Column: Person Holding Opinion Is A “Bigot”?

February 23, 2016

[Opinion column written by Donnie Martin]

There’s a word that’s being thrown around with increasing frequency in our discussions about the possible legalization of same sex marriage in Bermuda.

As nearly as I can tell, this word is being used solely by proponents of same sex marriage as they evaluate the persons and positions of those with whom they disagree.

The word is “bigot”.

I’m not sure why this word is enjoying such an increase in popularity, but I suspect it has to do with its inflammatory nature. As we all know, once certain words are introduced into the conversation [for example: racist, intolerant, Nazi], discussion is effectively derailed.

Donnie Martin 160223

Time is often wasted defending against the charge, rather than talking about the issue. Or many of the other issues connected to such terms surface to cloud the discussion at hand. Either way, once such words are introduced, the person using the word has often sidestepped their responsibility to defend their position or respond to someone else’s.

Does the opinion that marriage should be retained as a union applying uniquely to a man and a woman [a position that I hold] automatically mean the person holding the opinion is a bigot?

If you’re willing to answer “yes” to that question, here’s what you’re implying.

You imply that all known societies over the face of the earth — ever — and the vast majority of people in those societies, though separated by time and geography, culture and ethics, and diverse in almost every way imaginable, have nonetheless been united in an opinion that is just plain wrong. Indeed, have colluded in this opinion because of their intolerance.

You imply that you are ready to jettison the combined historical and traditional weight of virtually all of human experience because you are sure of your moral goodness in comparison to the prejudice of pretty much everyone else.

You imply, in the words of US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, “that an institution as old as government itself, and accepted by every nation in history until 15 years ago, cannot possibly be supported by anything other than ignorance or bigotry”.

You imply that you are ready to change an institution whose present form has for hundreds of years been upheld by the brightest minds of philosophical, sociological, legal, economic, and yes, religious thought — indeed that those minds were uniformly blinded by what you can clearly see as an unreasoning hatred.

Understand these points clearly. The label you apply to your faceless opponent is also applied to the vast majority of human beings who have ever lived.

Are you sure you’re willing to say all this?

To everyone involved in this discussion — including those with whom I would agree in their desire to preserve marriage. The way we have this conversation matters. We must respect each other’s personhood, even while disagreeing about positions. Divisive labels and inflammatory rhetoric, combined with a failure to respond intelligently to points of disagreement, is ultimately unconvincing.

- Donnie Martin

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  1. SANDGROWNAN says:

    “Are you sure you’re willing to say all this?”

    Yes.

    • Rhonnda aka Blue Familiar says:

      Dear Mr. Martin,

      I will not speak for others, but I do not consider those who believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman only as bigots. It is when they strive to force their beliefs upon everyone, and when the also speak out against civil unions in order to deny a minority equal rights, that I will use the term, and rightly so, I believe, bigot.

      But I would disagree with what my calling such people bigots implies.

      From your words, you clearly believe that human history sides with your beliefs, and if one were to accept only the Bible as historic documentation this would be true, but there are other examples from history which suggest otherwise.

      From your words, you clearly believe that because something has the weight of years of history and tradition it must be right in this day and age and therefore remain the same. History itself has proven this to be incorrect. Dare I point out slavery and women’s rights as two very large examples of where history and tradition needed to be tossed out the window in the face of what is right?

      Clearly you believe that marriage has remained the same since the beginning of human history. It hasn’t. Even the Bible examples it’s changes just through the course of Christianity, let alone outside of it.

      So, no, Mr. Martin, when I refer to those involved in the Preserve Marriage group as bigots, I am not making all those implications.

      What I’m saying is that humankind has grown and changed and learns from it’s mistakes and it is time to rectify one of those mistakes as we have others with laws that do not detract from one group in order to give another group the same rights.

    • Really? says:

      Do not be discouraged or disheartened by the comments below, Mr. Martin. This is an extremely well-written piece and you have the support of the majority of BERMUDIANS.

      Clearly, the majority of these commenters love the word “bigot” and get great pleasure out of using it as much as they can. There is nothing you can do about that – but please know that your article resonates with many of us.

  2. blankman says:

    The word “bigot” means a person who is intolerant of other ideas, races, or religions. Does that describe someone who is unwilling to accept the idea of same-sex marriage?

    As for the rest of the column, one of the classic logical fallacies is an “appeal to tradition” (sometimes called an “appeal to antiquity). It essentially says that something is “right” simply because it’s been around for a long time.

    • blankman says:

      BTW, there is also a related fallacy called the “appeal to popularity” which says a position must be true because it is widely held.

      • Donnie Martin says:

        Hi blankman, I appreciate the feedback.

        If you read the opinion carefully, you’ll notice that I never say that the shared approbation of the vast majority of humanity, ever, makes an opinion right. I don’t believe that, and I didn’t argue that, therefore I don’t think I’m making an actual appeal to authority or tradition (feel free to disagree). What I’m asking you to consider is whether it is prudent to label the vast majority of humanity, ever, as bigots without considering if there is perhaps something more significant about their opinion than sheer intolerance. I’m appealing to courtesy and charitable discussion, not tradition.

        BTW, judging by the replies to this opinion, the support of same sex marriage is by far more popular than support of traditional marriage. Is it therefore to be dismissed based on the appeal to popularity fallacy, or should we consider it on its merits?

        Best,
        Donnie

        • Donnie Martin says:

          That should be appeal to antiquity, not authority.

        • blankman says:

          “… I never say that the shared approbation of the vast majority of humanity, ever, makes an opinion right.”
          ====================================

          Actually, you do. Or at least you imply it when you refer to “all known societies over the face of the earth — ever”.

          As for labelling people bigots because of an opinion? If they try to make others live their lives according to that opinion, most definitely. If they try to deny others human rights because of that opinion, most definitely.

          But let’s change a couple of words – if someone is opposed to mixed race marriages or opposed to racially integrated schools would you label them as bigots? If your SSM logic were true then your arguments would apply equally to these two situations.

          In any case, it appears that the only reasons you have for objecting to the use of the word “bigot” are based on two classical logical fallacies – an appeal to antiquity and an appeal to popularity.

          • Donnie Martin says:

            Hi blankman,

            My objections to the use of the term “bigot” in this discussion are that it evades the responsibility to respond to actual arguments, it imposes an unjust judgment on the vast majority of humanity, and it promotes a dehumanizing attitude toward opponents which is ultimately detrimental to meaningful public discussion.

            All of this can be gleaned from even a marginally objective reading of my piece. But apparently you’d rather play the fallacy game. Fine, I’ll oblige you this once.

            You insist that I said words which I didn’t and do not say, and indeed have never said. You persist in doing this despite my explicit denial and my clarification. You then argue against what I didn’t say, and congratulate yourself on exposing my illogic. That’s the straw man fallacy.

            Though you haven’t explicitly called me a bigot, you continue to defend the use of the word as a valid epithet against those who differ with you on this issue. So really you implicitly are calling me a bigot. That’s ad hominem.

            And you continue to use what you perceive as my fallacious reasoning to dismiss my conclusion, which is that we should be debating the issue with civility and not name-calling. That’s the fallacy fallacy.

            Do you want to keep doing this, or would you like to have a conversation? If the latter, see my comments elsewhere.

            Best,
            Donnie

            • Really? says:

              Well-said!!

            • blankman says:

              “… I never say that the shared approbation of the vast majority of humanity, ever, makes an opinion right.”
              ====================================

              So you didn’t say that?

              And I stand by my statement – your reasoning is completely fallacious.

              But you really do have to learn some basic logic. The statement “You are a bigot because …” is not an ad hominem argument. The statement “Your column is wrong because you’re a bigot” would be.

              • blankman says:

                Sorry – hit send before I finished.

                I have not said that your response was wrong because you’re a bigot.

    • Onion says:

      You could write the same column defending slavery only changing a small handful of words and the Supreme Court justice.

  3. hmmm says:

    Bigot defn: : a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group with hatred and intolerance.

    So yes Donnie Martin you are a bigot, and your article makes you look like a fool. The world has changed, the laws have evolved. We are no longer slaves or segregated and can vote. You trying to turn back the clock????

    You want to oppress this minority group, by them not having the same rights as you or I. That I’m afraid is unacceptable.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      Calling Mr. Martin a bigot is a bit far as he is indeed posing a valid question, but he is failing to factor the possibilities when the question is expanded to its full relevance. Some one who holds a view that marriage should be exclusively man/woman isn’t automatically a bigot, it is when they seek to enforce that belief on other, using baseless and discriminatory arguments that make them bigots. Someone who holds to the belief that marriage is exclusively for a man and a woman, but will not stand against the equality of law should not be considered a bigot, in fact they could be considered a better person than some, if not most, on either side of this debate.
      Mr. Martin is free to his opinion, as are you and I, this is law, but the law cannot be based on opinions and must be applied equally with regards to protecting the rights of individuals and groups, so Mr. Martin’s opinion cannot and should never be the basis for the prevention of a committed same sex couple from marrying.

    • MPP says:

      This is a surprising level of misunderstanding. You commit the exact error the article is trying to warn against.

      Based on the article, you can’t discern whether or not the writer is “obstinately devoted” to his opinion, or “intolerantly devoted” to it, or if he “treats members of a group with hatred”.

      From what information are you making these accusations?

      Sad. Unfortunately, not shocking.

    • Truth (Original) says:

      Judging by the definition and your reply, you, are a bigot.

      Is that correct? or am I now making the same assumption about you, that you are about Mr. Martin?

  4. M.C. Beauchamp says:

    A column in defence of bigotry. Will wonders never cease?

    “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes”

    Thomas Jefferson

  5. mf87 says:

    After reading your carefully thought out “opinion” a few times, I can safely say I am satisfied with the application of the term bigot. You and the rest of PM think you have a choice over others rights, that makes you all bigots. Sorry this truth might be hard to hear, but in truth, you are practising your bigotry daily, and that is plain to see to anyone who listens.
    You can use whatever false logic you like to justify your disgusting, dispicable bigotry, but it will forever remain just that- BIGOTRY.
    talk to your god about it. I feel sorry for anyone who worships a god so hateful that different is wrong, and that being different means you are not afforded the same rights as anyone else.
    Hope you find your peace, I mean that. For the sake of the island.

  6. aceboy says:

    Donnie. Countries all over the world are adopting same sex legislation to protect people. To protect people who think that all those things you wrote about are good enough reasons to prevent people from simply being happy. To protect them from people like you.

  7. Quinton Berkley Butterfield says:

    I think your confusion is in the definition of the word, bigot (which you failed to define in your post). Being a bigot means you are utterly intolerant of toward those holding different creeds, ideas or opinions. Key words, utterly intolerant. Holding public demonstrations and prayer circles around Parliament, shows utter intolerance.

    • HW says:

      You’ve perceived it that way perhaps because you have a prejudiced view of PM yourself. there was nothing from PM that spoke of intolerance towards anybody and the demonstrations were for upholding the current definition of marriage.

  8. Cow Polly says:

    As someone who has called a columnist on this website a bigot, I can categorically say that I knew exactly what the term meant and that it was appropriate language based on what this person was writing.
    I am a humanist, I believe in equal rights for everyone whether I follow their views or not.
    It may be difficult for the god-fearing, church going crowd to accept that they are in the wrong because they have not been challenged in this way before but what they have to understand is that whilst no one challenges their right to believe in whomever they believe in and prevent them from going to Church, marriage is no longer linked to the Almighty. It is a basic human right to which legal benefits have become attached. Now if they want to prevent same sex weddings in their Church, petition to revoke their pastors/vicars/clergyman’s licence to perform marriages. That will remove the legal side of the marriage and leave only the religious ceremony. But of course, that would be an inconvenience to the congregation wouldn’t it? That would affect you personally. May be then you might understand why you are called a bigot.

  9. Joe says:

    Lots of over thinking going on here

  10. JD says:

    “We must respect each other’s personhood”

    That is your quote.

    Would you agree that respecting each other’s personhood means providing rights to all persons (consenting adults) on an equal basis? Would denying one person a right while granting it to another be disrespectful?

    Do you see where I’m going with this?

  11. jono says:

    ^ When you try to sound smart but are really just dumb af. LOL

  12. My 10 cents says:

    Full Definition of “bigot” per Webster’s:

    >>> a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

    In this case Mr. Martin… Yes, I am willing.

    Particularly while noting Keywords: “Obstinately or Intolerantly devoted…”

  13. Mike Hind says:

    “Does the opinion that marriage should be retained as a union applying uniquely to a man and a woman [a position that I hold] automatically mean the person holding the opinion is a bigot?”

    This is a misrepresentation and the core flaw in this argument.

    As has been explained many, many times, it’s not the opinion that people have a problem with.

    It’s the fact that folks like you think that this opinion should have an affect on someone else’s life, relationship and happiness.

    When you think that your opinion should have a negative affect on someone else’s life, in this case, the denial of equal access to rights and privileges afforded by marriage, that the word bigot applies.

    If you don’t like being called a bigot, take a look at WHY people are using the word…

    And then stop doing that.

    (Correction: it’s “effect” not “affect”. iPad won’t let me fix without a hassle…)

    • Donnie Martin says:

      Hi Mike, thanks for the thoughtful reply.

      A couple observations.

      1) First of all, thanks for pointing out what you see as a misrepresentation on my part. I’ll address that in a second, but in the spirit of reciprocity, I don’t think that my opinion SHOULD (your word x2) “have a negative effect on someone else’s life”. I acknowledge that it probably WILL, but then so will just about all opinions touching on some or other aspect of public policy and law. Your use of the word SHOULD suggests that my intention with holding this opinion is to negatively affect people. That is a misrepresentation. On the contrary, I hold this opinion because it is consistent with my faith, with the reality of what marriage is, and with the best of social science. I know you don’t agree with my conclusions, but can we agree not to misrepresent the other’s intentions?

      2) To your main point (as I take it; feel free to correct me): you seem to be saying that bigotry applies not because I or someone else has a particular opinion, but when that opinion has “a negative effect on someone else’s life”. But obviously this is too broad. By this standard of application, everybody with an opinion about the economy, healthcare, education, immigration, and any number of other issues we’re currently facing, must be a bigot. For the simple reason that opinions in these areas always will produce negative effects on someone. The reality is, people who disagree in these other areas aren’t being called bigots (by and large), but that slur is thrown around freely over here.

      My plea is simple: can we discuss these matters on the merits of the reasons, and not resort to petty inflammatory rhetoric and childish name-calling? Can we proceed in the true spirit of tolerance, in which differing opinions are heatedly discussed and debated based on their merits, without the need to dehumanize the opponent?

      I hope so. Because regardless of the outcome of this discussion, another issue is coming. And another, and another. If this is the level of our discourse, I weep for Bermuda.

      Best,
      Donnie

      • HW says:

        it’s nice to see a perspective on this issue which is not driven by pure emotion.

        I appreciate how you’ve approached this discussion, Donnie

      • Mike Hind says:

        Id love to discuss this!

        How about we start with a single valid, defensible reason to deny equal access to rights for our fellow Bermudians?
        One that is based on facts and reality, please.

        I’ve asked HW this repeatedly, but he never seems to want to answer. Maybe you will?

        I’ll address the rest of your post when I can get on a computer.

        • Donnie Martin says:

          Hi Mike,

          The way you frame the request is part of the disagreement — you’re begging the question.

          The rights that are currently shared by me and my wife are not shared by me and my employer, cousin, or best friend. The inflammatory language of “deny[ing] equal access to rights” studiously ignores the reality that all relationships are not the same, and nobody thinks that they should be. There is a difference between denying rights to a group, and recognizing that certain rights do not apply.

          Up until very recently, when someone spoke of “marriage” in a civil or policy context, what they’ve meant is something like: A unique relationship between a man and a woman to which the government grants special consideration because it has an interest in seeing to it that this unique relationship, which has the capacity to produce children, is incentivized so that any children produced are more likely to be raised by their mother and father.

          Homosexual unions do not have the capacity to produce children; therefore, though the government may have reason to incentivize those relationships, it has no interest in incentivizing that relationship *as a marriage*. Any benefits that accrue to marriage should be assigned to same sex unions, if at all, on other grounds than that their union is a marriage.

          Best,
          Donnie

          • Mike Hind says:

            Story, but no.

            The ability to have children is absolutely and completely NOT a stipulation, requirement not restriction from getting married,

            This is an absolutely false argument.

            Marriage does not have to involve having kids and having kids does not have to involve marriage.

            My gay friends’ marriages are pretty much exactly the same as mine: two people that love each other living together as a family. The only difference is that they are, in fact, denied equal access to rights.

            Am I incorrect in what I’m saying?

            If so, how?

            If not, do you have another reason that these folks shouldn’t be given equal access to rights?

            • Donnie Martin says:

              Hi Mike,

              Unsurprisingly, I do think you’re incorrect. But I’m in a quandary as to how to respond.

              I think we’re not hearing each other. The way that you’ve responded indicates to me that you’ve missed something (I think I know what) in my argument. So I’d like to explore that.

              But then, I also want to do you the courtesy of responding to exactly where I see your argument about your gay friends’ marriage going wrong.

              The danger, of course, in addressing every point in every reply is that we’ll just zing each other, “responding” but not listening, and not having a real conversation.

              So, with thanks for responding to my argument and offering a counter-argument, here’s what I propose:

              I can either re-explain my argument, pointing out what I think you’ve missed, and we can go from there.

              Or I can respond to your counter-argument, and maybe we’ll get back to my original argument down the road.

              Your call.

              Best,
              Donnie

              • Mike Hind says:

                How about pointing out where I am wrong? You propose that the ability. To have kids together is an intrinsic part of marriage. I have pointed out that it is not. Now, as I cannot prove a negative, and as the initial claim is yours, the burden of proof is yours.

                So, am I incorrect in saying that your insistence that the ability to have children is a part of marriage and, thus, a reason to stop same sex couples from getting married – and, through this, deny them equal access to rights afforded by marriage?
                Is this wrong? Am I wrong?

                If so, how?

                • Mike Hind says:

                  Sorry, the last bit is missing an “…is incorrect”. As in “Am I wrong in saying that (your point) is incorrect? if so, how?”

              • Mike Hind says:

                And what did I miss?

                Why not just respond instead of tell me all the things you ant to respond to?

      • blankman says:

        Donnie, a couple of points from your post:

        Let’s start with “your faith”. That should have nothing to do with public policy. Marriage is a civil matter, not a religious one.

        Then you say that it’s consistent with “what marriage is”. Again – another appeal to antiquity. Or, if you’d prefer, that’s what the law says today so it shouldn’t be changed. Go back in history and the same arguments could apply to slavery, segregation, and the like.

        And then you claim it’s consistent with “the best of social science” – no idea what social science you’re talking about.

        Regarding your next paragraph as I see it the problem arises when people go from simply being opinionated to trying to force other people to live their lives according to that opinion. That is, when they go from “I don’t approve of same-sex marriage” to “Don’t let anyone enter into a same-sex marriage”. There’s a middle ground here – “I don’t think anyone should enter into a same sex marriage” – while I completely disagree with that statement, the individuals who are opposed to SSM have jumped to the “Don’t let anyone …” stage. That makes them bigots.

        • Donnie Martin says:

          Hi blankman,

          Briefly, does the logic of your last paragraph apply to any opinion on a current discussion of public policy besides the opinion that marriage is and should remain a unique union between a man and a woman?

          “the problem arises when people go from simply being opinionated to trying to force other people to live their lives according to that opinion.”

          Again, briefly. Your use of the word “force” is as inflammatory as the use of the word “bigot”. I am advocating for my opinion, based on what I view to be good reasons, and out of a concern for my country and all Bermudians, including those who want SSM to be enshrined as law. This is my right and duty in the society in which we live. Moreover, it is exactly what you are doing.

          Best,
          Donnie

          • blankman says:

            Donnie, the word “force” is appropriate here.

            But, back to the points in my post:

            “Let’s start with “your faith”. That should have nothing to do with public policy. Marriage is a civil matter, not a religious one.

            Then you say that it’s consistent with “what marriage is”. Again – another appeal to antiquity. Or, if you’d prefer, that’s what the law says today so it shouldn’t be changed. Go back in history and the same arguments could apply to slavery, segregation, and the like.

            And then you claim it’s consistent with “the best of social science” – no idea what social science you’re talking about.”

            If you really were interested in having a conversation instead of acting offended you’d address those. Assuming you can.

  14. O'Brien says:

    “Does the opinion that marriage should be retained as a union applying uniquely to a man and a woman [a position that I hold] automatically mean the person holding the opinion is a bigot?”

    No, not automatically. If they sincerely believe that marriage is a societal good that can be preserved only if it is kept between a man and a woman, that’s fine. It’s a very dubious claim that has been throughly debunked, but they’re free to hold it and it doesn’t necessarily make them a bigot.

    BUT if their goal is to withhold rights to gays and lesbians under the guise of “defending” marriage, then their motives become suspect. If they oppose even civil unions — as Preserve Marriage now does — then it starts to look like their objective has very little to do with marriage at all. They appear more concerned with denying legal recognition to homosexual relationships. And what could explain that position other than prejudice and, yes, bigotry?

  15. True Lies says:

    How is this even a question? Do you think that bigots don’t have opinions?

  16. blankman says:

    Donnie,

    Having read the comments here, do you need some ice for that burn?

    • MPP says:

      Donnie,
      Don’t be discouraged by a violently vocal minority in response to a well-written, solid piece.

      Bigotry should be avoided by all sides of the debate and, when BOTH sides realize that they can be guilty of it, hopefully the conversation can mature.

      • blankman says:

        MPP, sorry but the entirety of the column is based on a couple of classical logical fallacies. Nothing more.

  17. Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

    Right now I think y’all are fighting for a”WORD”…”MARRIAGE”…correct me if I’m wrong but wouldn’t a “Civil Union” grant you every and all rights as a heterosexual Married couple would..?

    • blankman says:

      Not at all.

      First, it wouldn’t be recognized off island. Second a same sex couple that was married elsewhere wouldn’t have their marriage recognized in Bermuda. The best they could do would be to register it as a Civil Union. Third …

      But most importantly, “Separate but equal is not equal”.

  18. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    How to win an argument !

    “Change the subject”. ” Name calling works.”

    It is called wiggle room.

  19. brain drain says:

    So basically Donnie’s crying that people are calling the preserve marriage campaign – something he agrees with – bigotry.

    It’s hilarious that they have said SSM will:

    - upend society entirely
    - children will suffer immensely
    - Bermuda’s economy will collapse
    - Bermudians will lose jobs
    - Bermuda will feel the wrath of god

    But then they turn around and say, “don’t call us bigots, you SSM supporters need to have respectful conversation”

    When I see a bird that quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, has feathers ……

  20. some beach says:

    No one has a right to dictate another…and certainly not those who are!…it has existed for as long as this island has settled and long before “present”… Written history!

    These lot have been…will carry on…and deserve equal rights and justice!

  21. af87 says:

    Really, really sad. Hope this person reflects and realises that in this instance, the best word for the description is in fact bigot. Good luck in life Donnie, hearing the above you just might need it. How sad.

  22. Takbir Karriem Sharrieff says:

    If I have an opinion,and hold fast to that opinion,and believe that opinion that I hold fast to is right and correct in the light of all opinions or arguments against it,and that makes me a bigot,then call me a bigot.I am against same sex marriage anywhere,I am for preserving marriage of a male to a female.I believe that President Barack Obama and those who support same sex marriage are wrong on this issue and I do not support it.I believe that right is right,and wrong,is wrong,and wrong ,is no mans right.And I believe this of women too.This garbage of ,mister in between or miss-intreptation getting married to same sex is just that,garbage by any name stinks in my nostrils .Take it out to the roadside where garbage belongs so the garbage collectors can carry it away to the dump.And burn it.

  23. Truth (Original) says:

    Donnie

    Great article. The objective of the word bigot is to shame folk into silence. And it is effective. However, it’s a word that doesn’t accurately capture the sentiment of the source of the disagreement between proponents and opponents of SSM.

    I oppose SSM but not because I hate proponents of it or homosexuals, or bi-sexuals or any other category. On the contrary.

    I don’t oppose it because I think I am inherently better than any one else.

    I don’t assault or abuse supporters or proponents of SSM.

    I disagree with their position. That’s all. If we cannot disagree without being disrespectful then like Donnie, I too weep for Bermuda.

    We must rise above petty name calling which does nothing to further the discussion. It only serves to offend and shame. It’s an immature tactic in what should otherwise be a robust debate.

    Debate the issue. Stop trying to put people is a box and then discredit their points, concerns and arguments based on the box that you put them in.

    Debate the issue.

    • Mike Hind says:

      Fine. Let’s debate the issue.

      Why should your disagreement affect anyone else’s life?

      Why should your disagreement be have any bearing in whether a Citizen of this country, or any other, and their partner of choice should be denied equal access to the rights and privileges afforded by marriage?

      You want to debate the issue? I’d love to.

      • Truth (Original) says:

        I’ll try my best to be brief but my issues are as follows:

        Men and women are fundamentally different. No arguments there, I hope. Each bring something unique to the table that is important in one way or another for child development. Children don’t just need 2 parents, they need a mother and a father. We need one of each to produce a child but somehow I am supposed to support the idea that we don’t need one of each for rearing and nurturing, it’s a departure from logic that I am not prepared to make.

        Now I am certain there are many dysfunctional heterosexual relationships that one could point to, to prove that heterosexual couples can and do, produce dysfunctional children. However, I can argue that dysfunction also exists within same sex couples to the same detrimental effect so lets agree that it is a moot point.

        Assuming a properly functioning family, a child gets more of what they need for their healthy development in a heterosexual relationship. Research has borne this out time and time again.

        The push for SSM largely ignores what has been proven to be the best and healthiest structure for children.

        Second: Just because we can’t yet see nor fully understand the impact of making a decision like this on society doesn’t make it a good idea. This decision can and will change the place in which we ALL live. That being true, shouldn’t we all have a say? It impacts us too? The expectation from proponents of SSM is that they should be allowed to change a long standing institution that has thousands of years of history in support and the opponents of SSM should stand in a corner and shut up. That’s not reasonable nor is it rational. They should expect push back and instead of name calling, make a convincing case. This leads into my final point.

        My last point to raise is regarding the legal precedent that has been set in the US and other parts of the world. It is an unsustainable precedent. Here’s an interesting thought on the matter “what’s to stop the “bisexual” from fighting for the ability to marry a man and a woman simultaneously since his “orientation” is, by definition, directed toward both sexes? What about the member of NAMBLA whose orientation is toward young boys? Where do we stop, and on what basis?”

        Do we draw a line at all? If so, where? And who draws it? And on what basis? And are they bigots for doing so?

        What we are discussing are issues around morality. Obviously where you and I (and the law) draw the line, are in different places but I would argue that you have a line that wouldn’t cross either. Would you support a relationship between a 16 year old girl and a 50 year old man? I’m going out on a limb here and assuming that you wouldn’t. According to the law, there’s nothing wrong with that union but most of us would have a problem with that arrangement. That is our morality speaking. Something about that just isn’t right. The impact on the society in which we all live can and will be far reaching. We should all have a say (to answer your question).

        Anywho, there are other considerations but hopefully you see that there is no bigotry in these concerns. They are legitimate, valid questions that I have not seen a satisfactory answer for. What about the children? What about the unknown impact on society and what about the precedent that it sets and what that means for the future?

        • Mike Hind says:

          We’ve covered ALL of these.

          A) the “best and healthiest structure for raising kids” is 1. Not a stipulation for marriage and 2. Not actually a thing. Most studies show that same sex couples do just as well at raising kids.

          B) what possible effects could this have on you. We keep hearing this argument, but no real specifics are actually given. We hear the easily debunked “our religious freedoms will be taken away” and are then given examples of people breaking the law by discriminating and denying goods and services. Is discrimination a “religious freedom” now?

          C) polygamy is a completely different topic and, when the time comes and people asking for it, we’ll figure that out then. But at the moment, this is not a problem. In fact, why IS it a problem? Why shouldn’t we allow folks to get married if they want a larger family group? You know what? Don’t answer that. Let’s stay on topic. Polygamy is a conversation for another time. We’re talking about two consenting adults looking to get married.

          As for paedophilia, where we draw the line is consent. Children cannot give consent.
          Paedophilia is not like same sex marriage because it has victims. That’s why we all get a say in that subject.

          So… I’ve given reasons why these arguments that you have made aren’t actually arguments supporting the continued denial of equal access to rights and privileges afforded by marriage.

          Am I wrong? If so, why? How?

          If not, do you have any others?

  24. Truth (Original) says:

    Thanks for your responses Mike. I don’t expect that we’ll come to some sort of consensus (hence the debate) but I’ll respond to your comments nonetheless.

    You answer to point 1 is a side step.

    1. What research are you referring to that stipulates that SS couples are the same as heterosexual couples raising children? It’s IMPOSSIBLE that there could be no difference between the two and produce the same result. As I stated above, men and women are unique and each bring something unique to the table.

    Nevertheless, even you cannot successfully argue that this issue is independent of having children in some of those relationships. It is well documented, instances where SS couples trying to adopt have run afoul of local laws and many challenges are pending. They are connected issues and to pretend that they aren’t is disingenuous. The point being is that, I don’t trust the science that states that men and women are interchangeable. It’s a ridiculous assertion to build an argument on.

    2. Your second point is also hasty. Shouldn’t we fully understand the impact of a decision before we leap? For example, landlords renting apartments is an appropriate example. Will landlords have to rent to SS couples despite their religious beliefs? Surely you can understand the reticence (not agree with but understand). That is an issue that people will push back on because, yes, they do feel that their religious freedoms are being trampled on. We should understand what it all means FIRST, not passing this legislation and then having additional things foisted up on as a result of. If you had your way, you’ll just have everyone who disagrees with your position steam rolled.

    3. Your solution to the other, equally complex issues is “we’ll figure it out then”? That’s not an acceptable answer to everyone else living in this society. It’s not a “completely different” issue as you suggest. In fact, it’s the same issue. Legislating people’s preferences and orientations. What makes SSM different from polygamy? other than the number of participants, its the same argument. “Who are you to tell me that I can’t marry who I want and how many I want”. Many hold the belief, that that is not healthy for a society ..and I agree.

    Again, we are not going to reach a consensus but your responses fall short of the gravity of the issues at hand. Your “do it now and we’ll figure out the rest later” approach is exactly the kind of approach that people like are trying to avoid. i don’t think tha’s in the best interest of Bermuda. I appreciate your feedback but this is why there is a democratic process in place. We need to use it and come to a societal consensus because very few decision are made in a vacuum. They impact us all.

    • blankman says:

      Truth, every credible study shows that children raised by same sex couples fare as well (or better) than children raised by opposite sex couples. Any studies that purport to show anything different have been thoroughly debunked.

      Point of fact, the “Regnerus study” which was supposedly the bellweather article that proves that same-sex couples failed as parents has not only been debunked but even the author admits that the foundation of his study is too weak to draw the conclusions that many have made.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/05/10/new-criticism-of-regnerus-study-on-parenting-study/

    • Mike Hind says:

      My response to #1 is certainly not a sidestep, it is a debunking of your point.

      The ability to have kids is not, in any way, a requirement for marriage.
      Therefore, the point is moot. It’s not even moot. It’s just plain incorrect.

      The rest of your point is just sexist reinforcement of outdated gender roles, something that has been proved wrong several times, including in blankman’s post in response to yours.

      In your response to point two, you show a lack of understanding of the issue with the question “Will landlords have to rent to SS couples despite their religious beliefs? Surely you can understand the reticence (not agree with but understand).”
      People are already not allowed to refuse to rent to SS couples. It’s against the law to discriminate.

      This is not part of the discussion of same sex marriage.

      Refusing services, including renting to someone, is not a religious freedom.

      As for “fully understanding the impact of a decision”? We do. We can look at all the other jurisdictions that have legalized SSM to see what the impact was. For the most part, the impact has been along the lines of “People who want to get married can get married.”

      Point three, you ignored what I said in order to make a “slippery slope” argument.

      Firstly, you didn’t even begin to respond to the paedophilia part, completely ignoring that entire section.
      Secondly, we’re not talking about polygamy, we’re talking about Same Sex Marriage.
      Polygamy is a different issue, and one that isn’t REALLY an issue, as there isn’t a movement FOR polygamy, on the same level as there is for SSM. People aren’t asking for this.
      Should they be? Maybe. But this is an outside discussion and “What if polygamists want to get married?” isn’t a reasonable argument to continue stopping SS couples from getting married. It simply isn’t.
      If I may be flip for a moment, at least polygamy is a “traditional marriage based on the Bible”…
      Personally, I’m not against polygamy. I just think that bringing it up is a deflection tactic to avoid having to offer a valid argument for the continued baseless denial of access to rights and privileges to citizens of this country.

      THAT is the issue at hand.

      And, finally, you close with “They impact us all.”

      I have to ask: “How? How will Same Sex Marriage “impact us all”? How will it effect your life in any way?”

      I happily await your response.

  25. Donnie Martin says:

    Hi Mike,

    You said: “The ability to have children is absolutely and completely NOT a stipulation, requirement not restriction from getting married, This is an absolutely false argument.”

    Well, it’s not an argument I’m making. And I’ll admit, my final paragraph, beginning “Homosexual unions do not have the capacity to produce children” probably obscures this point. But the statement is made in the context of the previous paragraph. There, speaking of the government’s interest in marriage, I said “any children produced are more likely to be raised by their mother and father” – which is what my argument is really about. Mea culpa, but still I think the context is clear.

    I’m trying to give a meaningful answer to the question of why the government has an interest in the male-female relationship that for most of human history has been understood as marriage, as opposed to the multiplicity of other adult relationships that the government stays out of. My answer to that question is that the male-female relationship known as marriage has historically provided the best context for the care, provision and upbringing of the children produced.

    I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you took my later statement as more meaningful that my earlier statement, and you were therefore not setting up a straw man that marriage is about having children. I can see how you could have gotten that from my words. Of course we’d both say it’s obvious that many male-female couplings that fit into the marriage category do not produce children. I acknowledge this.

    So let’s be clear: that’s not the argument I’m making. I never intended to make it, and I think it can only be claimed that was my intention by reading my statement with unequal weight.

    My argument is not about, in your words, “the ability to have children”; it is, in fact, about the environment in which to raise children.

    I’m arguing that the government has an interest in the male-female marriage relationship that it doesn’t have in other adult relationships, as evidenced by the fact that it gets involved in marriage relationships and stays out of others. This interest stems from the benefits accruing to society from having the children of the couple raised by their parents, thereby minimizing the possibility the government will have to assume the burden of caring for those children. Government’s way of promoting this interest is to recognize and incentivize this unique relationship. But since same sex unions do not produce the effect which government finds beneficial – the raising of children by their parents – government has no interest in including same sex unions in what it considers to be a marriage, nor does it have an interest in providing same sex unions with the same incentives as marriage.

    Now, assuming I’ve made myself clear on what my actual argument is… I’m pretty sure you don’t accept it. I’m pretty sure you don’t accept that marriage is about rearing children any more than you accept it is about producing children. So my question to you is this: why do you think government gets involved in the marriage business while staying out of other consensual adult relationships? What’s so special about marriage?

    Best,
    Donnie

    • Mike Hind says:

      Of course I don’t accept it!

      Because it’s false!

      The whole thing is false! Creating the best situation for raising children isn’t a stipulation nor requirement for marriage.

      Nor is a same sex marriage NOT a valid situation for raising them.

      Nor is that the reason for Government’s involvement in marriage.

      Nothing you said is actually true.

      Nowhere in the law does it say that the ability to rear children in the most beneficial way is a part of marriage.
      This is a complete fabrication. The evidence of this is that a. no one is required by law to have children and b. no one is forced to get married if they have kids.

      Also, the Government DOES get involved in other relationships!

      Here’s the reality…

      Part of Govermnment’s job is to, through laws, establish which rights people have and to make sure those rights aren’t infringed on. I don’t think that is debatable, but if I’m wrong, feel free to show how.

      Families have rights together. Next of kin rights, inheritance rights, etc. there are a lot of them. A parent has rights together with their kids. Siblings have rights together. These are intrinsic rights, built in.

      A marriage simply affords those rights to another person outside of the family. A marriage literally makes someone else part of that family. Even if that family is just the two of them.

      That’s it. That’s what a marriage is. And I think that’s beautiful.

      Am I wrong?
      If so, please show evidence how.

  26. Donnie Martin says:

    Hi blankman,

    I guess we should just get right to it, shall we?

    “Let’s start with “your faith”. That should have nothing to do with public policy. Marriage is a civil matter, not a religious one.”

    The statement amounts to “shut up”, and as a citizen concerned with meaningful discourse, you shouldn’t make such a statement. Public policy is *public*, meaning you and I and anyone else can comment on it. If you don’t agree with the comments, fine. Make the case. But “your arguments are invalid because they come from a position of faith” is not vastly dissimilar to “your arguments are invalid because they come from a position of youth” or “your arguments are invalid because they come from a position of being a member of such and such a party” or “your arguments are invalid because they come from a position of being black” or any number of other categories that have absolutely no bearing on the weight of the arguments themselves.

    To round that out, hear Barack Obama, with whom I often disagree but he certainly nailed it with this: “secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Williams Jennings Bryant, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King – indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history – were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. So to say that men and women should not inject their “personal morality” into public policy debates is a practical absurdity.”

    Moving on.

    “Then you say that it’s consistent with “what marriage is”. Again – another appeal to antiquity. Or, if you’d prefer, that’s what the law says today so it shouldn’t be changed. Go back in history and the same arguments could apply to slavery, segregation, and the like.”

    An appeal to antiquity applies where the only basis for accepting a belief is that it has been around for a long time. That’s not what I’m doing. As you yourself acknowledged, I’m also appealing to faith and social science. You may reject the validity of the appeals, but the very fact that I’m making the appeals ought to rescue me from the fallacy charge.

    But let’s consider the claim on its own merits. My belief, that marriage is a bond between a man and a woman, is as old as the hills. Your objection is that the length of time for a belief shouldn’t matter. In most cases, I’d agree. But the exception is when the belief persists to old age *in the face of challenges* which test its validity. The man-woman aspect of marriage has endured (i.e. it has an antiquity) despite challenges to its centrality.

    For example, Plato and Aristotle wrote approvingly of marriage as between a man and a woman, despite the fact that homosexual practice was common in ancient Greece. As a further example, the definition of marriage was thoroughly tested in US anti-miscegenation cases, which were won not only based on the superfluous nature of race with respect to marriage, but on the essential nature of the male-female relationship which defines marriage.

    So to sum this part up, there is more to the idea of what marriage is than merely what the laws of modern states say. Marriage predates these laws (probably all laws), and has existed with male-female pairing as a central component despite challenges throughout its existence. Time will tell if the current challenge will be more successful, but the weight of history suggests that merely capitulating to the challenge is foolish. Appeal to novelty is a fallacy too.

    And finally.

    “And then you claim it’s consistent with “the best of social science” – no idea what social science you’re talking about.”

    Here’s what I’m talking about.

    There are numerous studies that suggest that children raised in same sex households are not disadvantaged compared to those raised in traditional households. But for various reasons, those studies are plagued with methodological problems that cast serious doubt on their results. Some of those methodological problems include:

    Small samples of same sex groups in the study.
    Lack of diversity and representativeness in same sex groups in the study.
    No comparison to heterosexual groups.
    Comparisons limited to single parent families.
    An over-emphasis on emotional and sex-orientation outcomes and an underemphasis on criminality, financial well-being, drug use and other socially relevant outcomes.
    Lack of statistical power in testing groups.

    All of these problems mean that conclusions of no difference are too strong. The data just isn’t there, because the studies are basically inadmissible. It’s possible that there really is no difference, but to claim that based on the current research is irresponsible.

    But in the face of that, you have a consistent finding that traditional households tend to do better in child outcomes than divorced, single parent, cohabiting, and blended families. Traditional households, where mom and dad are married, are the gold standard of the research. More research needs to be done, with good data sets and methodology, to realistically test where same sex households fit in on this scale.

    So there are my answers to your objections. I hope that a fair-minded person such as yourself will see that it is possible to support traditional marriage (and therefore oppose SSM) without prejudicial reasons.

    Best,
    Donnie

    • Mike Hind says:

      Again, it’s not about supporting traditional marriage.
      No one has a problem with that.

      It’s that folks – and I assume you – think that what you call traditional marriage should be the ONLY kind of marriage.

      No one is trying to take away traditional marriage. Allowing SSM to happen won’t stop traditional marriage to happen.

      People aren’t against folks supporting traditional marriage.
      They just think it’s wrong that your position is that no other types of marriage should be allowed and for absolutely no real reason.

  27. Mike Hind says:

    So much for any actual interest in discussing this.

    Par for the course.

  28. Donnie Martin says:

    Hi Mike,

    So let me be sure I’m understanding you.

    After writing a 500 word opinion piece, and interacting with multiple comments which steadfastly refuse to understand my argument (not agree, just understand what the words mean), including at least two responses I wrote which were substantially longer than the original article… After all that, I don’t respond immediately to yet another gross oversimplification of my arguments, and your verdict is:

    “So much for any actual interest in discussing this.”

    Ungracious, unkind, unjust, and frankly unsurprising.

    There are some who have written other opinions, in favor of SSM, and had absolutely no interaction with commenters – none whatsoever. Are they also subject to your verdict?

    Is blankman, to whom the bulk of my comments were directed and who to date hasn’t replied, also subject to your verdict?

    In any case.

    I argued that government’s interest in marriage is to incentivize the situation that best leads to the rearing of children. Your response was to say that such an interest is nowhere made a “stipulation” or “requirement”. That is just sophomoric. Regardless of the presence or absence of the language in a specific law or statute, the reasoning and the interest that gives rise to the law has, until very recently, been as I’ve described.

    In response to your argument about rights, specifically next of kin and inheritance: if that’s what this is about — and based on your words (“That’s it. That’s what a marriage is.”) I have to assume that is in fact what you think it’s about — then there are two obvious observations. One, there are cases where both of those things exist for people outside of a family, so clearly they are not “what a marriage is.” Two, there are legal remedies for both of those which either currently exist, or can be brought into existence, without changing the standard of marriage. You’ve made no compelling case for tying them together. There’s just no need to redefine marriage when the things you’re talking about can be addressed through conscientious estate planning, and yes, a change in some laws. A point which others have already made, as you know.

    I could go on, but you’ve given every indication that you’re not listening. Your words – “absolutely no real reason” – sum it up. It is beyond pointless to keep giving reasons for what I think, only to have you say I’m not giving reasons. I’m tempted to use the same tactic on you, but no. I won’t say you’ve given “absolutely no real reason” that same sex marriage should become law in Bermuda. What I will say is that I’ve considered your reasons, and while I respect your right to hold those opinions, I find them lacking in merit and unconvincing.

    The last word is yours; have at it. I thank you for the interaction, but I don’t live at a computer. Wisdom dictates it’s time for me to move on. Perhaps we’ll encounter each other again in the comments. Whether we do or not, all the best to you.

    Very sincerely,
    Donnie

  29. Family Man says:

    “I argued that government’s interest in marriage is to incentivize the situation that best leads to the rearing of children. ”

    If that were true then government would encourage SSM wholeheartedly.

    You don’t need to be married to have children – as anyone who has spent any time in Bermuda can see clearly. I can’t find any statistics for Bermuda but I would suspect a very large portion of births here are “accidental”, ie not planned. An unplanned birth of results in an unwanted child. Hardly the best stable, loving environment for rearing that child.

    Children of SSM couples are there because they really want a child. (Yes, same sex couples can have children. They just have to go through a lot of trouble to have them.)

    So you’re argument about “traditional” marriage being best to rear children is not supported by real world facts.

    • Family Man says:

      Meant to say an unplanned birth MAY lead to an unwanted child. Certainly not always, but clearly there are many cases in which it does.

  30. M.C. Beauchamp says:

    Donnie, Donnie, Donnie….. Is this important matter of human rights really subject to competing quotes from Aristotle and Plato? Like any texts, there are contradictory statements and comments, in even your own bible. Spin is as spin does. And quoting Obama on faith means you must also quote him on Same Sex Marriage, of which he was and is a firm supporter. The issue of Same Sex Marriage affects your brothers and sisters, perhaps one day your children, your neighbours; there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of people in Bermuda whom you want to deny their Human Rights under the Law. You know many more LGBT people than you think you know. And while I appreciate your reasonable tone, it doesn’t camouflage what you hope to achieve. The denial of Human Rights. Do readers of these comments know you are a born again and have taken up the title of Pastor? Let’s have full disclosure please. Veritas Odit Moras.

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