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February 9, 2005

The Foundation of My Rhetoric

Judging from email, I should clarify the perspective through which I wrote the previous post. First, I'll repeat that the issues of same-sex marriage and homosexuality in general are not of interest to me out of antipathy toward homosexuals. Rather, as an intellectual matter, I find that homosexuality raises a variety of intriguing problems to resolve. And as a social and cultural matter, this is clearly where the front lines are.

People on both sides of me politically will disagree with my assessment, here, but I'm currently persuaded that sexual attraction is not genetically determined in a hard way. Various traits of "gayness" probably are, and there are probably variations to which people will incline one way or another, whether that inclination results from genes or socialization. Furthermore, there's probably some irreducible percentage of people for whom a particular sexual attraction might as well be genetic.

Given a general assumption that sexuality is more a range than a categorization, society has a fine line to walk between erasing a preference for heterosexuality for the archetypal "waverer" and encouraging the most socially and personally beneficial expression of homosexuality among those with no ability to make what must ultimately be a voluntary change.

Although the current dynamics of the debate make this a precarious compromise to suggest, I think the best option is for the civic face of society to find a way to encourage monogamous relationships among homosexuals while not implicitly disclaiming the legitimacy of efforts to direct them toward the heterosexual norm. From a Catholic Christian standpoint, such efforts might entail guiding them to maturation of their relationships beyond the sex to the point at which they support each other in chasteness, but that guidance would be offered without the coercive powers of the law. In practical terms, as I've written before, this solution would mean a Federal Marriage Amendment that leaves open the possibility of state-recognized "civil unions" defined in their own terms, not with direct reference to marriage.

My point with the previous post was that, since active homosexuality is fundamentally severed from the all-inclusive ideal for heterosexuals — from biology to genealogy to tradition, and so on — we must take into account the possibility that traditional social structures won't have the same force. Furthermore, we must be extremely wary of tying an already crippled family culture to the project with a blithe faith that everything will just work out for the best.

Posted by Justin Katz at February 9, 2005 11:16 AM
Marriage & Family