Printer friendly version

October 30, 2004

Getting America Thinking About Same-Sex Marriage

In response to my October 14 post addressing Noah Millman's divorce versus same-sex marriage argument, I received a response from an anonymous reader that I thought worth sharing, not the least because it illustrates that people out there are thoroughly thinking this issue through — even, surprisingly — those without blogs:

Millman takes up on the issue of homosexual marriage along the lines of Andrew Sullivan, to wit if one isn't willing to work to end unilateral divorce one is a hypocrite for opposing homosexual marriage (and presumably for opposing polygamy, polyandry, group marriage, marriage of children to adults, incestous marriage, interspecies marriage, etc.).

My analogy for this (feel free to use it if you wish without attribution) is simple: assume that half of your house is on fire, and the rest of it isn't burning yet. Is spraying gasoline on the part not yet in flames a good idea?

Yes, the 60's/70's era experiment with unilateral divorce has been a disaster. The evidence was there as early as, oh, 1978 or so. However it in no way follows that legalizing homosexual marriage, and polygamy, and polyandry, and incestous marriages, and 40 year old 'chicken hawks' marrying their 14 year old toy-boy-du-jour, etc. is going to mitigate the damage done.

That damage is real and it is quantifiable. Study after study after study over the last century or so has shown that boys who grow up without a father in the home will find an adult male role model. It's arguably wired in to the brain. That's why in the old days, when a man died leaving children behind, especially young children, any and all decent men rallied 'round to help the widow with the children and especially with the boy(s). Uncles were expected to pitch in, as were co-religionists, lodge / fraternal order members, and so forth. Because it was common knowledge that absent at least one, and preferably many, positive male influences, the boy would likely "take up with a bad crowd" or otherwise "go bad". It was simply accepted that a woman could not raise a boy to manhood without men helping her; call it primitive, call it tribalistic if you will, but it was known and furthermore was true as we can see to our sorrow nowadays.

Some amount of the crime in inner cities is a direct result of lack of decent men in the lives of boys as they grow up. That's quantifiable, within some error bounds. Reduce divorce and the number of cars stolen, the number of armed robberies committed, the number of deaths from druge overdoses and turf wars, etc. will decline to some degree, over a generation, because there will be fewer shiftless young men who do not have the impulse control to keep from sticking up a stop 'n rob, spending the money on crack and shooting some other shiftless young man for the heck of it.

It is known via countless studies that sexual molestation of children is higher in stepfamilies. Fathers with stepdaughters do not have the same bond as they do with daughters. What can we expect to happen in polygamous marriages? Nothing good, I warrant. Children who are sexually molested are damaged emotionally, some for the rest of their lives. This can also be quantified, although it is more difficult. Given the lawsuit in Utah that is ongoing, which cites Lawrence to justify polygamy, and given the language of Goodridge, there is no way to stop the poly's from their goal once homosexual marriage is imposed. There is one more thing: polygamy tends in time to produce a notable excess of young men who have no chance at marriage. The Mormons were fortunate indeed to have that bad cultural artifact taken away from them after only a couple of generations or so; in time, it might have destroyed them either from within due to societal breakdown, or from without if they attempted to send their excess young men out on expansionist efforts. I suspect that more than a few of the Islamic jihads of the first 1000 years or so were due to young men deciding to raid for brides. China is facing this in the next 20 years thanks to their one-child policy. We don't need this here.

We stand on a precipice. Any society requires a certain, not always knowable, percentage of decent, honest, people to function. If too many people within a society become emotionally and/or intellectually damaged to the extent that they cannot function above the level of a small time street thug, it become impossible for that society to continue to carry on in the same way. The evidence is clear: once homosexual marriage is forced upon us, other deviations will demand and get their 'rights' as well. This will lead inexorably to an increase in sexual molestation, emotionally stunting childhoods in bizarre families, and a general decline in the competence and (dare I say it?) morality of the society. At some point in the not very distant future, it will become ever more difficult to raise a normal human being to be a productive adult, be they power-company lineman, mother, teacher or neurosurgeon, or anything in between. Then the lights will start to go out...literally, in some places, because of an excess of incompetent drones whose only skills are varying forms of social parasitism.

Millman takes a very short term view. The house is on fire, yes, and needs something sprayed on it, but not the tanker full of gasoline he (and Sullivan, and others) advocate.

Posted by Justin Katz at October 30, 2004 8:14 PM
Marriage & Family

"There is one more thing: polygamy tends in time to produce a notable excess of young men who have no chance at marriage."

That's not just "one more thing." That's one of the most important policy reasons as to why we ought not allow polygamy in this society. And this factor is wholly absent from Same-Sex marriages. Indeed, one major reason in favor of same sex marriage is so that gays have SOMEONE to marry. Polygamy is wrong because if practiced enough, it will inevitably deprive some young men (b/c it's always one man with more than one woman, not the other way around) of SOMEONE to marry.

Posted by: Jon Rowe at October 30, 2004 9:11 PM


A few points:

1) Having brought about same-sex marriage using the rights-driven language of Lawrence and Goodridge, of what relevance are "policy reasons" to the fight for polygamy? Moreover, in a nation in which gender has been erased from marriage, we can't assume that polygamy would follow the classic model. If it's good for a gay man to have somebody to marry, what difference does it make if he has two somebodies to marry? That's one less roving bachelor, after all. Alternately, what would be wrong with two men and a woman?

2) You're relying on an assumption as an unstated underpinning: that homosexuality is immutable (in either direction). If homosexuality is not, or is not entirely, immutable, then there's some argument that a drive to settle down into a socially ratified lifestyle leads some unknown percentage of people to the traditional family form.

3) Of the two genders, even gay activists will periodically suggest that women are more fluid sexuality-wise. As I've suggested before, this factor in conjunction with others make it worth considering that female-female unions might be just as likely, if not more so, to have the male-underclass effect as polygamy.

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 30, 2004 9:54 PM

Jon: "[Polygamy's tendency to produce excess young men with no chance of marriage is] one of the most important policy reasons as to why we ought not allow polygamy in this society. And this factor is wholly absent from Same-Sex marriages."

I don't follow your logic here, Jon. How do you know that SSM won't unbalance the sexes just as polygamy would?

Are you assuming that SSM wouldn't further legitimize homosexuality and thereby increase the number of gays? Are you assuming equal numbers of gay men and lesbians? No effect on hetero marriage rates from SSM, despite the data from Europe?

I see no reason to assume that SSM wouldn't affect the gender balance of people willing to reproduce and raise their offspring. Offhand I would guess that further promoting homosexuality would produce a surplus of women---ask Jim McGreevy's wife how that might work. But no one can seriously claim to know with certainty what effect SSM would have on societal sex balance.

SSM is a giant gamble with somebody else's future. Tampering with marriage in any form carries enormous risks. You recognize those risks with polygamy, Jon, but then assume them away for SSM.

Posted by: Ben Bateman at October 31, 2004 2:21 AM

Re: whether homosexual marriages will lead to more homosexuals—unless we are talking of completely marginal, de minimus numbers, I think that notion completely contradicts what we know of homosexuality & human nature. Here is a quote from Richard Posner’s immaculately researched book, “Sex & Reason,” which I assume arguendo to be true.

"Homosexual preference, especially male homosexual preference, appears to be widespread; perhaps to be innate; to exist in most, perhaps all, societies, whether they are tolerant of homosexuality or repressive of it; to be almost completely, perhaps completely, resistant to treatment; and to be no more common in tolerant than in repressive societies."

Re: “Waverers” (those people to whom you refer who could go both ways, and would, with more social validation go the “gay” way instead of the “straight”), the only folks who have this choice are true bisexuals—those whom we would categorize as a perfect “3” on the Kinsey Matrix (one aspect of his work that I think, is still worth holding onto). Perfect 3s are almost non-existent in the male gender, such that I wonder if any truly exist. Truman Capote didn’t think they did.

BTW: Jim McGreevey is not such a guy. He is, as he described himself, “gay.” Oh sure, he, like many self-described gays may have *some* degree of attraction to women (enough to get it up and consummate his marriage)—just as a huge chunk of the heterosexual population likely has *some* degree of homosexual attraction.

I’d submit that an individual needs a full attraction to the opposite gender to make a marriage work in the long run (hence he or she must be at least a “3” or closer to pure heterosexuality). Look there are plenty of prominent men whose predominant orientation was homosexual who married woman and sired children—Cole Porter, Leonard Bernstein, Anthony Perkins, Michael Huffington, and now Jim McGreevy. All of these men probably had *some* degree of attraction to both sexes; but we see a common pattern throughout all of them: Their primary orientation was same-sex, and they never remained faithful to their female spouses. All—except Porter I think—eventually divorced their wives and lived exclusive homosexual lives. And Porter was a notoriously promiscuous homosexual throughout his marriage. Are these the type of marriages that you want to encourage for such “waverers”?

For a more detailed argument on all of this, see this blog post of mine:

It’s true that with women we are more likely to find our true bisexuals. However, looking at the statistics, “lesbians” are an extremely small percentage of the population—smaller than gay men. If you can offer evidence to change my mind, I’d look at it objectively. But, given the small percentage of lesbians, I find it hard to fathom that the female gender contains more than a minimal number of women who can truly flourish in a same or opposite sex relationship. Maybe 4% of males are gay—maybe 1.5% of females. What additional % of woman do you think exist that could potentially, b/c of a fluid orientation, “fill the ranks” of lesbianism?

Posted by: Jon Rowe at October 31, 2004 9:58 AM

"This will lead inexorably to an increase in sexual molestation, emotionally stunting childhoods in bizarre families, and a general decline in the competence and (dare I say it?) morality of the society." Gee. You don't suppose that's the whole purpose, do you? Oh, not for short-sighted tacticians like Sullivan, who are really interested only in forcing societal acceptance of their perversion, but for the long-range strategists going back decades.

Posted by: ELC at October 31, 2004 11:17 AM


I'm just not sure that we could progress much in this conversation, because we'd have to step into the arguendos rather than just accept them. What we each "know" of homosexuality and (most especially) human nature appears to be entirely incompatible.

I haven't read Posner's book, but the quotation that you provide is missing precisely the information that would be relevant to my point: degree. If it were true — although I suspect that confirmation would be so difficult as to be impossible — that, say, 30% of men were inclined to homosexuality, then 4% for whom it is "resistant to treatment" wouldn't be a high percentage. In fact, one might suggest that our social structures are the most effective means of treating the attraction. So, if our relatively tolerant culture has a rate of 5% homosexuals, while a repressive one had a rate of 1%, then it would seem likely that further liberalizing our culture would increase the number of homosexuals.

Frankly, I think you — in company with many who argue on both sides of this issue — are a bit too anxious to push everybody into a definable category. Note what happens when a husband and father comes out as gay in his 40s: suddenly he becomes "gay" — fully and/or predominantly, as evidenced by his coming out. Let's note, at least, that the midlife truth-discoverers have found themselves a convenient way out of their marriages, subsequent to their having had an increasingly socially acceptible excuse to cheat.

With regard to your prominent figures, I guess I have to admit that I'm not impressed by examples among musicians, actors, and politicians. At any rate, how many "prominent men whose predominant orientation was homosexual" married women, sired children, and went on to live their lives in complete fidelity? I submit to you that you can never know this information; yet, it is the pivotal question for your argument to function.

As for lesbians, I note that every statistic I can recall seeing having to do with civil unions and same-sex marriage suggests that women will partake much more extensively than will men. (I believe the Vermont ratio is two to one.) Since we're talking about the effects of same-sex marriage, it seems to me that the global ratio isn't directly relevant, except inasmuch as it suggests that the socially desirable lure of same-sex marriage isn't all that strong among gay men.

And last: another point that I think advocates for gay causes tend to elide. Just as I think they oversexualize the notion of marriage, I think they oversexualize — strange as it may sound — homosexuality. The number of straight women who could... errr... perform fully in a lesbian relationship is not, I would suggest, negligible. The number of women who could find that it suits their needs to marry each other, either early in their lives (followed by divorce), late in their lives (after divorce or spousal death), or as a permanent arrangement, I would say is probably substantial.

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 31, 2004 11:29 AM

The Posner quote doesn't even approach the proper perspective on homosexuality anyway. Of course some homosexuals are completely resistant to treatment. It's not an illness, nor a mental illness, nor does it have anything to do with physiological determinination. It could be "treatable" if it were. Instead, it needs to be approached from the perspective of free will determination. For some people, what matters most is the sexual gratification without measurable consequence. Homosexual relations do not result in pregnancy, so some people choose it for the worry free nature.

The quantification that differentiates permissive from restrictive or oppressive societies is the degree to which people are willing to go to achieve sexual gratification. There are always going to be some people that are willing to risk everything for it, up to and including death (probably where the "to die for" expression really originates). The more sexually free a society becomes, and by extension the more legitimate homosexual relationships appear, more people will choose that route as it removes the degree of worry that unwanted pregnancy brings to heterosexual relationships. I'm less convinced that McGreevy is "gay" than I am that he is opportunistic. It seems to me that when the marriages broke up for men who professed being gay it was more because of their consistent extramarital behavior than any thing else. If they had given up that behavior and pursued the more moral course of action, they could have stayed married.

Posted by: smmtheory at October 31, 2004 2:02 PM

“At any rate, how many ‘prominent men whose predominant orientation was homosexual’ married women, sired children, and went on to live their lives in complete fidelity? I submit to you that you can never know this information; yet, it is the pivotal question for your argument to function.”

Do you really think that men who are predominantly homosexuality (but perhaps incidentally homosexual) ought to marry members of the opposite sex, of whom, they are not fully attracted to?

BTW: I read some interesting pieces by both John Derbyshire and Mark Steyn about Cole Porter—they both sort of praised him for not leaving his wife and “coming out” publicly as homosexual (I don’t think he really had the choice to come out back then—perhaps he could have left his wife—but even that would have been hard). Indeed Porter had a great deal of affection towards his wife (sort of reminds me of the way many gay men have as best friends hetero women). I’m not sure if they had children together; he may have been a stepfather to her biological children—I’ll have to research that further.

But here’s the rub: Porter as a homosexual never considered putting the option on the table of being faithful only to his wife. Is this the type of marriage that you support for gay men—would it have been better for McGreevy to stay married to his wife, allow his two young children to grow up in an intact nuclear family—but let McGreevy pursue his homosexual relations on the side.

I have a feeling that your response will be something along the lines of McGreevy should have stayed married & attempted to be faithful to his wife….easier said than done.

I suppose *in theory* such a thing would be possible. Many things are possible in theory, but that, given our human nature, aren’t realistic human options. Indeed, Priestly celibacy is one of those things that are rightly being questioned and debated given the nature of the human sex drive (and the romantic love drive).

In theory, I suppose, it’s possible for a monk to take a vow of silence and live up to it for years. But this quite frankly is not a realistic human option.

Let me share a little anecdote about such men who have a homosexual orientation but nonetheless get married—and perhaps (or perhaps not) leave their wives and “come out” in their 40s.

Here is the cite that led me to this article about men in Utah who get caught cruising for public sex:

"Reporter Derek Jensen notes that the men don't fit simple stereotypes:

"Many are married with children, some are leaders within their churches and some, like former state Rep. Brent Parker [arrested in a February prostitution sting and charged with soliciting a male undercover officer], are leaders in the community. Behind their clean-cut, family-man facades, however, lies a complex inner conflict that pushes these men to seek out anonymous sexual encounters with other men in public places...

"About 40 percent are married, [therapist Jerry Buie] estimated. The average length of those marriages is 23 to 24 years. More than 75 percent identify themselves as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His oldest client was 89 years old, his youngest was 20. Less than 1 percent of the men Buie treats have had substance-abuse problems.

"One trend has been observed, though:

"Most of Buie's clients are middle-age men. Cruising among men in their 20s and younger is much less common now, he said. Buie and others in the gay community say that may be indicative of society's increased acceptance of homosexuality. John and other males his age grew up in an era when being openly gay wasn't widely accepted.

This is what happens when you try to shove a square peg into a circle. This is what happens when you don’t give sexual orientation a safety valve for a responsible outlet but rather just try to repress it and plug it up (and notice how the article indicates that the younger gay men who are given a responsible outlet for their sexual desires do seem to be acting more responsibly).

Posted by: Jon Rowe at October 31, 2004 3:23 PM

No Jon,
That is what happens when people are taught it's more important not getting caught than keeping control of their sexual desires and (if they get married) remaining faithful to their spouses or (if they are single) remaining chaste. That is what happens when people are taught that getting laid is the most important activity in life.

Posted by: smmtheory at October 31, 2004 5:18 PM

Tell it to Bob Bauman. He was taught everything you say and preached it as well. And look what it did for him.

Posted by: Jon Rowe at October 31, 2004 5:32 PM

Your answer is lost in obscurity. Am I suppose to know who Bob Bauman is Jon? Is it a ruse to waste my time googling for that name for edification? Is there some significance in the plight of one person from among the approximately 230 million people that inhabit the country?

Posted by: smmtheory at October 31, 2004 10:44 PM

to save you the approximately fifteen seconds
it took me to googlecheck, Bob Bauman was a conservative Republican congressman from Maryland in the late '70s, who went on record as supporting every single one of your positions.

Until he was arrested (in 1980) for soliciting sex in a Washington, D.C. gay bar. He's since gone on to renounce his previous anti-gay stance (not too surprising) and wrote a book "The Gentleman from Maryland: Conscience of a Gay Conservative". Apparently, his deep convictions and best effort weren't sufficient to alter his basic human nature.

Whew! Took me longer to type this than it did to research.

As for why this sort of thing is significant - if I still have to spell it out for you, you wouldn't accept the explanation anyway.

Posted by: Robert at November 1, 2004 11:45 AM

Jon and Robert,
Leading a moral life is not just a one time event. It takes a conscious effort every day of our lives. Thanks anyway for your comment, Robert. The Bob Bauman factoid is not really significant in the way you and Jon make it out to be though. It is just another example of somebody that didn't practice what they preached. "Basic human nature" as you so eloquently point out is very nearly unalterable, and basic human nature is to seek self gratification (where ever and when ever it might be easiest). That's the easy road. We are called to be better than the sum of our basic human nature. That's the hard road, but that struggle to maintain the narrow path is what sets you free.

Maybe it's just me, but it seems curious though about that google thing where you appear to know exactly which Bob Bauman was being referenced by Jon. When I tried it, there were at least a dozen other hits before any reference to the one you mentioned. Just the same, it doesn't explain what Jon meant by his comment. What did it (being taught and preaching it as well) do for Bob Bauman? Once he walked away from the teaching, what could it do for him? Are you seriously trying to suggest that he had no choice (and still has no choice) in that matter?

Posted by: smmtheory at November 1, 2004 12:45 PM

"This is what happens when you don’t give sexual orientation a safety valve for a responsible outlet but rather just try to repress it and plug it up"

This is an unbreakable shibboleth of the left/libertine - that sexual drive needs an outlet, and that to 'bottle it up' or 'repress' it, will lead to various pathologies. Despite the rejection of Freud's theories, this attitude is very deeply entrenched.

In any case, the issue depends entirely on how one defines 'responsible outlet'. That's actually what the whole debate is about. Jon and other 'conservative' SSM supporters/promoters think that responsible=monogamous, regardless of the gender of the partner, while those against SSM think that responsible=monogamous and heterosexual.

As has been repeated many times, those of us opposed to SSM can't see any way to distinguish between Jon's arguments in favor of SSM, and those in favor of various other sexual relationships.

Posted by: Mike S. at November 1, 2004 1:47 PM


What is your interpretation/explanation for people who participate in homosexual activities while in prison, but revert to hetero when they get out (and were hetero before going to prison)?

Posted by: Mike S. at November 1, 2004 1:49 PM


Google Bob Bauman and "gay" or "homosexual" together and that's what will take you 15 seconds to figure it all out.

Further, of course, Bauman or anyone has the *choice* to control every behavior of his, in theory. In practice, given human nature, what you demand of gay people, like Bauman is not very realistic. It's unrealistic to demand this of him as a Catholic -- but as a non-Catholic, I suppose that's none of my business. But to demand this of homosexuals as public citizens of this nation, I find such a thing to be an outrageous demand.

The whole, "in theory you can choose this..." line of reasoning is really a red herring. Plenty of things are within the realm of theoretical choice, but not practical choice. For instance, in theory, it's possible for anyone -- and I suppose some monks actually do this sucessfully -- to take a vow of silence where they don't speak for years at a time.

Or to give another example, it's possible "in theory" for use to solve the majority of obesity as well as health issues in this nation if everyone -- or mostly everyone, or everyone who needed it (not gifted with a special metabolism where you can eat anything and stay fit) were to "choose" to follow a particular diet that included eliminating all sugar, all white rice, white flour, white pasta, and saturated fat, etc. and only ate vegetables, fish and lean meats. You get the idea...some things are possible in theory, but, in practice not realistic options for human beings. I'd argue that Priestly celibacy is one of those things.


I don't see what the situational homosexuality has to do with anything. My explanation of that is these are horny heterosexual men, who turn to homosexual acts, primarily as a form of release. The energy is heterosexual, the acts are homosexual. The reason why they revert to heterosexuality while out of prison is because chosen sexual acts do not change sexual orientation.

If you want a fuller explanation of this, as well as my understanding of bisexuality, see my blogpost that I referenced above.

Posted by: Jon Rowe at November 1, 2004 2:26 PM
It's unrealistic to demand this of him as a Catholic -- but as a non-Catholic, I suppose that's none of my business. But to demand this of homosexuals as public citizens of this nation, I find such a thing to be an outrageous demand.

Oops. There goes the Chutes & Ladders game. How have we gone from not equating same-sex relationships with the optimal lifestyle — marriage — to a public demand that homosexuals be celibate?

(I'm in a hurry, so maybe I missed it...)

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 1, 2004 3:02 PM

Justin -
if the only option for sexual relations with another human being is within the context of marriage, and I am forbidden to marry the person I love and wish to be with, the only option open to me is lifelong celibacy.
I can, of course, marry someone I do _not_ love and do _not_ wish to be with, but, to me, that would actually be worse.

Part of the overall problem, as I see it, is the conceptual gulf between people who believe that 'homosexuals' are normal people who insist on behaving abnormally (or sinful people who insist on behaving sinfully), vs. people who believe that 'homosexuals' are normal people who would like to behave normally (according to their innate nature) if circumstances were to permit it.

If your 'reality tunnel', to borrow a term from RA Wilson, contains the first paradigm, no argument for SSM will make any sense. If it contains the second one, few arguments against SSM will do so.

Posted by: Robert at November 1, 2004 3:33 PM

Mike S:

Let me try to answer your question about heterosexuals in prison, by telling you a few things about my life experience. I was born and was half-raised in Mexico. This, and the fact that I was one of five male siblings in my family, gave me I think a good understanding of the basic differences between a society that is moving toward acceptance of homosexual people (the U.S.) versus one that had not yet began to do so (Mexico). One basic difference is that in this country today gay people (to a large degree) are afford the same dignity and the same opportunity for self-respect that is necessary for a good and decent life. This, I know you’ve already heard and want to deny.

The other thing I’ve learned, which more directly answers your question, is that in more accepting societies, where homosexuals’ homosexuality is “legitimized,” heterosexuals, likewise, become more comfortable with their own sexuality. So you find in this country, compared to Mexico, far less heterosexuals having sex with other men (with gay men). I don’t have scientific data and I doubt anyone has tried to obtain it. But that is what I saw growing up and that is what I see today. I have a gay friend who likes to have sex with straight men, and almost without exception, he is able to find, here in Los Angeles, ethnic straight men (who grew up in many parts of the homophobic world), who will have sex with him (of course, as long as they are the “active” or the “top,” and it is all kept a “secret”). He has “no luck,” he says, with Americans, either white Americans or, for example, Latinos who grew up in the United States. (BTW, the gay fetish for straight men is just another unhealthy consequence of growing up in a homophobic environment, but that’s another story.)

That is why in prison you have many heterosexuals having sex with other men (with gay men, if permitted). Prisons are not gay-friendly places. Heterosexuals who end up in prison are not, outside of prison, very accepting of homosexual people; they’re usually among the most homophobic in society. The more a heterosexual sees the homosexual as equally worthy as a person, the less he is inclined to rape him if they end up in prison. (Jon has pointed out somewhere else that it is always heterosexuals who rape homosexuals in prison, and not the other way around.)

So “legitimizing” homosexuality has in fact the opposite effect that you guys believe. The reason is simple. Homosexuals will always be a very small percentage of the population. Growing up, young people want to be like each other; that is why they dress alike, talk alike etc. Once “being gay” is put out there, instead of it being hidden, heterosexuals (and even to a large degree, those who are “in between”) growing up will be more conscious of the path they take, and they will inevitably take the path that most of their peers take: heterosexuality

This is what I know. It is good for gays, and good for straights. What you “know” (Justin puts it in quotes), is not based on reality. It comes from a tradition that is fundamentally quite perverted in its attitude towards homosexuality, towards homosexuals, and towards masculinity.

Posted by: arturo fernandez at November 1, 2004 4:35 PM


But nobody here has suggested that marriage ought to be the only forum in which to have legal sex. Just moral sex, and you don't have to subscribe to my morality.

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 1, 2004 6:05 PM


I simply don't have time to go into it now, but for the record, it seems to me that you've got multiple problems. The first, as you acknowledge, is evidentiary. The second involves anachronism — essentially, what environment people grew up in. Third you leave out other, more general, cultural factors such as societal attitudes about sex in general. Fourth is the existence of other explanations; people who grew up in the United States lived through a decades-long AIDS scare that was largely associated with homosexuals; even assuming an culturally equivalent degree of sexual adventurism, the history is bound to have an effect on the ways in which one adventures. Fifth (the reason I'm not going to jump into this discussion too deeply), your assertions are without references, and each would require examination.

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 1, 2004 6:22 PM

So this is what it has come down to Arturo? A larger portion of the population - thinking marriage should only be between a man and a woman - is considered perverted compared to that portion thinking marriage should include same sex relationships, or at the very least legitimizing homosexual relations.

Ahem... to borrow a phrase from Jon Rowe... tell that to the Spartans. (They were the branch of Greek civilization that openly encouraged and eventually preferred homosexual relations and ended up being overrun by their heterosexual preferring neighbors wanting more land. They couldn't produce enough soldiers through those relationships to keep the others at bay.)

Jon, if you must continue to abbreviate my handle, please at least get it right. It would in that case be SMM, not SSM. Aside from that, I do not demand that Gay practitioners give up their sexual practices. Instead, I am suggesting that God demands it, he will be the enforcer, not me. I am too busy trying to keep myself on the narrow path to prevent you and others from practicing. The same goes for extra- and pre-marital sex.

Actually Robert, it seems to me the problem is more along the lines of a certain subset of people want to define the SSM argument on the sexual basis when the definition should instead be an argument on the societal quality basis. In other words, until you shift the paradigm of your argument from the inward looking argument to the outward looking argument, we will always be talking tangentially to each other.

Posted by: smmtheory at November 1, 2004 6:26 PM


My cross cultural research has told me that particular societies have had -- and I suppose some still do -- large sectors of the population who have the ability to engage in and enjoy homosexual acts, but the number of "real" homosexuals -- that is those with a primary or exclusive same-sex orientation who live out their lives in accordance with it -- is consistent from nation to nation: somewhere between 2-5%.

SMM, I think you are mistaken about the Spartans when you write that they "eventually preferred homosexual relations...." In Ancient Greece, homosexual behaviors were universally practiced by certain sectors of society (the male citizen class -- the only class that mattered). But these were literally "rituals" that all of the males were expected to go through. All males were also expected to, and virtually all did (save probably that small # who were true homosexuals, but perhaps because of social pressure even they did) eventually marry women and sire families.

But re: when we see large sectors of the male population willing to engage in homosexual acts, as Arturo describes, from what I have been able to understand, these are heterosexual men; they aren't bisexual; their primary orientation is towards women; they marry and have children and self-define as heterosexual and do not understand themselves as homosexual, but simply enjoy homosexual acts for release. They play the role of the "active” or the “top,” because they are using the gay men as substitutes for women.

Andrew Sullivan has documented (or he cited historians who have documented) that in America, before "homosexuality" was understood as a "label" for a person, many more heterosexual men were willing to and indeed did engage in homosexual relations (with real homosexuals -- who played the passive role). The straight men were more willing to do this -- even in the bad old days -- because it was NOT understood that having such encounters threatened or changed their sexual identities (because we really didn't have open sexual identities back then). That is, they could still think of themselves as normal straight guys who could go and get serviced by "fairies" (what they called the real homosexuals) and let the fairies to do them what women do.

As homosexuality has come more out in the open, and has become an identity, in this culture, any type of sexual activity between two members of the same-sex raises the inference of a homosexual or bisexual identity. And that "label" by itself -- and perhaps I suppose the confusion that might come with it -- is enough to discourage many straight guys from enjoying homosexual sex as a substitute for the real thing.

But apparantely a lot more of this went on when society was a lot less tolerant of homosexuality. I suppose this also tells us something about hetero male human nature -- that not all of them are "repulsed" by any thought of male homosexual activity as most of them claim to be.

Tying this back to Mexico: What I understand of the Latin American cultures: Real homosexuals -- especially those who understand themselves to be and label themselves as such -- are strongly looked down upon. But if a man uses another man as a substitute for a women (in essence if a straight guy does a gay guy) this doesn't threaten the sexual identity of the straight guy; he is not understood to be gay unless he plays the passive role. And this is "okay" according to their code of machismo.

In other words, if a man thinks of himself as heterosexual and has sex with women (with lots of them probably), according to the "machismo" male Latin American culture, it's considered "okay" for him to have sex with other men, as long as the straight guy plays the role of the "man." And all the while, the gay guy is despised.

At least that is my understanding of this.

Posted by: Jon Rowe at November 1, 2004 8:27 PM
As homosexuality has come more out in the open, and has become an identity, in this culture, any type of sexual activity between two members of the same-sex raises the inference of a homosexual or bisexual identity. And that "label" by itself -- and perhaps I suppose the confusion that might come with it -- is enough to discourage many straight guys

I'd argue, Jon, that what we're seeing is the overlap of new tolerance with a lingering stigma. That will change with such leaps of normalization as that of marriage. For one thing, one can already observe the mainstreaming of female-female experimentation. The different cultural mandates for men, however, can be worn away over time, particularly as homosexual relationships are presenting as equally (with no allowable lines of distinction whatsoever) deserving of encouragement in a civic sense.

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 1, 2004 8:53 PM


"people who believe that 'homosexuals' are normal people who would like to behave normally (according to their innate nature) if circumstances were to permit it"

How do you define 'normal', and how do you determine which sexual preferences should be counted as such, and which should not? If someone's innate nature urges them to have sex with as many people as possible, should we condone such behavior, or suggest that the individual control their desires?


"One basic difference is that in this country today gay people (to a large degree) are afford the same dignity and the same opportunity for self-respect that is necessary for a good and decent life. This, I know you’ve already heard and want to deny."

As Justin said, there are too many assertions/assumptions in your post to go through, but I'll just point out some in these two sentences. What is required for affording someone dignity? Pace my questions to Robert, how do you determine which sexual practices should be affirmed, and which should not? Surely you are not saying that any sexual inclination should be accepted. What is the standard you use for assessing someone's dignity? Is one's self-respect dependent upon the society around him? I don't know what you mean by your second statement - what do I know, and what is it that I want to deny?

Posted by: Mike S. at November 2, 2004 12:46 PM

Now it sounds like you, Robert, are reducing everything to sexual acts.

Homosexuals, today, can legally do whatever they want within the confines of their bedroom. The push for marriage isn't a push to sanctify homosexual sex, but homosexual partnering. And romantic partnering -- building a responsible life with one's partner -- is everybit is much about what it means to be "gay" or "straight" than what is done in the bedroom (if we were to count all the minutes we spend with our spouses in the bedroom, and all the minutes we spend doing non-bedroom things -- like sitting on the sofa watching TV or going for walks in the park -- the minutes of the latter would greatly outweigh the former thousands of times over).

If gay marriage relates to gay sexuality at all, the purpose would be to channel sexuality into something that is responsible and committed as opposed to the sexual anarchy that often results when "the male libido" is turned free into an outlaw or backdoor culture.

But if you want to focus specifically on the sexual acts that gays do and their corresponding existence or santification in a marital union: Every single sexual act that homosexuals can do, so too can heterosexuals (but homos can't do "the act" that defines heterosexuality) and heterosexuals do do those things in the marital bedroom.

In this nation, and throughout Western history, governments often did (and wrongly in my opinion) concern themselves which what *acts* even married heterosexuals were doing with one another. Various religious institutions, like your church, still do express that concern.

But today, if you are married, practically anything goes, as long as it's behind close doors and only occurs between the two spouses. So every single "act" that gays do with one another, it seems to me, already receives sanctification in a maritial union, as long as those "acts" are done by married heterosexual couples.

Posted by: Jon Rowe at November 2, 2004 2:06 PM

I'm sorry, I should have said it sounds like "Mike S." not "Robert" is reducing everything to sexual acts.

Posted by: Jon Rowe at November 2, 2004 2:08 PM


I hope that you eventually do go deeply into it. You well know that your anti-gay agenda centrally depends on refuting the claim I’m making. I remember a while back you ended a very interesting post by claiming the opposite. You alluded to a particular incident in your life that, under favorable circumstances, might have driven you to homosexuality. It was a very weak argument, certainly much less plausible than mine.

Mike S.

Let me just say that I try to operate from the belief that we must advance individual freedom without loosing sight of the common good. I really don’t have the time or the patience to try to argue how it is that you and I differ, from first principles to final conclusions. The point I made should be abvious to anyone who wants to open their eyes.


What’s the big deal that I find perversions in the “heterosexual lifestyle?” You certainly don’t think it’s a big deal talking about perversions in the homosexual lifestyle. About the Spartans, our worlds are so incredibly different. Unless we are so minutely familiar with their world, as well as with our own (this is hard enough), “lessons” will be suspect.

Posted by: arturo fernandez at November 2, 2004 8:56 PM

You'll have to make a stronger case than that to prove that having a normative heterogamous relationship is a perversion. Especially given the oft quoted representative number (3 to 4%) of gay practitioners among the populace. As I believe Mike S. was trying to hint at, if your definition of respect and dignity for homogamous practitioners hinges on SSM, there is something intrinsically wrong with it.

Posted by: smmtheory at November 3, 2004 12:07 AM

"having a normative heterosexual relationship is a perversion"

If that's what you think I'm saying, I give up. I am not a very patient person.

Posted by: arturo fernandez at November 3, 2004 2:27 AM