The gay-marriage debate rages on

Thursday, December 23, 2010; 8:20 PM

Matthew J. Franck's Dec. 19 Outlook commentary, "On gay marriage, stop playing the hate card," was an extended fallacy. Mr. Franck defended intolerance by arguing that the tolerant should not be intolerant of the intolerant, because intolerance is wrong. He is confused.

He moved on to the fallacy that bigotry against homosexuals is not irrational. He said the function of marriage is to produce children. So the infertile and those past menopause should not get married? He said same-sex marriage dismantles the institution of marriage. His conclusion was used as an argument for his conclusion. Mr. Franck succeeded only in proving that bigotry against homosexuals really is irrational.

Finally, Mr. Franck concluded the piece with an especially obnoxious fallacy: In the interest of robust debate, bigotry should be exempt from criticism, because criticism is a conversation stopper. Bigotry merits no such privilege.

A. Hewitt Rose, Bethesda

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I applaud Matthew J. Franck for highlighting the now-ubiquitous tactic of "hate labeling" used by gay-rights groups to plaster anyone who dares to voice an opinion regarding homosexual rights contrary to the one they promote. Far from being right-wing zealots, haters and thugs, many of those who oppose gay marriage do so on well-founded moral, ethical, sociological and biological grounds. The uncomfortable truth is that there are reasonable arguments on both sides of this inflammatory issue.

Furthermore, I am glad Mr. Franck put this issue in an even larger context - that of the overall portrayal (by atheist activists such as Richard Dawkins et al) of any person who holds an opinion grounded in religious belief as being stupid, immoral, ignorant, prejudiced or all of the above. In fact, some of the most enlightened minds the world has known have been people of deep religious conviction, who labored to embrace both faith and reason. Ad hominem attacks will not resolve the gay-rights dilemma, or any other cultural battle, in the long-run.

Jim Fowler, Ashburn

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Matthew J. Franck disputed the comparison between racism and opposition to same-sex marriage.

My parents were early-to-mid-20th-century Southerners who not only believed in segregation but also the underlying premise that African Americans were inferior. They quoted biblical passages to support their position, especially on interracial marriage. My parents, however, did not hate African Americans; and Mr. Franck was right about one thing: It is wrong to call opposition to gay marriage "hate speech."

Mr. Franck was wrong, however, to make the leap that because traditionalists are not haters, they are also not bigots. Marriage-equality advocates today would be correct to use the term bigots for their opponents because the latter are guilty of similar irrational prejudice, such as, for example, the absurd and unsubstantiated belief that allowing gays to marry would ruin marriage for everybody else. Non-arguments such as this deserve all the derision they receive.

Don DeGeorge, Ellicott City


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