On Monday David van Gend, of the Family Council of Queensland was published in The Australian, making his argument against marriage equality. Last night I asked twitter to find an intern for us so that his arguments wouldn’t be left uncontested. What I received were two excellent, very different, contributions from David Byrnes and Heath Callaway.

Take a look at both of them over the fold.

8 Things I know About Teh Gheys

By Heath Callaway

“A bigot” writes David van Gend, “is someone who refuses to see the other point of view.” A nice theory, but it’s unfortunately demonstrably false. Any sane person will refuse to concede that the world is hollow, that human activity is not affecting the climate, or that humans were spontaneously created from potting mix and spare ribs. The reason they would take this view is that in each instance there is overwhelming proof to the contrary – enough so that anyone who clings to these beliefs can be safely regarded as a window-licking moron.

Such is the calibre of argument presented against marriage equality. Like the issue of climate change, those clinging to their position do so through irrational faith, and continue to (ever more shrilly) parrot talking points that have long since been discredited completely. David van Gend has repackaged all of these same tired chestnuts in a fresh wrapping of confected concern. It’s old, it adds nothing, and I can’t be bothered revisiting the arguments that have proven him wrong, time and time again.

So instead I figure I’d enlighten the interwebs about a few apparently little known facts about same sex couples. This is obviously hitherto unheard of knowledge, so you are hereby sworn to secrecy under penalty of the Scissor Sisters, or similar forms of torture:

FACT #1: Homosexuals can’t have children by accident. Even with their drugs and their dancing and lattes, they have to make a conscious decision to breed. They are, in fact, hampered at every turn by adoption agencies and fertility clinics run by nice Christian organisations. This of course is at odds with the accepted wisdom that the community is built on the back of the Minto Mum, and the truism that the best way to locate a single woman in Woy Woy is to look for those pushing the prams. Teeth are a matter of personal preference. Apparently the sacred ‘family unit’ axiom is negotiable.

FACT #2: Homosexuals are statistically more likely to have tertiary education and high paying careers. They are more likely to be able to provide for a child in their care than the majority of parents. This is in no way proof alone that they are capable of being decent parents, but fortunately most aren’t self-loathing mouth breathers, so the danger is somewhat mitigated.

FACT #3: Homosexuals don’t hate people for being heterosexual. It’s true. Unfortunately the reverse does not always apply. And this, good folk, is the crux of the biscuit. The main thrust of the argument against marriage equality is the hatred of the ignorant directed toward those who do not wish them harm. Those that rail against gay marriage through fear of it debasing their own union are losers who lose. People so insecure about their own marriage don’t deserve to be in one. They probably don’t deserve soap or cutlery either, but I can’t do anything about that for now.

FACT #4: Ted Lapkin is an idiot. Not only is he an idiot, he’s a multifaceted idiot. He manages to be wrong about everything all at once. Quite a feat when you think about it. Even Andrew Bolt occasionally manages to be right due to the law of probability. For Lapkin to be so consistently wrong he must put in a monumental, unwavering effort – the sort of dedication that wilfully bypasses the tap when thirsty in order to drink from the toilet. Commendable if you go for that sort of thing.

FACT #5: Homosexuals are good at love. Perhaps because they’ve been told most (if not all) of their lives that they are incapable of true, ‘beat your wife’ kind of intimacy, they seem to work harder at loving. This is of course very bad for children. Children are allergic to love, and have been known to break out in Pell rash from overexposure. There’s a phrase in the church for the love of children. It’s called ‘Relocation to South America’. It’s not exactly the same sort of love we’re talking about, but they can’t really tell the difference.

Which brings us to FACT #6: Homosexuality isn’t paedophilia. It isn’t bestiality or incest. It is homosexuality. That some people can’t tell the difference says much more about them than it does about anyone else with a passing understanding of English, psychology, or common bloody sense. Homosexuals don’t rape your dog. I can’t speak for all News Limited bloggers on that one.


FACT #8 Some people are paid by interfering tosspots to speak up about issues they have no understanding of – simply because they have a fan base that struggles with the concept of a spoon.

I leave it to others to draw their own conclusions regarding David van Geld’s tiny mew in the dark. Did he add anything at all to what should be a non-debate, or did he just cry into his weet-bix like another whiney nobody? I’d say history will decide, but a week from now Davey will just be another forgotten stain on the wall. The rest of us are playing well past this sort of nonsense.

A dad does matter to a child, based on my irrefutable logic

By David Byrnes

In some ways I like being on the side that fights inequality. There is a sense of superiority and fulfilment that comes from knowing I am advocating for the betterment of humankind rather than trying to prevent it, knowing that in the future I will be able to laugh at those who opposed the progressive change, but most especially from being able to smackdown the numerous illogical arguments presented by the opponents of change, the most recent example of this being David Van Bend’s contribution to the intertubes.

A BIGOT is someone who refuses to see the other point of view. Articles by Peter van Onselen and James Valentine in The Weekend Australian smeared opponents of gay marriage as bigots, yet both men refuse to see the other point of view — and that means the point of view of the child.

Marriage is fundamentally about the needs of children, writes David Blankenhorn, a supporter of gay rights in the US who nevertheless draws the line at same-sex marriage. Redefining marriage to include gay and lesbian couples would eliminate entirely in law, and weaken still further in culture, the basic idea of a mother and a father for every child.

In informal logic this is what we call begging the question. The problem that lies in this argument is that the conclusion is based on a premise that already assumes the conclusion is correct. His premise is that children need a mother and a father based on a conclusion that two gay parents are bad, however he doesn’t explain how, why or give any supporting evidence to support this premise. It simply assumes that it is so, and incorrectly so as studies have shown that children of gay parents are likely to have the same educational outcomes as those of heterosexual parents, do better than those that live in a group home or orphanage, and that the major problem they face is bullying and discrimination, largely as a result of people holding views like David Van Gend.

I assume the irony of talking about the view of children and not asking any children of gay parents for their views themselves is lost upon him.

Here is the heart of opposition to same-sex marriage: that it means same-sex parenting, and same-sex parenting means that a child must miss out on either a mother or a father.

This is a perfect example of a straw man. Reduce your opponent’s argument down to a single point, refute that point and then claim that you have refuted their argument. The problem with this fallacy is obvious – same sex marriage does not mean same-sex parenting. There is no requirement for same sex couples to have children. In fact unlike heterosexual couples there is not even the possibility of a gay couple having a child unless they specifically use artifiial methods. We could point this problem in his argument out alone and Van Gend’s whole argument would fall over like a house of cards.

Marriage is a compound right under Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; it is not only the right to an exclusive relationship, but the right to form a family. Therefore gay marriage includes the right to form a family by artificial reproduction but any child created within that marriage would have no possibility of being raised by both mother and father.

The relevant Article that Van Gend quotes says “Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.”. I’ll give Van Gend the benefit of the doubt and just assume he didn’t realise that he quoting from a document (that Australia is nominally signed up to) which says that people, which by my reading should include gay people, should have the right to marry. Instead of accusing him of deliberately stuffing up his own argument by introducing a premise that counters his conclusion. Lol, always check your links people.

Obviously there are tragic situations where a child cannot have both a mum and a dad, such as the death or desertion of a parent, but that is not a situation we would ever wish upon a child, and that is not a situation that any government should inflict upon a child.

Yet legalising same-sex marriage will inflict that deprivation on a child. That is why it is wrong, and that is why all laws are wrong that permit single people or same-sex couples to obtain a child by IVF, surrogacy, or adoption.

This is a clever little red herring that Van Gend has done. Very clever. Notice exactly what he is saying – sometimes a parent dies or a leaves the family. Obviously the government shouldn’t advocate killing parents or suggest they abandon their children. But what about all the other situations where the government does inflict that on a child. If the government shouldn’t do that then why do they allow divorces that result in one parent being given custody of the child. Why are single parents allowed to carry the child to birth? Does he suggest that the government refuse to send people who are convicted of a crime to jail on the grounds that they have a child and don’t wish to leave the child without a father or mother? This is also a half-truth, in other words suppressed evidence. He wants to make us think that the government doesn’t already create families where children don’t have both a mother and father, when clearly they already do.

Take Penny Wong, for example, as van Onselen did. She is an effective politician, but she can never be a dad to a little boy. She and her partner tell us they have created a baby who will have no father, only a mother and another woman. Their assertion is that a dad does not matter to a child.

As ethicist Margaret Somerville wrote in these pages, such assertions force us to choose between giving priority to children’s rights or to homosexual adults’ claims. Yet trivial arguments frame the gay marriage debate solely in terms of the emotional needs of adults, ignoring the child’s point of view.

This isn’t so much a logical fallacy as it is bullcr*p, to use the technical term. Does Van Gend seriously want to argue that Senator Penny Wong, the holder of one the highest elected offices in the country, her child, a person who will be raised in a stable, wealthy, family environment will be less emotionally and socially developed when they are grown up than Ritchard of ACA/Today Tonight fame?

You have to admire his way with words though. He says it’s Senator Wong who has an ‘assertion’ that a dad does not matter to a child. Well no Dave, it’s you who has the assertion that they do. So far the research conducted by actual scientists (yes, in lab coats – well no, actually they are just psychologists) is that: “If gay, lesbian, or bisexual parents were inherently less capable than otherwise comparable heterosexual parents, their children would evidence problems regardless of the type of sample. This pattern clearly has not been observed. Given the consistent failures in this research literature to disprove the null hypothesis, the burden of empirical proof is on those who argue that the children of sexual minority parents fare worse than the children of heterosexual parents”. So his whole argument is not only riddled with logical fallacies but it’s based on a falsehood to begin with.

But wait, there’s more.

Such adult-centred narcissism raises the wider question: if gender no longer matters in marriage, why should number? If marriage is all about adults who love each other, by what rational principle should three adults who love each other not be allowed to marry? Academic defenders of polyamory are asking that question, and no doubt van Onselen will soon be slurring opponents of polyamory as binary bigots.

He clearly couldn’t help himself but to jump on the slippery slope in yet another of the most poorly constructed arguments I’ve seen yet. The slippery slope is of course a fallacy because just because we make changes in one area it does not follow that we will make changes in another. Serious people don’t even bother using this type of argument because it is so easy to see and easy to refute. The real fun comes from subverting the fallacy. If David Van Gend is seriously arguing that a child needs both a mother and a father to have a good life then surely it would mean that having two mothers and two fathers would be even better right? So if David Van Gend says that we should make sure that children have both a mother and a father then by what rational principle should we stop two sets of people from both being the parents to the child. No doubt Van Gend will soon be slurring opponents of dual parenthood.

While warm, fuzzy writers such as Valentine can imagine no possible harm to society from gay marriage, the serious minds behind the movement occasionally let us glimpse their wider purpose. US activist Michelangelo Signorile urges gays to fight for same-sex marriage and its benefits and then, once granted, redefine the institution of marriage completely.

Uh well I’m pretty sure that redefining the institution of marriage completely is the whole point of the exercise. Like once gay people have same-sex marriage rights the institution of marraige will no longer represent the final form of government sanctioned discrimination left in our country today.

He sees same-sex marriage as the final tool with which to get education about homosexuality and AIDS into public schools.

Sure enough, we now have empirical evidence that normalising gay marriage means normalising homosexual behaviour for public school children.

What!? No! Curses. Van Gend has discovered our secret plot. All along we wanted to stamp out the establishment of prejudice and encourage acceptance of difference during the formative years of school. I’m laughing at Van Gend’s ridiculous assertion that children shouldn’t be educated about the danger of sexually transmitted diseases. Didn’t the government spend millions of dollars specifically to educate people about AIDS during the 80s.

I’ve held off calling Van Gend a bigot until this point cause Jeremy Sear pinged me for going straight to calling him a bigot on twitter, but also because he hasn’t outright been insulting gay people so far (I could make an argument about his ‘homosexual adults’ line but this post is going so long already). Van Gend says that normalising gay marriage means normalising homosexual behaviour for public school children. Normalising. Yep. In other words he thinks that gay people are currently ‘unnormal’. Unnatural. Immoral. Deviants. Freaks.

This is a man who says he is a doctor. Imagine that. Going to see a doctor who thinks you are a lesser human being just because of your sexual attraction. This is a man who claims to represent the “Family Council”. Is that the type of message that the “Family Council” want to send to teenage students who are questioning their sexuality? You aren’t normal. You aren’t like the rest of us. Go die or something.

You are a hateful man David Van Gend, and you have my pity.

Beyond the confusion and corruption of schoolchildren.

Some people would argue that making children and teenagers more understanding of the world around them is not corruption, but given that faith is the furthest emotion from understanding I can see why Van Gend would consider it “corruption”. This is also what is known as the Helen Lovejoy Defence. Won’t somebody think of the children!

the cultural consequences of legalising same-sex marriage include the stifling of conscientious freedom. Again in Massachusetts, when adoption agency Catholic Charities was told it would have to place children equally with married homosexuals, it had to close. As Canadian QC and lesbian activist Barbara Findlay said, “The legal struggle for queer rights will one day be a showdown between freedom of religion versus sexual orientation”.

I’ve dealt with this in an earlier comment that I sent to Crikey. In this case Van Gend is quoting the lesbian activist in what I assume is to be a negative way. Given that he is rightwing christian fundie I can understand why. I think I’ve perfectly summed up the counter argument to this point in my email (which I’ll note for once is an actual argument and not just a piece of fallacious nonsense) so I’ll just quote it with some amendments:

“The choice to belong to a religion is just that – a choice. The fact that someone is gay, or a female, or transs-xual, or is a single parent is not something that they can just change. I can choose to be a catholic, or an anglican, or a muslim, or a buddhist, or to worship any of the thousands of gods in the Japanese Shinto religion. Just as I can choose to be an anti-abortion activist or a climate change denier or a Green. But I cannot change which gender of person I am attracted to. They like to pretend that their right to discriminate against me through their choice of ‘religious belief and practice’ has the same standing as me having the right to not be discriminated against because of who I am.”

Blankenhorn warned, “Once this proposed reform became law, even to say the words out loud in public — every child needs a father and a mother — would probably be viewed as explicitly divisive and discriminatory, possibly even as hate speech.

All aboard the slippery slope! Let us know how that works out in a few years. This is the part where I like to laugh at them, haha.

Marriage is not a fad to be cut to shape according to social whim

A knowingly false claim. Interracial marriage was banned under US Federal Law until 1967 when people realised that that law was based on values that were both no longer held by then and what we nowadays consider unjust. Of course marriage has been shaped according to social whims.

Not all marriages do create children but typically they do, and the institution exists for the typical case of marriage. Homosexual relations cannot create children or provide a child with natural role models; such relations are important to the individuals involved, and demand neighbourly civility, but they do not meet nature’s job description for marriage.

Here Van Gend slips back into fallacious form. Here he hasn’t even fallen foul of an informal fallacy – but a full on formal fallacy in deductive reasoning.

Van Gend says that the institution exists for the ‘typical’ case of marriage. If the ‘typical’ case is one in which a couple produce a child then according to his reasoning only those couples who plan to have a child when they marry should be allowed to marry. However since heterosexual couples are allowed to marry and not produce a child then it stands to reason that the actual typical case of marriage is not one in which a child is produced. Rather the typical case of marriage in one in which two people are married. If heterosexual couples are allowed to marry and not produce a child it stands to reason that gay couples should also be allowed to marry if they are not going to produce a child.

I’ve already dealt with his unproven assertions that same-sex parenting is somehow ‘bad’.

As van Onselen notes, homosexual couples now enjoy equality with male-female couples in every way short of marriage. It must stop short of marriage, because the demands of adults must end where the birthright of a child begins.

He couldn’t resist throwing in another begging the question. Why does the birthright of a child mean that the demands of the adults can not be met? Basing your conclusion on a premise that you assume is correct without proving it, seems to be the modus operandi for anti-equality campaigners.

Marriage and family formation are about about something much deeper than civil equality; they are about a natural reality which society did not create and which only a decadent party such as the Greens, so out of touch with nature, would seek to destroy.

This is his viewpoint. I have a differnt one. I believe that marriage and family are also not just civil equality or being able to claim tax benefits. I believe they are about love and whether you are willing to give someone unconditional love.

I won’t even bother with dealing with that stupid sledge against the Greens.

Finally Van Gend’s whole argument is moot because same-sex parenting is already legal in WA, the ACT and NSW. Sucka!

Disclaimer – some of the logical fallacies in this piece should be attributed to David Blakenhorn rather than David Van Gend, but if Van Gend wants to use them under his name he has to wear them.

And on the topic of David Blankenhorn – the judge who presided over the Californian Proposition 8 hearing ruled that his testimony was unreliable and entitled to essentially no weight. Your witness Mr Van Gend.

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