Mr. Toad

Gay Rights

I'll give them everything but the word "marriage."

When I started writing this, the Supreme Court decisions striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and refusing to hear the California Proposition 8 case were only a few days old. Gay rights are much in the news, and I feel moved to write up my thoughts on the matter.

This is not going to be a religious essay.

Or not much. As a Christian, I hold that homosexual acts are sinful, but I don't expect Christianity's doctrine to carry any weight in the public square.

I will point out that, with very few exceptions, even the most conservative Christian groups do not regard homosexuals as specially evil, but rather as unfortunate in having a temptation to a sin that heterosexuals are spared.

This should not be a relationship breaker.

I don't know anyone who agrees with me on everything. If I have been able to keep up friendships with people of different political parties and religions, who have different opinions about similar issues, such as premarital sex and divorce, we should be able to navigate this.

This is not an equality issue.

The issue is often called "marriage equality," but homosexuals had the same marriage rights as heterosexuals before ever gay marriage was heard of. Homosexual and heterosexual men had the same array of women available as potential spouses, and contrariwise for women. Of course, these arrays were not equally to the tastes of gays and straights, but that doesn't stop the rights being equal.

I would hardly bother with this except for the powerful propaganda value of the word "equality." To be against equality is Bad, reflexively, without any pause over what two things are being equated. It is my contention that gay and straight sexual tastes do not deserve equal consideration because gay and straight marriages are not, in fact, of equal value.

It is a morality issue.

Back when the Sexual Revolution started, people often said that the government had no business legislating morality. This was always silly: theft and murder are immoral and illegal, and illegal because they are immoral. Even if you consider that by "morality" they meant "sexual morality," it was silly: the law has to judge of the legality of many different sexual acts. What they meant was "there should be no legal barriers to fornication," but no one wanted to put it that way.

Now the morality pressure is coming from the opposite direction. Any one who objects to gay marriage, many of its proponents say or suggest, is evil and cruel. After all, what motive could they have for objecting to gay marriage except for their desire to make life hard for gays? Because they are bad people who enjoy hating.

Such true homophobes undoubtedly exist, but that isn't always the motive for opposition. Other possibilities include:

This is a great place to put a slippery slope.

I really don't see what rationale you can give for forbidding polygamy, which is ancient and widely practiced in many parts of the world, after you have admitted gay marriage, which was never contemplated until a few years ago.

Also, if gay sex is as good as straight sex, why not child marriage, incest, or bestiality? Gay rights advocates take great umbrage when gay sex is equated with any of these, but I don't see much basis for the umbrage.

Because the acts are disgusting? But most heterosexuals find gay sex disgusting, or did, and that didn't stop anything.

Because child marriage is bad for kids? "Kids" is an elastic term, as shown by the varying ages for consent in different states. What if we're talking 14-year-olds like Juliet Capulet, not 7-year-olds? (Technically a taste for young people who have reached puberty is called "ephebophilia," and is not the same as "pedophilia.") How bad is that? How hard would it be to get psychiatrists arguing both sides of that issue? What if there are legal strictures on not getting the girls pregnant until they're old enough for their health? Okay then?

Because inbreeding is genetically risky? Throw in a legal stricture against actually procreating. Okay then? And what possible objection could there be to gay incestuous marriage, if inbreeding is the only problem?

Because, in bestiality, the "partner" is sub-human, not a person? That might be an objection to the idea of bestial marriage, but not to the idea that zoophilists have a "right" to come out of the closet (stall?) and celebrate their love publicly, without censure.

If you find any of these proposed extensions to sexual liberty unpalatable, you then have some grounds for understanding how many people feel about gay rights, gay liberation, gay marriage, and the general contention that "gay is as good as straight."

Homosexuality is a flaw.

My main objection to gay marriage is that it is a major move—almost the last possible move—in the gay rights campaign to assert that homosexuality is just as good as heterosexuality.

I think it is manifest that, whether or not psychiatry classifies it as an illness, whether or not any given religion classifies it as a sin, homosexuality is a flawed condition.

First is the anatomical argument. The bits just don't fit together that way

Second is the Darwinian argument. Psychiatry stopped calling homosexuality an illness because they said it didn't do any harm to the homosexual. But this took no account of the hit to the homosexual's Darwinian fitness. If you have a physical feature that makes it hard for you to reproduce, they create a whole branch of medicine for treating it and no one has any trouble saying you have a problem. If you have a psychological feature that makes it hard for you to reproduce, though, this doesn't get flagged as a problem. The difference is merely political, not rational.

Are you saying gay marriages are inferior because they're sterile?

No. That would open me to the standard objections "What about infertile straight couples?" and "What about deliberately childless couples?" and "What about couples too old to have children?"

I'm saying that allowing gay marriage is a major proclamation that "gay is as good as straight." It's the proclaiming I object to, as promulgating a falsehood, not the sterility.

Now, the sterility is obviously involved, because that's what makes gay not as good as straight. But the proclamation is the issue.

No one claims that an infertile marriage is just as good as a fruitful one. People often go to great lengths to fix the situation.

No one claims that a deliberately childless couple isn't closing out a major potential of their marriage (whether or not they are wise to do so).

No one claims that an elderly couple aren't lacking in an ability that a younger couple has.

So it's a flaw. So?

So I don't want the falsehood "gay is as good as straight" mortared into society. Purely on principle, whether or not there is any demonstrable damage to society from allowing gay marriage, I don't want society promulgating falsehoods.

Does belief in astrology or creationism do any demonstrable harm? That doesn't stop scientists and science fans from fulminating against them.

But, even if you insist on putting principle aside, believing falsehoods usually comes back to bite you, whether you can see how at the moment or not.

Then what, in your opinion, should be done?

As I said, I will give them everything except the word "marriage." If people are going to commit homosexual acts, the least wrong way for them to do it is in a faithful and exclusive relationship. Let them have a "civil union" with all the rights and responsibilities of a marriage, but don't call it a marriage. A marriage is a union of complementary opposites.

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Copyright © Earl Wajenberg, 2014