25 Aug

Summary Of One Person’s (my) Opinion of the Gay Marriage Controversy [Reader Post]

                                       

1. I’m in favor of gays having equal rights, privileges, and responsibilities, with respect to traditional marriage, with the proviso that the new institution of same sex unions should be recognized (by government) by a name other than “marriage.” Gays are creating a new institution, and they should give this institution a new name.

2. Traditional, opposite-sex marriage (potentially applicable to the 97% of the population which is  not gay) serves the interests of the individual and society by (a) fostering an environment for child-rearing (presence of mother and father) which benefits children, (b) laying down rules of behavior, grounded in loyalty and fidelity, which are especially important in stabilizing the inherently unequal relationship between an opposite sex couple, (c) removing the married couple from the reservoir fostering the perpetuation and transmission of sexually-transmitted diseases.

Elements of #2 obviously apply to same sex couples, but the benefits of marriage are particularly important to opposite sex couples because of (a) the issue of child-rearing in a mother/father household and (b) the much greater degree of biological inequality between opposite sex couples. Additionally, the marriage institution of critical importance for the 97% of the population which is not gay. Although the 3% which is gay deserves reasonable accommodation in the interests of non-discrimination and equal protection, this accommodation should not threaten the institution which is of critical importance to the 97%.

A useful precedent is the principle of reasonable accommodation in employment of disabled people, e.g.

Reasonable accommodation

A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job, an employment practice, or the work environment that makes it possible for a qualified individual with a disability to enjoy an equal employment opportunity.

A reasonable accommodation for gay people would be to create an institution precisely analogous to traditional marriage, but to call it by a different name, to recognize the reality that there are different considerations (and a different dynamic) between the union of opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples.

3. In what ways do eliminating the distinction between opposite sex and same sex unions threaten the institution of traditional marriage?

There is the potential for both short term and long term untoward effects.

In the first place, the reality is that the concept of homosexual marriage is absurd to a great many people, for reasons of entirely-valid biological obviousness (recognizing also — but giving absolutely no deference to — the obvious state of affairs that a great deal of true homophobia does exit, based on both religious and non-religious views).

In the second place, the institution of traditional marriage was developed over millennia to meet basic needs central to opposite sex couples. The pervasive universality of traditional marriage attests to the essential role of this institution in human existence and human progress. In Western Civilization, developing from the Code of Hammurabi and the Abrahamic religions, the condemnation of adultery became ingrained, along the importance of fidelity in the marriage vows. Thus, the concept of fidelity is of central importance in traditional marriage.

In Perry v Schwartzenegger (the California Proposition 8 gay marriage case) Judge Vaughn Walker’s arguments supporting his decision were based, to a large extent, on his “findings of fact” that gay marriage would not threaten traditional marriage.  But his findings were based on the cases and evidence presented by incompetent lawyers supporting Proposition 8.  These lawyers failed to offer the most relevant arguments, failed to present the most relevant evidence, and failed to call competent expert witnesses (one of Judge Walker’s “findings of fact” were that the two pro-Prop 8 expert witnesses were incompetent).

Judge Walker made a number of assertions, for starters:

Walker #1. Definition of marriage:

“Marriage is the state recognition and approval of a couple’s choice to live with each other, to remain committed to one another and to form a household based on their own feelings about one another and to join in an economic partnership and support one another and any dependents.”

Comment: According to Walker’s definition, all which is required is commitment to remain together; there is nothing at all about fidelity. Walker ignored a central tenet of  the marriage contract which has existed since Hammurabi (secular) and Abraham (religious).

The gay view of marriage is different from the traditional view.

Sexual Agreements among Gay Male Couples

Many Successful Gay Marriages Share an Open Secret

“A study to be released next month is offering a rare glimpse inside gay relationships and reveals that monogamy is not a central feature for many. Some gay men and lesbians argue that, as a result, they have stronger, longer-lasting and more honest relationships. And while that may sound counterintuitive, some experts say boundary-challenging gay relationships represent an evolution in marriage — one that might point the way for the survival of the institution.

“New research at San Francisco State University reveals just how common open relationships are among gay men and lesbians in the Bay Area. The Gay Couples Study has followed 556 male couples for three years — about 50 percent of those surveyed have sex outside their relationships, with the knowledge and approval of their partners.

“That consent is key. “With straight people, it’s called affairs or cheating,” said Colleen Hoff, the study’s principal investigator, “but with gay people it does not have such negative connotations.”

For a very constructive consideration of the central importance of fidelity in marriage, and of differences between straight and gay attitudes towards the concept of fidelity, I strongly recommend the writings on the topic by a very thoughtful gay blogger, B. Daniel Blatt:

Casual sex for single gay men: barrier to finding LTR?

Fidelity is much more important in opposite sex relationships than in same sex relationships, because of the inherently unequal biological (including emotional) states of men on one hand and women on the other. Marriage imposes a set of rules which levels the playing field.  The success of traditional marriage in so doing is quite remarkable. The average first marriage endures for more than two decades. In 80% of marriages, there is no infidelity and, in the remainder, the average number of partners outside of the marriage, over the entire course of the marriage, is 1.

One major societal benefit of traditional marriage is that it removes huge numbers of people of both genders from the reservoir which fosters the spread of sexually transmitted diseases — for an average of at least two decades, during the most sexually active period of most people’s lives (as an aside, no degree of political correctness should be allowed to obfuscate the inconvenient public health truths supporting the continuing prohibition of gays from serving as blood donors).  Anything which would threaten this societal benefit of marriage for the 97% of people who are not gay, which has survived the test of time for millennia, deserves a much more careful degree of scrutiny than was possible, given the inept case presented by the pro-Prop 8 lawyers.

Continuing with Judge Walker’s assertions:

Walker #2. He stated that “Permitting same-sex couples to marry will not affect the number of opposite-sex couples who marry, divorce, cohabit, have children outside of marriage or otherwise affect the stability of opposite-sex relationships.”

This conclusion is breathtaking in its certitude, given that gay marriage has only existed as an institution since 2001 (in the Netherlands) and it will take more than a generation to determine the ultimate impact of the reality of gay marriage on societal attitudes toward traditional marriage.

The conservative writer Stanley Kurtz has presented an argument that the experience in the Netherlands is already showing signs of adversely affecting traditional marriage:

Smoking Gun

Kurtz, of course, has been roundly criticized by gay marriage advocates, who find other factors than gay marriage to explain the grim statistics he presents.  Here’s an example of a particularly cogent challenge to Kurtz:

Did gay marriage destroy heterosexual marriage in Scandinavia?

There’s a big problem, though.  Scandinavia didn’t have “true” gay marriage until very recently.  Denmark, the alleged poster child for the long-term “success” of gay marriage, also didn’t have true gay marriage until very recently.  What Denmark had were registered partnerships for same sex couples.  These were not called marriages.  In point of fact, the Danish experience is strongly supportive of my central arguments on this issue, which are, again, that same sex couples deserve equal rights, but same sex “unions” should not be called “marriage.”

Further supporting my point of view on this is the very best study to date (the “best evidence”).

The effect of same-sex marriage laws on different-sex marriage: Evidence from the Netherlands

Note that the above-referenced study received a prestigious award, attesting to its peer-review credibility:

2008 Best Comparative Paper Presented at an APPAM Research Conference

Here’s what makes the study so important:

A. The study actually had a valid control (lacking in every other study to date).

B. The study examined the effect of both registered partnerships (civil unions) and “true” same sex marriage in the same country, and, thus, was capable of comparing and contrasting the effects of both civil unions and same sex marriages on traditional marriage.

The methodology was straightforward and convincing.  Differences were statistically significant. The validity of the control was, itself, internally controlled and confirmed.

The findings were as follows:

A. Civil unions did not adversely affect the marriage rate (confirming the longer Danish experience with civil unions, cited above).

B. Gay marriages did adversely affect the marriage rate (reduce the number of opposite sex couples entering into marriage).

It is very important to note that we are still in the very early stages of the gay marriage experiment (even in the Netherlands, where gay marriage has been in existence for the longest period of time).  That fact that statistically significant adverse effects are being observed at such an early time period (first 5 years), in a well controlled study, destroys Judge Walker’s conclusion that the existence of gay marriage does not change societal views of traditional marriage.  Again, this isn’t an indictment of Walker as an “activist judge.”  Walker was simply being an umpire, calling balls and strikes, in the pitches thrown for his inspection.  The pro-Prop 8 lawyers were, again, incompetent in presenting such an incomplete and poorly supported case.

Let’s conclude with other important findings of fact, made by Walker:

Walker #3. “The gender of a child’s parent is not a factor in a child’s adjustment” and “having both a male and a female parent does not increase the likelihood that a child will be well-adjusted.”

These latter conclusions were based on studies of small numbers of families with limited follow-up, for example:

Gay Parents Do Not Warp Their Kids, Research Shows

“And having gay parents doesn’t make children gay themselves, she [the study author] tells the newspaper. There is no indication in her research, she says, that suggests children’s sexual preferences are determined by their parents.

“Some don’t agree. Sociologist Tim Biblarz of the University of Southern California tells USA Today that there have not been enough long-term, large-scale research projects to definitively say what effect the sexual orientation of parents has on children.”

I want to conclude by considering the issue of nature versus nurture, with respect to sexual orientation.  I think it’s obvious that there is a strong nurture component.  The best existing evidence is found in the identical twin studies.

Sexual Orientation in a U.S. National Sample of Twin and Nontwin Sibling Pairs

Basically, in pairs of identical twins with at least one homosexual, in 68% of cases the other identical twin was NOT homosexual!  In comparison, in control groups consisting of non-identical twins and non-twin sibling pairs, in 79% of cases with at least one homosexual, the other sibling was NOT homosexual.  The overall incidence of homosexuality among all subjects in the study as 2.9%.  The differences between sexual orientation concordance between identical twins and non-identical siblings were NOT statistically significant.  The differences between the incidence of homosexuality in all study participants (2.9%) and in non-identical siblings from pairs with at least one homosexual (21%) was highly significant.

These data constitute the best existing evidence concerning the question of nature versus nurture regarding sexual orientation, and they support of a very strong role for nurture, to state it very conservatively. These data relate directly to Judge Walker’s claim that the gender composition of a pair of parents can be confidently stated to have no adverse influence on a child’s “adjustment” (Walker’s word).  The data simply are not there to support Judge Walker’s assertion.  I will not attempt to argue that gay sexual orientation represents a state of mal-“adjustment.”  I will state that gay sexual orientation presents sufficient problems (including those of exposure to infectious disease) for the average person to justify a parent’s wish to raise a child in a societal environment which does not increase the likelihood of imprinting gay ideation.

I conclude that everyone is entitled to equal protection under the law, including reasonable accommodation in recognition of actual physical differences (including most certainly the gender composition of committed couples).  I conclude that reasonable accommodation should not include increasing entirely-avoidable risks to society, women, and children.  Granting same sex couples equal rights and protections under the law, and applying a term other than “marriage” to same sex unions would best serve the needs of the individuals (and their rights, under the Constitution) and the equally compelling interests of society.

Larry Weisenthal

This entry was posted in Science, Social Studies. Bookmark the permalink. Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 at 2:20 pm
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21 Responses to Summary Of One Person’s (my) Opinion of the Gay Marriage Controversy [Reader Post]

  1. Romeo13 says: 1

    Better idea… get the STATE out of the marriage business.

    It used to be that the State would have laws, to enforce marriage vows, such as adultery laws… but those are now pretty much gone, so why is the State involved in this marriage thing at all?

    Create a legal framework of Contractual obligations… insurance, child support, death benefits, medical decision making, and then allow ANY two people to create a binding contract… but DON’T call it marriage. In fact, most of this can already BE done through Contracts, and powers of attornet…

    Marriage, IMO, should be left as a Religious matter, between the couple, and their Church… not between a Free people, and the State.

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  2. Skookum 2 says: 2

    Romeo, I am thinking along those same lines. We are asking Gays to come up with a more suitable name for their contract, but we already have the terms, Holy Matrimony and Marriage. Let the Gays marry and straight non-religous couples marry, those straight couples who want the full meal deal can commit matrimony in front of G-d.

    The state should concern itself with more important matters like spousal support after Gays split the sheets; of course if all that was drawn up before hand it would take a lot of pressure off the courts and require a lot of lawyers to look for a real job.

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  3. Romeo13 says: 3

    @skookum 2

    Funny part, me and my Son have a running discussion…

    OK, if two Lesbians get divorced? Who gets all the stuff? Cause we KNOW the woman gets most of it…

    And what about two Gay guys? Do they both loose all their stuff???

    But we finally had the answer… YES, the Gay guys loose their stuff, and its held over until the next set of Lesbians get divorced, who split up BOTH sets of stuff…

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  4. Skookum 2 says: 4

    +Since my own expensive divorce, I have often wondered how the judges will determine who gets screwed in the homo-deals. The Courts will want to maintain their high standards and this will be a challenge for the best minds on the bench. I assume they are sitting on their minds.

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  5. suek says: 5

    The reason the state has an interest is because the family is the foundation of any society. Children are the future, and without them, a society has no future.

    Other than that, I’d agree with you – who cares who does what with whom.

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  6. newguy40 says: 6

    The greater impact on the family has been “No Fault Divorce” and “Legalized Abortion”.

    You can thank the so called “sexual revolution” for the problems we are now encountering and will continue to encounter.

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  7. bbartlog says: 7

    ‘get the STATE out of the marriage business.’

    Easier said than done. The State currently is heavily involved in the division of property, award of custody, collection of alimony and/or child support, and so on, in case of divorce. Now I realize that at one time things were much simpler, but you have to turn the clock way back – in fact I’d say that in order to avoid screwing over women in this scenario you have to recreate a whole set of social institutions that no longer exist. I am not opposed to the idea, but you’re talking about moving mountains, politically and socially.

    On the whole, nice article. One thing I should point out is that the nurture/nature results you post don’t fully make the case; they suggest that homosexuality is not genetic, but leave open the possibility that it is due to random effects (including disease) prenatally or in early development. It is a fairly mysterious phenomenon.

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  8. Patvann says: 8

    I like it, Larry. Well done, and convincing.

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  9. Pingback: Summary Of One Person’s (my) Opinion of the Gay Marriage Controversy [Reader Post] « CWN – Conservative Watch News

  10. @bbartlog:

    they suggest that homosexuality is not genetic, but leave open the possibility that it is due to random effects (including disease) prenatally or in early development. It is a fairly mysterious phenomenon.

    I entirely agree. I don’t claim (or believe) that homosexuality can be “cured,” in most people, any more than something like post-traumatic stress disorder (another disorder which has a strong environmental component) can be “cured.”

    I do think that the vast majority of adult gays will be gay for life, in the same way that people with PTSD will probably have it for life.

    My point is that it’s pretty obvious that homosexuality is not predominately something which is genetically inborn, in a great many people. This means that environmental factors (including, I’d argue, societal attitudes) can influence ultimate, set in stone, sexual orientation, at least at the margins. I think that — until we have a much better understanding of the ultimate effects of blurring all distinctions between traditional marriage and registered partnerships/civil unions among same sex couples — we should be very cautious in radically changing the traditional definition of marriage.

    – Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach, CA

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  11. The real problem I see with this carefully thought out, rational, eminently logical solution is that it’s carefully thought out, rational and eminently logical. The supporters of gay marriage as “marriage” have no interest in anything but emotion-based straw man arguments.

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  12. Anon Y. Mouse says: 11

    How soon until I can marry my dog? She isn’t getting any younger and neither am I. /s

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  13. Aqua says: 12

    Nicely done Larry. I don’t see a problem with gay unions, I have a problem with the term marriage. How long after the law is passed will it take for a gay couple to sue the Catholic Church, or Baptist, Methodist, Synagogue or Mosque, (which I would find hilarious, the mosque part I mean). I would be within weeks, I have absolutely no doubt. The proponents of gay marriage claim they just want the same rights as everyone else. That is easily achievable with civil unions, but they insist on the word marriage. And someone will sue a church claiming the church is denying their civil rights under the new law.
    If a church wants to recognize gay weddings, that should be the church’s choice.

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  14. A_Nonny_Mouse says: 13

    #12 Aqua

    “… I have a problem with the term marriage. How long after the law is passed will it take for a gay couple to sue the Catholic Church, or {whatever establishment church etc} … The proponents of … insist on the word marriage. And someone will sue a church claiming the church is denying their civil rights under the new law. …”
    ================================

    Yes, absolutely.

    Two dangers here:

    (1) As you note, some church WILL be sued for “violating civil rights”. The offending church{es} may well be threatened with loss of tax-exempt status unless they agree to go against their scriptures and officiate at same-sex “marriages”. I assume this is part of The Plan by Liberal-Progressives to weaken and/or kill off Establishment Religion (and additionally, traditional morality as well). These people believe The State is The Only True God; and they want to force the rest of us to worship the same idols they do.

    (2) If they are successful at redefining the well-understood word “marriage”, they WILL go on to changing the meanings of other important concepts. I’m assuming again, (but it’s entirely consistent with what I’ve seen so far of our nation’s evolving tyranny) that they will get around to defining “rights” to be “whatever The State declares they are”, and all notion that humans are “endowed by Our Creator” with “inalienable rights” will be gone for good.

    My concern is that our government no longer listens to its citizens; it no longer respects its citizens; regarding that old Thomas Jefferson quote (*), I’m CERTAIN government doesn’t fear us; but the past 16 months has convinced me that our government is becoming something greatly-to-be-feared.

    (*) When the people fear their government, there is tyranny;
    when the government fears the people, there is liberty.

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  15. Jim Hlavac says: 14

    It is nice to see a reasonable acceptance of the reality of gay people. For the reality is, we are here, and there have been gay people in all cultures, in all societies, since the dawn of time. But I quibble with one or two things.

    For instance, where does the 97-3% split come from? Who ever counted the numbers of gay people? No one it seems. On the other hand, if one looks at the number of gay bars, clubs, restaurants, etc, in the nation, and the number of people at gay marches in any given June for Gay Pride — it seems the number is closer to 6 or 7% of the population is gay — and every other count I ever attempted in cultures around the world leads to the same number. Certainly, a blog post response cannot be detailed as required to prove my point, it would seem by a rough count that some 4% of the adult population can be accounted for in gay marches — and it is highly doubtful that all gays, or even half, attended every march in the nation, not to mention that not all cities have gay marches. The number of gay men has never been estimated at over 10% (Kinsey, the lone proposer of this figure) and posited by some as just 1%. But 3% just is too low, and until some more detailed attempt is made to count us, there’s no way to make such a definitive statement as the author here states. I also note that it is said that there are 106 boys born for every 100 girls, which is the 6% figure, not 3% — what does anyone think those extra six boys are for?

    And too, as for nature v. nurture — if it was the latter, then the numbers would almost certainly be higher or lower in different times, cultures and places, but that seems not the case. Nature just seems to keep cranking out the same number of gay people, despite the differences in the way those cultures deal with the reality in their midst. And too, the idea that some flighty, flimsy, sissy boy, of stereotypically gay men — does anyone believe truly that those boys are somehow nurtured to be the physically sissy boys? How would that even be possible? As for the “sin” or “choice” argument — how could those sissy boys conceivably choose to be so physically effeminate?

    As for whether gay couples produce gay children through nurture, I would point out that straight couples seem to be producing the gay people at a steady rate. And what straight couple is nurturing their kids to be gay? In fact, the nurture argument falls into “psychological,” or “psychiatric” for which it’s odd that gays then are nurtured to be gay but somehow every other such psychological-psychiatric condition is natural?

    But in keeping with the “new word” needed for “new institution” and to keep it short, there is indeed a need for a new word for the legal entity of gay “marriage,” but “civil union” is not it. Therefore, and for a long time, I have been arguing for “twainage.” The word “twain” means two, and is actually the Old Saxon masculine form for “two,” way back when Saxon had genders, like modern Spanish or French, and actually far more genders, for there was “neuter” gender too. The word twain is no longer used for much except “never the twain shall meet” (which ironically is what gay detractors wish most of all, that we would not meet each other to be gay, or something) — and thus is available for modern usage. And just as Marriage leads to verbs “to marry” and adjectives, “they’re married,” then Twainage leads to “to twain” and “they’re twained.” Along with, “hi, meet my twain” — how can one “civil union someone” or be “civil unioned” — it sounds like a legal construction only a lawyer could love. But I and my twain do think, well, twain is the way to go, and thus gays might get legal rights as taxpaying Americans, and heterosexuals can keep marriage and do with it as they will, which seems, in our modern “protect marriage at any cost” a awful lot of divorce.

    Finally, though, if such thoughtful expositions on this subject such as this keep surfacing, then I have hope finally, that gay people will no longer be excoriated and denounced by so many.

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  16. Jayne says: 15

    I enjoyed this post, even if I didn’t see eye-2-eye w/ all of it. I think the thing that makes me shake my head more than anything is the naiveté of the crowd that thinks that same-sex marriage won’t have much effect on society or on the meaning of marriage within society. You must be kidding me! I’ve already had professional people imply that my spouse might be a wife (I’m a woman). That was pretty jarring. The premises of the sexual revolution, briefly—2 or more consenting adults is groovy—have been largely responsible for legitimizing homosexuality as an open lifestyle, which you may or may not like—but it is somebody else’s business. But marriage is the recognition and legitimization of society toward one’s sexual partner, among other things. The whole concept of marriage is somewhat incongruous with coexisting moral realities, because it has such a broad public component. Marriage is largely about recognition, legally, but also socially. Push comes to shove and tolerance is not sufficient—acceptance is being asked for. I would say that the advent of SSM is not an expansion of marriage, but rather a fundamental shift in its linguistic and cultural currency. I don’t think it changes the value or importance of marriage in God’s eyes, or in the eyes of my husband and me, but does mean a further widening of the gap between what a word means to you and what it means to me.

    A hundred years ago this conversation would have been no less conceivable than cross-species marriage is now, so that seemingly ridiculous comparison of dog-and-man marriage may not be so ridiculous after all. What will the world be like in 2110? There are people who believe that animals should have equal rights with human beings, and people who believe that expression of one’s sexual urges (as long as you don’t hurt anybody) is healthy and admirable, and there have certainly been people who have practiced bestiality for centuries. I’m sure we can rationalize out the details, find some way of making it sanitary, and then have a truly beautiful friendship. And just because some find this repugnant, or want to question the mental health of this behavior—their heterospeciphobia doesn’t give them the right to dictate the lives of other people. Blah, blah, blah.
    I’m being somewhat facetious, but it’s true that all kinds of social arrangements have been accepted over time, (including ones that we would consider gross) for basically the same set of arguments that support gay marriage, and that does not necessarily mean they were beneficial, moral, or responsible—just that they satisfied the emotional and physical needs of the people.

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  17. I thank Jim and Jayne (#14,#15) for such thoughtful comments.

    First, to Jim. Finally, finally, finally someone does get it. You get it, and, for that, I’m grateful. Even hopeful. I like your use of the word “twainage.” Independently, I’d previously come up (in comments on another blog post) with “joinage,” but yours is a better word, for reasons you explain.

    You object to the “97-3 split” (straights versus gays, as percentages in the general population. I got the number from the article I quoted in the American Journal of Psychiatry. If you look through the contemporary (post-Kinsey) peer reviewed literature, you’ll find that the “split” is generally pegged to be in that range. But I won’t quibble if you want to claim that the percentage of people with gay ideation is higher than that — perhaps even the percentage of people who are actively, physically gay is higher than that. It’s highly conceivable that people may not be entirely honest in surveys on this topic.

    With respect to nature versus nurture, I think it’s very difficult to argue against the twin data (see the embedded table in my original blog post, and my brief discussion following this). I’m sure that there are a great many genetically hard wired gays — perhaps these are disproportionately in the “flighty, flimsy, sissy boy, of stereotypically gay men” group, to quote your words (#14). But there are huge numbers of gay men who are what is termed str8 acting and str8 appearing, as I’m sure you know. I am merely arguing that the issue of parental and societal influence on ultimate sexual orientation is a long way from being settled, as noted by Sociologist Tim Biblarz of the University of Southern California (quoted by me in the blog post). Therefore it is not at all unreasonable (much less homophobic) for parents to be concerned that erasing (not simply blurring) societal distinction between marriage and twainage could contribute to the nurture side of the sexual orientation equation.

    Jayne’s comments (#15, first paragraph) are extremely important. Profound, even. She makes an original point that I hadn’t previously heard, but with which I agree.

    Push comes to shove and tolerance is not sufficient—acceptance is being asked for.

    Let’s consider this further. The distinction between tolerance and acceptance.

    Here in Los Angeles is located the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance. Note that the museum does not stake out a position which demands acceptance; the position is that tolerance is sufficient.

    Let’s look at the continuum. Tolerate –> Accept –> Embrace

    I don’t know about others, but I certainly have a whole lot of issues on which my own feelings come down in different places.

    Religion-wise, I’d say I tolerate Islam and Mormonism and Scientology. Politics-wise, I’d say I tolerate the Religious right and the (true) socialistic left. Occupation-wise, I tolerate a lot of lawyers. I can tolerate all of these groups and defend their constitutional rights, but I don’t have to accept their points of view.

    Militant proponents of same sex “marriage” demand that I not only tolerate it and grant it equal status to traditional marriage under the law, but also to accept the viewpoint that it is the same thing as traditional marriage and should therefore be called by the same name.

    When militant proponents of same sex marriage demand acceptance, as opposed to making do with tolerance, they are, themselves, failing to exhibit tolerance. Tolerance not of bigotry, but tolerance of fact that a great many people cannot accept something they believe to be wrong.

    In a free and open society, tolerance is all that is reasonable to demand.

    – Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach, CA

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  18. Jim Hlavac says: 17

    Mr. Weisenthal, I very much appreciate your thoughtful and personal response, and appreciation for Twainage. I’ve been arguing for this word since about 1980. Everyone has laughed at me a lot, I can assure you. I wrote up a bigger explanation of why this word should be adopted by gays, which would actually lead to a rather surprising “acceptance” of gays. The marriage word is just barking up the wrong tree. Gay men and woman are different. We know it, and no gay man denies it. We might not alway articulate it as well as we could or should, but no gay man in his right mind truly believes he like a straight guy. Nor do we want to be, for we want the most inestimable right — to be left alone. Don’t tread on us, please — which is why I have always thought gays would be far more comfortable on the liberty side of the political spectrum, even if that side does have its difficulties with us.

    I don’t really want to address every point you make, for it gets to be like a dissertation or something (And I’ve had these conversations so many times, you can’t imagine.) However, certain things are important to consider. But one thing I did on my own blog was address the issue of tolerance — in our society — are gay men excluded, not excluded, not included, or included. There’s a difference with the four, the middle two the most overlapping. You might find it intriguing the way I put it at http://www.thedailymush.wordpress.com

    It’s only been very recently, within 20 years, that I haven’t seen cop cars cruise gay bar parking lots looking at license plates, jotting things down, or even walking in, holding their billy club up high lightly tapping their palm with it as they survey the scene. That, I submit, is not tolerance. But now today, even today, there’s something called the Metropolitan Community Church here in Baton Rouge. It’s a gay congregation of Christians, such as they believe it. Their “sanctuary” is a small commercial warehouse in an industrial district, instead of chapel, steeple and pews. Why? Because the congregation is afraid of what would happen if they bought or built such a church-like building. So they hide it in an industrial district, where by the weekday it’s nondescript, but on Sunday mornings, when no one else is around, it’s a center of worship and fellowship. Still we must hide, don’t we?That’s not tolerance.

    As for “acceptance” — well, surely eventually it must be accepted that there is a constant amount of gay people (further defeating the nurture argument — surely the amount of gays would go up and down, as passions prevail, no?) — but straight people seem to be in mortal fear that they’ll turn gay. Or be convinced to be gay, or something. I don’t know what it is, but that’s what seems to be behind so much argument against gays — that we’ll make people gay. But no such thing is possible under the nature concept — the number is as God alloted it. Though such a thing is perhaps possible under the nurture argument. And it’s the straights who use the nurture meme, and gays who say it’s not true. It’s not our fault that straight people are afraid of being gay. But we can’t make you change, and we don’t want to — any more than you can make us change, though so many would like just that (and then I always wonder which would introduce his sister to me, as the right woman, so to speak, to take my mind off the menfolk.)

    But still, even tolerance wise we have a long way to go. Look at some of the anti-gay comments on American Thinker, or American Spectator, and elsewhere on the internet, among conservative sites. Moonbattery hardly goes the day without using the word Perverts in reference to gays, still, gotta love that site. Sin, perversion, disgusting, sick, demented, on and on comes the disdainful words and attitude — somehow gay people don’t think that’s very tolerant. No one is asking straight people to come to the gay bars, or gay festivals, or gay churches, or gay parties, or even have a gay friend — but calling me evil and a threat to the Republic and Civilization itself is not tolerance by any stretch of my imagination.

    On numbers — in the 35 years I’ve been reading gay publications, gay guides, and going to gay bars, clubs, and establishments I have never once encountered a census taker or interlocutor of any kind, or an advertisement for some study or questionaire of any kind. Nor have I ever read a word of such a thing, or heard a word of such a thing. No psychologist, psychiatrist, counter, census taker, sociologist, government official (except police of course, you have no idea) nor preacher of any faith or anyone who purports to know the number of gay people or claim this or that about us ever set foot in a gay bar, a gay club, a gay gym, restaurant, church or social event, or public festival. No gay person I know has ever been in a study of any kind. I’ve been to nearly a 1000 gay bars in America, and more outside, in these 3.5 decades. Surely I would have heard a word from someone, some source, of any attempt by the straight world to enter a gay environment and find out who we are and how many of us there might be. Yet everyone’s an expert, it seems.

    So as to exactly whom might be in all these counts and studies of gay men is a mystery to, well, us. All gay men are mystified at this stuff. We question each other on it, we wonder, we discuss. And we come to the same conclusion — where on earth do these people get this information and from which gays? I realize it’s all only anecdotal, but surely, 35 years of experience in gay bars in 40 American states should have turned up one something, no? So all gay men question automatically any and all studies ever purported to be done on us for some reason or another. And if a gay man counts he’s automatically dismissed as proselytizing or promoting homosexuality. (By the way, did you know the promoting homosexuality meme is the most hysterical of them all. We joke about the billboards and TV ads — “hey, be gay now — scorned for free and forever — what a deal!)

    And if someone proposes that they merely took a phone survey and said “hi, I’m from XYZ polling company, and we want to know if your gay or not,” then, well, I’d be flummoxed to ever believe that data could be remotely real.

    On Twins — there’s also no real correlation between left handedness in twins either. Nor is there correlations for many other traits of twins, which does foster the continuing research into that little mystery. Oddly, I’d bet there is more research on twins than on gays. But that’s not conclusive either, for there are so few gays in any twin sets that one could never truly extrapolate to the larger group of gays.

    As for “str8t” — yech. One thing gay man don’t like is that word, and “acting,” following it. We find these people to be “bisexuals” on the make, but returning to their wives or girlfriends later on that night — and thus we believe they are gay man hiding as best they can, for some reason only they know. No self respecting gay man uses the word “str8t acting” — butch, manly, top, daddy, dom, — but not straight acting. Another term is “undercover fag” — yes, true. And that’s what I am — when people, gay and straight, find out I’m 100% gay it truly baffles them, I’m undercover, and many times I wish I was not. Funny, I lost more than one job for not being gay enough seeming. You’ll also really only find this spelling of the word in personal ads. But no gay man in a gay setting would ever say he’s “straight acting.” One thing we’re not, it’s that, and we know it.

    On Nurture — it’s true that nurture does affect the personality of all people. And thus, if the gay man is strong of will, confident, or something less, or bitter and angry, nurture will foster that trait. That’s part of the nurture. The nurture as cause really falls apart when you consider that in all cultures in all periods of time there have been gay men. The gayness — the intrinsic desire — is the same — that’s the nature. The nurture part is how the gay man comes to terms with being gay. That part of nurture can be positive or negative. Oddly, gay men are surprisingly happy, even if we had some serious run ins with those who nurtured us. But the nurture can’t make someone gay. You can’t convince a straight guy to go gay. You can’t entice a boy on the cusp of puberty who is seeking girls for the first time in his life to be gay. But when a gay boy surfaces — how is that dealt with? If extremely negative, the nurture part leads to problems. If positive, it leads to a finer existence. If indifferent, … each reaction by straight people to their gay sons (I really don’t speak of Lesbians, I just haven’t thought about the issue that much, though Tomboys fit in here,) is the nurture. Strangely, and I’ve never seen this in the literature, nearly all gay men I’ve ever spoken to told me that it was their mothers who really said “well, you’re gay, and that’s that,” or something similar. I believe mothers particularly know, then it’s their own abilities, gay-friend meter, and “nurture” skills which impact the gay man. I was lucky, my family was fine with it from the beginning, when I was 12 and 13, really, that young. Strident Christianity might lead to marriage, under pressure, and great fear of being found out, and then what? First – is that really fair to the girl involved? Second — the man always comes out — and puts ads in gay papers saying he’s “str8t acting” and can only see you for an hour. Then you (not you personally, the societal you) condemn him for being furtive.

    On “lifestyle” — if being gay is a lifestyle, then being straight is a lifestyle, which leaves no room for the lifestyles of the rich and famous. In other words, the use of this word implies something that is not true — being gay is no more a lifestyle than having blond hair, or if a sickness, than having say, diabetes or something. If a psychological condition, it still can’t be a lifestyle — what mental illness is a lifestyle? It’s another quibble, but gay men don’t have gay lifestyles, and we just giggle when you use it.

    In fact, gay men giggle a lot when we hear straights talk about gay men. One thing we pretty much all know, it’s the rare straight person that truly engages in a meaningful conversation with us about the reality we face. You’ll notice that I’m probably the only openly gay man to plunge into the debate on your site, and on many other conservative websites. For one thing is true too, tax cuts, smaller government, strong defense, honest government, these are not gay or straight issues — but American issues. A gay man can be wholly comfortable with the conservative “lifestyle” (if I may) on nearly every issue under the sun — until it comes to being gay. Then we must say, sorry, I’m a gay conservative.

    One of these days I would truly like to meet a TEA Party representative, or a Republican, or even a minister of any cloth, who comes to a gay bar, or party, or festival, and truly talks to us. Not at us, to us. Not to tell us we are sinners or in need of change or something, but to say, “hey, that is strange, why do you think you’re gay?” There’s so much “science” and “thought” on the issue from straight people — but precious little coming on down to meet the gay neighbors and finding out who we truly are. And you cannot “tolerate” the ones whom you (again, the societal you) even refuse to talk to.

    To conclude though, if this continues to be the caliber of the debate on gay Americans I cannot feel more positive for the ultimate outcome.

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  19. @Jim (#17): I looked up your blog. http://www.thedailymush.wordpress.com There is some pretty remarkable thinking going on, there. In a positive sense.

    I don’t really have a major negative issue with anything you wrote in #17, except to quibble with a pair of your arguments/assumptions. Firstly, the fact that neither you nor your acquaintances “has ever been in a study of any kind” has no more statistical validity than me saying (truthfully) that no one has ever studied me or any of my acquaintances, either. If one is doing a study to determine the incidence of something in the population as a whole, one does a random survey, not a targeted survey. Would you accept the conclusion that a very high percentage of gays are gambling addicts, based on a survey of people present in casinos?

    Also, you make the observation that handedness (right versus left) is often discordant in identical twins. You are attempting to argue that the finding that 68% of gay identical twins have a genetically identical twin who is not gay does not strongly argue against the theory that sexual orientation is genetically determined. In point of fact, it is the very fact of discordance between identical twin handedness which has been used to support the conclusion that handedness, itself, is largely environmental (nurture) and only weakly genetic (nature), e.g.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19428393

    – Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach, CA

    ReplyReply
  20. Jim Hlavac says: 19

    Mr. Weisenthal,
    I’m enjoying this conversation of ours, but we might be over using this forum, so this will be a last short post.

    Until 2003 gay men more or less lived with the constant worry that we could be arrested on any number of laws throughout the nation, at times it seemed like literally hundreds of them, including the farcical Florida law prohibiting the sale of alcohol to known homosexuals, yah, in Ft. Lauderdale, too! Then Lawrence v. Texas was decided. In the creating of a random sample before then, gay men would be more than hesitant to identify themselves as such for obvious reasons. Post that date, I’d think any survey would be more accurate. But, too, given that gay men have concentrated in certain cities and neighborhoods, and thus those areas of the nation, those zip codes, or area codes, or whatever method was being used to be “random” was care given to weight the disparity of the number of gays that could be reached across the nation as a whole? I’m no statistician, or trained anything really, but no gay man really believes any study cited because, as I said, how are any gays included in these studies reached? Did someone just call around looking for gay people? Where only psychologists called? Or only Health Clinics? And given the possible motives of the study proponents, I’d like to know a lot more about the people involved. When a study by the Family Research Council came out about a decade ago declaring that only 1% of the population was gay, it made the front pages of the New York Times with no one batting an eyelash as to the motive of that fine Christian group to come up with a number as low as possible. That’s just some of the reasons I quibble with all the studies on gay people.

    As for twins, I got a theory, but it’s too long for here. It’s easy to find where to reach me, if you’d like to see it.
    Jim Hlavac

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  21. valit says: 20

    I think one of the problems with your reasoning is you are assuming that a higher out-of-wedlock birth rate is necessarily bad for society. I think here in Europe fewer and fewer people are interested in marriage generally… and that’s not only true of countries with marriage equality but in any rich, developed country.

    Marriage is a very traditional, conservative ideal and in a lot of forward thinking countries, the ones that generally have had marriage equality the longest and that generally feature highest on the UN Human Development Index year in year out, people are increasingly less interested in an institution that smacks of tradition and conservatism.

    So what if there are more children who are born out of wedlock in the Netherlands? Maybe these couples are in civil unions… Clearly having parallel institution means some people will select one over the other. Why is that bad? Or maybe they are common law couples. Do you think that these children born out-of-wedlock in Netherlands necessarily have a hard life? The quality of life in the Netherlands is among the highest in the world.

    Maybe you should check what children born out-of-wedlock in the Netherlands grow up to be. I’m sure you’d find they have very high standards of living probably following very happy childhoods.

    Statistics can be manipulated any way you like, you also have to provide some kind of explanation as to why you think something might have caused something else. You can’t say that the Netherlands have same-sex marriage AND it rains 3/4 of the year so we must assume that same-sex marriage is bad for the weather.

    What do you think is the connection between same-sex marriage and children born out of wedlock? You think couples say “oh the gays can get married now, i guess we should have pre-marital sex and if we get pregnant, let’s keep it and not get married.

    This was the big lesson of the the Prop 8 case in San Francisco. You have to look past the numbers to see that there is no logical argument to ban same-sex couples from getting married. The proponents couldn’t come up with any. This is the conclusion that Judge Walker came to after listening to all the evidence presented. If you read the court transcripts you’ll find that most of your points have been made in court and were found to be moot… I’m sorry.

    Even if it’s true that same-sex couples have open relationships more often, how do you think that harms opposite sex marriage? How do you think opposite-sex spouses who have open relationships (they exist too, you know?) harm other opposite sex couples’ marriages? And how can you possibly claim that in 80% of marriages there is no infidelity? You think people who cheat are going to tell some guy in the street with a clipboard? Please…

    My opinion is that marriage equality is the best thing that can happen to marriage right now because it will renew this institution turning it into something that is fair, that doesn’t discriminate. Something that people will want again for themselves.

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