Tuesday, William B. May, head of Marriage Reality Movement, sent out an email today to supporters. It is a fairly standard money-beg with a link to May’s polemic from Sunday titled “Avoiding ’Unplesantries’ <sic> at Family Gatherings.” May offers some interesting (though foolish) advice, first quoting a theologian:
“If you debate to win, at some point you will cheat. Always debate to reveal truth.” In other words, as we emphasize in our workshops, remember the most important audience is usually those overhearing the conversation, rather than the person with whom there is a difference of opinion. The objective for members of the Marriage Reality Movement is to be able to witness the truth about love and marriage in ways that our children can understand and embrace. Be conscious of the audience.
I am not referring to scholastic debate. I am talking about the Thanksgiving table. The necessary skills and the dynamic are completely different. It should be slow-talk. (yeah, I know, people might interrupt and that’s good). Sound argument is constructed of “units of conviction.” These are carefully constructed arguments that include opinion, supporting fact, and (in this case) at least two benefits to society. They also provide a means of actually sampling the audience. If anyone wants the structure — send me an email. The whole idea is to be in command without being in obvious command. Never interrupt and really listen so that you address the argument that is actually proffered.
May offers some tips for argument. These include:
Ask the key question.
Rather than argue, simply
ask the question: “Do you think it is good to have an institution that
unites children with their mothers and fathers?” Don’t seek an
agreement, but turn it over to the Holy Spirit and let people think
The answer to that manipulative, rhetorical question is “yes.” Shut up for a few moments and give them a chance to unravel. Silence is one of our best (but often overlooked) debating tools. The unit of conviction goes something like this [after a pause] “And it is irrelevant to marriage equality because those couples still wed. They are unaffected which means that the children of same-sex couples have the legal and social benefits of having married parents and society benefits by having children who can become fully capable, contributing adults.” Never say “yes, but.”
One of May’s gems is this bit of sophistry:
Since its [marriage] new purpose is
the benefit of loving couples, it is now discriminatory to promote the
unique value of men and woman marrying before having children. Go back
to the question: wouldn’t it be good to have a civil institution that
can be used to encourage men and women to marry before having children?
Stating that the purpose for marriage was to unite children with mommy and daddy seems to have been developed about when marriage hit the courts. It wasn’t true then and it isn’t true now. I used to say that the purpose of marriage was to create a marital estate. That is true but there may be other reasons as well. It’s not simplistic and varies depending upon the needs and desires of the couple.
“But what about same-sex couples who are parenting?”
Remember, children parented by same-sex couple have suffered great misfortune – they have lost their mother, father or both. This has
nothing to do with marriage reality, the institution that unites children with their mother and father.
Avoid criticizing and have compassion recognizing that children in irregular family situations whatever the circumstances, love their parents,
and their parents love them. Always charitably presume, like every parent, they are trying to do their best.
Actually, many of those children have had the very good fortune of being adopted by a loving couple. They might be sitting at the same table. May brings his religious preconditions with him. According to the Catholic Church there is no such thing as divorce. Yet should it occur and one spouse is gay then he or she should never get primary custody. Furthermore, in May’s warped world, gays don’t get to adopt. Must we re-litigate the absurdity of preposterous opinions based upon the thoroughly discredited research of Mark Regnerus?
The reason that all this reminds me of National Organization for Marriage with Maggie Gallagher at the helm is that they propound the same pseudo-intellectual bullshit. It’s not developed from intellectual curiosity and critical thinking. They are trying to conform social science and public policy to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Sorry but Thomas Aquinas was a superstitious 13th century fool.
These arguments didn’t work then and they won’t work now. Marriage equality is now the law of the land. Unless or until Mr. May can come up with 38 states to ratify a constitutional amendment — deal with what is the authentic “marriage reality.”