A Superset Isn’t “the Opposite”

Among other poorly-supported and inconsistently-reasoned arguments, Stephen J. Heaney puts forth the claim that “a vow…before the community to engage in a project that is greater than the couple” and “an expression of the desires of two people…[which] the community must support…whatever they choose–to have…children…or not” are in direct opposition: “To accept one definition, one must reject the other”. [I didn’t intentionally change the meaning with all those elisions–just trying to make the statements a bit more concise; the original statements make up the entire 2nd paragraph of the source.]

A little diagram:

Marriage diagram

I’m not going to waste words deconstructing his other arguments, which have all been shown false or misleading time and time again [when others have made them].  But lets get this part straightened out: When one thing includes the other, they are not mutually exclusive. I thought basic logic was part of a philosophy degree. Right now, the societal status is mostly the cantaloupe circle. It used to be the tulip circle–and here’s the important part: if you want to restrict your marriage to same-race, you can. There is absolutely nothing in society right now that prevents that [though, depending on your reasons, you may suffer some social discomfort for the decision]. If we move to the mustard circle, likewise, there will be absolutely nothing preventing anyone from marrying someone of the opposite sex & gender. By definition, this is not an oppositional thing.

Mr. Heaney is arguing that the only way he can have an opposite-sex marriage is if no one else has a same-sex marriage. So he’s not arguing that a broadening of the legal recognition of marriage is a threat to opposite-sex marriage, he’s arguing that broadening the legal recognition of marriage is a threat to the ban on same-sex marriage–a tautology. And he’s being disingenuous in the process, rather than admit [to himself?] that the whole of his argument is “I don’t want same sex marriage to be legal”.

To reiterate: the status quo may be in opposition to same-sex marriage, but marriage for all consenting adults (in pairs) is not in opposition to opposite-sex marriage.

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