The Many Informal Fallacies of the Same-Sex Marriage Debate

Both sides of the same-sex marriage debate trade rather heavily in logical fallacies. Yes, I said both sides. Of particular curiosity is that they often appeal to the same informal fallacies to argue opposite sides of the argument. It’s quite odd. Don’t believe me? Here’s a sampling.

Appeal to Nature

For same-sex marriage: Animals exhibit homosexual behavior. Therefore it is natural. So it’s right.

Against same-sex marriage: Men having sex with men isn’t natural. So it’s wrong.

Appeal to Tradition

For same-sex marriage: Some of the greatest societies in civilization (like the Greeks, Romans, and Persians) accepted homosexual traditions. Why are we so uncivilized?

Against same-sex marriage: Society has exclusively endorsed heterosexual marriage for, like, ever. Same-sex marriage is a relatively novel thing.

(Note that these claims also fall under the headings of a few other informal fallacies: chronological snobbery, appeal to novelty, etc.)

Ad Hominem

For same-sex marriage: All of the Christians against same-sex marriage are close-minded, ignorant, hateful, homophobic bigots.

Against same-sex marriage: All of the homosexuals for same-sex marriage are perverted, sex-obsessed maniacs.

(For the record, both of these claims definitely have a ring of truth to them in at least a limited sense.)

Slippery Slope

For same-sex marriage: Society will end unless we legalize same-sex marriage. Homosexuals will be slaughtered in the streets. Because Mathew Shephard

Against same-sex marriage: Society will end if we legalize same-sex marriage. Conservatives will be slaughtered in the streets. Because that bakery and Chick-Fil-A.

And more!

I could go on like this for days. I didn’t even get into fallacies of generalization, begging the question, straw man, tu quoque, and the various appeals to emotion. Sheesh, just look up a list of informal fallacies, select one at random, and you’re almost sure to find one that’s being employed here.

None of this is to say that I want to legalize same-sex marriage. Call this an entry in the death of rational public discourse. When both sides can’t be bothered to make sound arguments, it’s likely the conversation isn’t going anywhere. No wonder both sides are ultimately appealing to force. Because the government said so is the last resort of unconvincing arguments.