Flowcharting the gay marriage debate

Patrick "E-Sheep" Farley, one of the great (and frustratingly irregular) webcomics creators, has a sharp editorial cartoon up -- a flowchart explaining the gay marriage debate.

Graphical Overview of Same Sex Marriage Debate, v. 1.3 (via Warren Ellis)


  1. A flowchart that, just like attempting to debate the issue with an anti-marriage bigot, tends to go around in confused circles, double back on itself, and make very little sense. The bits labelled “actual quote” are made of win.

    Speaking of made of win, is Spiders still online somewhere? My google-fu has failed me, and I’d really like to read it again, it was brilliant!

  2. PF is one of the few real, genuine geniuses of the internet age. Delta Thrives broke new ground for a lot of people I know, in their ability to think about the future and the present.

    Nice work, mate.

  3. Neat chart though the should have attached to the “Homosexuality is a choice” block “So is religion.”

  4. Who doesn’t love useless arguments like this? Neither ‘side’ will ever give in and learn something from the debate because each ‘side’ is convinced the other is wrong. Of course, in this case, people arguing that “God hates fgs” (etc.) are completely confused and should try reading the Bible to search for any support for that kind of claim. Or maybe consider that good ol’ “WWJD” because there’s no way Jesus would show a gay person anything but love and acceptance.

    See how impartial i am?

  5. Ah, I see it now. Before I saw this flowchart, I couldn’t understand why people automatically assumed my opinion on everything because I agreed with more points on one side of the debate than the other. But it turns out, I wasn’t looking at the “big picture.” It’s amazing how the big picture and a narrow vision of this debate are merging toward the same thing.

  6. The people driving the ‘true believers’ against gay marriage don’t really give a damn about gay marriage as a moral issue – they are simply trying to protect the legal double standard in place for faith based organizations, especially those involved with adoption.

    If gay marriage is legally recognized then the many faith based/assosciated adoption agencies and foster programs will no longer be able to enjoy the quasi-legal discrimination they employ against gays without risking their free government money. This is already becoming an issue in the states where gay marriage is legally recognized. The defense of marriage people have basically admitted this several times in the news. As usual, it is about money & privilege not morals.

  7. I show gay people love and acceptance, but I think marriage should remain between one man and one woman. The two are not mutually exclusive. I have the same view as our current president, incidentally.

  8. @Lizardman thanks – that makes sense.

    I think these charts are useless for changing people’s stance. The reason is simple.

    (1) the chart uses reasoning and logic, and both are unwelcome to the religious. belief is to defy logic. Also, they have a stance (anti-gay) and are using religious freedom to bolster their stance. It’s not the other way round; i.e. religion is the end or the argument and not the starting point. so all the WWJD stuff is noise.

    (2) religious groups are hierarchical. those on the bottom follow the top. if you can convince the top to change , the bottom will follow, not the other way round.

    only ones you can get from their camp are those who are not devoted – but technically , they’re in the middle.

  9. The question is, Rechnen, just because you believe it, do you believe it should be codified into law? Do you believe that your opinion is strong enough to strip legal rights away from other people who are your equals?

  10. I don’t see, “Why is the government in the marriage license business at all?” argument anywhere in the flowchart.

    Black’s Law Dictionary defines “license” as, “The permission by competent authority to do an act which without such permission […] would be illegal.” The authority to license implies the power to prohibit. A license by definition “confers a privilege” to do something. By allowing the state to exercise control over marriage, it is implied that we do not have a right to marry; marriage is a privilege. Those born in the US receive a birth certificate, not a birth license.

  11. Zuzu: marriage is a hybrid of social custom and legal rights. One word, two meanings. Like adoption, wills(?), etc. Basically, governments decided that they should get into the license business for marriage because of a need to keep track people and property (control reasons).

    Fast forward to today and you have two groups of people fighting over the hybrid. Each wants to define both meanings. But compromise isn’t possible because each is absolutely unwilling to budge on the half that means the most to them. The gay community is adamant about legal reform, but confuse this sometimes with social change. The religious are adamant about keeping social customs the same, but confuse this with law.

    Both sides need to grow up and learn to concentrate on the part important to them.

  12. Most arguments against gay marriage can be reduced to one of two fundamental complaints:
    1: “my god doesn’t like it!”
    2: “ewww!”

  13. Do you believe that your opinion is strong enough to strip legal rights away from other people who are your equals?

    And herein lies the problem for most of those who oppose gay marriage, those people are not my equals, which is rooted in the other problem, those people have made a choice, if they want to be married they can choose to be heterosexual. God don’t make mistakes; god don’t make queers; queers make queers. It’s not their life, it’s their chosen lifestyle.

  14. “Do you believe that your opinion is strong enough to strip legal rights away from other people who are your equals?”
    What rights were stripped by Proposition 8? As far as I know, it simply kept the definition of marriage as one woman and one man and gay couples were allowed to have all the rights via civil unions.

    1. What rights were stripped by Proposition 8?

      The right to same sex marriage, which was legal in California until Prop 8 passed. Which is legal in a number of other states. Which is legal in a number of other countries. Would you have made the same argument about interracial marriage? Does it bother you that gay couples suffer significant economic discrimination in tax law and employee benefits? Is this a well-thought-out stand against human rights or just kneejerk bigotry?

  15. Anyone who says that gays should be happy with civil unions should put their money where their mouth is and get one themselves. It is NOT the same.

  16. I see a void waiting to be filled in this debate. Who will join me in a movement to make gay marriage compulsory?

    1. Why even call it gay marriage? It’s really same-sex marriage. Why shouldn’t I be able to marry a straight guy? If they’re willing to make the legal commitment, why shouldn’t a parent/adult child, sibling, BFFs or other relationship get the same tax and insurance benefits as this narrowly defined other-sex marriage meme? There should be a single standard for contractual unions between any group of two or more persons. If you meet the standard, you get the same benefits as anybody else who meets the standard.

      1. And Stefan, you must have seen those hidden camera photos of me with Inuyasha.

  17. If someone wants to exchange vows, stomp on a glass, jump over a broom or whatever — that’s fine with me, just get it out of the civil laws I have to live with. Make ’em *all* civil unions and be done with it.

    No more special rights for straight people!

  18. Rechnen, you need to read up on the many rights conferred ONLY by marriage and not by civil unions, and also on the fact that reams and reams of law and policy say “spouse” and “married partner” and will not be updated.

    Even if civil unions were defined to have the identical legal force as marriage they would not have the same force in practice, because you’d have to fight the stupid bozos (and their name is Legion) who say “this says married and you guys ain’t married, y’all’re jest civil unioned, so you sorry pal you can’t come into the ICU.”

    I chose that example on purpose: we shouldn’t have to fight with this jackholes when it’s time-critical. And in New Jersey civil unions have already failed because insurance companies based in other states don’t recognize them as being equivalent to marriage.

    That’s a brief synopsis. Consider your position again after learning all the facts.

  19. @Takuan: Only if there’s a waiver for people who instead want to marry anime characters, a pack of coyotes, or the color taupe.

  20. ban any government recognition of religious marriages. All unions a civil contract bound by standard contract law. Pre-nups all around. No divorce, just negotiated settlements. No restrictions on who or what, just laws to protect minors (and animals) as they already are protected by not being able to enter into contracts as lacking capacity. Tax the bloody churches. Any religious ceremonies are peoples own business – they just won’t have standing under law. All tax law harmonized as with standard business contract law. Any benefits to any citizen universally applied.

    Figure out how to ban religious indoctrination of minors and we are on our way.

  21. People, please! Can’t we just agree that “the gays” and their gaymansex are gross and the Gay so-called “Pride” parade makes my kid ask me questions that I’d really rather not have to answer, and if we let them get so-called “married”, people will be “marrying” their dogs next!

  22. This flow chart only highlights the frustratingly shallow debate between two extremes. It makes me want to make my own flow chart of better thought out arguments.

    While some opponents to gay marriage are bigoted I think it is as intolerant to argue that anyone who disagrees with gay marriage is an religious homophobe or that children should be denied the right to a religious education. (#31)

    But no one really wants to hear moderation in this debate, do they?

    PS I agree with #29

  23. I also find it hard to categorize this argument as a “religious right” versus the world when 52% (7 million) of Californians, one of the most liberal states in the country, voted for prop 8.

    It’s true 65% of protestants voted for it but 70% of African Americans, 61% of elderly people, and 54% of Middle Class people also voted for it.

    We choose to think its religious republicans because its easier to write off their opinions.

    1. 52% (7 million) of Californians, one of the most liberal states in the country, voted for prop 8

      52% of Californians who voted on that issue in that election voted for Prop 8. A significant difference. It is by no means unheard of for an electorate to vote one way in an election, only to vote exactly the opposite way in the subsequent election.

  24. “children should be denied the right to a religious education.” The “right”? Is that like the right to smallpox?

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