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Fallacy

I was just alerted today to a statement on the website of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).  I include with it the preamble offered on the same site.


Extensive and repeated polling agrees that the single most effective message is:
"Gays and Lesbians have a right to live as they choose,
they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us."
I was quite perplexed to see this statement, especially as it was followed by "This allows people to express support for tolerance while opposing gay marriage." since in my opinion this isn't an argument in opposition of gay marriage, but rather in favor of it.  The first half of the sentence reads "Gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose." (I'm not sure why "Lesbians" is capitalized.  I've only ever seen it in lowercase.)  I choose to live my life married to the man that I love, so NOM is saying that I have the right to do that.

Then the second half of the sentence "they don't have the right to redefine marriage for all of us" seems completely unnecessary because we aren't trying to redefine marriage for everyone.  For straight people, the definition of "one man and one woman" works perfectly well and nobody (of whom I'm aware) is trying to change that at all.  Straight people will still be able to marry someone of the opposite sex.  My parents have been happily married for almost 40 years now and I would never even think of trying to break up their marriage or making it be illegal.  I don't want to redefine marriage for all of us, and I don't think any gay rights activists do either.  I only want to redefine marriage for gay people--for me and my beloved Conrad, and for all those who come after me who wish to marry someone of the same sex.

So, again I say that using this sentence to oppose gay marriage is a logical fallacy.  First of all, if you concede the right of gay people to live as they choose, then you concede their right to campaign for gay marriage, because that is the way that gay rights activists choose to live.  Secondly, there is no movement to redefine marriage for everyone, only to expand the blessing of marriage to a broader set of people, so that all people will be able to marry the person of their choice, instead of only straight people.

What really floored me (and, quite frankly, disheartened me) was the preamble "Extensive and repeated polling agrees that the single most effective message is [the given statement]." because it says to me that something so illogical has been so effective.  I am alarmed at the irrationality, not only of the logic given but also of those with whom this statement has been so effective.

The thing that I find most interesting is that proponents of "traditional" marriage are guilty of precisely the thing that they accuse proponents of gay marriage of doing.  This is a very common theme in politics--I have seen both liberals and conservatives accuse members of another party of something and then turn around and do it themselves.  I have also heard citizens of either persuasion do the same thing.  But, here it is again.  Those who oppose gay marriage claim that they do so to protect marriage and that gay rights activists seek to destroy marriage, when in fact the opposite is true.  Gay rights activists have no intention of destroying anyone's marriage.  Allowing a gay couple to marry does not effect a straight couple's marriage (or, if it does, then I would suggest that the marriage was not very stable to begin with).  It is those who defend the concept of traditional marriage who are seeking to destroy marriage by denying the right to those who are homosexual.  What's most alarming is that the logic that these traditional marriage defendants use is so convoluted that they have even convinced themselves that they respect the rights of gay people and in the same breath seek to prevent those rights from ever becoming a reality.

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