Bad Arguments Against Gay Marriage

46 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2005

See all articles by Dale Carpenter

Dale Carpenter

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law


This article claims that three common arguments against gay marriage - the definitional, procreation, and slippery-slope arguments - are quite bad, the worst of the lot. The definitional argument asserts that marriage just is the union of one man and one woman, and that the definition alone is a sufficient defense against claims for gay marriage. The procreation argument claims that marriage's central public purpose is to encourage procreation, and so the exclusion of same-sex couples is justified. The slippery-slope argument claims that the acceptance of same-sex marriage logically entails the acceptance of other public policy changes - notably the acceptance of polygamy - that would themselves be bad, independent of whether gay marriage is bad.

While each argument has some appeal, and each has adherents both inside and outside the legal academy, each is badly flawed as a matter of logic, experience, politics, or some combination of the three. The article suggests that in the interest of focusing on the most important concerns about gay marriage, commentators should move on to other arguments against it that seem stronger and thus better test the affirmative case for gay marriage.

Keywords: Gay Marriage, Same-Sex Marriage, Polygamy, Procreation, Definition of Marriage, Marriage, Slippery Slope

JEL Classification: J12

Suggested Citation

Carpenter, Dale, Bad Arguments Against Gay Marriage. Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 05-42, Available at SSRN: or

Dale Carpenter (Contact Author)

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 750116
Dallas, TX 75275
United States

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