Against Marriage Equality? Try This Thought Experiment

I have a thought experiment for those of you who oppose same-sex marriage. (For the sake of this experiment, and based on the data, I will assume you are heterosexual.)

Suppose for a moment that you wake up and the slate is clean. If you are married, you are now single. If you have children, you are now childless. Everything is different, and you are unaware of the life you lived before.

Like most people, you have a drive to be employed, to find love, to start a family, to raise children, but you are starting anew.

I mentioned above that everything is different. Including your sexuality. Remember the first time you felt attracted to a member of the opposite sex -- that first crush? Imagine that attraction to the opposite sex is completely foreign to you. You do not feel any attraction to the opposite sex, just as you felt no attraction to the same sex when you began to develop crushes on the opposite sex in your school days.

Now, before we move forward, it's important to dismiss the obvious objection to such a thought experiment: our sexuality is defined by a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences. (When did you make the decision to be straight?)

So, here you are: a clean slate, a desire to move forward in your new life, find love, and start a family. However, despite your completely natural (and almost always unchangeable) attraction to the same sex, you realize that you will never be able to marry, form a family, and enjoy all the benefits afforded to married couples and families.

You see that your legislators are hoping to pass legislation that specifically discriminates against you. Organizations are raising millions of dollars to ensure that you, a taxpaying citizen, do not have the same rights as other taxpaying citizens whose sexual orientations, while different from yours, are determined by the same genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences.

Imagine that you are religious, and you attend church on Sundays. Imagine that your pastor and your congregation do not accept you because of who you are. They denounce you as a sinner, a sexual deviant, and an abomination to God.

Imagine that millions of people honestly believe that your pursuit of the same thing that they have (a spouse and a family) is going to destroy a social institution.  They claim that you are harming children (many even claim you are likely to be a pedophile) and that you are a threat to society.

Imagine that you are hospitalized, and the most important person in your life is not able to visit you. Imagine that the person who knows you the best, your soul mate, is not legally allowed to make important medical or financial decisions for you if you are incapacitated.

How does this life feel to you? How is your outlook on life? How do you plan to navigate the rest of your life in a place that will not accept you, a place where you are a 2nd-class citizen, a place where any sort of family you attempt to build will not accepted, a place which has made it clear that you are not welcome?

If you don't feel the least bit of sadness, frustration, or injustice at this point, you're either not being honest with yourself, or you're incapable of empathy.


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  2. You are assuming that those who oppose marriage equality are capable of such deep thoughts. Having grown up an evangelical, I can assure you that your point will be completely lost on them.

    Devil's Advocate (otherwise known as an evangelical):
    God doesn't make anyone gay, it's a choice. However, if someone has "tendencies" they will just have to look to the Lord to set them on the right path. With Christ, all things are possible.

    --End of thought experiment--

    See, took no thought at all...and that's how they like it.

  3. Beautifully written. Preaching to the choir with me. I worry that evangelicals, like so many entrenched purists on the left and right, tend to resist logic and reason to sway their gut instincts and emotional biases. I sometimes wonder if actually taking the view that Jesus would absolutely support gay marriage, and finding scriptural evidence and critical textual scholarship of such a proposition, would be a better way to woo those on the right. This approach seems to have taken root with some evangelicals on 'green' issues. While not a believer myself, I can imagine a movement based in scripture that takes up the golden rule and the rights of the minority as a win-win for true believers and proponents of equality. I guess it's hard to find someone who could bridge the divide...hint, hint.

    Jess C

  4. I like this "thought experiment" but also agree that it is lost on the illogical. a person reading this that is logical enough to follow it is already in the same mindset (except on after-school-specials, simple minded logical epiphanies seem to work there - oh and the Lifetime Channel).

    as an alternative to your straightforward "...everything is different. Including your sexuality." they could simply counter with, "if I'm opposite, then I'll naturally like the opposite sex."; I propose a more empathetic, yet illogical scenario of: you wake up and you still feel like you but you are in the body of the opposite sex - and as dumb and Hollywood as that sounds, wouldn't you want to be as happy and accepted as you were before? even if that thought is framed inside a potential reaction of, "oh my gawd, I'm a horrible abomination in the eyes of the lo-ard!" I think it still manages to put even the logic impaired into a station of empathy.

    you can't sway the irrational with logic.

  5. There are many references in the Bible about how homosexuality is 'deviant behavior'. If you believe in the Bible and God, you cannot go against the teachings. If you don't believe in God and the Bible, then the passages don't make any difference to you. A few of the Bible quotes are listed below:

    Lev. 18:22 , "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination."

    Lev. 20:13, "If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltness is upon them."

    1 Cor. 6:9-10, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God."

    Rom. 1:26-28, "For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper."

    For anyone to use argument that Jesus would be okay with homosexuality has obviously not read the Bible.

    As far as your life partner not being able to come see you in the hospital, there are no laws against people visiting you. Sometimes in extreme health issues, not even family is allowed to be with the patient. As to your end of life decisions, you can appoint someone to be an executor of your living will. That person can be a friend, a family member. Many of the issues gay people bring up don't exist. And could you imagine the divorce courts if gays married?

    We still live in a predominately a Christian society. Would it be too difficult to leave some traditions alone? Besides, marriage isn't all it's cracked up to be.

    1. Shorter Anonymous: "I have a warped morality that forces me to hate my fellow man for no good reason. Allow me to quote some pro-slavery Bronze Age savages instead of practicing compassion and living in the real world."

  6. Dear Anonymous,
    You apparently do not appreciate the hetero privileges we receive, nor do you realize the implications of such. A life partner of 30 years does not get the house they both lived in unless it is willed directly to them, they are not given the ability to make decisions for thier partner if something should happen to them, they are unable to share health insurance like married couples in a LOT of places, rights to their kids (especially if there is a very angry ex), a say in legal matters etc. It's not just about getting married in some church! Ignorance and hate somehow looks better when you give it a backing from a religious viewpoint and then it becomes ok?
    Quoting the bible only works if you believe in it. Plus, if Jesus hung out with a prostitute, why wouldn't he hang out with a gay guy? I think people miss the point that the Bible was rewritten by man for Kings who had their own agendas, but I digress.
    I do not subscribe to your beliefs, nor do I expect you to subscribe to mine, however, at this time, people are still not treated equal.I do not understand who it damages, if two people who love each other, get married? It has been proven through various studies that gay couples on average, make more money, raise well educated and socially exceptional children who on average have the same statistically straight/gay ratio as a hetero household, and they are usually achieve higher education as well.