The past two days of Supreme Court arguments have been notable mainly for the comic inadequacy of the claims made against the legality of same-sex marriage, both from attorneys and conservative justices. (My personal favorite was Prop 8-defending attorney Charles Cooper insinuating to Justice Elena Kagan that because straight men who wish to marry post-menopausal women could theoretically conceive outside of that marriage, such marriages should be protected as procreative.* Sadly, Kagan did not point out that men married to men can also conceive with fertile women outside of their marriages.) It's fun to laugh in wonder at how the anti-gay marriage folks can't seem to get it together, but the brutal reality is their weird, disjointed, and sperm-count-obsessed arguments are the best ones their side has. If you step outside the court, the level of argumentation coming from gay marriage opponents switches from "completely unpersuasive" to "word salad." I've collected a few examples.
1) Same-sex marriage will be "the death of capitalism." Right-wing talk show host Matthew Hagee argued that if gay marriage is legalized, people will stop making the babies we need to be the next generation of consumers, which will mean the end of capitalism. It was an argument that raised many questions, starting with wondering why the worst consequence he can imagine to stem from the end of human reproduction is a decline in corporate profits. But really, this argument doesn't work unless you assume that the only reason women marry and reproduce with men is that men have a monopoly over the distribution of wedding rings. Sadly, Hagee wasn't the only conservative commentator insinuating women will quit men altogether if marrying women becomes an option.
2) Same-sex marriage means no more wives for you straight guys! David Usher, the president of the Center for Marriage Policy, argued that same-sex marriage is a scheme concocted by feminists so that women can marry each other and trick hapless men into paying for it:
Feminist marriage will be far more attractive to women than heterosexual marriage. Sexual orientation does not matter when two women marry and become “married room-mates.” They can still have as many boyfriends as they want and capture the richest ones for baby-daddies by “forgetting” to use their invisible forms of birth control. On average, a feminist marriage will have at least four income sources, two of them tax-free, plus backup welfare entitlements.
I live in New York, which has legal same-sex marriage, and I can assure you this is exactly how it is now. The upside is that men have started to wear condoms voluntarily more often, having realized they're just being used as sperm-based piggy banks by exploitative pseudo-lesbians.
3) Same-sex marriage will lead to having sex with children. Rush Limbaugh trotted out this oldie-but-goodie, saying that if same-sex marriage is legalized, "who's to say you cannot have sex with a child?" The answer to that question is the same kinds of authorities who put away Jerry Sandusky and many a pedophilic priest, despite the support and protection those men received from conservative-friendly institutions such as college sports and the Catholic Church.
4) Same-sex marriage will usher in a government shutdown of Christian churches. Pastor Jim Garlow went on a Christian talk radio show hosted by Janet Mefferd and warned that a sort of religious apocalypse would begin if same-sex marriage is legalized. He imagined an immediate dystopia where "followers of Christ will be forced underground." He added, "Their buildings will be taken away from them, many of their rights will be taken away from them." How this would work is hazy. Divorce is legal, but churches that preach against it so far haven't been shut down and their followers forced underground. Or have they?
At this point, the Supreme Court might actually be doing right-wingers a favor by legalizing gay marriage. The paranoia levels are off the charts, and that can't be good for them. Perhaps by legalizing gay marriage and showing the right that the world will continue to keep on turning, the court can relieve this terrible burden of fearfulness. That, or conservatives will just find something else liberals support that will supposedly bring an end to civilization itself.
Correction, March 28, 2013: This post originally referred to a Prop 8-defending attorney George Cooper. His name is Charles Cooper.