Why does same-sex marriage so unhinge its opponents?

Jon Stewart of The Daily Show comments amusingly on something that has struck me too, and that is why is it that the thought of same-sex marriage seems to drive opponents so crazy that they immediately start making the most outlandish arguments.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
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(This clip was aired on April 3, 2013. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)

Cartoonist Tom Tomorrow has also noticed this weird use of the slippery-slope argument.

That fine actor Jeremy Irons is another person who seems to have fallen victim to that same disease, using an interview as a springboard to speculate about the most bizarre scenarios if same-sex marriage is allowed. After showing a clip of Irons’s remarks, Stephen Colbert does a dead-on impression of him that has traces of William F. Buckley’s mannerisms thrown in. It is a riot.

(This clip was aired on April 4, 2013. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)


  1. slc1 says

    it’s very simple, anal sex is icky. Notice that they almost never talk about lesbians.

  2. machintelligence says

    Could it be the patriarchy argument? Marriage is between one man and one woman and the man is in charge.
    If you have two men or two women then both are in charge or neither is — that way lies madness! [/snark]

  3. Psychopomp Gecko says

    When it comes to the slippery slope, they clearly ignore that marriage is a contract. “Well what’s to stop people from marrying their dogs or marrying a kid?” The fact that little kids and animals can’t enter into a legally binding contract. Simple stuff, now move on you fossilized blowhard.

    What I really liked was the Onion’s take on the whole matter, with the Supreme Court being like “What? This is even a big deal? Go ahead and marry who you want to, I can’t believe we had to waste our time on this.”

    Of course, Mr. “Strict Originalist” Scalia isn’t going to act like that. For a guy who claims to want to stick to the Founding Fathers’ original intentions, he sure has a way of completely missing the Founding Fathers’ original intentions.

    Ain’t that right, Tommy?

    “I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.” – Thomas Fucking Jefferson giving us all the legal precedent we need.

  4. says

    First, because of authoritarian sexual ethics. They divide acts into two categories: forbidden by God and commanded by God. Since homosexuality is in the forbidden category, they assume that if society considers *that* morally acceptable, then there’s nothing to stop everything else in the forbidden category from being allowed. They’ve been indoctrinated to believe that without these rigid (so-called “objective”) categories, moral chaos will result.* (h/t to Libby Anne for the basis of this explanation.)

    Underlying the initial slotting of homosexuality in the forbidden box is the second reason: misogyny. It is all about keeping women in submission. Anything that upsets their view of women as essentially sexual chattel and breeding stock is scary for them. So what do we get? Wild paranoia and fierce backlash.**

    *Compare the common refrain “If you don’t believe in God, what’s to stop you from murdering everyone?”
    **An attitude not restricted to homophobic religious believers, sadly.

  5. Rod says

    We have had SSM in Canada for a number of years now. Look north, Americans, we are a living laboratory. Our cultures have much in common, and since SSM was recognised, guess what happened? Nothing!
    People who loved and cared for each other wrre allowed to do so publicly.

    No-one tried to marry a raccoon, there have been no wild orgies, well, no more than usual, after all it’s cold a lot, there have been no mass conc=versions to the gay lifestyle…. I could go on, but you get the picture.

    Several other countries have passed legislation in various forms, look at them and see for yourselves! It ain’t the end, or even the beginning of the end. It is the end of the beginning…. as we start to treat each other as human beings and end centuries of hatred and violence.

  6. atheist says

    Here is writer Rebecca Solnit‘s take on why same-sex marriage drives its opponents nuts. Basically, it unsettles patriarchal ideals.

    Same-sex marriage really is a threat and that’s the good news: if a marriage can be between two men, then it’s between equals and no one is the boss. If it can be between two women, there’s no boss in the house (according to the patriarchial imagination). If marriage is between equals with the details about roles and relations to be filled in by the participants as they see fit, then the inevitability of male authority is in question, and so is inequality in marriage (aka traditional roles). Same-sex marriage is a threat to “traditional marriage” as a hierarchical/patriarchial institution, and that’s why antiauthoritarian and feminist straight people should be exhilarated and supportive of it. Too. Thank you queer people in love for your contagious liberation. May you savage “traditional marriage” for all of us.

  7. lanir says

    Simple. Being a willfully ignorant bigot with wildly inaccurate and implausible/impossible ideas about people you know nothing about is no longer socially acceptable. Even the people doing it wouldn’t accept it from other people on different topics. So of course they weren’t doing anything that malicious and stupid. They couldn’t be, because they’re not bad people, those other guys are. Right?

    This is why authoritarians like ignorance and enforce it wherever possible. When people get this busy beating up straw men and trying to avoid noticing how wrong they are, they don’t have time to notice that they’re being manipulated.

  8. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    it isn’t very long since the concept of same-sex marriage was discussed, let alone widely accepted. What surprises me is how easily the religiously based idea of marriage has been socially widened rather than being replaced by other social and legal arrangements for everyone.

  9. left0ver1under says

    If someone were to say: “Be they black people, be they rapists and murders, they don’t get to….” you can bet Carson would have a conniption fit (other republicans, like Hannity, not so much).

    How interesting that the only major public figure who has admitted to or been caught involved in bestiality is anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-woman and anti-immigrant republican Neal Horsley.

  10. smrnda says

    The idea of sexual ethics being ‘god allows’ or ‘god forbids’ (which I recall from Libby Anne’s blog on patheos as well) is probably part of it, but I also think another factor is that people likely oppose homosexuality for less than rational reasons. They have been taught to find it repulsive and shocking even though it’s hard to find a rational argument for why it is wrong based purely on pragmatic considerations. Their opposition is mostly emotional and authoritarian. They *know* it’s wrong but can’t form an argument why.

    When you have a rational case to make against something, you can make the rational case. You might have very strong emotions, but you’ll end up making a case with reasons and evidence most of the time. When you kind of realize you don’t have a rational case but you have *very strong feelings* the only argument you can pull out is being as intensely emotional in being against something as you possibly can be. I think a level of cognitive dissonance prevents these people from admitting how silly their arguments against same-sex marriage are, but they all feel morally obliged to be as offended about it as possible.

  11. twosheds1 says

    if a marriage can be between two men, then it’s between equals and no one is the boss. If it can be between two women, there’s no boss in the house.

    I never looked at it like that before. Thanks for this.

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