Our old friend Bob Seidensticker has issued a rebuttal of sorts against against several arguments having been made by Frank Turek in regard to same-sex marriage. Now, I’ve written a rather long review of the Supreme Court decision when it was originally issued, and I have responded to its absurdities there. But I don’t think that I have ever responded to a response to the arguments. So let’s dig in. And since Bob’s rebuttal is multipart, this one’s going to be as well.
Bob begins by linking to an article at the Christian Post that outlines more than 30 instances of “intolerant liberalism”, then notes,
It’s been almost four years, and our recent election season has reshuffled what issues are uppermost in the public mind. Homosexuality and same-sex marriage aren’t big issues at the moment. Nevertheless, I’d like to revisit same-sex marriage for two reasons, first because within fundamentalist and evangelical circles in the U.S. it still resonates, and it’s good to brush up on the arguments. Second, because I’d like to periodically bring up some of these clueless arguments so that the Right won’t be able to get away from the hateful stuff they’ve said.
Bob isn’t afraid to put his bias on display, is he? He uses words like “clueless” and “hateful” as if he had grounds for such. In fact, I’ve noted several instances where Bob has been somewhat “clueless” and has displayed a…well…less than charitable attitude, such as the in the very 1st paragraph cited above. (See here.)
Let’s dig in, shall we?
Just one small complaint about Bob, he’s not very good at citing sources, and he doesn’t seem to understand how to make the arguments that he’s responding to easy to reference, so—sigh—I’ll have to do the heavy lifting there.
The first argument that he “rebuts” comes from this blog post where Dr. Turek is complaining about “activist judges”. Bob retorts,
In Frank’s dictionary, “activist judge” actually means “a judge who doesn’t do what I want.”
Well, that depends on what you are wanting the judge to do. A judge’s duty should be to examine what is before him and render a decision based upon the law, the facts, and the arguments. If you remember Windsor decision that I reviewed, I noted a number of logical and factual flaws in the decision. Activist judges will often ignore facts or arguments and will rule in accordance with their political aims. An activist judge takes the side of one of the parties before him or her rather than trying to render an objective decision. Let’s keep in mind, that both parties standing before a judge wants the judge to rule in their favor. Now, Bob doesn’t do a whole lot to actually respond to the accusation, other than calling the term a “convenient slur to be used when he doesn’t get his way when he applies it to conservative decisions.” Bob then appeals to opinion polls, which are not necessarily the best indicator of where people actually stand, because people…well…are somewhat self-involved. The best that Bob can muster here is nothing of substance, aside from a reminder of how federal judges are appointed:
Federal judges are appointed by the president and confirmed by senators who are elected. Judges can be impeached. The Constitution can be amended.
If there were enough morally courageous representatives and senators, believe me, that is exactly what would have happened, and would those activists have just thrown up their hands and said, “Well, I guess that’s that”? Probably not.
The second “argument” that Bob “rebuts” comes from this article, where Turek is discussing the fact that even advocates for same-sex marriage admit that not all marriages are equal and so the “right to marry” should be limited, saying, “…what is often missed in this debate is that all people-whether they have homosexual or heterosexual desires-are equal and already have equal rights under the law. Every human being has the same right to marry someone of the opposite sex.”
Bob, wants to try to equate this with race—which is a false equivalence—saying,
Compare with this: “It shall hereafter be unlawful for any white person in this State to marry any save a white person” from the Virginia Racial Integrity Act of 1924. Sounds like the same deal, with the white folks constrained just like everyone else—in fact, more so. That’s fair, so what’s to complain about? I wonder how Frank can fault the logic in the racial category but not identical logic in the sexuality category.
If Bob had shown just the slightest interest in being fair, then he would have clicked the link in one of Frank’s posts he’s responding to, which would have taken him to this article written by Ryan T. Anderson, which explains why, saying,
These [inter-racial] bans were aspects of a much larger, insidious movement that denied the fundamental equality and dignity of all human beings and forcibly segregated citizens. When these interracial marriage bans first arose in the American colonies, they were inconsistent not only with the common law inherited from England, but also with the customs of prior world history, which had not banned interracial marriage.
In simple terms, miscegenation laws were based upon a false category: there is no such thing as “race” when it comes to human beings. Further, there is a distinct difference between something that is biological (eg skin color) and something that is behavioral (eg sexuality). Bob, if you had an ounce of self-reflectivity you would have realized that you refuted the point that you were trying to make by distinguishing race from sex yourself.
In his third “rebuttal”, Bob—much like Justice Kennedy before him—makes a categorical error when it comes to definitions. Titled, “But you can’t redefine marriage!” Bob seems to be taking a shot at something of a composite argument, because he writes,
Been there, redefined that. Don’t imagine that marriage has been a constant since Adam and Eve. Just considering marriage in the U.S., rules against interracial marriage were struck down in 17 states in 1967.
Similar to Kennedy’s fallacious argumentation in the Windsor decision, Bob conflates the objective definition of what marriage is composed of, with the legal definition of who can participate in it, or how those who participate in it are to conduct themselves, as it relates to its objective definition. Necessarily, when you believe that you can alter the objective definition, it naturally follows that you can redefine the participatory elements. If marriage doesn’t have any objective definition, then any limitations that you place legally are merely arbitrary. Therefore, even the definition of what “marriage” is becomes arbitrary. And if merely arbitrary, then any type of arrangement can be considered “marriage” and any number of partners with no meaningful way to limit it. That means that there’s nothing wrong with a man “marrying” a child of the age of 9, or three men getting “married” or four women and three men, or a mother and daughter. Once you break the link between an objective definition and morality, then you lose any ability to impose legal limits.
The fourth “rebuttal” goes right back to the second one that was made in this post. Attempting to respond to Turek’s argument in this post, Bob writes,
Frank rejects the comparison of laws against same-sex marriage with racist or sexist laws.
Um…yeah, because you’ve already demonstrated yourself that they’re categorically different things. But he continues,
We can agree that laws that precluded citizens from voting were wrong. They thought it was okay back then, but society changes. Frank presumably has no problem with society evolving and improving.
The question is, why did we change? As previously discussed, race is a false category when it comes to human beings because there is only one group, one race of human beings. Sex, as a biological category, differentiates human beings and is a logically valid category in certain situations. However, to argue that because someone has a certain melanin content or that because they possess certain sexual organs, they should be denied a right to vote in matters that concerns them, well that’s just absurd. However, when it comes to behaviors…well, that’s a whole other ball of wax. The instant that you step into the category of behavior, you are stepping into moral categories.
Alright, so we’ve got a taste of the type of argumentation that Bob is employing in attempting to “rebut” the arguments. Maybe he’ll start making some positive argumentation in the other posts, but until then, keep thinking.
For additional entries in this series: