Friday, 18 November 2016

On The Gay Marriage Protests

There's something I don't understand about the current gay marriage protests in Taipei city, and that is what the range of arguments are, and whether there are reasonable arguments being made against the proposed gay marriage bill but which are simply not being reported by the press.

The issue itself is not one that I am particularly interested in - I am never quite sure what the primary objection to gay marriage is (other than "ickiness"), but then I do not trust Taiwan's small-world media to report on it accurately and honestly, due to their politically correct bias.

Although I can't quite see why other people get upset about it, there is a second-order argument against gay marriage which I can imagine, but it is not one that I have yet seen anybody else make. If gay marriage is legalized, then a Church which had religious or other objections to marrying gays could be forced to marry them against their will. Whether that would actually happen I'm not sure, but it seems likely and the argument against it has two aspects. First, forcing people to act against their will is a violation of the non-aggression principle, but also forcing people to do things that go against their conscience will generate resentment and frustration, perhaps with the unintended consequence of actually making things both worse and driving the anti-gay sentiment underground to fester. Second, forcing producers to perform a service for other "customers" against their will is a direct violation of the right to freedom of association. A vicar or priest who performs a marriage service for gay couples under threat of court litigation, would be someone who is in "forced association", rather than free association. Unless one is free to disassociate, one cannot also be free to associate; these are two sides of the same coin. And since I think freedom of association is rather important, I can see how someone might use this to argue that gay marriage is a mistake.

Note however, that this argument hinges on Churches being forced into marrying gays against their will. It is entirely possible, and even quite likely, that other Churches would be happy to conduct such ceremonies. I also find it hard to believe that gay couples themselves would want to be married in a Church which objects to their being married.

That possible argument aside, my question stands: what, if anything, is a reasonable first-order argument against gay marriage? I can imagine at least one, which has to do with language and the integrity of concepts, but I can't bring myself to accept it. Whilst I do believe that there are likely large numbers of people protesting in Taipei whose arguments essentially boil down to either "ickiness", religious doctrine, language, or questionable claims about the mental health of children brought up in gay marriages... those are not arguments that I find plausible or persuasive. So the question is there: what, if anything at all, is a reasonable, first-order argument against gay marriage?

However the broader point here is that I am only in the position of having to ask such a question because I do not trust the Taiwanese (and foreign) media to report on this issue accurately and honestly. At least one chief editor I know of is a gay-rights activist and someone who supports legislation to silence views of which he disapproves. Assuming there was an interesting and legitimate argument against gay marriage, I would not trust this individual, or those under his leadership, to report on it accurately and honestly.

One might also note the current farce in the comments section to today's Taipei Times headline report on the protests, where, despite the strapline warning that abusive comments will be deleted and their authors banned, there is a whole plethora of insults exchanged both ways between the pro and anti commenters, with none of them as yet being deleted or moderated in any way.

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