With the recent passage of Proposition 8 in California, which banned same-sex marriage, and similar legislation in other states, it is clear that the issue of same-sex marriage will not simply disappear. Both sides have valid points and justification, though their arguments have widely varying bases. In “An Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage”, Rick Santorum answers questions and justifies a family-centered argument against same-sex marriage. But though his position and argument comes from 2008, he argues with a reasoning heard since the beginning of the moral majority, and as such reasoning was not particularly persuasive then, it does not work well for him either.
Santorum, a former Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, takes a very opposing stance to same-sex marriage. His argument takes several reasons, arguing that the legalization of same-sex marriage is a largely unknown territory, it would undermine core family values, and destroy the stability of our society. Santorum does his best to argue without attacking homosexuality itself, and accomplishes this goal for the most part. And though his argument exhibits his tendency appealing towards the moral majority, particularly with a reference to Judeo-Christian legal structures, he also manages to put off association with the movement until the reference towards the end of his piece.
Although he tries with much passion to justify it, a good portion of Santorum’s logical argument does not hold its water. For example, in answering the opening question, he asserts that the activists for same-sex marriage have not made their case because “They have no studies. They have no information whatsoever about what it would do to the moral ecology of the country.” Though this argument appears valid at first, a second look reveals Santorum’s expectation to be completely unrealistic and illogical. He essentially asks the his opponents to produce material supporting their argument that can only come from the very thing that he is arguing against: legalization of gay marriage. How else can statistics demonstrating the positive or negative effects of same-sex marriage on society, heterosexual marriage, and family values be produced, if not by enacting such legislation and observing the effects on such institutions?
Unfortunately, Santorum does not stop there. His argument continues further, hearkening back to the conservative end of the White House Conference on the American Family, as discussed by William Martin in his book, With God On Our Side. In this book, Martin details how conservatives, and specifically the religious right, attempted to take control of the conference and rallied behind the idea that their traditional idea of family was under assault from abortionists, feminists, and gay rights supporters. Santorum clearly wants support from the religious right, as he draws heavily on the family-centered argument that rallied them.
Despite his moral high ground, I feel Santorum’s flawed argument will not continue to garner support for much longer. The language he uses to discuss same-sex couples reminds me of some of our class readings about the civil rights era, and his argument that same-sex couples should have to prove their desires will benefit society before being allowed to marry makes me want to dismiss his argument outright. I do appreciate, however, that he attempts to make a legitimate argument against same-sex marriage, and some of his points are valid, to a certain extent. With such intense arguing, though, I am certain this issue will not be resolved in the near future.