex marriage is a bad thing
it may even be an argument in favour of same-sex marriage
Same-sex parenting is less good for children than traditional parenting
This may or may not be true; it's a matter for research.
If it isn't true, then the argument is without merit; if it is true, that could be a major problem for proponents of same-sex marriage.
There are hundreds of thousands of children already being parented by same-sex couples, so evidence should be easy to find.
The truth is that many same-sex couples are capable of being good parents; many provide children with a loving and beneficial start to life.
The role model problem
One problem that's often raised is that same sex parents can't provide their children with both a male role model and a female role model.
In general, as long as parents provide children with their material needs, the important thing is not the sex of the parents, but whether they are in a happy and contented relationship that provides a model of sharing and togetherness and a secure and loving family in which the children can flourish.
Research findings
The available research tends to show that there is no valid reason to prefer heterosexual parenting to same-sex parenting - children can flourish (or fail to flourish) in both situations.
children of same-sex parents are as psychologically healthy as the children of heterosexual parents
children of same-sex parent are as emotionally healthy and behave as well as those of heterosexual parents
the parenting ability of same-sex parents is as good as that of heterosexual parents
despite possible social stigma, children of same-sex parents get on as well with other children as do the children of heterosexual parents
So it seems that despite the lack of role models of two sexes, same-sex parenting works - which suggests that children use a variety of ways of learning such gender-specific skills and knowledge as are still relevant.
Not everyone accepts that the studies that produced the results above can be relied on; there are arguments about their methodology.
Marriage makes things better
The children of a same-sex relationship are likely to benefit rather than suffer if their parents' relationship gets the status, stability, and other benefits of marriage.
Are parenting skills relevant to the issue?
But even if same-sex parenting were less good for children than traditional parenting would that be a good enough reason to deny same-sex marriage, given the number of children who don't live in traditional family units?
Consider these points:
many children are not brought up in traditional family units
many children are brought by only one parent and thus lack role models of each gender
research suggests that children benefit hugely from having two parents - perhaps two same-sex parents would be at least as good as a single parent of either sex
many children are badly parented in traditional family units
people in same-sex marriages may well not have children, and should not penalised by concerns about parenting
Brad Sears and Alan Hirsch may have been right when they wrote:
"The gay rights movement should welcome the focus on children, and make sure the public appreciates a powerful truth: Same-sex marriage increases the number of children raised in loving, stable, economically secure two-parent homes."
Village Voice November 26 - December 2, 2003
Same-sex parenting may bias children towards a homosexual lifestyle
There is no evidence to suggest that this is true.

The argument is based on one or both of two false ideas
homosexuality is in some way infectious
homosexuals want to convert other people to their sexual orientation
What is likely is that children brought up by same-sex parents will be accepting of the same-sex way of life, because they've seen it working; this is not at all the same thing as wanting a homosexual lifestyle for themselves.

Some same-sex advocates argue that even if the children of homosexuals were biased towards a homosexual lifestyle, it would merely show that the children were different, not disadvantaged.

However, while homosexuals lack parity with heterosexuals and while there is some stigma attached to homosexuality, such children probably will be disadvantaged, although these disadvantages are likely to disappear, at least in Western societies.
Same-sex relationships are less stable than opposite-sex relationships
This may or may not be true; it's a matter for research. If it isn't true, then the argument is without merit.
There is clear evidence of a tradition of promiscuity among some gay people, but little evidence to show that long-term and committed gay relationships are inherently less stable.
There is some evidence to show that same-sex relationships can be as stable as heterosexual relationships, but none to compare the stability of relationships between same-sex couples who would marry if they could, with the stability of conventional marriages.
But it can be argued that since same-sex relationships are denied the support mechanisms of marriage, it wouldn't be surprising if they were less stable.
And if same-sex relationships are less stable, that's actually a good reason to allow same-sex marriage, since marriage will provide same-sex relationships with the support they need to form solid and long-lasting components of society.
Same-sex relationships are open to greater health risks
Homosexual men in Western culture suffer disproportionately from AIDS. This is usually taken to be the result of a promiscuous lifestyle.
But this is irrelevant, as there is no reason why only people with a healthy lifestyle should be allowed to marry.
In fact, there are reasons to think that people with unhealthy lifestyles should be encouraged to marry:
married people are healthier than unmarried people
marriage involves monogamy and provides stability supporting factors; this may cause those involved to adopt a healthier way of living by abandoning promiscuity
Allowing same-sex marriages will damage the institution of traditional heterosexual marriage
It's difficult to construct any scenario in which allowing people of the same sex to marry does any damage at all to marriage in the short term.
There is no way of predicting what the long-term effect will be on the survival of the institution of marriage, and its role in ensuring the stability of society.
allowing people of the same sex to marry does, of course, change the institution of marriage, but that's not the same as damaging it
The argument treats marriage like a club that will become less attractive if we allow homosexuals to become members.
Marriage isn't that sort of institution; it doesn't matter how many people, or what sort of people get married - they don't affect the situation of any of the others who get married.
The questions to ask are these: If we allow same-sex marriages to take place....
will the status of marriage be less?
will people regard marriage as less important?
will people regard marriage as in some way spoiled?
will fewer heterosexual marriages take place because people no longer think it's a worthwhile state?
will fewer heterosexual marriages take place because people don't want to do something that homosexuals can do?
will fewer heterosexual marriages take place because some people would prefer same-sex marriages?
the answer to this one is probably "yes, but not many"
will people in heterosexual marriages lose any of the financial, legal and social benefits of marriage?
will people who are already married feel less married?
will people in heterosexual marriages want to get divorced, so that they can enter same-sex marriages?
the answer to this one is probably "yes, but not many"
will people in heterosexual marriages want to get divorced because they feel that being married is somehow no longer a good thing to be?


Queers and marriage

Who are you calling 'queer'?

"We're here, we're queer, get used to it."

For many years queer was an offensive term applied to homosexuals. But over the last 20 years or so, the word has been turned around and is the word chosen by some homosexuals to refer to themselves and their ideas.
Queer is the word often preferred by homosexuals who don't want to be part of the heterosexual mainstream and who believe that they would betray their identity by mimicking heterosexual culture and institutions.
People (probably) don't choose to be homosexual, but being queer is a deliberate choice. Queerness can be part of a person's identity, their ideology, and their politics.
Queers against same-sex marriage
Some homosexual people oppose same-sex marriage. They think that marriage is inherently oppressive - anti-queer and anti-female - and inimical to queer values and the nature of queerness.
Gay and lesbian people, they argue, should not support a discriminatory institution by adopting it.
So queers don't believe that marriage should benefit from social and state recognition and benefits more than other types of relationship.
Why queers should accept same-sex marriage
The fight for same-sex marriage is only for the right to have a same-sex marriage - there is no obligation for anyone to take up this right.
Equally, gay men and lesbians can choose to be married without having to give the elements of queerness that they regard as important; it's up to them.
So it may be better to accept same-sex marriage, despite the points made below, because it increases the available freedoms for gay and lesbian people and because it ends a discriminatory state of affairs. But it might also be a sell-out.
Why they shouldn't
The argument isn't about individuals - it's about a whole raft of ideas and problems that are part of the marital package-deal, and no individual can opt out of them.
If same-sex marriage becomes legal then:
an oppressive institution gets a new lease of life
the political solidity of sexual outlaws is damaged
homosexual people are seen to join forces with those who discriminate against non-mainstream sexuality
assimilationism triumphs
Same-sex marriage may be the most powerful tool of assimilationism. Queers are defined by being outsiders, if they come into the mainstream they will no longer be queers.
Queer arguments against marriage

The arguments put forward below reveal important issues about past oppression and about the nature of sexuality and the institutions of society.

They may be unfamiliar but they are well worth reading.

Ideological arguments
Arguments about freedom
Arguments about oppression

Marriage is against queer ideology

Adopting same-sex marriage would conflict with a fundamental characteristic of being queer.

Gay and lesbian people have always had to defy tradition in order to organise their relationships; part of the essence of being queer is subverting tradition, hierarchy and the established order:

marriage is at the heart of society, queer is at the margin
marriage is for stability, queer is for continuous change
marriage is for certainty, queer is for ambiguity
we understand marriage, queer messes with our assumptions
"Queering is a critique of the homogeneity that works menacingly within the heart of liberalism." Tony Kushner, Village Voice interview, November/December 2003
To get married is therefore to stop being queer.

Same-sex marriage assimilates gay people
If gay people are allowed to marry they will be assimilated into society and will lose their uniquely gay identity.

Queers are proud of their identity; they don't want to be assimilated.

Same-sex marriage reinforces stigmatisation
Same-sex marriage creates two classes of homosexual in the eyes of society:

'Good' homosexuals marry and are labelled as members of committed loving relationships;
'Bad' homosexuals are the ones who don't marry and are stigmatised for preferring a promiscuous life-style
Queers believe that the gay community should not sign up to a revised method of stigmatising some homosexuals.

Same-sex marriage supports the bipolar model of sexuality
Same-sex marriage, like heterosexual marriage, is based on a sexual model that only permits two sexes, male and female, and ignores the wide spectrum of sexualities (and therefore, possible relationships) that lies in between and beyond them.

Queers should not support this model of sexuality.

Marriage restricts sexual freedom
Accepting the heterosexual and monogamous model implicit in marriage may hold back the achievement of universal sexual freedom and equal respect for all sexualities.

Marriage historically idealised heterosexual monogamy and devalued:

non-procreative sex
Even now the existence of marriage imposes shame or implicitly shaming standards of dignity on all other ways of expressing sexuality.

Marriage is only one way of organising life-sharing
Marriage should not be the preferred family unit in a post-modern world where people can find many other ways of organising their lives:

trios and quartets
separate and deliberately promiscuous
Society should value all non-abusive, consensual forms of life sharing; queers should not sign up to anything that hinders this.

Marriage is not a good thing anyway
There is little evidence that in modern Western society marriage promotes stable relationships.

If marriage doesn't do this, all the other so-called benefits fall by the wayside too, and gay people should want nothing to do with marriage.

"Marriage will not only open up to gay men and lesbians whole new vistas of guilt, frustration, claustrophobia, bewilderment, declining self-esteem, unfairness, and sorrow, it will offer them the opportunity to prolong this misery by tormenting each other in court." Katha Pollit
This argument (and some of the others) ignores the possibility that by embracing marriage, gays and lesbians might rid the institution of some of its flaws and create a new and better form of marriage.

Marriage has historically oppressed women
Historically, marriage is part of a family and social structure that:

treated women as breeding-machines
treated women as the property of their husbands
made women provide unpaid child-care
made women work as unpaid labour in the home
made women work as unpaid labour in the workplace
Queers believe that any institution that oppresses people because of their gender is a bad institution.

Marriage has historically oppressed homosexuals
Queers should not adopt an institution that has oppressed homosexuals for thousands of years.

Homosexuals were barred from marriage because their relationships were seen as:
at best, inferior to heterosexual relationships
at worst, as sin-filled abominations
Homosexuals were made second-class citizens by the idealisation of heterosexual marriage
Homosexuals suffered discrimination and criminal punishment because:
heterosexual marriage was essential to preserve the established power structures and stability of society

Marriage gives straight men too much power
Gays and lesbians should shun marriage because it was an important part of the mechanism that kept macho men on top.

For most of history, society has accepted that:

straight men should be supreme
women and gay men should be subordinate
the more macho a man, the more he should be on top.



Jews, Christians and Muslims say that homosexuality is condemned by God in the Holy Books. Therefore, as believers in God, they also condemn gays for all their sexual activity.