NOTE! If you are looking for a blog which is going to argue the pros or cons of gay marriage, look elsewhere. This blog is looking strictly at the way information of legalizing gay marriage was presented to the public, as well as the public’s reaction.
There is a term in advertising called puffery. Basically, it allows companies to make bold, sweeping statements which, of course, any reasonable person will see as not the complete truth.
For instance, you may go to a restaurant that boasts “the best hamburgers in the world.” Do they have proof to back that up? Nope. Can you sue them for false advertising? The answer again is no.
The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has gone as far as to say, “The Commission generally will not pursue cases involving obviously exaggerated or puffing representations, i.e., those that the ordinary consumers do not take seriously.”
The idea of puffery came to my mind when I read the United States Supreme Court ruling on legalizing gay marriage. All over the internet are phrases like “Love is Love” and hashtags including #ProudtoLove and #marriageequality.
And why not? In the statement made by Justice Anthony Kennedy, he includes the following words, “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”
“Where’s the puffery in that?” you may ask. Hint: it is in the last sentence. Go ahead, read it again.
(Seriously, read the last line again.)
It says, “two people become something greater than once they were.” Two people. Any reasonable person will accept that the two people are not closely related by blood, are not already married, and are of consenting age. Right?
Someone (not me) could argue that the way this was phrased means that brothers and sisters could be married. After all, they are two people. And who is to say that the love between a brother and sister could not embody “the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family”? Or is that just implied because any reasonable person would find it as unnatural?
How then, do those celebrating this case with terms like “Love is Love” (which, by-the-way breaks the common sense rule of using a word to define itself) counter when someone wants to use the same mantra to allow siblings to marry? Ah, once again, any reasonable person understands that when they state “Love is Love,” they don’t mean that.
Perhaps the president of the United States could clear things up. Let’s see, what did he say? Oh yes. He is quoted as saying on the ruling, “When all Americans are treated as equal we are all more free.”
All Americans, he said. Equal, he said. Of course, he didn’t mean siblings. After all, any reasonable person would know that.
But that then begs the question, what defines someone as a reasonable person? I’m going to propose that it is based on public opinion. Is that too far of a stretch? I don’t think so.
In 1996, a Gallup poll on acceptance of gay marriage showed only a 27 percent approval rating. In May, 2015, Gallup's findings were at a 60 percent approval rating for gay marriage. Apparently a lot more people became reasonable over the last twenty years.
The biggest problem, I see, is that the wording was too broad on the gay marriage ruling in some statements. In a sense, it used puffery.
There are those who are fighting to legalize marriage between siblings. There are those who are fighting to legalize marriage between more than one person. There are those who are even fighting to have the legal age for marriage lowered or eliminated.
To each of these groups fighting for their wants, they too, could argue “Love is Love” and that they are #ProudtoLove. But to them, there is no #marriageequality.
But that’s okay, right? After all, any reasonable person will see how misguided they are. At least until popular opinion changes.