Why We Must Push BackOpponents of same-sex marriage have no compelling argument and must therefore resort to fear and senselessness. We should not remain silent when they do so
There comes a time in a debate when one must decide whether responding to the absurdities of the other side might risk legitimizing one’s opponent rather than put the argument to rest once and for all. When it comes to the same-sex marriage issue, for example, I’ve often been encouraged to remain quiet lest my continued writing about the subject bring more attention to the small yet influential groups that have actively argued against it. However, when their rhetoric turns to hate speech and outright lies, as it often does, I believe we are compelled to push back. Each and every time. And since it is impossible to have an intelligent debate based on facts with those individuals, we must therefore ridicule them not by stooping to their level, but by pointing out how preposterous their arguments are.
The main problem with the groups that have actively opposed the legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan is that they do not have a viable argument to start with. Their views on the issue tend to come from a narrow — and certainly not universal — interpretation (some would say misreading) of a holy book that is read by less than 10 percent of the people in Taiwan. Their argument is built on a highly restrictive definition of marriage — strictly between a man and a woman, and for the sole purpose of procreation — and, when that fails to sway the population, a biblical flood of fear-mongering with the recitation of various plagues that will come down on society should we allow homosexuals to get away with their “sins” — AIDS, bestiality, incest, polygamy, chaos, destruction of the “blood line,” rampant immorality, natural disasters, and so on.
And that’s pretty much all there is to their argument, so much so, in fact, that the same scare tactics have been used the world over and been repeated over the years. As I have documented, (see also Chapter 2 in by book Black Island) U.S.-inspired Evangelical groups are behind this campaign to deny the right to form a family to a minority based solely on their gender (there are token Taoist and Buddhist members as well, but the whole affair is undeniably conservative Christian-led).
They — and by they I refer to the Protect the Family Alliance types — were at it again at the weekend after Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) officiated his second joint wedding ceremony in Taipei in which 123 couples, including eight same-sex ones, took part. (The ceremony is of purely symbolic value and does not confer a marriage license, which can be obtained by applying with the city government and remains unavailable to same-sex couples.) Similar ceremonies have also been held in Taoyuan.
During a press conference at the Legislative Yuan, Chang Shou-yi (張守一), secretary-general of the Alliance of Religious Groups for the Love of Families Taiwan (台灣宗教團體愛護家庭大聯盟), asked whether Mayor Ko would in future also “bless” other forms of (“perverse”) unions, such as that between a father and his daughter, a man and his dog, or polygamous arrangements. As if this wasn’t ridiculous enough, the group held a number of skits depicting a variety of such acts, one of which included a hapless puppet dog.
Chang’s remarks were absurd, with no scientific basis, no compelling argument whatsoever. That logic is akin to calling for a ban on the sale of kitchen knives because once we make those legal, who knows when we might be able to purchase nuclear bombs at the corner store. And yet, absurdity hasn’t prevented opponents of same-sex unions from repeating them. Ad nauseam. They warn against a slippery slope that simply will not materialize. More harmful is the process of dehumanization, in which homosexuals are regarded as degenerate and slightly “less than human,” precursors to all kinds of aberrant behaviors, when in reality all they ask is to be allowed to form a family just like the rest of us. In their view, by pushing for legalization, homosexuals (and their defenders, like me) have an ulterior motive — total, rampant, absolute sexual freedom — that would result in an erosion of social morals and ultimately the collapse of society itself. But there is no such motive. Nobody is bent on destroying society — at least not the men and women who want their love, and their union, to be recognized, and thereby to be allowed to contribute to society. If the Alliance is genuinely worried about the threats to this country, it should perhaps turn its efforts on, say, global warming, international terrorism, or efforts by the Chinese government to annex Taiwan, all issues about which the purported defenders of our morals have been utterly silent.
The other point that was made at the weekend is that marriage should be for procreation alone — and by that logic, only between a man and a woman. Never mind IVF, adoption, or the many heterosexual couples who, though legally married, choose to not have, or cannot conceive, children. Should their marriage, then, be annulled, since they are unwilling to or incapable of fulfilling their God-dictated obligation?
Here I go again, arguing about logic. Silly me. These people deserve contempt and ridicule, and as much publicity as possible so their contemptible views, the arrogance of their beliefs, can be known by all. It is their conservatism, hate speech, intolerance, and religious fanaticism — not the enlargement of human rights to loving individuals — which threaten the fabric of society.
J. Michael Cole is editor in chief of Thinking Taiwan, a senior non-resident fellow at the China Policy Institute, University of Nottingham, and an Associate researcher at the French Center for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC) in Taipei. The views are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the Thinking Taiwan Foundation.