Author’s note: Any grammar fails in this are on you Mike. ON YOU! (please don’t hurt me)
Full disclosure: I know Matt Birk, having played with him for multiple years in the NFL. I think he’s a smart, funny person who has done both good things in the community here in Minnesota as well as with the concussion issue facing disabled players. I respect Matt, and I respect his right to his own views and ideas.
However, in this instance, Matt I think you’re wrong. This is not an attack on you as a person or your beliefs, but the argument you presented in the Star Tribune simply does not stand up to logical inspection.
Problem the first – Your argument lacks facts, sources, or statistics. You can’t just say “Same -sex marriage is bad for kids because I think it’s bad for kids, and I think it’s bad for kids because it’s bad for kids”. That’s called circular reasoning and it’s a logical fallacy. If you want us to understand why same-sex marriage is bad for kids, you need to provide some sort of substantial evidence. Tell us that children from same-sex couples are more likely to grow up broke and miserable and alone and will end their days starving in a gutter. Just don’t use a study like this one, which displays clear source and confirmation bias (as outlined neatly in this article from Slate). Use something like this (sadly behind a paywall, but the abstract should give you the high notes). I’ll sum it up for those who don’t want to click on links: there’s no difference between children raised in heterosexual relationships and same-sex relationships, as evidenced by a meta-study of nineteen different LBGT studies.
Problem the second – Your argument that “government recognizes marriages and gives them certain legal benefits so they can provide a stable, nurturing environment for the next generation of citizens: our kids” is flawed on two counts. The first flaw is one of simple mathematics – if “marriage” is so necessary to the proper raising of children, why are we not passing an amendment to outlaw divorce? Current statistics from the CDC put the national divorce rate at approximately 50% (of roughly 2.1 million marriages a year, 1 million will end in divorce). They also put the number of same-sex couple households at 685,000, and those with children at 160,000. Let’s say, purely for the sake of example, that every single one of those same-sex households got married. You’re telling me you’re more concerned with the impact of those 160,000 households, as opposed to the 1 million heterosexual couples getting divorces? If this is truly about the children, shouldn’t divorce be first up on the constitutional amendment list, in order to save more children?
The second flaw is that you’re actually arguing in favor of same-sex marriage. If children having a stable home is the main crux of your concern, then denying gay couples the benefits of 1100 federal laws can only harm the children they will raise. Not allowing those children the same health benefits, family care benefits, survivor benefits; that can only be a detriment to the upbringing and care of a child, correct? Or do you propose that same-sex couples should be unfit for adoption, should be unfit to raise children?
Problem the third – You’re conflating “‘if it feels good, go ahead and do it’” with couples that want the stability and benefits of marriage and just so happen to be gay. There’s plenty more heterosexual couples that marry because “it feels good, go ahead and do it” with no intention of ever having children than there are same-sex couples (again, simple mathematics). Should we deny marriage to anyone who doesn’t plan to have kids? What about the infertile couples? The old people? You yourself say “Marriage is in trouble right now — admittedly, for many reasons that have little to do with same-sex unions.” So why the discrimination? Why should we be passing a constitutional amendment denying legal rights to American citizens who pay taxes and serve in our armed forces? If “marriage” is so important, why aren’t we going after all those “many other reasons” first?
Problem the fourth – Marriage has already been redefined multiple times over the years. Marriage used to be one man and multiple women. Marriage used to be a way to exchange property between two families. Marriage used to be between brother and sister to keep the royal bloodline pure. Marriage used to be between children. Marriage used to be only for people that were the same skin color. Marriage used to be a lot of things, many of them oppressive towards women and minorities. I think I’d rather marriage be between two people that love each other and are committed to each other no matter what combination of fleshy bits are hanging off their bodies; not a reality TV show.
Problem the fifth – You’re trying to raise a religious argument in a secular matter. The First Amendment isn’t just about the freedom FOR religion, it’s also about the freedom FROM religion. The word “marriage” appears in thousands of legal documents and laws in this nation, and to attempt to narrowly define it through a religious application means you’re trying to assert a religious viewpoint on those who may not necessarily hold the same views. Our founding fathers knew quite clearly the dangers that state sponsored religious persecution could inflict (they lived through it!), and the First Amendment is worded in favor of state neutrality for a reason. I will support your right to worship at whatever altar you choose, but I will not support you trying to force it on someone else, or to deny someone else legal benefits due to religious reasoning.
Problem the last – The only impact same-sex marriage will have on your children is if one of them turns out to be gay and cannot get married. What will you do (and I ask this honestly) if one or more of your kids ends up being gay? Will you love them any less? What will your actions speak to them, 15 years from now, when they ask you why they can’t enjoy the same relationship that you and your wife have now? And if your response is “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it”, well, for a lot of people that bridge is here right now. They’re trying to cross it, but the way is barred, and I will do my best to tear those barricades down any way I can because I believe that we are infringing on the free will of other human beings by denying them their basic right to live free of oppression. I love my daughters for their minds and their personalities, not for who they love as adults. That’s none of my damn business, and I will support them in life no matter who they want to marry.
Ultimately, while your letter is respectful and polite (and I’ve tried to keep mine the same way, no SPARKLEPONIES in this one), I remain unconvinced by any logical reasoning you have so far brought to bear on the subject. I encourage you to keep speaking out, as we should never be afraid to espouse our views, but from a rational standpoint I simply cannot agree with discrimination against a subset of our citizenry.
(Miss you at the crossword puzzles)