Critique of "Against Gay Marriage"
In his essay "Against Gay Marriage," William Bennett, a great spokesman for conservatives and former Secretary of education under President Reagan, maintains his conservative stance that allowing same-sex couples to marry would have a harmful and lasting effect on our society's intrinsic values and, in his view, would stretch the "fragile" institution of marriage beyond recognition (409). Bennett, as the title indicates, presents a powerful argument "Against Gay Marriage." He argues that allowing gay marriage would change the meaning of marriage, the ideal of marriage as being an "honorable estate," and would have a large role in molding sexuality (409). One does not have to agree with Bennett to appreciate the strength and honesty of his mind. Still, although he raises thoughtful objections to same-sex marriage, his claims overall read more like an outline, lacking specifics and expert opinions, referring to one organized, careful study, and committing a number of logical fallacies that muddy and diminish the effectiveness of his argument.
Throughout his essay, Bennett makes many underlying assumptions about same sex couples and the legalization of homosexual marriage. From the beginning, Bennett states that even entertaining such a debate "would be pointless," were it not for the "confused time" we find ourselves in (409). Bennett does concede, however, that arguments made by homosexual advocates such as Andrew Sullivan are "intelligent" ones, and even "conservative," and "politically shrewd" (409), when touching on the idea that allowing gay marriage would actually promote healthy long term relationships. Sullivan does an excellent job of arguing his point that legalization of gay marriage would in fact, help promote healthy relationships and monogamous tendencies, which in his essay he states that the legalization of gay marriage would in fact also encourage homosexuals to "make a deeper commitment to one another and to society" (409). From here though, for William Bennett the views expressed in his editorial piece are clear cut, simple, and largely dismissive in their tone. Besides this claim, to Bennett there are no reasons in his mind why gay marriage should be legal. Bennett admits, though Sullivan's argument is shrewd, Sullivan is not right. In fact, Bennett would insist and has an underlying assumption in his essay that gay marriages will weaken the institution of marriage even more and will not be truly monogamous and committed to each other because of the "openness" of gay relationships and that homosexuals have "less restrained sexual practices" (410). Bennett's continuous assumptions that gays cannot be truly monogamous and committed shows that to him there exists no room for compromise on the matter, and weakens the strength of his argument.
Bennett also throughout his essay makes many fallacious arguments for example, in his opening, Bennett makes a very strong assertion if not an outright overstatement, when he says that recognizing homosexual marriage would symbolize the potent change in the interpretation and characterization of marriage, and "would be the most radical step ever taken in the deconstruction of society's most important institution" (409). Of course, Bennett is respected for his personal opinions, but the reader may wonder if any studies or expert opinions exist to support Bennett's view, to which he has none. This yet again takes away from the strength of his argument because, unlike in Ryan Anderson's "Marriage: What It Is, Why It Matters and the Consequences of Redefining It" where claim after claim Anderson presents the reader with numerous statistics and expert testimony on why marriage should not be changed and the repercussions and "dangers" of gay marriage being legalized. Anderson presents the argument that marriage exists to bring a man and a woman together as husband and wife,...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document