Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Answers Tony Perkins And Ted Olson Should Have Given On Questions About Same Sex Marriage

On this last Sunday on Chris Wallace's Fox News Sunday show, Chris held a discussion about same sex marriage with two great Americans, Tony Perkins and Ted Olson.  Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council and Ted Olson, lawyer and former Solicitor General of the United States under George W Bush, are not just great Americans but two of the most brilliant minds around.   So, it was surprising to me that, in my humble opinion, each of them missed answering in the best way a question put to them.

While I personally favor traditional marriage [with God in the mix, as Barack Obama once said], this post is not an argument for or against same sex marriage.  I like to look at the arguments both sides are making in an intellectually honest way to better understand the positions of each side.  Also, in pointing out what I think are mistakes in answers given by Olson and Perkins, I am in no way trying to compare my mind to their great minds.  Trust me, there is no comparison.

Tony Perkins
1. The question that I think Tony Perkins botched in answering:  "How does same sex marriages affect your [traditional] marriage [implied negatively]?"

He never really answered the question but started talking about problems like a baker or photographer, etc. who would be forced against their moral beliefs in participating in same sex marriages.  That may be all true but that wasn't the question that was asked.

The reason I think tony Perkins didn't answer the question directly is because he believes, like I do, that in reality same sex marriages have no effect on his marriage or on how others who have traditional marriages view the meaning of their own marriages. 

I have been blessed to be married to my wonderful wife, Sheralyn, for 32 years.  If I want to be totally honest with myself I must say, who marries who, has zero effect on how I view my marriage and how I will always cherish the meaning of my marriage.  No one can take away the vows that I pledged to God and no other marriage can ever lessen the meaning of my marriage with Sheralyn.

I believe Tony Perkins feels the exact same way and that is why he didn't answer the question directly.  But he did have a good answer that he should have given.

Here is how Tony Perkins should have answered that question:  Chris, to answer your question directly, no, same sex marriages cannot and will never affect negatively my marriage.  Nothing can take away the meaning that I have for my marriage.  But, that question is a non-sequitur to the question of whether there should be same sex marriages.

I could ask a similar question to you and those in favor of same sex marriages who are opposed to polygamy.  How would the fact that a man marries two or three woman, [or other examples of polygamy] affect negatively your marriage or those who have same sex marriages?  The answer I believe given by most would be that polygamy wouldn't affect the meaning of their own marriage, but they still would be adamantly against it.  Well Chris, that is the same answer those of us who believe in the traditional meaning of marriage would be.

The fact that same sex marriages wouldn't affect negatively the meaning of our marriages, is certainly not an argument in favor of same sex marriages.   That question has no relevancy to what the definition of marriage should be.

Ted Olson
2. The question Tony Perkins asked of Ted Olson and that Ted never responded to [paraphrasing]:  "If we move away from the definition of traditional marriages to allow same sex marriages, doesn't that remove the barriers [restrictions] which would allow for other changes [ex. like polygamy or like two sisters marrying, etc.]?"

Ted Olson let that question go without a response but there is actually a good answer he could have given.

Here is how Ted Olson should have answered that question:  It is true that we, on the pro same sex marriage side, do want to change the traditional definition of marriage, but we do not want to remove the restrictions that would allow an "anything goes" situation when it comes to marriage.   We want to change the definition of marriage from that of being the union of one man and one woman to that of being the union of two people who are not closely related.  All of other rules of marriage, as established by the various states, will be exactly the same as they are now.  So, allowing same sex marriages will not remove any of the restrictions that there are now, such as age requirements, close relatives not being allowed to marry, or allowing more than two people marrying each other.  The only "barrier" change that will occur is that marriage should no longer be between one man and one woman but between two people.   All the other rules that are there now for marriage would stay the same.

I know it is presumptuous of me to tell these two great minds on how to argue their respective cases.  So, let me just say that is how I would have answered those two questions if I was asked to debate their respective sides.

I thank these two men and Chris Wallace for an interesting discussion. 
UpdateI got a response on Facebook from a friend- @Bedfordguy - who made such good points and in a constructive way showed my how my response that I gave for what I said Ted Olson's argument should have been, actually broke down.  I thanked him and actually agreed with his points and requested that I could post his comments as an update on my post.  He agreed.

Bedford Guy:  
"Michael, a good blog post. The response you gave for Ted Olsen breaks down, as I will demonstrate in a second. The basis on which the courts have ruled in favor of same sex marriage is that heterosexual marriage has "no rational basis". When you apply this test to same sex marriage inclusion into the definition, you have no rational argument against including incest and polygamy, or any other "relationship" that wants special status. That was Perkins point when he said that you lose all barriers. Ted Olsen's only answer to the question was to defend gay marriage the same way Perkins would defend traditional marriage, and he couldn't do that, as it would have destroyed his "love" argument in favor of same sex inclusion in the marriage definition. BTW, we are all effected when the very institution that has maintained and preserved humankind for centuries is destroyed."

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