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An alternative to anti-Mormon protests:

Leaders of the Mormon Church urged their followers to contribute to a constitutional ban on marriage for gay families, a call that apparently resulted in the bulk of the donations to that effort in California. Religious leaders and their adherents are of course free to oppose gay marriage. But when you enter the political fray, you are not exempt from public criticism and protest just because you are a religion or have religious reasons for your advocacy. It's not anti-religious bigotry to call attention, loudly and angrily, to what you have done.

Moreover, despite the focus on a few extremists whose words have indeed crossed the line into religious (and racist) bigotry over the past few days, the anti-Prop 8 rallies have been peaceful and mostly respectful. Frankly, if marriage had been denied to blacks, Mormons, Catholics, or almost any other group, it's hard to imagine the reaction would have been as mild as it's been.

Nevertheless, I am uncomfortable with pickets directed at specific places of worship like the Mormon church in Los Angeles. It's too easy for such protests to degenerate into the kinds of ugly religious intolerance this country has long endured. Mormons, in particular, have historically suffered rank prejudice and even violence. Epithets and taunts directed at individuals are especially abhorrent. Individual Mormons (and blacks and others) bravely and publicly opposed Prop 8. Even those who supported Prop 8 are not all anti-gay bigots, though I saw plenty of anti-gay bigotry when I was in California last week. As I've repeatedly argued, there are genuine concerns about making a change like this to an important social institution. Those concerns are misplaced and overwrought, but they are not necessarily bigoted.

Here's my advice to righteously furious gay-marriage supporters: Stop the focus on the Mormon Church. Stop it now. We just lost a ballot fight in which we were falsely but effectively portrayed as attacking religion. So now some of us attack a religion? People were warned that churches would lose their tax-exempt status, which was untrue. So now we have (frivolous) calls for the Mormon Church to lose its tax-exempt status? It's rather selective indignation, anyway, since lots of demographic groups gave us Prop 8 in different ways — some with money and others with votes. I understand the frustration, but this particular expression of it is wrong and counter-productive.

Public protest against a constitutional ban on marriage for gay families is entirely justified. More than a mere vote, protests communicate intensity of feelings. They're valuable in a democracy. Something incredibly precious was lost on Tuesday. Those who lost it should not be expected to go back quietly to producing great art and show tunes for everybody's amusement.

I understand a rally is planned for the state capitol in Sacramento. That's more like it.

If a more intense physical expression of anger and frustration is needed, why not have sit-ins at marriage-license bureaus in California? It could be modeled on the sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in the 1960s. The demonstrations would be targeted at government buildings — rather than at churches. And after all, it's government policy we're legitimately protesting, not religious doctrine. Let people get arrested as they sing "We Shall Overcome." The protesters themselves — gay and straight, single and married, black and white, Mormon and Catholic, Republicans and Democrats, moms and dads raising kids — would suffer and accept the legal consequences of their acts. Rather than instilling fear and resentment in others, rather than dividing people on religious and racial lines, they would literally be putting their own bodies on the line for the good of their relationships, their families, their friends, and for a just cause whose time has come. We've had enough of lawyers, courts, focus groups, and media handlers. Let peaceful protesters by the thousands be dragged away just because they want to marry. It would be good old-fashioned civil disobedience, an American protest tradition.

wb (mail):
Dale,

That sounds like an admirable approach. In the end the opponents of P8 must decide what comes after the rally. Another election would have to occur and the California public would have to be persuaded to change their minds.
11.8.2008 2:37pm
MarkField (mail):
Great post.
11.8.2008 2:43pm
Jim Hu:
Moreover, despite the focus on a few extremists whose words have indeed crossed the line into religious (and racist) bigotry over the past few days, the anti-Prop 8 rallies have been peaceful and mostly respectful.
Perhaps, but news coverage always deemphasizes the peaceful and respectful parts of protests.

I'm afraid that few of the angry folks who get on the news will heed Prof Carpenter's excellent advice... and the result will not be good for the cause of marriage equality until the reaction to this loss fades from memory.
11.8.2008 2:58pm
merevaudevillian:
"Frankly, if marriage had been denied to blacks, Mormons, Catholics, or almost any other group, it's hard to imagine the reaction would have been as mild as it's been."

I entirely understand the attempt to link sexual orientation to race and religion in an attempt to elicit a particular response of, "Oh, of course not, that's discriminatory." But one could easily write:

"Frankly, if marriage had been denied to children, already-married individuals, or almost any other group, it's hard to imagine the reaction would have been as serious as it's been."

It's all dependent, then, on whether one views a definition of marriage between one man and one woman as discriminatory as race and religious discrimination, or as innocuous as age-based restrictions or polygamy restrictions.

And, while the sentiment of your post is, in my view, quite thoughtful, it is sometimes difficult to get past the obvious attempts to link the marriage debate to racial discrimination, although it's a tactic often used in this battle of ideas.
11.8.2008 3:01pm
mga (mail):
Civil disobedience is a far preferable strategy than litigation. Gay rights will be secure in this country when, and only when, the majority of the people are comfortable with that outcome. Courts cannot decree a change in public attitudes. Bull Connors' firehoses did a lot more to advance the cause of black civil rights than any court.
11.8.2008 3:04pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
I think one also needs to look at why anti-Mormon sentiments find fertile ground.

Mormons' fundamental ideas of religion are outside the mainstream. These include the fact that the religion is openly polytheistic, and believes that with effort, the faithful can enjoy a sort of apotheosis (becoming gods themselves). They are also fairly closed as a group unless you join, so people tend to fear them.

Having grown up in Utah as a non-Mormon (but sort of an honorary member of the churches at least for social reasons), I have a great deal of respect for some aspects of the Mormon faith. They are good at cultivating a sense of the value of marriage (though in my view that is sometimes unbalanced), and they tend to be good at taking care of their members who are enduring hard times. The community-focus of many Mormon groups is something to be admired even when one disagrees with substantive issues.

As a disclaimer, I left Quakerism in my early 20's for Odhianism (a sort of Norse Neopaganism oriented around ideas of apotheosis by emulation of the gods). My current faith makes me more sympathetic for the divisions which place the Mormons outside of the theological norm of this country. While I would still decline to consider joining the LDS church, I think that I have more in common with them theologically (though not socially) than most other people.

Hence a lot of the attacks against gay marriage are largely identical to the attacks against the Mormons. They are not normal, and their ideals undermine the foundations of our society on Apostolic Christianity.

At the same time, the Mormons have a history of institutionalized intolerance and deference to authority in a way which even the Catholic church has not managed to compete with. Their ideals of the role of religion in society strike me as clearly borrowed (probably via the Freemasons) from the Muslims (compare the Koran with Doctrine and Covenant, and aside from theology, they really act as if the core of their religion is law). This makes some of us who believe in the separation of church and state somewhat nervous.

Once again, though, I think the answer is reasonably respectful dialog. I don't think you can just issue protests and pickets. I think it is better to try to open dialog and seek to find people one can share perspectives with. Once this is done, some common ground is established, and one understands their viewpoints, then maybe writing letters to the senior leadership of the church is appropriate, again, done in the spirit of starting rather than stopping dialog.

Ideas are powerful. Speech can change the world, but only though active and bilateral dialog.
11.8.2008 3:05pm
GV:
I don't know. I'm torn on this. At the end of the day, lots of anti-gay bigotry emanating from churches led to the passage of proposition 8. I'm tired of religions institutions feeling like they can push a politically conservative social agenda and then be beyond criticism. (One of the leaders of the Mormon church was quoted as saying these protests were unfair because they -- meaning the Mormons -- were simply exercising their first amendment rights!)

My only real complaint is that I don't think the Mormon church should be singled out. I know lots of gay groups are considering protesting black churches, and I think that's a good thing. Obviously, the protesters should not be ugly and they should be respectful. But the institutions that push this nonsense should be shamed in some sort of public way. It's especially disgraceful that groups that have suffered prejudice in the past -- Mormons and blacks -- don't see the connection between their previous struggles with marriage and homosexuals' struggle today.
11.8.2008 3:07pm
Senator Blutarski:
I was mildly opposed to Prop 8 and voted against it. As a voter, including a potential voter on future gay-marriage related propositions, I am turned off by the rush to the courthouse and the protests. I would be even more turned off by civil disobedience. What's wrong with simple persuasion (and a much better set of advertising next time - the anti-prop 8 adverts were horrible, particularly the samuel jackson narrated advert and the bride who could not get to the alter advert)?
11.8.2008 3:12pm
DavidLink (mail):
My main concern is that this lets the Mormons off the hook for their dedicated, focused and very effective intervention in a state where their followers consist of about 2% of the population. While there is no way of knowing exactly how much of the funding Mormons nationwide provided to the campaign to pass Prop. 8, the proponents, themselves, took pride in announcing that it was in the double-digit millions.

Dale is right that this is something our constitution expressly permits. But our culture also asks for accountability. I think it's probably fair to hold Mormons to account in the proportion that they contributed -- and no matter how you calculate that, it was a lot. Their participation was particularly acute when you consider the small presence of Mormons in the state compared to the large amount of Mormon dollars that provided the wind in the initiative's sails. Simply put, without their organized support, the proponents would not have had nearly the resources to run the vile and deceptive campaign they did.

That is not to minimize the importance of anyone else on the Yes side. But I am not prone to letting major funders off easy because they happen to be a religion. Their temples are off limits, in my view. But they chose to get into this race in a big way, and they should be as accountable for that as anyone else is.
11.8.2008 3:16pm
Smokey:
I've worked alongside my share of Mormons over the past several decades, and a few live in our neighborhood.

You could not find a friendlier, more courteous and hard working group of people anywhere. They don't smoke or drink [even coffee]. Until I got to know them better, I enjoyed being a jerk by immediately asking them if they'd like a Coke, a beer or a cigarette whenever they showed up. They remained uniformly cheerful and friendly despite my wicked behavior.

Mormons represent much of what's good about America. No wonder some folks hate them. But if they were good enough for Howard Hughes to trust, they're good enough for me.
11.8.2008 3:17pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Smokey-- I completely agree regarding trustworthiness of Mormons, and the kind, cheerful character.

I also think it is hard to blame a group for doing what the law permits. The answer here is respectful dialog, IMO.

Regarding civil disobedience, sure, that is entirely OK, but I don't think it should be directed at supporters of the initiative, but rather the law itself. That is a distinction which IMO needs to be maintained.
11.8.2008 3:22pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
DavidLink:

What about holding the voters responsible? After all, money doesn't change the outcome by itself. People actually had to vote for the proposition....

By your logic the African-Americans should be targets of protests since they were the demographic group most heavily supporting the measure.

Protest the law, not the supporters.
11.8.2008 3:25pm
melissa (mail) (www):
Personally, I think that the gays are unlikely to ever get anywhere as long as their main visible strategies are to embrace the very stereotypes that scare people the most. When I see a gay couple as a responsible, loving ordinary couple, who might have a house and a dog and a job and go to church, it's extremely difficult to think of a good reason to oppose gay marriage.

But if most of the visible images of homosexuality come from Folsom Street-type celebrations and anti-church protests, it's pretty easy to fall back on the whole godless heathens defensiveness. It's as if the civil rights movement had largely involved King and his followers embracing the stereotypes of blacks at the time, rather than rising above them so elegantly.

There's a really good conservative case for gay marriage, but until the leadership embraces it instead of embracing the San Francisco crowd, they're going to remain stuck where they are.
11.8.2008 3:28pm
Cornellian (mail):

By your logic the African-Americans should be targets of protests since they were the demographic group most heavily supporting the measure.


No, that would be white people, or possibly hispanics, since blacks are a tiny percentage of the population in California, barely more numerous than gay people in California.
11.8.2008 3:33pm
Smokey:
Wrong, Cornellian. Blacks made the difference.

CNN's exit polling indicated that whites and asians opposed Prop 8 by a slim 51/49; Hispanics favored Prop 8 by 53/47. African-Americans favored Prop 8 by 70/30 [black women by 75/25].

[BTW, interesting link, melissa!]
11.8.2008 3:39pm
truthteller (mail):
merevaudevillian, you write:

I entirely understand the attempt to link sexual orientation to race and religion in an attempt to elicit a particular response


I am so tired of that false argument. Of course sexual orientation, as race, or color is genetic, or are you telling me your heterosexuality (I assume you are heterosexual) was chosen by you?

Are you saying you are genetically heterosexual, but gay people are not genetically gay? What does that say about your sexual orientation?

Anyone who is sure of their sexual orientation knows it is impossible and undesirable to change it.

Pointing out how we resolved the irrational feelings we had for other people who are different from us, and the similarity in the struggle and oppression with the gay people is not linking to anything.

It is helping people understand how once we liberated ourselves from past views, the world became a better world and groups of people were free to contribute to our society. We have a black president for crying out loud!

As far as the mormon church, they were highly involved in defeating making gay marriage legal in Hawaii.

Every person must be treated equally under the law.
11.8.2008 3:53pm
MarkField (mail):

Blacks made the difference.


A "straw that broke the camel's back" argument kind of ignores all those other straws that got there first.

The 45% of white voters constituted several million votes. The 60% of black voters were swamped by comparison.
11.8.2008 4:14pm
David Warner:
Something I don't hear raised much are the vast numbers of friendlies behind the religious barricades. As with Muslim moderates, it doesn't help us on the inside when those on the outside gratuitously attack the faith itself.
11.8.2008 4:31pm
Fub:
wb wrote at 11.8.2008 2:37pm:
Dale,

That sounds like an admirable approach. In the end the opponents of P8 must decide what comes after the rally. Another election would have to occur and the California public would have to be persuaded to change their minds.
Bingo!

I think an analysis of what the "No on 8" advocates did (and didn't do) in the campaign is the place to start.

The ads I saw were on the right track -- older parents of gay children saying they supported their kids, and just wanted them to have the same rights to form a family unit as everyone else. There were also plenty of allusions to the parents' religious beliefs.

But what they missed (or what I didn't see) were black and Hispanic parents of gays. That might have turned the votes of many black and Hispanic voters. If someone is watching political ads with a predisposition to identity politics, then appealing to those predispositions can be politically effective, as the "Yes on 8" propaganda demonstrated with religious identity.

The prop. 8 opponents could also have focused their ads strongly on well known media outlets popular among black and Hispanic voters. But I see no evidence that they did.

There was no shortage of black and Hispanic gays and parents available for such ads. Failing by default to appeal to black and Hispanic voters was a major error by the campaign organizations.

The place for a "Repeal 8" campaign to start is to begin persuading black and Hispanic voters that some of their children and their neighbors' children will benefit by being relieved from one more source of institutional prejudice and oppression.
11.8.2008 4:32pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Gays might start by deciding if they want permission to marry, or recognition of their marriages. There's a big difference.

If they want permission, then they are ceding the control of marriage to the state. That's sure not the norm in human history. State involvement is a rather recent thing. I'm not sure why anyone would want to make it a necessary condition of marriage.

However, if they want recognition of their marriages, then they are taking control of marriage themselves. They are making their own public commitments and marrying themselves. That's how it was done for most of human history. Then, they point to their existing marriage and say, "Look, this is real, all of us are married, it's all around you, children remain safe, we are married because we have decided we are married. Now we want state recognition of hospital visitation, inheritance, taxes, adoption, etc."

The view of the Catholic Church on marriage is instructive. It says the couple themselves marry each other. If a priest is not around to witness, then they are free to marry on their own. They do it.
11.8.2008 4:50pm
TMC12345:
So what that Mormons are only 2% of the population and contributed a higher proportion of the Yes on 8 campaign's donations? Almost all campaigns are funded by a small number of vocal minorities. Indeed, a very small percentage of Californians, including Hollywood celebrities, members of boards of directors of corporations and interest groups such as PG&E, Google, Apple, Levi Strauss, and the teachers' union, were responsible for a large portion of No on 8 donations.

It's easy to target a small group of vocal supporters of Yes on 8 as the reason that Proposition 8 passed. It would have been just as easy for Proposition 8 supporters to target Hollywood and the corporations and interest groups that funded the No on 8 campaign if the proposition had been defeated. In truth, however, the millions of dollars spent on both sides only ensured that both sides would be fairly heard in the marketplace of ideas. The voters of California passed Proposition 8.

Those that are upset by Propition 8's passage should focus on persuading Yes on 8 voters to switch their position (or bringing out more voters that support same-sex marriage). While peaceful protests against the Mormon church or any other organization are permissible free speech, I don't believe that directing anger toward a small minority church will convince persuadable voters to support same-sex marriage.
11.8.2008 4:52pm
MisterBigTop (mail):
Dale Carpenter,

Excellent post. I agree 100%. My worry is that some crazy will take the mormon-hatred too far and do something stupid that will set the gay rights movement back years.
11.8.2008 4:54pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

peaceful protesters by the thousands be dragged away


Of course, that won't happen.

No fire hoses either I'm afraid.

So, there goes the theater. Sit-ins depend on overreaction for effect.

California is neither Birmingham of 1962 nor Chicago of 1968. No overreaction on the menu.
11.8.2008 5:13pm
trad and anon (mail):
I am so tired of that false argument. Of course sexual orientation, as race, or color is genetic, or are you telling me your heterosexuality (I assume you are heterosexual) was chosen by you?

Are you saying you are genetically heterosexual, but gay people are not genetically gay? What does that say about your sexual orientation?
Well, not being a heterosexual, I'm certainly not genetically heterosexual. But here are some facts:

1) The theory that sexual orientation is 100% genetic is bogus, because of the identical twin studies. If it were 100% genetic, all identical twins would have the same sexual orientation, which is not true. I'm pretty sure identical twins are much more likely than regular siblings to have the same sexual orientation, but its definitely not a perfect correlation.

2) Scientists don't know what causes sexual orientation. Probably it is the result of many factors.

3) It's not true that things are either genetic or choices. I'm pretty sure I don't dislike mint chocolate chip ice cream solely because of genetics, but it's not like I "chose" to dislike mint chocolate chip ice cream, or that I could "choose" to like it.
Anyone who is sure of their sexual orientation knows it is impossible and undesirable to change it.
I largely agree.
11.8.2008 5:14pm
Parenthetical:
@ melissa

I think that the gays are unlikely to ever get anywhere as long as their main visible strategies are to embrace the very stereotypes that scare people the most.

I'm not sure whose strategy is at play in making the scary stereotypes visible. (I find words "vulgar" or "obnoxious" more fitting, but we can use "scary" for now.) It certainly wasn't the organized opposition to Prop 8. They preferred to disappear gay families, for the most part. (No doubt to their own peril.)

Rather, I see most of the scare strategy emanating from those who seek to gay people in their "proper" place.

When I see a gay couple as a responsible, loving ordinary couple, who might have a house and a dog and a job and go to church, it's extremely difficult to think of a good reason to oppose gay marriage.

Indeed. It's been my experience that most gay people are unremarkable. Sure, some people have cats instead of dogs. Some raise children instead of keeping pets. Some people attend synagogues (or bowling leagues) instead of church.

But unremarkable is dangerously close to invisible in politics. Hence the need for something else.
11.8.2008 5:21pm
highway61:
As a member of the Mormon church and supporter of Prop 8 in principle (though not a voter in California), I don't mind the protests that much. Outrage over the outrage is a sign of immaturity, a symptom of discomfort at the notion of people disagreeing openly with one's own beliefs. A more constructive response, and the parallel to Professor Carpenter's suggestion, is simply to articulate the reasons for believing that marriage is between a man and a woman.

It is also important to me that LDS opposition to same sex marriage is not opposition to the bundle of government-given rights that people enjoy by way of marriage. The LDS Church made this clear in its press release immediately following the election. I assume for Professor Carpenter and the vast majority of those who favor SSM, this is no consolation. Nevertheless, I am hopeful that those of us who oppose SSM but favor extending the same bundle of rights to a wider group will actively support such an extension.
11.8.2008 5:39pm
timid10:
truthteller writes:


I am so tired of that false argument. Of course sexual orientation, as race, or color is genetic, or are you telling me your heterosexuality (I assume you are heterosexual) was chosen by you?


The is no scientific evidence that proves that sexual orientation is biologically or gentically determined. Here is what the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists has to say on the matter:


No one knows what causes heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality... to date there are no replicated scientific studies supporting any specific biological etiology for homosexuality.


In short, you weren't "born gay" - it was a behavior you largely learned and then chose to adopt. Nurture instead of nature as it were.

You may have a biological predisposition to choose a same-sex lifestyle in much the same way a 6'10" person would have a predisposition to play basketball. But in the end it is your choice as to what lifestyle you lead. I could change my sexual preference tomorrow if I so choose, but I can't change the color of my skin... ever. To equate the genetics of race (or gender) to that of sexual preference is not scientifically supported.

cheers.
11.8.2008 5:40pm
Stephen Clark (mail):
I mostly agree with Dale, with two possible exceptions.

- I don't accept the (perhaps unintended) implication that anti-Mormon sentiment is morally equivalent to racism. While no one should ever be brutalized for their ideas, challenging someone's ideas is not equivalent to challenging someone's skin color, and the history of oppression of Mormons does not immunize their ideology from vigorous criticism today. Anti-Mormon sentiment (for lack of a better term) seems far closer to anti-Communist sentiment than racism. Mormonism is an ideology of the right; Communism an ideology of the left.

- I also think Dale is too quick to absolve Mormons or the Church of bigotry. Yes, there may be "genuine concerns about making a change like this to an important social institution" and, true, "those concerns ... are not necessarily bigoted." BUT SOMETIMES--FREQUENTLY, IN FACT--THEY ARE. To the extent Mormons are motivated by the unquestionable divine revelation that homosexuals are morally depraved, that is bigotry, pure and simple, and it ought to be labeled as such. Even if slick Mormon marketers emphasized the kinds of secular policy concerns to which Dale refers, it is quite likely that in many cases those concerns are raised as mere pretexts for what is ultimately bigotry.
11.8.2008 5:46pm
Parenthetical:
From a political-organizing perspective, I agree with the thrust of Prof. Carpenter's entire post. But:

The demonstrations would be targeted at government buildings — rather than at churches. And after all, it's government policy we're legitimately protesting, not religious doctrine.

What you assert here is literally true, but it ignores the dynamic that animates the California dilemma.

The obvious institutions of the government are not really at odds with gay marriage. The courts, the legislature, and even the executive are at least nominally supportive of gay marriage.

For many who just had their marriages--or hopes for marriage--dashed, the outrage is directed at the half of the population that seeks to use the state constitution to enforce a personal, if widespread, religious belief.

That's an imperfect characterization of what's really occurred. But, it is has some real substance behind it.

So, it's not religious doctrine that the demonstrators rail against. It's using the ballot box to make some religious doctrine the supreme law of the land that animates these ill-conceived demonstrations.
11.8.2008 5:53pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Timid 10:

You may be right. However it's also the case that there is "no scientific evidence that proves that sexual orientation" is caused by the developmental reasons given by Narth et al. which the profession has long viewed as discredited. And there is also no scientific evidence that ONE person ever changed his sexual orientation from "I used to be fully attracted to the same sex and little if any to the opposite sex" to "I am now fully attracted to the opposite sex and little if any to the same sex." Though, I'm sure some folks have modified their behavior based on a change in worldviews.

Until we understand what causes homosexuality it will be impossible to treat and therefore change the orientation if such ever will be possible. If sexual orientation has a biological cause, it may be possible and even easier to "treat" that. We treat biological issues all the time with things like gene therapy, vaccines, and medicines/chemicals. Specifically medicines like Prozac and Lithium change brain chemistry.

Even if sexual orientation turns out to be developmental in part or in full there is good reason to believe it's still immutable like race. The clearest analogy is to language. We are all fluent in English; and that's CLEARLY a function of development. However, I would submit it's IMPOSSIBLE to "unwire" that from our brains. The only way for us NOT to have the English speaking orientation in our brains is to go back and raise us in a non-English speaking culture. Thus you can prevent it from developing; but once it gets set in at a particular point, it becomes immutable. Even if we, for instance, moved to a culture spoke something other than English immersed ourself in it and spoke that language constantly for years, though we might lose some vocabulary and develop an accent, I seriously doubt we'd ever "forget" the language in any meaningful sense. Those neuropathways are to a large extent, permanently set.

For all we know, this is sexual orientation. But the bottom line is as long as we don't know the causes (which we don't) sexual orientation does seem so powerful that it is immutable or so intractable that it's like it is immutable like left handedness or speaking English.
11.8.2008 5:58pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Timid10 wrote:

In short, you weren't "born gay" - it was a behavior you largely learned and then chose to adopt. Nurture instead of nature as it were.


You are abusing your own evidence. A specific biological etiology being currently unknown does not suggest a lack of either one or a number of possible biological causes.

For example, my wife dislikes broccoli. She has her whole life. I can tell you that she was born that way, you will tell me that this was a learned dislike. I however have some evidence on my side.

My wife seems to be extremely sensitive to bitter tastes and she often finds foods I find to be slightly bitter inedible, and foods like broccoli that I find to lack bitterness entirely to be moderately bitter. It turns out there are others who also have the same problem and the choice of which foods seem to be disliked is consistent within this group. To my knowledge there is no known biological mechanism involved in being overly sensitive to bitter foods. Am I then to believe that just because we haven't studied it, we are to assume that people learn to be overly sensitive to such things?

Studies on homosexuality at least in males do show what looks like a weak genetic component. However, this is entirely insufficient to say that it is mostly nurture. Some birth defects like cleft lip do not seem to have a genetic component at all, yet you would not argue that people learn to have cleft lips (or at least I hope not). BTW, last I checked there was no specific biological etiology of cleft lips either.

Most likely, IMO, there are probably both environmental and genetic/hormonal factors. However, you can't just argue that in the absence of knowledge we should assume a certain default state.
11.8.2008 5:59pm
neurodoc:
Frankly, if marriage had been denied to blacks, Mormons, Catholics, or almost any other group, it's hard to imagine the reaction would have been as mild as it's been.
When blacks were chattel slaves in this country, they were regularly denied the right to marry legally. And the reaction to that particular denial of a right to blacks was very mild, to say the least. Also, there were legal bars to interracial marriage in a number of states until Loving.
11.8.2008 6:03pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
einhverfr,

Indeed. Chandler Burr has a great thesis on this where he refers to sexual orientation as a class "black box." And that is, even if we haven't yet discovered the biological causes for something, it's entirely reason to conclude using circumstantial evidence that something is biologically based. He shows that a similar case can be made with handedness where we haven't yet discovered the exact biological causes for why some folks are left handed. But using circumstantial evidence we can conclude it probably has some kind of meaningful biological component to it.

Sexual orientation, whatever its causes, is about as chosen as handedness. And indeed both involve chosen behavior. Every single time I pick up a pencil and write with my right hand I am CHOOSING to do so. I COULD, if I CHOOSE, write with my left hand, although the result would be something even more unreadable than what I write with my right hand. And it would feel extremely cumbersome, uncomfortable and unnatural for me to write with my left hand.
11.8.2008 6:06pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Something we should keep in mind that instructive about Loving is that the Supreme Court didn't step in and national that policy until about 12 (I think) or so states still had the ban. One can make an originalist case both ways on Loving -- certainly some/many of the Framers and ratifies of the 14th Amendment believed as long as both blacks AND whites were equally denied the right to marry someone of a different race, there was no unequal treatment and hence to 14th Amendment violation.

But whatever, it would have been impossible for SCOTUS to have given us Loving in 1868. We may one day get a Supreme Court decision that mandates gay marriage, but it won't be until 35 or so states already have gay marriage at the state level.
11.8.2008 6:10pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

As a disclaimer, I left Quakerism in my early 20's for Odhianism (a sort of Norse Neopaganism oriented around ideas of apotheosis by emulation of the gods).


Is this a joke? You really worship Odin and his son Thor the God of Thunder?
11.8.2008 6:14pm
neurodoc:
Even if sexual orientation turns out to be developmental in part or in full there is good reason to believe it's still immutable like race.
Really, "immutable like race"? A psychiatrist friend of mine has been teaching residents about sexuality for years and would contradict you. A woman who is in a stable, ostensibly satisfactory marriage for years, with children in the course of it, later divorces and enters into a monogamous sexual relationship with another woman. Since you believe sexual orientation to be "immutable," you would conclude that she was faking it all along with the heterosexual mating or she can go either way (bisexual) or what? While I am not nearly as informed on the subject of sexuality as my classmate with his considerable professional training and experience as a psychiatrist, speaking as a neurologist myself (diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology), I would tell you that your analogies with their implied neuroscientific bases ("brain chemistry," handedness, acquired language, etc.) is so much hoccum, that is not well-grounded scientifically.
11.8.2008 6:20pm
timid10:
einhverfr wrote:


You are abusing your own evidence. A specific biological etiology being currently unknown does not suggest a lack of either one or a number of possible biological causes.

For example, my wife dislikes broccoli. She has her whole life. I can tell you that she was born that way, you will tell me that this was a learned dislike. I however have some evidence on my side.


I suspect that sexual orientation and biology - unlike aversion to broccoli - has been studied sufficiently enough now to presume that sexual preference is not specifically biologically determined. After more than two decades, the hunt for the so-called "gay gene" has not been successful.

However, other genetic qualities such as race and gender are quite obvious. It would seem that a biological/genetic link for sexual orientation, should it exist, would be readily apparent. My own opinion on the matter is that until such time that science can confirm a biological or genetic cause, then I can't validly make arguments on the presumption that an unproven (yet to be discovered) link exists.

The jury is out still on broccoli (for now). Does your wife have an identical twin that is not averse to bitter veggies? ;)

cheers.
11.8.2008 6:32pm
aloysiusmiller (mail):
"we were falsely but effectively portrayed as attacking religion". Whoa my friend, the anti-religious protests against Mormons didn't start after Prop 8. Gays have been entering and disrupting Mormon worship services for some years now. The trashing of the Catholic Church by gays has been going on for sometime. This kind of selective memory for the past is as infantile as your perverted affections.

For the rest of my life I intend to exercise my free speech rights to say that homosexual behavior is a perversion of nature and of God's law just like murder, stealing, marital infidelity and juvenile fornication.

I also intend to use my free speech rights to defend marriage as between one man and one woman.
11.8.2008 6:34pm
Frank Elliott (mail):
Religion is certainly mutable. Why should the civil rights of religious people be protected? Certainly, any idiot can make up a religion and find bigger idiots to follow it. Nevertheless, religion is considered a suspect class. The California Supreme Court has determined that sexual orientation satisfies every criterion as a suspect class that religion does.

As for the record of American psychiatry and neurology wrt gays, it's atrocious at best. It has included the use of techniques which including the simulation of death by administration of paralytics as aversion therapy.

Finally, Mormon temples are rarely used religious structures. Most worship takes place elsewhere. The temple protests are street theater. No one is being threatened.

OTOH a spokesman for the LDS church, Marvin Perkins, is on video record as accusing gays of sexually recruiting children at a Yes On 8 rally. If the LDS church is going to engage in the modern equivalent of the Blood Libel, it demands an immediate, public, and vociferous response.
11.8.2008 6:44pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

I suspect that sexual orientation and biology - unlike aversion to broccoli - has been studied sufficiently enough now to presume that sexual preference is not specifically biologically determined.


Then you ought to be able to suggest that there are studies showing without a doubt that it is developmental?
11.8.2008 6:52pm
timid10:
Jon Rowe writes:


Sexual orientation, whatever its causes, is about as chosen as handedness. And indeed both involve chosen behavior. Every single time I pick up a pencil and write with my right hand I am CHOOSING to do so. I COULD, if I CHOOSE, write with my left hand, although the result would be something even more unreadable than what I write with my right hand. And it would feel extremely cumbersome, uncomfortable and unnatural for me to write with my left hand.


That is a very good example. Handedness is a learned behavior; e.g. not genetically determined. There are countless examples of persons (such as stroke victims) that lose their right- or left-handedness but learn to use (e.g. write with) their other hand ... out of necessity of course; but it still is a learned behavior. And over time, the person becomes very adept (and quite possibly as adept?) using the previously less-preferential choice of handedness. Sexual preference, I suspect, is in the same behavioral class.

cheers.
11.8.2008 6:52pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

Since you believe sexual orientation to be "immutable," you would conclude that she was faking it all along with the heterosexual mating or she can go either way (bisexual) or what?


No what I would conclude is that she has a waivering orientation. Race, like sexual orientation exists on a continuum. She is the sexual orientation equivalent of Barack Obama or Halley Berry.

And if you are going to appeal to your own authority or the authority of your friend as scientific experts, you'll be glad to know that the expert consensus is closer to my point of view which you regard as "hokum" than yours.

In short, yours is the equivalent of appealing to expert authority to denounce evolution in favor of creation science.
11.8.2008 6:54pm
Tasha:
Thank you very much. I'm not from CA and, thus, haven't followed the issue of Prop8 closely until I watched an ad on youtube against prop8 that had a portrayal of mormon missionaries. It really worried me to see this because I knew what it could lead to, the sterotypes about mormons it reinforced, and what this portyrayel could do to us in the long run. I didn't expect this, of course....it's more than what I expected. I expected a new round of suspicions and stereotypes to come about in larger force. But not full on portrayals of us as holding such a large part in the passing of Prop8, how exagerated our influence became, etc. For example, the estimations about the amount of money given from LDS members literally went up by 15 million in three days by news/media reports. Our perceived influnence has literally grown over this little time.

It worries me, as a member of the LDS faith and as apart of a family which has seen various levels of prejudice, to watch this. To see protestors in CA at one point start chanting cult and the like. To see the very broad brush that the position on Prop 8 must equal complete bigotry on our part. What it led to was a flat and ugly portrayal of our faith and people, that I find to be untrue. It brought back thoughts from my family's past....of our ancestors who travel thousands of miles just to live and, when they reached there, met many other instances of outright bigotry. We were painted in a terrible light and suffered greatly from that portrayal. But along with this, many in our numbers became at fault of doing the same thing, of blanketing people as a whole for their intolerance and deep grievances toward us (These weren't individual acts, but acts of government on all levels) so that outsiders also could receive unfair treatment by our hands. This broadbrush is never good...no matter what the community or the justifications

But moreso, it bothered me from the stereotypes and prejudice we already face today. It can be as indirect as an aquaintance being shocked that I was mormon because he saw me as intellectual. Or as direct as signs at our general conference meetings telling us we'll go to hell from our beliefs (not, not your petitions...others). Or a plethora of other events and actions that this fit so well into as I watched people chanting cult in front of our temples and placing signs, marks, and stood on the walls while screaming towards the grounds Mormons consider among the most sacred places of worship. It is felt from how our already image as a peculiar (others may prefer weird), even though clean and nice, people is mixed with a portrayal of a dark and creeping hand having its hold on the democratic process in some way or form. To cries that our church should be punished in some way, and thus the people too. That from all the people who supported and worked to get this proposition passed, we are the ones that receive the most attention.

It is true that probably a majority of the LDS community would have voted for prop 8 if they could. I am one of those, with the problems I have with it only nuanced as far as I can tell. It is also true that many have disagreed who are mormon as well. It is not true that we are all bigots (including the ones who support prop 8), that we hate you, etc. There are some that are....there are some in every segment of the population that all of us know exist and can probably give first hand experience of it (gay and mormon alike). But the largest reason is simply one of definition and how it applies to social construct. Most mormons are not bigots in the strict definition of the word. As someone pointed out disagreeing with ideology isn't the same as "complete intolerance of difference" (which is the definition of the word).

So thank you. I know we disagree strongly....that the fundamentals of some of our ideals are worlds apart. But I hope this doesn't foreclose our ability to be civil and have respect and understanding for who and how we are.


With luv,
Tasha
11.8.2008 6:54pm
timid10:
Frank Eliot wrote:


Religion is certainly mutable. Why should the civil rights of religious people be protected?


Uh... you are familiar, I presume, with early American history right? For example, have you ever heard of the Mayflower? ;)
11.8.2008 6:58pm
timid10:
Jon Rowe writes:


And if you are going to appeal to your own authority or the authority of your friend as scientific experts, you'll be glad to know that the expert consensus is closer to my point of view which you regard as "hokum" than yours.


When did "expert consensus" replace verifiable scientific fact as the basis for argumentation?

Is this the global warming thread? ;)

damn.
11.8.2008 7:01pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

That is a very good example. Handedness is a learned behavior; e.g. not genetically determined. There are countless examples of persons (such as stroke victims) that lose their right- or left-handedness but learn to use (e.g. write with) their other hand ... out of necessity of course; but it still is a learned behavior.


Regarding left-handedness and biology....


Strange how learned behavior and genetics can sometimes go hand-in-hand.
11.8.2008 7:04pm
Aleks:
Re: That is a very good example. Handedness is a learned behavior; e.g. not genetically determined. There are countless examples of persons (such as stroke victims) that lose their right- or left-handedness but learn to use (e.g. write with) their other hand ... out of necessity of course; but it still is a learned behavior.

Handedness is inate (though not genetic). You can learn to use the opposite hand from your body's preferrence, and at one time most left-handed children were forced to do so in school. But fundamentally your right or left preferrence will not be changed.
And this brings up a question: why should a person be forced or even advised by others to change either their handedness or sexuality? Maybe those others just need to get over it and accept that Nature and Nature's God has made some minority of people left-handed and some minority of people homosexual, and vive la difference.
11.8.2008 7:06pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

OTOH a spokesman for the LDS church, Marvin Perkins, is on video record as accusing gays of sexually recruiting children at a Yes On 8 rally. If the LDS church is going to engage in the modern equivalent of the Blood Libel, it demands an immediate, public, and vociferous response.


Well, there is a response to be had here which is to take this video record and play it everywhere, followed by a simply, short rebuttal.

Free speech is a liability to idiots.
11.8.2008 7:13pm
timid10:
einhverfr writes:


Then you ought to be able to suggest that there are studies showing without a doubt that it is developmental?


Identical Twin studies immediately spring to mind:


Among [identical] twins, 6.7% are concordant [that is, both express same-sex romantic attraction]. [Fraternal] twin pairs are 7.2% concordant. Full-siblings are 5.5% concordant. Clearly, the observed concordance rates do not correspond to degrees of genetic similarity. None of the comparisons between [identical] twins and others ... are even remotely significant. If same-sex romantic attraction has a genetic component, it is massively overwhelmed by other factors.


The "other factors" here are environmental (or developmental using your word); e.g. nurture is "massively overwhelming" nature in this matter.

cheers.
11.8.2008 7:16pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Timid 10,

"Sexual preference, I suspect, is in the same behavioral class."

Oh were it only so easy! I throw out a lot of analogies. It's what lawyers and philosophers do; reason by analogy. However, we all know -- or should know -- that analogies are just that, not duplicates. To analogize is to compare apples and oranges. Apples to apples is not an analogy but a duplicate. And an orange is a pretty good analogy to an apple. Perhaps lemons and oranges would be better because they are both citrus fruits and more closely related.

I brought up handedness and language to analogize sexual orientation to certain things that have biological and/or developmental -- with some degree of ability to choose behavior -- but are also deeply ingrained and "wired" so to speak, in one's brain.

Perhaps it's true that one can UNWIRE handedness from one's brain; but doing so seems a tremendous burden and probably almost certainly doomed to fail unless one has had a stroke or lost a limb. Likewise it hasn't been show that sexual orientation is likewise "unwirable." Wavering and bisexual orientations have been proven. And certainly folks use their freewill to choose to engage in voluntary sex and romantic relationships. One COULD in theory choose to be celibate like the Catholic Clergy. Some might counter, at least with young adult males, that's a bit like telling a bird that he should choose not to fly.

I understand how chosen repetition could change the neuropathways in the brain; however, this has been tried and failed with sexual orientation. And that's probably because picking up a pencil and writing with it, or picking up a ball and throwing it is entirely mechanical. Folks don't choose to put organ A into tab B or to simply "date" and enjoy one another's company for "mechanical" reasons. Or, those who do -- for instance gay men who want to have biological children with the opposite sex -- engage in the behavior as a means to and end (having the child) and then cease to have sex with their wives, and instead have sex and enter into romantic relations with the same gender.

Picking up a pencil really is like turning on a switch. And if you turn the switch on enough; I understand how the biology in the brain can change with enough practice. Feeling sexually and romantically attracted to the same or opposite sex? If there is a "switch" that can be turned on or off, we have yet to find it. And until we do, there's nothing science or medicine can currently do to change sexual orientation. Though folks can, as I have repeatedly noted, modify their behavior.
11.8.2008 7:20pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
I'd be interested in hearing from folks on this. Just about everyone posting here has a "sexual orientation" mostly heterosexual I'd imagine: I understand that folks can lose their attraction to their spouses because they get sick of being with them; perhaps their spouse's physical appearance has changed for the worse. But, if your spouse was a particular "type" in physical appearance and personality (focus on the physical), say a tall leggy blond or a dark and handsome man -- a certain "type" that you are really attracted to.... Has any straight person here ceased being attracted to the opposite gender or even that "type" of person of the opposite gender? With age, the libido wanes. But otherwise, the way I see it is these are things that we simply don't choose and will be with us for life. If a Natalie Wood type or a Paul Newman type really does it for you, do you really think there is a way to turn that switch off and turn it on for another gender or even a type of person of the opposite gender to which you feel little or no attraction?

Ladies who are NOT attracted to Danny Devito. Is it possible to turn a switch on and make yourself attracted to him? Men who aren't attracted to Rosanne Barr. Is it likewise possible for you to fall in love with her and become physically attracted by choosing to turn the switch.

When we speak of sexual orientation as immutable, it is in this sense.
11.8.2008 7:23pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

Really, "immutable like race"? A psychiatrist friend of mine has been teaching residents about sexuality for years and would contradict you. A woman who is in a stable, ostensibly satisfactory marriage for years, with children in the course of it, later divorces and enters into a monogamous sexual relationship with another woman. Since you believe sexual orientation to be "immutable," you would conclude that she was faking it all along with the heterosexual mating or she can go either way (bisexual) or what?


That is an interesting case and I have heard enough other cases of similar sexual orientation changes (either temporary or permanent) from people I have known to suggest there is something to it. It also suggests that unless someone is stupid, they wouldn't choose to enter into a relationship that is likely to be as heavily prejudice ridden as this woman did. Hence cases like this also undermine the choice theory simply because there is no way that is a rational choice in today's society.

However, in all the cases I am aware of, the changes were not willed or desired. They just happened, sort of like my hair color changed from blond to brown as I went through puberty....

In my opinion, this suggests a biochemical origin for sexual orientation. This doesn't mean there isn't a learned component, nor does it mean that it is specifically genetic. However, the fact that we haven't found such a mechanism probably means IMO that it is simply more complex than we can show at the moment. All of my discussions with gay friends (including rare times when some of them have become bisexual or even "straight" for a short time) suggest that even such changes are not chosen.
11.8.2008 7:25pm
AK (mail):
I suspect that sexual orientation and biology - unlike aversion to broccoli - has been studied sufficiently enough now to presume that sexual preference is not specifically biologically determined.

I don't know who is trying to make what point here, but aversion to broccoli is genetically determined.
11.8.2008 7:30pm
Waldo (mail):
DCs post is spot on about the protests against the Mormon Church. Even though I disagree on same-sex marriage, religions should not be immune to criticism, especially when they become involved in political issues. Also, descending into racial and religious bigotry isn't going to help if you're trying to base your argument on equality.

However, one thing that hasn't been mentioned is another group that voted for Prop 8 at about the same margin: People married with children who supported Prop 8 68%-32%. The numbers for fathers are about the same when you do the math for those with children under 18 (funny how CNN couldn't). Aside from religion, another reason to oppose same-sex marriage is that marriage is about more than romantic love. It also establishes a relationship between fathers and children. That's probably the reason black women supported Prop 8 by 75-25%, since they experience the effects of fatherlessness on children most directly.
11.8.2008 7:34pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
I would note that a waivering bisexual orientation is far more common in women than in men. Women who are "in a stable, ostensibly satisfactory marriage for years, with children in the course of it," who "later divorce[] and enter[] into a monogamous sexual relationship with another woman" don't lose their underlying attraction to men. And the potential to flourish with a woman didn't just pop up out of the blue.

The mistake neurodoc makes is assuming this possibility exists for all homosexuals, or even most. No. This certainly describes a type of homosexual/bisexual orientation (more common in women). And the "I'm gay, I've never been attracted to the opposite sex I can't change" honestly describes the sexual orientation of many gays as well. As I noted sexuality exists on a continuum.

Re differences between women and men, I suspect, the fact that for women, emotional attraction precedes phsycial attraction might have something to do with their greater likelihood of a wavering orientation.

I recently discussed this issue with a Christian fundamentalist woman, happily married, and who believed all homosexual acts are sinful. From what I can tell (I really don't know) she never had a lesbian relationship. But she more or less admitted (she had to be a little coy given her religious beliefs and it was on an evangelical Christian forum) that she had the potential to go both ways. And it was precisely for this reason. For her physical attraction followed emotional attachment and there were many females in her life to which she formed close emotional relationships where something "could have happened."

Again, that is an honest sexual orientation, but it certainly doesn't describe mine or the sexual orientation of most folks (straight or gay) or at least most men. Given I'm a man I don't know what it feels like to be a woman.
11.8.2008 7:37pm
Smokey:
The Mormons are getting most of the blame, when Obama took the Yes on 8 side.
11.8.2008 7:44pm
Fub:
Jon Rowe wrote at 11.8.2008 6:14pm:
Is this a joke? You really worship Odin and his son Thor the God of Thunder?
Everybody is an atheist about some god or other.
11.8.2008 7:48pm
David Warner:
Aleks,

"And this brings up a question: why should a person be forced or even advised by others to change either their handedness or sexuality?"

One could ask the same question regarding not changing it, but of course we're all aware where the social approbation falls among the right thinking today on that question.

I had to learn to shoot a basketball left-handed* when I messed up my right elbow playing baseball as a teenager. If providing my children an intact biological family (from their perspective) required a similar learning process, I'd wonder that anyone would balk at it.

So evidently something else is going on here. I, for one, think we overrate the importance of sex, but I'm aware I'm in the minority.


* - turned out I shot better leftie, as my technique was better. Sort of "the Japanese got to start from scratch after WWII and that's why they kick UAW butt" argument.
11.8.2008 7:56pm
neurodoc:
That is a very good example. Handedness is a learned behavior; e.g. not genetically determined. There are countless examples of persons (such as stroke victims) that lose their right- or left-handedness but learn to use (e.g. write with) their other hand ... out of necessity of course; but it still is a learned behavior.
If you had any knowledge of pediatric neurology or developmental pediatrics, you would know that handedness is evident in children less than a year of age. (If it is evident too early, that isn't a good sign, since it is a likely indicator of lateralized cerebral dysfunction.) How do you suppose they "learned" their handedness at that early point in life? Why at so early a stage would the vast majority have "learned" right-handedness? And why does handedness and cerebral dominance link with language function (e.g., left hemisphere and right-handed in about 90% of the population).
11.8.2008 7:56pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Fub,

And let me guess. You are just an atheist on one more God.
11.8.2008 7:57pm
Cornellian (mail):
The Mormons are getting most of the blame, when Obama took the Yes on 8 side.

The article you link to quotes Obama as stating his opposition to Prop 8, and also notes that people took other quotes from Obama (out of context, if you read the article) and inserted them into robo-calls to make it appear as if Obama supported Prop 8.
11.8.2008 8:00pm
Parenthetical:
Smokey,

Quoting from the article you linked to:


One complicating factor was that both sides in the campaign had plausible reason to claim Obama's support. The president-elect strongly stated his opposition to the proposition, calling it "divisive and discriminatory."

But he has also said in public speeches that he opposes same-sex marriage.

That isn't taking the "Yes on 8" side, as you assert. Blame him for equivocating or politicking or holding a view more nuanced than a robocall, but don't toss red herrings about. Those fish stink.
11.8.2008 8:01pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

If you had any knowledge of pediatric neurology or developmental pediatrics, you would know that handedness is evident in children less than a year of age.


See my above discussion of analogies. Nothing is perfectly analogous. But experts also agree that sexual orientation is evident with children in early childhood; parents of gays testify their child being "different" -- boys wanting to play with dolls etc. as young as 2 or 3. This is where the language analogy may be relevant. Whatever developmental causes sexual orientation may have (if any) come into play at that very young age when the neuropathways for things such as language and musical talent are forming. Unwiring a homosexual orientation is not unlike telling someone to forget how to speak English.
11.8.2008 8:02pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
John Rowe wrote:

Is this a joke? You really worship Odin and his son Thor the God of Thunder?


Not a joke. And you left out the ithyphallic Freyr and his sister Freya too....

However "Worship" in this case means what weorthscip did in Old English (i.e., to hold as worthy), and the preferred method of worship is emulation, to become like a god, and the god I choose to be like is Odin and in so doing understand the divine Mysteries....

Far I have fared, much afield I have been
I have striven in strength with gods......

It is just like the ancient mystery schools on which large portions of Christianity was based on...
11.8.2008 8:07pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
I apologize to those who have to look up "apotheosis," "ithyphallic" and the like in their dictionaries....
11.8.2008 8:08pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
In case anyone is interesting in some of the authorities to whom I am appealing here is a bio on Chandler Burr. And here is a bit about his comparison (with a nice chart) of sexual orientation to handedness.
11.8.2008 8:10pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Well we might have something in common. I developed an affinity for the characters of mythology in elementary school, and thought it was neato that Dungeons &Dragons and Marvel &DC comics incorporated them into their respective universes. I still read Thor comics and am quite impressed at how writers such as Walter Simonson and Kurt Busiek can remain so true (with some notable changes like I think Thor &Loki are brothers in the Marvel Universe) to the mythos as they incorporate the gods of old as superheroes in the modern era. Still, I don't believe in them. It would be cool if they really did exist (Well, if Thor et al. really were the good guys as adapted in the comics. In the myths of old, sometimes the gods do things that are quite disturbing, especially Zeus whom my friend Tom Van Dyke has termed a real "bastard" at times).
11.8.2008 8:14pm
LM (mail):
This site does superb (mostly legal) analysis, but doesn't fare nearly so well on advocacy. This post is a rare example of a real bullseye on the latter. It's right on the substance and pitch perfect in tone.

Well done.
11.8.2008 8:22pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Here's another source from an expert that well argues the probable evolutionary biological cause of sexual orientation.
11.8.2008 8:24pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
John Rowe, you might find F. M. Cornford's work "From Religion to Philosophy" interesting regarding the character of Zeus. Cornford's main thesis is that the early Greek philosophers drew nearly all of their ideas from Greek religious concepts. Anyway, one of the more interesting ideas is how the concepts of nomos, nemesis, and moira are closely connected in both areas and this suggests that Zeus's actions may not be quite as bad as often supposed.
11.8.2008 8:28pm
neurodoc:
In short, yours is the equivalent of appealing to expert authority to denounce evolution in favor of creation science.
Huh?!

Forgive me, but you evidence no expertise where neurosciences are concerned, and much of what you say is downright silly. You have latched on to simplistic notions of "brain chemistry," "wiring/unwiring," etc. and convinced yourself that you have true understanding of complex matters, e.g., human sexuality, cerebral dominance, higher cortical function (language), and the like.
Folks don't choose to put organ A into tab B or to simply "date" and enjoy one another's company for "mechanical" reasons. Or, those who do -- for instance gay men who want to have biological children with the opposite sex -- engage in the behavior as a means to and end (having the child) and then cease to have sex with their wives, and instead have sex and enter into romantic relations with the same gender.
Homosexual activity is very, very common among incarcerated males. Were the majority of them homosexual or bisexual, declared/acknowledged or closeted or latent or whatever, before they went to prison? And how do you think the majority of them would react to you if you were to initmate to them that they were homosexuals and call upon them to be candid and admit to it?

Re language...if once someone has acquired facility in a language, they can't lose more than a let of it, perhaps some vocabulary words for example, then how do you explain children who spoke Chinese or Korean until age 5 or 6, when they were adopted by English-speaking parents and relocated, who are at a complete loss as adults to understand any of their first language? The "wiring" came lose or "unwired"?
11.8.2008 8:32pm
neurodoc:
In case anyone is interesting in some of the authorities to whom I am appealing here is a bio on Chandler Burr. And here is a bit about his comparison (with a nice chart) of sexual orientation to handedness.
One of the "authorities" to whom you are appealing is the NY Times' perfume critic?!?! Wow, how can I possibly match that by citing to anyone neuroscientists I know? (A good many of my pediatric neurology colleagues are returning home today from the Child Neurology Society meeting this week in California.)

Mr. Burr the perfume critic is wrong about when handedness is first apparent in children. When infants start reaching for objects, which comes at an early development stage if they are making normal progress, well before they are a year old (not two years old), will show a preference in the hand they reach with. But I am certain he knows infinitely more about perfumes than I do or ever will, especially since I am almost anosmic.
11.8.2008 8:43pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Neurodoc,

You may know a lot about neuroscience, but very little about sexual orientation. If you studied the matter further, you'd probably find that my assertions match well with your knowledge of neuroscience. Yours are not hard questions to someone who has studied the issue. For instance


Homosexual activity is very, very common among incarcerated males. Were the majority of them homosexual or bisexual, declared/acknowledged or closeted or latent or whatever, before they went to prison? And how do you think the majority of them would react to you if you were to initmate to them that they were homosexuals and call upon them to be candid and admit to it?


These men are predominantly heterosexual. When they get in prison they are predominantly heterosexual. When they get out of prison, they are predominately heterosexual. They are using other men as vehicles for sexual release. Their sexual energy is chiefly heterosexual in a homosexual act. They are GIVING it to men as they would a women. They are NOT the voluntary receptors of homosexual sex playing a feminine role. Although they may have been forced or coerced into playing that role. They admit to this when questioned. In other words, like the gay man who has sex with his female wife, it's a right handed person writing with his left hand.

If they tended to form romantic relationships with AND wanted to give it and take it from a man, you may have a point. But that's not the reality of what goes on in prisons.
11.8.2008 8:46pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

Re language...if once someone has acquired facility in a language, they can't lose more than a let of it, perhaps some vocabulary words for example, then how do you explain children who spoke Chinese or Korean until age 5 or 6, when they were adopted by English-speaking parents and relocated, who are at a complete loss as adults to understand any of their first language? The "wiring" came lose or "unwired"?


Again, I remind you of my above assertion on the imperfection of analogies. I never claimed a perfect analogy, just noted that there comes a point where it's seemingly impossible to "forget" a language and I noted a similar dynamic exists with sexual orientation if it is proven that sexual orientation is developmental like learning a language.
11.8.2008 8:49pm
Dave N (mail):
einheverfr,

Can't quite agree with your religious views--but as a former "gentile" 10 year resident of Utah, I agree completely with your description of LDS members, particularly in Utah.

There is much to admire in members of the LDS Church--and I count several members as close friends. However, "the Church" (as even non-members refer to it in Utah) does know how to throw its political weight around when it considers an issue important--as it clearly did in this case.
11.8.2008 8:50pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

One of the "authorities" to whom you are appealing is the NY Times' perfume critic?!?! Wow, how can I possibly match that by citing to anyone neuroscientists I know?


Last I checked Mr. Burr was a member in good standing along with such diverse intellectual figures as Charles Murray, John Derbyshire, Stephen Pinker, and Michael Bailey, of Steve Sailer's biodiversity e-group. These men are the nation's leading experts in evolutionary psychology and they can match any neuroscientist expert you care to throw at me. AND, I might add, the consensus of that e-group (some of them homophobic like Derbyshire) is that homosexuality has a biological origin. They also believe evolution and reject creationism, in case you are interested.

But, the gist that I get from you is that while you may know a lot about neuroscience you know little because you have studied little the phenomenon of sexual orientation. I may be wrong; but I'd imagine if we looked at the consensus of neuroscience they would more or less agree with the "gist" of what I write about homosexuality probably having some kind of strong biological perhaps like handedness psycho-biological component that makes it intractable if not immutable, like us trying to unlearn the English language.
11.8.2008 8:56pm
provokatif:
I had an interesting, although terrible thought. It might sound preposterous, but I think its a realistic possibility a few years down the road.

If children are born gay, as some here are arguing then, either through genetics or something else, there are gay and straight fetuses as well. And assuming abortion is OK for any reason the mother sees fit to choose, as is the commonly held belief among liberals and some libertarians ... if science progresses in a way that we can determine whether or not the fetus is gay or straight, through genetics or otherwise ... Will it be OK to determine if your fetuses will grow up to be gay and then abort the fetus if it will?

By the left's logic, I see no other way to be consistent but to say that this would be a permissible practice.
11.8.2008 9:01pm
Randy R. (mail):
The biggest laugh here is that some people are arguing that homosexuality is a 'learned' behavior. Really? Learned from where? and from whom?

When I was growing up, there were NO gay role models. The closest that I knew of any were perhaps on tv or the movies, and the gay man was almost always the psycho killer (or was killed by the psycho killer, or both). Anything I knew about gay sex I had to learn entirely on my own -- there were no books, no guides, no friends, no other people that I could turn to and ask. I had to seek it out on my own. Now why would I go through that trouble if being straight was so much easier?

The truth of the matter is that even today, most gay kids endure a lot of tormenting. I certainly was. You get beat up, laughed at, have few friends, and if you are particularly unlucky (as often happens in black families), you get disowned and kicked out on the street. In fact, most hustlers in LA are gay teenagers who were kicked out of their homes.

Most anti-gay people *enjoy* telling us that society has *never* approved of homosexuality. That is true, and true in many parts of the US today. So how could this behavior be learned?

I think people liek Neurodoc and Timid just say, there is no evidence for it being genetic, so therefore the only other possibility is that it is learned, but they have NO evidence to back it up. Furthermore, they continually disregard any evidence from the people who would most know, which of course is the gay people.

Furthermore, the latest evidence is that there is not one gay gene, but that it is incorporated thoughout hundreds of genes, making it difficult to identify.

The fact is that you can easily tell which men are gay and which are straight by what sort of stimulus makes their penis hard. You can't choose to make your penis hard, no matter how much you might try -- or how much learning you may do.
11.8.2008 9:02pm
bobby b (mail):
" . . . a few extremists whose words have indeed crossed the line into religious . . . bigotry . . ."
- - -

What exactly is "religious bigotry"? A religion - any religion, I would guess - is premised upon some sort of "revealed" Truth, meaning that when Gawd says "brown horses are a sin", adherents are not going to be swayed by my logical and persuasive recitation concerning the historical piety and admirable behaviour of brown horses. Gawd told them, see? 'Nuff said.

Unless you're willing to put off "success" in your effort to gain acceptance of homosexuality until you've finally convinced the planet that all religion is fraud, (which, since you're contradicting what they think their Gawd directly told them, is what you'll need to do to win them over completely), you might be better off working on that whole "normalization" thing, and skipping the in-your-face demands that they treat what is, in their minds, a choice to do an icky act that Gawd really hates, as being as important of a social value as is the concept of "family" as it exists today.

If you really do want marriage so that you, too, can take part in society and can enjoy the benefits it provides, it helps when you give the impression that you don't despise a significant portion of that society's mores and rules and conventions right off the bat. (Think it quietly, if you wish, but keep in mind that what you're asking is to be invited into their culture, to some extent. "You all suck, and I deserve to suck along with you" lacks something as a movement credo.)

I have to agree with the people here who point out that the gay-pride parades with the incredible assortment of characters - the ones that explicitly say to a chunk of society "f- your rules and conventions and traditions" - work against your own interests. What image do you think many people retain from such displays? An image that says to them "marriage, to me, is an important social relationship that fosters stability, predictability, and responsibility, and that gives us the ability to raise our children - the next generation of our culture - surrounded by an effective and defendable morality in a setting in which it works to all of our advantage."

When four scantily-covered Judy divas carrying dildos form the bulk of those people's interaction with, or even observance of, homosexual people, the demand that they be allowed to marry just like heteros do loses some of its patina of a dignified request to simply be treated with respect. It becomes a bad joke.

But when the people who simply don't know any gay people (or, more likely, don't know that they DO know gay people) begin to regularly see that some of the respectable, reasonable, responsible members of their communities and groups - Bill the dentist, John the lawyer, Sue the school principal - the people they already like and respect and feel similar to - are gay, only then will they start to connect "gay" with something other than "not one of us."

I'm guessing that court battles across the country will result in some jurisdictions embracing gay marriage, and most not doing so. My only fear is that winning some battles makes the war more likely to be lost. I know this sounds like "the blacks should have meekly awaited acceptance", and I heartily disbelieve that bunk, but there's a difference here somewhere.


"Those who lost it should not be expected to go back quietly to producing great art and show tunes for everybody's amusement."

Uh, embracing stereotypes may well be fun, but . . . c'mon . . . show tune writers?
11.8.2008 9:05pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Here is a list of members of the human biodiversity institute. I can't vouch for its absolute accuracy because the list is confidential (I know all about this because I too am on a confidential listserv with some really big names about which I am NOT free to disclose) and is by invite only. I learned of this emailing John Derbyshire when he told me the list was confidential and by invite only.

The list has some very controversial members and I certainly disagree with much of what Sailer posit. But some of there are enough names of unimpeachable credibility to balance out some of the "bad guys."

And I would argue what I have asserted (perhaps inarticulately) is par for the course of expert opinion in evolutionary psychology. Do you want me to dig out some old John Derbyshire articles where he says more or less the same thing?
11.8.2008 9:08pm
Randy R. (mail):
"And how do you think the majority of them would react to you if you were to initmate to them that they were homosexuals and call upon them to be candid and admit to it? "

Ask any prisoner if he was forced to give a blow job or be on the receiving end of anal sex voluntarily. Most will say no. Then ask if they enjoyed it. Again most will say no.

With gay men, most will willingly give blow jobs, and quite a few (though certianly not all) will submit to anal sex. Those that do do so because they enjoy it. That's the crucial difference.

Any man can choose to engage in gay sex, though very few will choose to be on the receiving end. Those men are heterosexual. Any man who chooses to engage in gay sex and enjoys it is a homosexual. Got it?

If sexual orientation is a learned behavior, then Timid and Neurodoc, please tell me how much education, and of what kind, you would need to
a) choose to have sex,
b) be on the receiving end as well as the penetrating end, and
c) then actually enjoy it so much that you would like to do it more? I would really like to know what it would take to change your behavior.
11.8.2008 9:09pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

I had an interesting, although terrible thought. It might sound preposterous, but I think its a realistic possibility a few years down the road.

If children are born gay, as some here are arguing then, either through genetics or something else, there are gay and straight fetuses as well. And assuming abortion is OK for any reason the mother sees fit to choose, as is the commonly held belief among liberals and some libertarians ... if science progresses in a way that we can determine whether or not the fetus is gay or straight, through genetics or otherwise .


You weren't the first to think of this. John Derbyshire who thinks homosexuality is probably determined in the womb engaged in this thought experiment a number of years ago and seemingly looked forward to the day when science eliminates the homosexual orientation in this respect. It's ironic; if homosexuality is genetic or biological based, in the womb so to speak, it may well be easier to "cure it" by something as similar as aborting gay fetuses than it if were learned/developmental.
11.8.2008 9:12pm
Son (mail):
Quote: "Let people get arrested as they sing "We Shall Overcome."

Yes, let's do exactly that, let's whine and snivel until the massah straight folk hand us our rights on a silver platter. That way we can feel proud and responsible and worthy, just like the African American community.

No self-respecting population in the history of the world has every had its rights handed it to it on a silver platter after standing in line. Rights are taken by force, or threat of force--only then can you hold your head up as an equal.

Appeasement is for sissies.
11.8.2008 9:29pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

No self-respecting population in the history of the world has every had its rights handed it to it on a silver platter after standing in line. Rights are taken by force, or threat of force--only then can you hold your head up as an equal.

Appeasement is for sissies.


Tell that to Ghandi or Martin Luther King who preached "violence is immoral" for that matter.
11.8.2008 9:38pm
Bart (mail):
Here is a radical thought: Why don't proponents of same sex marriage in California offer a proposition of their own amending the traditional definition of civil marriage to include homosexual unions and then lay out a case why homosexual unions offer the same benefits to society as marriage and thus deserve the same government recognition and subsidy?
11.8.2008 9:44pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

Why don't proponents of same sex marriage in California offer a proposition of their own amending the traditional definition of civil marriage to include homosexual unions and then lay out a case why homosexual unions offer the same benefits to society as marriage and thus deserve the same government recognition and subsidy?


This may well happen as time goes on. In 10 years from now, who knows(?) this kind of amendment may be needed to undo Prop 8.
11.8.2008 9:46pm
LM (mail):
Bart:

Since the trend of public opinion is working against you, shouldn't you be thinking about winning hearts and minds, not rubbing salt in your opponents' wounds?
11.8.2008 9:55pm
birdman (mail):
So the "moderate" gay view is that electoral defeat calls merely for widespread civil disobedience rather than more distasteful and therefore counterproductive criticisms of particular religious groups (i.e., Mormons).

Well, as between those two alternatives, I suppose so. But how about just lawfully working within the political process to change the result next time around? Should white backers of the defeated Colorado effort to ban racial preferences engage in civil disobedience? They think they're going to continue to be treated unequally.

And if that analogy isn't exact (as it isn't, of course -- no analogy is), what about just taking a step back and thinking this through? If civil unions are still permitted, as I assume they are, we're going to engage in civil disobedience because the word "marriage" can't be used? Even though all of the rights of a married couple are available to civil union partners? Civil disobedience (or worse) over semantics?
11.8.2008 10:02pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"AND, I might add, the consensus of that e-group (some of them homophobic like Derbyshire) is that homosexuality has a biological origin. They also believe evolution and reject creationism, in case you are interested."

That means they support a hypothesis, not a scientific theory. There is nothing wrong with putting forth a hypothesis; it's a necessary part of the scientific method. However, the full scientific method is observation, hypothesis, experimentation, and evaluation of experiment. The folks in the consensus have done the first two steps. Nobody has done the last two.

So, that means a lot of people have a proposed explanation for how things work, but none of them know if the idea is correct.
11.8.2008 10:03pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I think I overstepped a bit on the last post. Their idea doesn't really reach the level of hypothesis, since it is not specific enough to test.
11.8.2008 10:05pm
Down from the Ivory Tower:
Dale, you couldn't be more wrong. The Mormon church DECIDED to insert itself into politics and now is fair game. It was the Mormons who tried (and succeeded) to take away the rights of gays -- not the other way around.

Do you expect us to just shut up and give them a pass because their homophobia is supposedly based on a couple gold plates Joseph Smith claims to have dug up in his backyard? Please.
11.8.2008 10:37pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Eliot:

Here's John Derbyshire, no fan of or friend to gays, on what causes homosexuality. I'm assuming this is par for the course for his expert e-group and he has this opinion in large part because of his scientific mindedness.

Do you think this does not yet rise to the level of hypothesis? Do you think it's fair that in the absence of certain knowledge we use phrases like it's "probably" genetic/biological/has a strong biological component. Derb and his fellow e-listers, while they agree about the great uncertainty, believe the biological explanation for the orientation is where the evidence points.


What causes homosexuality?

In the first place, the main point I was making was not about homosexuality, but about current attitudes, and the metaphysics that underlies them. Whether homosexuals are indeed "born that way" is one question; whether it is "taken for granted" in modern society that they are is a separate and independent question. Either could be true without the other's being true. That the second is true seems to me too obvious to be worth arguing. Even the Roman Catholic Church, while condemning homosexual acts as sinful, concedes that the predilection to such acts may be inborn, in which case homosexuals "are called to chastity." (Article 2359 of the current Catechism.)

Leaving that aside, what are the causes of homosexuality — the predilection, not the acts (which I assume to be caused by free will prompted by the predilection)? I can list a baker's dozen of theories that I have heard or seen written up at one time or another. In very approximate order of scientific respectability, as best I can judge it, the theories are:

(1) Satan. Homosexuality may be a manifestation of Satan's work. While the least scientific of current theories, this one is probably the most widely believed, taking the world at large. Most devout Muslims, for example, believe it, and so do many Christians.

(2) Social Construction. There is no such thing as homosexuality. There are only heterosexual and homosexual acts, which different cultures regard differently. The notion of "homosexuality" as a personality attribute is a 19th-century invention.

(3) Brain damage. Some insult to the tissues of the brain, perhaps at birth or in infancy, causes homosexuality.

(4) Choice. People choose to prefer their own sex over the other.

(5) Family influences in childhood. The Freudian belief is that having a weak father and/or dominant mother can form the child's personality in the direction of homosexuality.

(6) Social stress. Rats kept in overpopulated environments, even when sufficient food and access to females are available, will become aggressively homosexual after the stress in the environment rises above a certain level.

(7) Imprinting. The individual's early sexual history can "imprint" certain tendencies on animals and humans. Many homosexuals report having been same-sexually molested in childhood or youth.

(8) Socialization theories. The high levels of homosexual bonding in some ancient and primitive societies suggests that the common mores of a culture have some power to socialize large numbers of people into homosexuality.

(9) Genetics, direct. Homosexuality is the expression of some gene, or some combination of genes.

(10) Womb environment — too much of a good thing. The presence of certain hormone imbalances during critical periods of gestation can have the effect of hyper-masculinizing the brain of a male infant. Paradoxically — there are plausible biological arguments — this might lead to the infant becoming homosexual.

(11) Infection. Homosexuality may be caused by an infectious agent — a germ or a virus. This is the Cochran/Ewald theory, which made a cover story for the February 1999 Atlantic Monthly.

(12) Genetics, indirect. Homosexuality may be an undesirable (from the evolutionary point of view) side effect of some genetic defense against a disease — analogous to the sickle-cell anemia mutation, a by-product of genetic defenses against malaria, negative to the organism but nothing like as negative, net-net, as susceptibility to malaria.

(13) Womb environment — too much of the wrong thing. Here the effect of the rogue hormones is to feminize the brain of a male infant. (I assume that there are theories corresponding to 10 and 13 for female infants, though I have never seen them documented.)

Note that theories number 9, 10, 12, 13, and conditionally (depending on the age at injury or infection) 3 and 11, could all be taken as saying that homosexuality is "inborn," while only two of these six theories have anything to do with genetics. The confusion between "genetic" and "inborn" is epidemic among the general public, however, to the despair of science writers. To readers suffering from that confusion — an actual majority of those who wrote to me suffer from it — I recommend the purchase of a good dictionary.

Which is it?
Which of these theories is true? In the current state of our understanding, I don't believe that anyone can say for sure. From what I have seen of the scientific literature, I should say that numbers 12 and 13 currently hold the strongest positions, with much, though I think declining, interest and research in 9 and 10, modest but growing interest in 11, and some lingering residual attachment to 6, 7, and 8. The other theories are not taken seriously by anyone doing genuine science, so far as I know. If anyone has information to the contrary, I should be interested to look at it — though I should only be interested in research written up in a respectable peer-reviewed journal of the human sciences.

My own favorite is the infection theory, number 11. I favor it because it seems to me to be the most parsimonious — always a good reason for favoring a scientific theory. Until an actual agent of infection can be identified, however, the infection theory must remain speculative and the evidence circumstantial.
11.8.2008 11:08pm
Bill McGonigle (www):
I'd think Mormons would be among the first to recognize that our recent invention of State approval of marriages is misguided. And I'm not merely poking fun at their polygamous sects, but that they would abrogate that power from God.

Since they value marriage so highly, I would think they should be supportive of the idea of handling heterosexual marriage as a personal contract, as both parties would be consciously aware of its terms and their assent of its terms, which ought to make it more clear it's not right, up front, and be a continuing reminder of assigned responsibility.
11.8.2008 11:18pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Here is another important passage from Derbyshire's article:


The "socialization" theories, while not scientifically contemptible, do not hold up well under rigorous examination. It is indeed true that large numbers of men and women, deprived of the companionship of the opposite sex by confinement or social custom, will form erotic bonds with their own sex. As soon as the constraints are removed, however, the great majority revert to heterosexuality. Graduates of English boys' boarding schools marry and raise families; the convict who spent his sentence bullying weaker inmates into giving him sexual gratification will, upon his release, immediately seek out old girlfriends. Lab studies — measuring sexual arousal caused by various kinds of images, for instance — confirm that the great majority of people everywhere are, in their inner lives, heterosexual, however they may express themselves under the constraints of their immediate environment.

The "choice" theory, which most of my correspondents seem to cleave to, has as its main supporting evidence the fact that some people have been "converted" from a homosexual lifestyle to a heterosexual one, usually by counseling, often by religious conversion. I don't myself find this very impressive. The numbers involved are small, and these conversions seem to fall into the category of fringe phenomena you are bound to get when investigating something as complex and variable as the human personality.

Strange bedfellows
My own inclination, therefore, is to believe that most homosexuality is inborn, or acquired early in life, possibly by infection, or by biochemical imbalances in the womb, perhaps helped along by some genetic predisposition. As I have said, the human personality is a thing of fantastic complexity and mystery, and I am sure there are cases of socialization, "imprinting," and conversion (in both directions), too. These are, however, fringe phenomena, occurring in small numbers. Most homosexuality is, I believe, inborn, or acquired very early in life.

[...]

I am, though I say this with all appropriate modesty, something of a hate figure to the more fanatical kind of homosexualist, as you can easily see by Googling my name. One has for several years been running an energetic campaign to get me fired from National Review. That I am in broad agreement with these folk about the inborn nature of their homosexuality therefore puts me in company with people who hate me, and whom I myself generally dislike. There is not much point in being embarrassed about this. That's science for you. Science is "cold," and doesn't care what we think or wish for. (This is a point about science that many people simply cannot grasp. The opposite of science is not religion; the opposite of science is wishful thinking.)
11.8.2008 11:21pm
Bill McGonigle (www):
[Argh, spazzed on the submit]

That is to say if they supported the idea of getting the State out of the marriage business they would not have to worry about financially supporting unholy arrangements through government and at the same time they'd strengthen traditional marriage. Major Mormon win, no?

I'm assuming here they're not actually thinking that by removing gay marriage they're making people be not gay.
11.8.2008 11:22pm
Perseus (mail):
It would be good old-fashioned civil disobedience, an American protest tradition.

As has been pointed out many times already, domestic partnerships in California afford virtually all of the substantive legal benefits of marriage. So you are inciting lawlessness over what amounts to a struggle for recognition. I don't regard that as being very civil.
11.8.2008 11:53pm
Randy R. (mail):
Bill: "I'm assuming here they're not actually thinking that by removing gay marriage they're making people be not gay."

Actually, quite a few opponents of gay marriage justify their opposition because they believe that any sort of approval of homosexuality makes people 'want' to become gay.
11.8.2008 11:58pm
Randy R. (mail):
Perseus: "As has been pointed out many times already, domestic partnerships in California afford virtually all of the substantive legal benefits of marriage."

And as has been pointed out to you many time already, they do not.

Furthermore, as has been pointed out many times to you, marriage is not just about a bundle of benefits, or else straight people would also be happy to accept DPs in place of marriage.
11.9.2008 12:23am
Tired of it all:
>>>Let peaceful protesters by the thousands be dragged away just because they want to marry. It would be good old-fashioned civil disobedience, an American protest tradition.<<

So gays not merely content with "tolerance" demanded everyone else smile and clap and send flowers to the wedding, too? And when the PEOPLE decided the wedding is not to be they throw the cake into the street and stop on the presents?

Sorry, but AFTER shoving gay marriage down the throat of CA, CT and MA residents by 1 vote margins of the high court, a lot of people are sick and tired of the gay mafia. I'll volunteer to zip cuff and carry the protesters away any day.
11.9.2008 12:23am
truthteller (mail):
timid10 writes:


The is no scientific evidence that proves that sexual orientation is biologically or gentically determined. Here is what the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists has to say on the matter:


No one knows what causes heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality... to date there are no replicated scientific studies supporting any specific biological etiology for homosexuality.



Your post is laughable and full of personal beliefs. You might want to read Simon Levay's research on the subject. Here.

I suppose this little gem also comes from personal experience. I mean, if people are not born gay, they're not born heterosexual either, right? So that means you must have some strong homosexual urges you need to overcome.



In short, you weren't "born gay" - it was a behavior you largely learned and then chose to adopt. Nurture instead of nature as it were.



Now I understand. It makes sense why gay people being respected and treated as complete human beings under the law, is so threatening to you. Keep fighting those urges bro.

11.9.2008 12:31am
aloysiusmiller (mail):
Bobby B makes more sense than anyone else on this thread. If you want society to accept you behave in socially acceptable ways. If you want to shove your lifestyle in people's faces and earn their disgust then carry on.

The soviets and chinese and various others have denied people basic values we hold dear like faith and freedom but they preserved the family. Romania assaulted the definition of family by encouraging unprotected and promiscuous sex for the sake of children (who wound up abandoned in orphanages) and they reaped the whirlwind.

A society that cannot protect marriage and family cannot and will not protect freedom. Gays will abhor that society and will wish they were back to furtive sex. If you want to see such a society look at Saudi Arabia and Iran. Look carefully gays. This could be your future.
11.9.2008 12:37am
Perseus (mail):
And as has been pointed out to you many time already, they do not.

And you have yet to specify the vital legal benefits that California domestic partnerships lack (and don't bother mentioning any federal related benefits since states have no authority to grant them).

I would also ask Prof. Carpenter and others who seem to have so little regard for the rule of law, why shouldn't citizens who oppose SSM simply refuse to recognize such marriages (or domestic partnerships) in a tit-for-tat bit of civil disobedience?
11.9.2008 12:51am
wyswyg:
We just lost a ballot fight in which we were falsely but effectively portrayed as attacking religion.




Mr Carpenter, you are a lying son of a bitch. And you are as much a libertarian as Joe Stalin.
11.9.2008 12:54am
LM (mail):
wyswyg:

Mr Carpenter, you are a lying son of a bitch. And you are as much a libertarian as Joe Stalin.

Would you please elaborate on your views? I'd like to be sure I'm stereotyping the right group when I blame them for you.

Thanks. :-D
11.9.2008 1:00am
davod (mail):
"It is also important to me that LDS opposition to same sex marriage is not opposition to the bundle of government-given rights that people enjoy by way of marriage."

It is clear that Gays and Lesbians, allthough they profess discrimination, are not interested in the benefits of marriage so much as being able to say they are married.

They want to overturn over 6000 years of marriage between a man and woman, why because not being able to use the word marriage is discrimination.

In Japan to-day people are protesting for right to marry carton characters. Why not.
11.9.2008 1:28am
davod (mail):
PS:

Additionally, in Spain they granted human rights to Apes because they are close to being human. Evolving stanards?
11.9.2008 1:30am
neurodoc:
Randy R: I think people liek Neurodoc and Timid just say, there is no evidence for it being genetic, so therefore the only other possibility is that it is learned, but they have NO evidence to back it up.

That's interesting. Where/when did I say or imply something to the effect that "there is no evidence for it being genetic, so therefore the only other possibility it that it is learned"? Please point it out to me.


Jon Rowe: But, the gist that I get from you is that while you may know a lot about neuroscience you know little because you have studied little the phenomenon of sexual orientation. I may be wrong; but I'd imagine if we looked at the consensus of neuroscience they would more or less agree with the "gist" of what I write about homosexuality probably having some kind of strong biological perhaps like handedness psycho-biological component that makes it intractable if not immutable, like us trying to unlearn the English language."

Some kind of strong biological...WHAT? I have no problem treating homosexuality as a biologic phenomenon. What could it possibly be other than "biologic" given that we are talking humans, not rocks (in which case we would be talking "geologic"). Is "nature" a matter of "biology," while "nurture" is other? What would that other be?

My problem with your expositions is the simplistic notions you serve up, especially those that pertain to brain function, and hence fall under the rubric of "neurosciences." The business of handedness is one example, along with your babbling about "brain chemistry," "wiring," learned versus genetically determined behavior, etc. (I have no idea what you are trying to say with "some kind of strong biological perhaps like handedness psycho-biological component that makes it intractable if not immutable, like us trying to unlearn the English language". Can you explain?)

It is funny to be told that I am merely appealing to "authority" when I relate what I believe to be true based on my education, training, and experience as a neurologist and what a well-qualified psychiatrist colleague believes to be true on the basis of his education, training, and experience, only to have you then turn around and appeal to the "authority" of the NY Times' perfume critic, who happens to be flat out wrong about the first appearance of handedness, that is a manifestation of cerebral dominance. Hey, but what do I know about such things as handedness, though it comes up in clinical neurology all the time, in comparison to you and the perfume critic?

I only engaged here to say that human sexuality is too complex a phenomenon to be explained in the fashion you are going about it, and it is NOT a matter of simple A into B or A into C or whatever it is you would reduce it to, nor is it "immutable" as you would have it.
11.9.2008 1:30am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Bill McGonigle:

I think the problem is that, like Islam (or Judaism for that matter), Mormonism is a religion whose main public manifestations are community involvement and religious rules. Because Mormonism thus is structured to be a legal foundation for society, it becomes harder to adopt an idea that the teachings of the church and the rules of the state ought not to be identical.

During the abandonment of polygamy by the main LDS church, the great revelation was not that polygamy was misguided or anything like that-- the LDS church still endorses polygamy in the abstract. The revelation was simply that one should not go out of one's way to violate the laws of secular society. The act that this revelation was necessary provides a great deal of insight into the Mormon mentality relating to the connection between church and state.

What is strange for me, as I was raised as a Quaker is to see the same general attitudes towards religion and secular law in both groups (Quakers and Mormons), but with a social structure within the organizations which is entirely different. Mormonism is very hierarchical, while Quakerism is very grass-roots and with organic rather than formal controls on belief. (Also, while Quakerism doesn't share either the polytheistic or apotheosis-oriented elements of Mormonism, both groups believe in continuing divine revelation.)

Yet, I still believe that dialog is the answer. The vast majority of Muslims in places like India (or even Lebanon) have come to accept a secular government which is not based on religious law. The vast majority of European Jews accept the same (and Israeli Jews accept Sh'ria law as governing most Arab Israelis at least in civil law matters just as Jewish law governs these areas of Israeli Jews). In these cases, the religions, like the Mormons, have their own long lists of religious rules and legal traditions.

In all of these cases I think one can admire the Mormons' devotion to building society while at the same time engaging in dialog in the hopes of helping to shape the scope and direction that effort is expended in. It may take some time, but I think it will happen.
11.9.2008 1:31am
josil (mail):
Will someone explain why there were anti-Mormon protest but none against black churches, a major source of Yes votes? Of course, we can guess the reason without much effort.
11.9.2008 1:58am
Elliot123 (mail):
"Do you think this does not yet rise to the level of hypothesis? Do you think it's fair that in the absence of certain knowledge we use phrases like it's "probably" genetic/biological/has a strong biological component. Derb and his fellow e-listers, while they agree about the great uncertainty, believe the biological explanation for the orientation is where the evidence points."

Nothing Derbyshire says rises to the level of a scientific hypothesis under the scientific method. This is because a scientific hypothesis must be capable of being tested by experiment. We can't devise an experiment, or really dream one up, that will deliver a primary result of "Biological Cause."

An experiment may deliver a result which can be classified as biological, but Biologcal Cause is way too general. For example, say the hypothesis is, "Homosexuality is caused by the presence of XYZ gene." That's a good scientific hypothesis. One could then test for that by examining the XYZ gene of gays and straights. If the evidence validated the hypothesis, and was successfully replicated, then we could say the connection between XYZ gene and homosexuality is strong enough to form a scientifuc theory. Then we could note that XYZ gene is a biological, so it would be reasonable to say it is a biological cause.

Derbyshire and his e-listers may believe whatever they choose about where the evidence points, but that does not change the fact that their belief is way too general to be a scientific hypothesis. And it doesn't at all matter if any of them are friends, fans, or foes of homosexuality.

Note the last para of your first Derbyshire quote:
"My own favorite is the infection theory, number 11. I favor it because it seems to me to be the most parsimonious — always a good reason for favoring a scientific theory. Until an actual agent of infection can be identified, however, the infection theory must remain speculative and the evidence circumstantial.

The bold print [my emphasis] comes close to what I am saying. I think he recognizes that a scientific hypothesis must be much tighter than simply "Biological." A scientifc hypothesis may be, "XYZ virus causes homosxuality." Another may be, "ABC virus causes homosexuality." Experiment would determine if either scientific hypothesis is validated.

I have no reason to think it is fair to say homosxuality is "probably" caused by biologicals. What's the probabilty, and how is that probability derived? There is nothing to back up the "probably."
11.9.2008 2:25am
courtwatcher:
Neurodoc,
You might want to lighten up on the professional arrogance. When you stop offering your conjectures relating to law and policy, maybe those of us with expertise or advanced degrees in those fields will stop offering conjectures that relate to neuroscience. ;-)
11.9.2008 2:26am
Sam Draper (mail):
There was an article in the Salt Lake Tribune about gun sales booming after the election. I thought that was in reaction to Obama's election; maybe people are really worried about an invasion from California. ;)

It gets bandied about here and elsewhere that Mormons only make up 2% of California's population. It is emphasized that much of the Mormon effort on prop 8 was from Utah. I guess the intention is to insinuate that Mormons are an overly powerful minority, or that they are somehow alien to California. There must be some German word that describes this concept. Anyway, Mormons have been living in California since before it was part of the United States. They landed in San Francisco in 1845. Mormons were at Sutter's Mill. California currently has the second largest population of Mormons in the United States; when I was growing up, I was told that there were more Mormons in California than Utah (although the current ration is 2:1). California has twice as many Mormons as Idaho (the state with the 3rd largest population of Mormons). I am not quite sure what the implication is with the 2% figure, but California is and always been an important place for Mormons. They have as much right to a say about what goes on there as anyone else.

Do gays make up more than 2% of California's population? Does that make any difference?
11.9.2008 2:36am
Elliot123 (mail):
So, who is qualified to offer opinion on policy? What's an advanced degree in policy?
11.9.2008 2:38am
trad and anon:
What's an advanced degree in policy?
I think you can get one here or blockquote.
11.9.2008 3:21am
Californio (mail):
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz um. Well. I would say that first, it is terrible, TERRIBLE that people think they can spend all sorts of money to advance their political agendas! That is why I am so proud of our president elect - rejecting spending hundreds of millions from suspect sources. Why God bless him!

And the fact that the Anti prop 8 forces had such effective TV ads! I loved the one where the nice gay couple are sitting on the sofa and state that they have loved each other for 20 years and that their getting married would not cause the collapse of society. Er. Say!....that never happened, did it!?

Grrrrrr! I blame a distinct and insular minority for thwarting the will of the the good people! Those Damn Jews um, MORMONS!!!er or did I mean GAYS! Oh, I am so confused. I think I will protest to make myself feel better.....um, I mean express the will of the people!!

P.S. - Isn't the big fear for pro Prop-8 people really about their aversion to even the thought of gay sex? Gee - how about pointing out that nothing kills a couple's sex life like MARRIAGE!!!!!
11.9.2008 3:41am
John D (mail):

Will someone explain why there were anti-Mormon protest but none against black churches, a major source of Yes votes? Of course, we can guess the reason without much effort.


josil,

While it's clear in retrospect that blacks voted for Prop 8, it doesn't seem they needed much encouragement.

During the campaign, the LDS were out in front, followed by the Knights of Columbus. We know that the LDS provided a lot of the ground organization and fundraising (not that the church gave funds, but rather convinced its members to do so).

The Mormons, the Catholics, and some evangelicals took a very public leadership role in Prop 8. The black churches, less so.

The anger is directed at those who have declared their enmity for the gay community, not those who failed to be our friends.
11.9.2008 4:46am
LM (mail):
courtwatcher:

Neurodoc,
You might want to lighten up on the professional arrogance. When you stop offering your conjectures relating to law and policy, maybe those of us with expertise or advanced degrees in those fields will stop offering conjectures that relate to neuroscience. ;-)

He's also a lawyer.
11.9.2008 4:54am
CLS (mail) (www):
if they picket the Mormon temple nearby I'll be there happily. The Mormon sect is very concerned about PR and work hard to cover up things that make them look bad -- and there is plenty that does. They planned, years ago, funding antigay campaigns but wanted others to lead them to take the heat off themselves. They just wanted to be the money behind the scene so they could pretend to be uninvolved. Focusing on Mormon temples or whatever puts the focus precisely on where the money came from.

It underminds the Mormon deception which was to fund a campaign while pretending to be uninvolved. By raising the cost of their funding such a campaign the pickets make it less likely they will do it again. The Mormon sect leadership was behind Prop 8 funding and used church resources to raise funds for the campaign. They used their churches for political fundraising so it seems fair to picket the establishments they used for those purposes.

Just because they are a religion doesn't mean they deserve any less criticism than anyone else. If a political lobby did this then picket their offices would be appropriate. So when a church does it picketing their churches is appropriate. And I would join any protest organized against the Mormon funding of this hate.
11.9.2008 4:57am
jrose:
why shouldn't citizens who oppose SSM simply refuse to recognize such marriages (or domestic partnerships) in a tit-for-tat bit of civil disobedience

Tit-for-tat? You make it sound like civil disobedience is a bad thing in and of itself. So, the purpose of anti-SSM civil disobedience is to protest pro-SSM civil disobedience? That makes no sense if civil disobedience is a bad thing.

On the other hand, if civil disobedience is legitimate, then by all means go ahead, so long as you are willing to accept the consequences which likely would include civil or criminal penalties given the type of disobedience you suggested.
11.9.2008 7:59am
davod (mail):
"The Mormons, the Catholics, and some evangelicals took a very public leadership role in Prop 8. The black churches, less so."

Where is everybody getting there information from.

Where were the Muslims?

Where were the Hispanics?

Which relgious organizations campaigned against Prop. 8.

Where were the Muslims?

Where were the Hispanics?
11.9.2008 8:08am
davod (mail):
PS:

It only democracy when you win.
11.9.2008 8:10am
jrose:
Based on the discussion here, Jon Stewart got it right (at the end of the clip):

Bennett: It's a debate about whether marriage is between a man and a woman.

Stewart (without a moment's heistation): I disagree. It's a debate about whether you think gay people are part of the human condition or just a random fetish.
11.9.2008 8:16am
aloysiusmiller (mail):
Maybe in the end it is a debate about whether gay people are a human codition or a sinful condition to be eradicated. But it won't be Mormons and Catholics that deal with the possibility of eradication.

Think Muslim. Look for friends now. The heterosexuals that voted No on 8 won't know who you are then. But I am willing to bet that Catholics and Mormons will be your protectors.

Think twice about tinkering with age old institutions. Have a plan for putting it back together. Good luck.
11.9.2008 8:53am
Cornellian (mail):
Will someone explain why there were anti-Mormon protest but none against black churches, a major source of Yes votes? Of course, we can guess the reason without much effort.

Will someone explain why a constitutional amendment purporting to "defend" marriage targeted gay people but not divorcing straight people? Of course we can guess the reason without much effort.
11.9.2008 9:59am
calmom:
The major reason that Prop 8 passed was the 'teaching of gay marriage in elementary schools' ad. People may not care whether gays get married or not, but they really care about what their children are being taught in school.

A compromise law could allow gay marriage with the proviso that nothing concerning gay marriage will be taught in the public schools. No "King and King" in the library. No mention of homosexuality in the schools until middle school and then only with a parent's written permission.

I think with that many of the people who voted for Prop 8 would drop their objections.
11.9.2008 10:21am
Willard (mail) (www):
Dale, thank you for your thoughtful, respectful post. I supported prop 8, but, as you said, am not bigoted towards gays but instead have concerns about the impact of legalizing gay marriage.

It has been sad to see the anger displayed during this debate, but if more people on both sides of this issue responded with the care you have, I think all would be better off.
11.9.2008 10:36am
Randy R. (mail):
Aloysiusmiller: "Think twice about tinkering with age old institutions. Have a plan for putting it back together. Good luck."

Really? Gay marriage will destroy an age old institution? How?

You may wish to speak with Perseus, another person who opposes gay marriage. According to him, (and I tend to agree), CA grants domestic partner benefits, which grants most of the benefits that CA married people have. (although none of the federal benefits).

So -- if DP already give us the almost everything except the name of marriage, then won't DP destroy the age old institution? If so, why do most people agree that gays should have that?

And if DP destroy marriage for you, then why didn't you protest when we were granted that?
11.9.2008 11:15am
courtwatcher:
Thanks, LM. I didn't know that. I was being a bit facetious anyway. If all the lawyers who read this blog were to correct (and mock) non-lawyers' legal misstatements in blog comments very often, along with a statement of our credentials, we would be very busy, and people would get tired of that pretty quickly.
11.9.2008 11:17am
Randy R. (mail):
Neurodoc: "I only engaged here to say that human sexuality is too complex a phenomenon to be explained in the fashion you are going about it, and it is NOT a matter of simple A into B or A into C or whatever it is you would reduce it to,"

On this, I think most people would agree. We never said that we know why sexual orientation turns out. We know for sure that it is set at an early age, and that is can't be changed, although there might be a few exceptions to that. However, those exceptions are rare.

" nor is it "immutable" as you would have it."

You keep saying that without any scientific proof or studies to back it up. Just because you have a personal belief doesn't mean that it is true.

How many gay people have you met that have said that they can't change their sexual orientation? How many have said it's merely a choice of theirs? I can pretty much gaurantee almost all of said the former. So on what basis do you discount what the 'experts' actually say on the matter?

This is particularly alarming to me because you treat gay people, and if you have these prejudices against gays, you should at least disclose them.
11.9.2008 11:22am
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

"I only engaged here to say that human sexuality is too complex a phenomenon to be explained in the fashion you are going about it, and it is NOT a matter of simple A into B or A into C or whatever it is you would reduce it to,"


Randy: I think you get it exactly right. Neurodoc also misrepresents my argument into a "strawman" which he as a neuroscientist can easily knock down. If you examine my language I'm offering analogies but using careful and cautious language with qualifiers like "probably," and not reducing things to a simple matter of A into B and whatnot. Everything that I have written about sexual orientation on this thread recognizes the complex mystery, the fact that we don't really know the real causes. And my two analogies that I offered 1) to handedness and 2) to language themselves have different causes. One is more biological or genetic (handedness) the other is entirely developmental (language). But both get deeply wired into the brain where at certain points at an individuals life it seems impossible to "unwire" them. Sexual orientation, for most folks, is likewise probably deeply ingrained in a similar respect.

Neurodoc took the example of a female with a wavering or bisexual orientation and tried to generalize it to the homosexual condition as a whole. To act as though all or almost all or even a great deal of homosexuals have an Anne Heche orientation is to belie reality. Neurodoc might know a lot about neuroscience but his comments on this thread show he knows little about sexual orientation.
11.9.2008 11:36am
jrose:
I supported prop 8, but, as you said, am not bigoted towards gays but instead have concerns about the impact of legalizing gay marriage

What are your concerns?
11.9.2008 11:37am
dchamil (mail):
I look forward to Mr. Carpenter's piece advocating polygamous marriage for Mormons, something some of them still wish to practise.
11.9.2008 12:38pm
John D (mail):
I'm going to respectfully disagree with Professor Carpenter on this one. He's written much that I agree with, much that has helped form a deeper understanding of the importance of same-sex marriage (although I've been advocating same-sex marriage for about fifteen years now).

I completely agree with his first two paragraphs in this post. After that, we part company.

What the Mormons did was wrong. They used their political muscle to disenfranchise a group. That's about as un-American as you can get. They have put themselves in the front of this issue.

Let me digress: Opponents to same-sex marriage are saying, "we won, get over it." Yet on that same ballot was Prop 4, which would have required pregnant teens to notify a family member before getting an abortion. They lost for a third time.

Many of the people who worked to put Prop 8 on the ballot are the same people who worked (less fervently) to get Prop 4 on the ballot. They both derive from the belief that a religious group ought to be able to put its strictures into law (yes, I know there are secular arguments against abortion, but the bulk of the movement does not use these arguments).

We are not hearing the Catholics and the evangelicals say, "well, the people of California spoke on abortion; we'll get over it." Nope. Not from people who have had us vote on the issue three times.

One vote on same-sex marriage. It's not over yet.

Unless the California Supreme Court views Prop 8, as suggested on this blog and elsewhere, as an impermissible attack on a suspect class, we're going to have a long fight back to justice.

Protesting in front of those who opposed us is entirely appropriate. They told themselves that they weren't taking anything away from gay people. They were wrong. It was a direct assault on civil rights. They bought these protests and I'm going to make sure they get them.

Finally, as an activist, I don't want to see the gay community and its allies slump into a feeling of futility. The supporters of Prop 8 want us to say, "oh, there's nothing we can do." Waving a sign in front of a house of worship may not get us a vote, but it helps build the energy that can be channelled into a movement to get our rights back.

We will never concede in the struggle for our rights. We will win this one.
11.9.2008 12:55pm
ThomasD (mail):
Frankly, if marriage had been denied to blacks, Mormons, Catholics, or almost any other group,

Frankly, marriage has not been denied to any group. Any adult male or female can still get married in the State of California.
11.9.2008 1:13pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
jrose-- playing devil's advocate:

Throughout recorded history, marriage as an institution has been a relationship cemented by having shared biological children born to the marriage. In cases where family alliances were the main goal of marriage, these alliances were generally cemented by the fact that the extended family would be united in sharing new blood relatives. In other cases, the fact was that children were needed to care for one as one got older (I have first-hand experience with this since my wife is from a country where the latter is still the case and the former only somewhat less so).

There is a legitimate fear, I think, that if we start tying social institutions to the latest science that we stop valuing social stability as an important good. You might compare this to a fear of what would happen to the legal tradition in this country if the ideas of collateral estoppel and precedent were suddenly no longer used.

Furthermore, the simple fact is that modernism itself as a mode of thought tends to devalue stability in favor of social progress. I think a lot of the conservative movement as a whole and the move away from progressive politics in both parties is an admission that this is not the best way forward (because social stability does help protect all of us).

I think the fundamental question is whether we embrace gay marriage in the name of social progress or whether we fight it in the name of social stability. I don't think one can simply be dismissive of the latter.

(end devil's advocate portion.)

I personally am very sympathetic to the question of social stability. I think that we are always better with slow, gradual, progress in small steps than we are with rapid change. However, I don't think this argument necessarily can be used to oppose gay marriage unconditionally. Rather, I think it opposes rapid change, whether enacted through the courts or the legislative bodies, relating to fundamental institutions of our society.

I think a goal of gay marriage is something I support, but I think it is also one of those cases where more haste means less speed because it causes those who no longer believe that social progress is a good in itself (the way social stability is) to become hostile.

What is needed is a conservative rather than a progressive argument for gay marriage, and that this is *less* of a change than banning it. BTW, this is what I have concluded and why I hope Prop. 8 is struck down (because a change to enshrine discrimination in a state constitution is a much bigger change than is gay marriage).
11.9.2008 1:20pm
Parenthetical:
calmom suggests:

A compromise law could allow gay marriage with the proviso that nothing concerning gay marriage will be taught in the public schools. No "King and King" in the library. No mention of homosexuality in the schools until middle school and then only with a parent's written permission.

Honestly, I'm not a fan of usurping the authority of local school boards. In California, that's where these decisions are made today. Locally elected school boards seem most likely to be responsive to their communities.

Sadly, my experience with Prop 8 has got me thinking seriously about cramming more stuff in the California Constitution about education. The devil, however, is in the details.

For example, "nothing concerning gay marriage will be taught in the public schools" could be tricky. Imagine a high-school civics teacher fielding questions about the recent election results: "I'm sorry, the Constitution forbids me from acknowledging that Proposition 8 even exists." Ouch.

As for what's in school libraries, of course the material should be age appropriate. And public school districts in California have procedures in place for parents to challenge books. Witness all of the challenges to The Color Purple, which mentions homosexuality. (FYI, it was the sixth most challenged book in 2007, right behind The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.*)

Even though the education provision would be harder to craft than the religious-freedom provision (that one's easy), I think we need to try. The California Constitution is already such a mess that I guess a few more contortions won't make it appreciably worse.

* I'm referring to the American Library Association's Banned Book Week survey. The methodology is a bit sketchy, but it's always an entertaining read. Mark Twain and John Steinbeck are perennial Top Ten fixtures.
11.9.2008 1:23pm
Randy R. (mail):
ThomasD: "Frankly, marriage has not been denied to any group."

Really? You mean the 18,000 gay couples who got married in the past few months will remain married? And that any two men or two women who wish to get married to each other in California are able to do so?

So this whole Prop 8 thing was just about nothing? Hurray! I'm moving to CA with my boyfriend, because Thomas says I can get married!
11.9.2008 1:34pm
Cornellian (mail):

Frankly, marriage has not been denied to any group. Any adult male or female can still get married in the State of California.


Yes, much the way people were equally free in the 1940s to marry someone of the same race.
11.9.2008 1:34pm
Cornellian (mail):
I think the fundamental question is whether we embrace gay marriage in the name of social progress or whether we fight it in the name of social stability. I don't think one can simply be dismissive of the latter.

I'm not at all dismissive of the latter. I support same-sex marriage both for the liberal reason of social progress and the conservative reason of social stability. I want people to be looked after in their old age by their loved ones, not by the state, wherever possible. Nor do I think that gay men marrying women (or straight men marrying lesbians) is a recipe for social stability.
11.9.2008 1:37pm
Down from the Ivory Tower:
The Prop 8 supporters on this thread invoke that old phrase, "shoving it down our throats," over and over. Seems like a glimpse into the real reasons for their fervor.
11.9.2008 1:42pm
Randy R. (mail):
Jon Rowe: "Neurodoc also misrepresents my argument into a "strawman" which he as a neuroscientist can easily knock down"


It's funny, these people who are anti-gay. When you do any sort of social science research, you generall ask people who are the subjects of your study certain questions. For instance, if you want to know what it's like to be a black man in America, you ask a black man. If you want to know what it's like to be disabled, or old, you ask a disabled person, or an old person.

Additionally, if you ask a disabled person how they became disabled, they might reply that they got into a car accident, or they might say they don't know, but that their leg stopped functioning at age 20. If you ask an old person about their living habits to gain insight on how people age, you take down their medical history.

And you dont' question it. You put it all in the stew, and then based on the responses, you make some conclusions.

But the anti-gay people, and Neurodoc in particular, dont' follow this method when it comes to gays. Almost every single gay person in America will say that they were born gay, they have always been gay, and that they will not be able to change it. Some will say that they tried to deny it, or change it, but they will always say that failed, and happiness only came when they finally accepted the truth of their orientation.

For some reason, people like Neurodoc refuse to believe this overwhelming evidence. It is totally discounted. Why? Because they have a vague belief -- based on nothing -- that it can't be true. Or they find one or two people who claim that they changed from being gay to just being celebate, and they conclude that if one or two can do it, everyone else can.

This is the one social issue upon which scientists actually abandon their scientific objectivity and assume that ALL gay people are either lying (for which they have no explanation to why the lie is so consistent among difference groups of gays), or are somehow not aware of the truth of their own lives.

So Neurodoc: When I say that I have been gay my entire life, that I did try to change or ignore it when I was young, but was wholly unsuccessful, and that I am completely convinced today that nothing will change, and I have no desire to change, on what basis do you conclude that I am totally wrong about myself?
11.9.2008 1:43pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Cornellian wrote:

I'm not at all dismissive of the latter. I support same-sex marriage both for the liberal reason of social progress and the conservative reason of social stability. I want people to be looked after in their old age by their loved ones, not by the state, wherever possible. Nor do I think that gay men marrying women (or straight men marrying lesbians) is a recipe for social stability.


Glad to hear, and I am not saying that all supporters of gay marriage were dismissive of the issue. But the social stability angle really is one that needs more work in terms of discussion.
11.9.2008 2:04pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Timid10:

The "other factors" here are environmental (or developmental using your word); e.g. nurture is "massively overwhelming" nature in this matter.


Ok, so birth defects like cleft lip are also developmental in that case. This doesn't really address whether people were born homosexual or not.

You seemed to be arguing that it was a matter of developmental psychology. If that is not the case, I apologize for misunderstanding you.
11.9.2008 2:18pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
John Rowe wrote, regarding homosexuality among incarcerated males:


These men are predominantly heterosexual. When they get in prison they are predominantly heterosexual. When they get out of prison, they are predominately heterosexual. They are using other men as vehicles for sexual release.


That is one possibility. The other possibility (backed by some studies on sexuality) is that sexual preference is a bit of a sliding scale.

Consider a heterosexual man who has a strong preference for red heads. Suppose he moves to Taiwan and after a while falls in love with a Chinese woman. Is it that he no longer finds red heads attractive? Or just that in the absence of red heads, he finds women whom he is around to be attractive?

Could the same be happening for incarcerated males?

I would note that there have been some studies of apparent homosexual behavior among minorities of other primates (baboons, bonobos) and this would seem to suggest a biological cause.
11.9.2008 2:29pm
Aleks:
Re: If providing my children an intact biological family (from their perspective) required a similar learning process, I'd wonder that anyone would balk at it.

While I would agree that children ought have a stable, loving and capable family, the "biological" part seems irrelevant. Throughout history children have been brought up quite successfully by adoptive and/or foster parents-- even step-parents-- who loved them and did well by them. Indeed, a child adopted in infancy will not even know that s/he is missing something on the biology front unless told. This behavior is not just found in human beings but in other animals. Even in a species as famously non-social as housecats it isn't uncommon for a female to adopt and nurse kittens not her own.
I myself was raised, partly, by a step-parent. My real mother died when I was nine; my father remarried a family friend-- mainly a marriage of convenience as she needed income and benefits for her chidren and he needed a wife in his home and a mother for me. And it all worked out wonderfully. While the grief for my lost mother never really left me (even today it lives on in some dark, quiet corner of my memory) I benefitted greatly from my second mother, with whom I remain close.
The anti-gay right has made a nasty fetish of "biology", when in fact the real world knows no such limits.

(Note: step-parent relationships are indeed often fraught with difficulties because of the unequal circumstances in them. One parent has an existing relationship with the children, the other does not. When the original fanmily was broken by divorce there is a non-custodial parent in the mix-- while even a deceased parent may linger as a metaphorical and troublesome ghost. And the step-parent is choosing a spouse but not necessarily a child. Adoptive parent relationships do not sufer these issues and as a result are generally as successful and trouble-free as natural parent relationships, at least when they begin in infancy. I don't see why gay couple adoptions, or surrogacies, should be any different.)

Re: how do you explain children who spoke Chinese or Korean until age 5 or 6, when they were adopted by English-speaking parents and relocated, who are at a complete loss as adults to understand any of their first language?

Language learning is fluid in children that young. It generally solidifies around age 8. Adults may well learn another language and even become quite fluent in it, but they never lose their original language, or the mental/neural patterns associated with it. The ability of an adult language learner to speak a foreign language without accent, no matter how many years s/he has been immersed in it, is vanishingly rare.
11.9.2008 2:40pm
trad and anon:
I personally am very sympathetic to the question of social stability. I think that we are always better with slow, gradual, progress in small steps than we are with rapid change. However, I don't think this argument necessarily can be used to oppose gay marriage unconditionally. Rather, I think it opposes rapid change, whether enacted through the courts or the legislative bodies, relating to fundamental institutions of our society.
As Keynes said, in the long run, we are all dead.

Black people made progress in slow, gradual steps for a hundred years following the Civil War. The anti-KKK act was enacted; some states let them vote; they got into baseball; some formerly-white institutions of higher education admited them; courtsfound that some particular separate facilities were not equal. Eventually they got the courts to admit that separate facilities just weren't equal, but that decision was only a small step forward because it was effectively unenforceable in the areas it affected.

Then, in 1964 and 1965, the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts got the power of the federal government, federal troops included, behind wiping out racial discrimination [1] by state governments and the private sector. At the same time, and partially because of those Acts, Brown v. Board finally became enforceable in the South. Rapid, sweeping change, indeed. And much better than the century's worth of slow, gradual progress in small steps that preceded it.

[1] Unless you count affirmative action, which whatever you think of it is a vastly less pervasive and harmful form of racial preference than what preceded it.
11.9.2008 3:15pm
trad and anon:
Frankly, marriage has not been denied to any group. Any adult male or female can still get married in the State of California.
And, if we closed all synagogues, religious freedom would not be denied to any group. Jews would remain free to worship in any church of their choice.
11.9.2008 3:21pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

At the same time, and partially because of those Acts, Brown v. Board finally became enforceable in the South. Rapid, sweeping change, indeed. And much better than the century's worth of slow, gradual progress in small steps that preceded it.


I really hate to bring this up, but if you really read Brown v. Board side-by side Plessy v. Fergusson you will note that the two opinions have more in common than many opinions where the court is not seen to overturn a previous opinions (contrast with Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood). I think that the same way the Casey court built on Roe but rejected the test as unworkable, the Brown court did on Plessy. The only reason this is seen as a reversal is because of the sudden social change found from the ruling. From my lay perspective, on the abstract legal level, Brown was a small step, as was Loving.

If blacks and whites really were treated equally through segregation I personally doubt that Brown would have come out the way it did. The fact was, though, that Blacks were asked to give up their seats on busses to whites but not vice versa, and many other examples abound. The widespread patterns of inequality made Brown the fulfilment of the state's equality obligations held under Plessy and I think the court concluded there was no alternative.

The fact is, I don't see a way to break Brown down into smaller steps without taking larger steps in the process.
11.9.2008 3:55pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"What the Mormons did was wrong. They used their political muscle to disenfranchise a group. That's about as un-American as you can get. They have put themselves in the front of this issue."

Can we extend that to say what 52% of California voters did was wrong? Un-American? They also used their political muscle - a ballot - to disenfranchise a group. How about the voters in thirty states that have state constitutional provisions disenfranchising a group? Un-American? Don't forget Congress or Clinton; they did DOMA and don't ask don't tell, also disenfranchising a group. Un-American? And Obama says marriage is between aman and a woman. Un-American?

It seems we're drumming a lot of folks out of America here. I wonder if that's the best way to get what you want? Might it be time to change tactics? How has the name calling been working? Maybe hire Karl Rove?
11.9.2008 3:57pm
trad and anon:
It seems we're drumming a lot of folks out of America here. I wonder if that's the best way to get what you want? Might it be time to change tactics? How has the name calling been working? Maybe hire Karl Rove?
Karl Rove isn't looking like such a genius right now. Remember the permanent Republican majority? David Plouffe looks like a better bet. Unfortunately for us, his rates probably just went way up.
11.9.2008 4:23pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Randy R.,

[Not a rhetorical question] Are there, in your opinion, any such people as bisexuals, or are they just gays (or possibly straights) in denial?

I ask because I'm finding it harder and harder to find anyone active in gay-rights politics (on either side) who thinks that people able to be sexually interested in both men and women even exist in statistically significant number. But a quarter century ago everyone seemed to be talking about Kinsey's 1-to-6 attraction scale. And over the years I've had three friends who claimed to be bisexual, and a couple more who, though now identifying as lesbian, had children from previous heterosexual marriages.

It's certainly possible that all of these people were then, or are now, deceiving themselves; but I'm not going to assume it on no evidence.
11.9.2008 4:24pm
davod (mail):
"Karl Rove isn't looking like such a genius right now. Remember the permanent Republican majority? David Plouffe looks like a better bet. Unfortunately for us, his rates probably just went way up."

Did McCain's campaign look the least bit like anything Rove might have orchestrated?
11.9.2008 4:34pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

I ask because I'm finding it harder and harder to find anyone active in gay-rights politics (on either side) who thinks that people able to be sexually interested in both men and women even exist in statistically significant number. But a quarter century ago everyone seemed to be talking about Kinsey's 1-to-6 attraction scale.


It's actually from 0-6. And I believe there are very few "3s" (perfect bisexuals); though perhaps more "3s" in the female gender. There are probably a lot of 1s,2s,4s,5s but most of them probably term themselves and think of themselves as "straight" or "gay" because in the long run you are probably going to gravitate towards that gender to which you are fully attracted. Those "straight" guys who find they can have sex with men and when they get out of prison gravitate towards women; well maybe they are 1s (with 0 being perfectly heterosexual). A "0" probably wouldn't be able to enjoy homosexual sex under any circumstances. Likewise a gay man who gets married to a woman and comes out later in life like the former gov. of NJ is probably a "5" (with 6 as perfectly homosexual). Because a 6 probably couldn't bring himself to ever had sex with a woman certainly not father numbers of children with them.

But for reasons of simplification I think many folks with an incidental bisexual orientation don't feel comfortable identifying as bisexual because it makes it seem as though they have a meaningful choice to be with either gender but a person who is fully attracted to one gender and less than fully to the other doesn't have such a meaningful choice.
11.9.2008 4:51pm
byomtov (mail):
Did McCain's campaign look the least bit like anything Rove might have orchestrated?

Yes.

It looked like an inept version of something Rove would do.

Maybe there's a reason Schmidt worked for Rove instead of vice versa.
11.9.2008 4:51pm
SomeGuy (mail):

Frankly, if marriage had been denied to blacks, Mormons, Catholics, or almost any other group, it's hard to imagine the reaction would have been as mild as it's been.



It seems to me that marriage has not been denied to any group. Gays are allowed to marry the same as everyone else. 2 men (or 2 women) may not marry each other whether they are straight or gay. There is nothing in Prop8 that singles out any particular group.

Now, if the case was that 2 heterosexual men were allowed to marry each other while 2 gay men were not, then you would clearly have discrimination.

The question is whether or not we expand (or change) the definition of marriage. We can leave it as it is now, restricted to 1 man/1 woman for everyone (straight or gay) or expand it for everyone (straight or gay).
Surely those supporting expansion of marriage rights to same sex couples do not intend to limit SSM to gays only?
11.9.2008 4:54pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
If two heterosexual men want SSM I say go for it provided that they do indeed consummate the marriage, else the marriage be declared null and void.
11.9.2008 5:08pm
trad and anon:
It seems to me that marriage has not been denied to any group. Gays are allowed to marry the same as everyone else. 2 men (or 2 women) may not marry each other whether they are straight or gay. There is nothing in Prop8 that singles out any particular group.
This is like saying that if the practice of Judaism were banned, Jews and Christians would be treated equally. Christians and Jews alike would be equally prohibited from holding Passover seders or Yom Kippur services, and Jews would still be free to worship God at the church of their choice.

To a Jew, the right to practice Christianity is no right at all. Likewise with gays and the right to marry a member of the opposite sex.
11.9.2008 5:08pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Jon Rowe,

Thanks; that was very helpful! Only one of the people I know who identifies as bi is male, so from my tiny sample it does look like a majority-female phenomenon.

Judging by the occasional articles on the subject in the free/alternative SF Bay Area papers, it's rather difficult to be "out" as bi in the Bay Area, precisely because if there are people public about being physically attracted to others of both sexes, critics of gay rights will point to them as evidence of "choice." And if the numbers are large, the critics will certainly seem to have a point: The number of straight people who settle for something less than their erotic ideal in a partner must be huge.
11.9.2008 5:11pm
SomeGuy (mail):
JR:

If two heterosexual men want SSM I say go for it provided that they do indeed consummate the marriage, else the marriage be declared null and void.


I don't think states are generally in the business of voiding marriages on such grounds, but I appreciate the snark.

Would I need proof of sodomy to have my sham marriage to my beer buddy upheld by the state? :)
11.9.2008 5:11pm
trad and anon:
Surely those supporting expansion of marriage rights to same sex couples do not intend to limit SSM to gays only?
Certainly not. Though it would be reasonable to have the law recognize that some same-sex marriages are fraudulent, as we do with opposite-sex marriages where a noncitizen pays a citizen so they can get a green card.
11.9.2008 5:13pm
SomeGuy (mail):
T&A:

This is like saying that if the practice of Judaism were banned, Jews and Christians would be treated equally. Christians and Jews alike would be equally prohibited from holding Passover seders or Yom Kippur services, and Jews would still be free to worship God at the church of their choice.

To a Jew, the right to practice Christianity is no right at all. Likewise with gays and the right to marry a member of the opposite sex.


Folks can keep saying denying marriage to same-sex couples is the same as denying folks the right to worship as they please, but I just don't think the majority of people will see it the same.

Here's another analogy....saying that banning the practice of marrying your mother/sister/grandmother....

To the fella wanting to marry his sister, the right to marry some other female/non-relative is no right at all.


Please not that I am not equating SSM with marriage between blood kin, just as I assume you are not equating SSM with a religious faith.
11.9.2008 5:20pm
SomeGuy (mail):
T&A-
Thanks for the reply.

Do you mean that SSM between heterosexual men should be nullified? Would you support nullifying sham heterosexual marriages that don't involve immigration issues?
11.9.2008 5:23pm
trad and anon:
The question is whether or not we expand (or change) the definition of marriage. We can leave it as it is now, restricted to 1 man/1 woman for everyone (straight or gay) or expand it for everyone (straight or gay).
We can leave it as it is now in most states and the District of Columbia. Gay marriage has been legal in Massachusetts for five years now, is legal in Connecticut, and will probably be legal in D.C. as soon as the new Congress is sworn into office. The executive branch of New York also recognize same-sex marriages performed out-of-state; it is likely that the courts of several states will do likewise when the matter is litigated. Same-sex marriage is also legal in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, and Spain, and foreign same-sex marriages are recognized in Israel and France.

It is a bit late to say that the definition of marriage "is" one man and one woman. The legal definition varies, and to many people, the everyday definition of "marriage" include same-sex marriages entered into in jurisdictions that recognize them. Even the religious definition varies by religion (though most Christian denominations don't recognize same-sex marriages).
11.9.2008 5:27pm
jrose:
SomeGuy,

That fella wanting to marry his sister is making a choice. The gay person is not. The only marriage that makes sense to him/her, because of who he/she is, is an SSM.

{Oh no!, we are back to the same debate about whether homosexuality is part of the human condition. That Jon Stewart - what a smart man}
11.9.2008 5:27pm
SomeGuy (mail):
T&A

We can leave it as it is now in most states and the District of Columbia....


Fair enough, good points (the whole post other than marriage in other countries)...

Then I guess the argument is more, is this issue properly part of the legislative process or is the issue to be decided in the courts?
11.9.2008 5:35pm
SomeGuy (mail):
jrose:


That fella wanting to marry his sister is making a choice. The gay person is not. The only marriage that makes sense to him/her, because of who he/she is, is an SSM.

{Oh no!, we are back to the same debate about whether homosexuality is part of the human condition. That Jon Stewart - what a smart man}


You haven't seen his sister, she's HOT.. :)

I don't want to argue whether it is part of the human condition...I think it is.

I don't agree that it necessarily follows that the state and society must affirm SSM because people are born gay.
11.9.2008 5:41pm
Equal2You:
Prop 8 was about removing legally granted right from a designated group. It would not have been placed on the ballot if marriage rights had not been granted to the gay community. A person's feelings about the group seems to make it less egregious to them. I personally am outraged and appalled.

Why should gay couples get the right to be officially recognized with all of the rights and privileges of any other union? Because it is discriminatory to not grant legal rights and privileges to a group based on some difference.

Some say that sexual orientation is chosen so it doesn't deserve to be protected. Religion can be chosen yet it is protected. Maybe I was born into a Catholic family, but then chose to become a Protestant. Should my religious choice not be protected the same as my brother's choice to remain Catholic?

If we are born this way, then why is it not protected in the same manor race is protected? You cannot choose to change your race nor can you choose to change your sexual orientation.

Bottom line, if you remove a legal right from a group because you don't like the thing they are, that is discrimination. My personal belief is that marriage should not be sanctioned by the government. Everyone should have the ability to enter into a civil union, then you can go have your marriage ceremony at the religious house of your choosing -- or not if you choose that. Obviously, Thomas Jefferson had a really good idea about separating state (like granting legal rights and privileges) from religion (the freedom to exercise your chosen religion).

"You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do." - Anne Lamott
11.9.2008 5:45pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
SomeGuy wrote:

Would you support nullifying sham heterosexual marriages that don't involve immigration issues?


Isn't that the way things work anyway? But usually it requires that someone actually suing the other for an annulment based on fraud.....
11.9.2008 5:47pm
jrose:
I don't agree that it necessarily follows that the state and society must affirm SSM because people are born gay.

I'd hope you'd see it otherwise. However, isn't it clear now that Proposition 8 discriminates against gays (for ill or good).

{Small point of personal privilege: I didn't claim people are born gay or straight, just that sexuality is primarily immutable}
11.9.2008 5:51pm
SomeGuy (mail):
einhverfr,
I think we are talking about 2 different issues. I was asking if the state should nullify sham marriages against the wishes of the couple involved. I don't think this happens-I could be wrong..

I take it that you are talking about one spouse filing for divorce against the other?
11.9.2008 5:53pm
SomeGuy (mail):
jrose,


I'd hope you'd see it otherwise. However, isn't it clear now that Proposition 8 discriminates against gays (for ill or good).


I would say that Prop 8 would clearly have a 'disparate impact' on gays. On it's face, I would say the law is neutral..
If we are in the area of hoping that those on the other side would see it otherwise, then I think this is an area properly left to the legislating process. I think that if society comes to a consensus that SSM should be affirmed, that's the way it should be.

I agree with earlier commenters that the state should probably not be in the business of sanctioning marrige as it is.
11.9.2008 5:59pm
Randy R. (mail):
Michelle: " Are there, in your opinion, any such people as bisexuals, or are they just gays (or possibly straights) in denial? "

Of course there are bisexuals, and many thanks to Jon Rowe for beating me to it. Unfortunately, gays are often guilty of seeing bisexuals as invisible at best, and not being able to make up their mind at worst. That doesn't mean that they don't exist.

Again, if someone says that they are attracted to both sexes, who am I to say that they are not? Of course, people like Neurodoc will say he knows you better than you do and make up his own mind without your input. But I prefer the more scientific approach.
11.9.2008 6:04pm
jrose:
I would say that Prop 8 would clearly have a 'disparate impact' on gays. On it's face, I would say the law is neutral.

It doesn't pass the smell test that Prop 8 merely resulted in an unintentional disparate impact.

If we are in the area of hoping that those on the other side would see it otherwise, then I think this is an area properly left to the legislating process

Persuading people that SSM is a good idea is not mutually exclusive with arguing it is a constitutionally-protected right.
11.9.2008 6:16pm
LM (mail):
davod:

Did McCain's campaign look the least bit like anything Rove might have orchestrated?

Absolutely. It's fatal flaw was a principle performer who, to his credit, had obvious moral qualms about the part that was written for him.
11.9.2008 6:25pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Someguy wrote:

I think we are talking about 2 different issues. I was asking if the state should nullify sham marriages against the wishes of the couple involved. I don't think this happens-I could be wrong..

I take it that you are talking about one spouse filing for divorce against the other?


Not quite. Look up the difference between an annulment and a divorce. The latter terminates the marriage, the former declares the marriage invalid from the start.

One can sue for either a divorce or an annulment, and at the end, if it is granted, one is not married but the implications of these can be very different, particularly if you are a Catholic (since the latter allows you to get married "again").

The State doesn't go around annulling peoples' marriages, and the CA AG is interpreting Prop 8 along these lines (that it does not affect existing gay marriages).

If you successfully obtain a divorce, your status is "divorced" but if you successfully attain an annulment, your status is "single, never married." Get it?

The most common grounds for an annulment is fraud. In short if you entered into a marriage fraudulantly, your marriage partner can declare the marriage invalid from the start.

There are some strange results that can happen though in some states (IANAL). According to the New York Bar Association, there are cases (usually involving incurable insanity) where after an annulment, one may still be stuck supporting one's "former spouse" all of his/her life. Sort of like alimony but without the divorce part.

Hope this helps.
11.9.2008 6:29pm
CB55 (mail):
Smokey:

The Black Church by and large is homophobic, and sin, hell, God's fury with damnation is standard culture if you like old time religion. Sure there is homosexuality practice in the church as there are homosexuals, but most stay in the closet where stuff like HIV can be denied and managed. In the Black prison population gay practices is very common (and is not always by consent), but former inmates will go to great pains with anger when they speak of "tossing salad" in conversation with their lovers and or spouses (Black lesbians are not on the radar screen in the Black church).

One of the most famous gospel artist of the late 20th century was James Cleveland. Read of him here:

The Reverend Dr. James Cleveland (December 5, 1931 - February 9, 1991) was a gospel singer, arranger, composer and, most significantly, the driving force behind the creation of the modern gospel sound, bringing the stylistic daring of hard gospel and jazz and pop music influences to arrangements for mass choirs.

Cleveland died in 1991 in Culver City, California. Though his death is often recognized euphemistically as having been a result of heart failure, there has been an enduring controversy as to whether or not Cleveland actually succumbed to AIDS-related complications. Subsequent to these rumors circulating, Christopher Harris, his former foster son, levied allegations of homosexuality and pedophilia against Cleveland in a 1994 news article. Neither are widely discussed within the gospel music community.
11.9.2008 6:33pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
SomeGuy wrote:

I don't agree that it necessarily follows that the state and society must affirm SSM because people are born gay.


I would agree with that as you worded this.

However, this doesn't get us closer to the question of whether society should affirm SSM. Nor does it address what various state Constitutions may require. I can agree with your statement but say that society would do well to affirm SSM and that not doing so may run amok with some state constitutions....
11.9.2008 6:36pm
SomeGuy (mail):
einhverfr,
Thanks for clarifying what you were talking about. I understand the difference betweem divorce and annulment. Now I see that your response was not at all on point to the question I was trying to ask. Perhaps my using the phrases 'nullify' and 'sham' muddied my meaning.

What I was asking is...should the state be able to dissolve/annul/declare invalid the marriages of heterosexual marriages against their will?

What I meant by 'sham' marriage was a marriage of convenience type of thing....The couple are married just for tax benefits/benefits tied to the workplace (health insurance for example).

In the context of my back and forth with T&A I thought it was clear I was talking about the state taking action to 'nullify' a marriage, not about the options of those in the marriage to dissolve/end it. I apologize for the confusion my imprecision may have caused.
11.9.2008 6:51pm
SomeGuy (mail):
einhverfr,

SomeGuy wrote:


I don't agree that it necessarily follows that the state and society must affirm SSM because people are born gay.



I would agree with that as you worded this.

However, this doesn't get us closer to the question of whether society should affirm SSM. Nor does it address what various state Constitutions may require. I can agree with your statement but say that society would do well to affirm SSM and that not doing so may run amok with some state constitutions....


I agree with everything you wrote. My post that you quote was not intended to address the constitutional questions ..It was only to reply to an argument from jrose (as I understand it) that SSM is different from marriage between blood relatives in that it is not a choice for gay folks whereas it is for kin-marriage.
11.9.2008 7:00pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

What I was asking is...should the state be able to dissolve/annul/declare invalid the marriages of heterosexual marriages against their will?


How would one enforce this? The basic issue is that I think that unless the marriage is orchestrated in order to defraud the state, it should not be nullified. Immigration issues are generally easy to find because there are controls that are in place to prevent them (believe me, I have been through that process-- my wife is from a foreign country).

However, this is an academic question since the CA AG isn't even interpreting Prop 8 that way (he says prop 8 in no way affects existing, legal same sex marriages).

However, suppose we had a general rule that in order to file income tax returns as married, you had to also provide the same sort of evidence you do for a valid marriage when going through the BCIS stuff with a change of status to permanent resident (evidence that you are actually building a life together, such as shared bills, evidence of shared loans, etc). I would have some concerns about this in terms of government interference in private life.

Hope this answers your question.
11.9.2008 7:12pm
SomeGuy (mail):
einhverfr,
I am not advocating the state ending sham marriages....
I was responding to a comment by T&A... it went like this...


SOMEGUY: Surely those supporting expansion of marriage rights to same sex couples do not intend to limit SSM to gays only?
T&A: Certainly not. Though it would be reasonable to have the law recognize that some same-sex marriages are fraudulent, as we do with opposite-sex marriages where a noncitizen pays a citizen so they can get a green card.


That was when I asked him if he would support the state 'nullifying' 'sham marriages' that did not involve imiigration issues.

I agree with you- I would not want the state getting involved in these ways.
11.9.2008 7:21pm
Guest12345:
jrose:
That fella wanting to marry his sister is making a choice.


Joe wanting to marry Bob is a choice. Regardless of whether being gay is a unchangeable personality trait or whether you've chosen to be gay, getting married is a choice. Unless you want to say it's not, in which case you can't make the argument that "that fella wanting to marry his sister is making a choice."* Additionally, can you make a non-arbitrary argument that there is anything wrong with a guy wanting to marry his sister? Or two women wanting to marry one guy and the guy wanting to marry both women?

(* In the exact same sense that many people in this thread are saying that a gay person's choice to marry a person of the opposite sex isn't a choice at all, it's entirely possible that two siblings, or first cousins, wanting to marry each other is not a choice. Due to unique cultural experience they may be the only person for the other to have a successful long term relationship with.)

Randy R:
Of course, people like Neurodoc will say he knows you better than you do and make up his own mind without your input. But I prefer the more scientific approach.


You keep saying this, and yet it's ridiculous for you to do so. Neurodoc is in all likelihood the most qualified poster in these threads to read and understand the research.

Also it's entirely unscientific to ask someone. Asking someone if they were born gay produces no more true an answer than asking someone if they are tall. You will get their opinion, but until you get out a ruler you won't know if they are tall or not.

Equal2you:
Some say that sexual orientation is chosen so it doesn't deserve to be protected. Religion can be chosen yet it is protected. Maybe I was born into a Catholic family, but then chose to become a Protestant. Should my religious choice not be protected the same as my brother's choice to remain Catholic?


First, I'd suggest that if you'd find that most people who have "chosen" a religion would tell you that is was no choice at all. Second, there are many people who would tell you they have no choice in certain behaviors yet society still denies them the right to engage in those behaviors.
11.9.2008 7:26pm
jrose:
Joe wanting to marry Bob is a choice. Regardless of whether being gay is a unchangeable personality trait or whether you've chosen to be gay, getting married is a choice

Of course the exact partner is a choice. But, gays do not have a choice over who comprises the pool of eligibles, and without SSM that pool is empty.
11.9.2008 7:39pm
SomeGuy (mail):
jrose,

...It doesn't pass the smell test that Prop 8 merely resulted in an unintentional disparate impact.


...Persuading people that SSM is a good idea is not mutually exclusive with arguing it is a constitutionally-protected right.


I agree with you on the second point. On the first, I would guess most of the proponents of Prop 8 oppose extending SSM to heterosexuals as well as homosexuals. I would go further and suggest that if there were a ballot measure to extend SSM rights only to heterosexuals, that would also be opposed by the vast majority of those voting against Prop 8.

I realize that this is getting pretty far afield. My only point is that if you could separate the choices to...

A. SSM available for all
B. SSM available but only to heterosexuals (absurd, I know)
C. SSM not available to anyone.

very few of the Prop 8 proponents would choose B over C.
11.9.2008 7:51pm
jrose:
I would guess most of the proponents of Prop 8 oppose extending SSM to heterosexuals as well as homosexuals

SSM for heterosexuals is a farcical, diversionary, non-issue.
11.9.2008 7:57pm
SomeGuy (mail):
SSM for heterosexuals is a farcical, diversionary, non-issue.

I agree it's absurd. I only propose it to point out that Prop 8 proponents would also be against that, potentially countering that intentional disparate impact on gays is likely not, in my opinion, the primary goal.

If there was a ballot to expand marriage to more than 2 people, I think most of the same people would be against that.

This is also a farcical, diversionary, non issue (until it's not)....but is just put forward to argue that preserving marriage to 1 man/1 woman is not for most people primarily about trying to discriminate against gays. It's about preserving marriage in it's current state.
11.9.2008 8:14pm
jrose:
I only propose it to point out that Prop 8 proponents would also be against that, potentially countering that intentional disparate impact on gays is likely not, in my opinion, the primary goal.

And that proposal would too be absurd.
11.9.2008 8:19pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"If two heterosexual men want SSM I say go for it provided that they do indeed consummate the marriage, else the marriage be declared null and void."

What does sex have to do with marriage?
11.9.2008 8:25pm
John D (mail):

Neurodoc is in all likelihood the most qualified poster in these threads to read and understand the research.


Mebbe. Mebbe not.

Heck, I can spout blather and claim that it's from my nonexistent background in neurology.

You should believe me in this because I'm a neurology researcher at a top-ranked university.

I'm not buying it.

When Neurodoc starts putting his real name and affiliation then I might grant him some credence. Until then, sure he's cited some stuff from developmental biology, but it was stuff I've heard of and not only am I not a neurology researcher, I'm not even a scientist. (As I've noted in other comments, nor am I a lawyer.)

Neurodoc strikes me as someone who knows enough on a subject to use it to promote his prejudices and obfuscate an argument.

Because after all, does it matter whether it's inborn or not? Homosexuality causes no harm to those who practice it or others. There is no case that can be made for limiting the rights of gay people.
11.9.2008 10:04pm
John D (mail):
Further thought...

Though I claim no special competence (just a gay man passionate about this issue who has done a lot of reading and thinking on the subject), I do provide an e-mail link. Yeah, it's a Gmail account, but I do actually check it. I respond to e-mails sent to that account.

Neurodoc completely hides behind a veil of anonymity. I say don't trust his claims of special competence.
11.9.2008 10:08pm
Guest12345:
John D:
When Neurodoc starts putting his real name and affiliation then I might grant him some credence.


Maybe you could, oh, I don't know... read back over the last year or two of posts made by Neurodoc? Then you could decide if you believe his credentials or not. You'll find that he offended Kerr or Bernstein, but you'll also find that he seems to have a background in medicine. Or you could just go with your current antagonistic stance and start from the position that everyone who disagrees with you is a liar.
11.9.2008 10:28pm
aloysiusmiller (mail):
Consummating a marriage requires that one partner have a penis and the other have a vagina. Then they have to put the one into the other. Voila, consummated. Nothing else counts.
11.9.2008 10:33pm
Randy R. (mail):
Guest: "Neurodoc is in all likelihood the most qualified poster in these threads to read and understand the research. "

Perhaps regarding neurology, but he is no expert in homosexuality.

"Also it's entirely unscientific to ask someone."

Then don't ask someone. Instead, do what other researchers have done and hook electrodes to mens' penises, and show them straight porn and gay porn. Their dick will get hard at one or the other (unless, of course, there is some medical issue).

Then ask them whether they choose to get hard because of one or the other. Heck, you can do this experiment on yourself. Why don't you sit in front of lots of gay porn (you can find it at Xtube) and see if you ever get hard. Then tell me if your sexual orientation is a matter of choice.

" Asking someone if they were born gay produces no more true an answer than asking someone if they are tall. You will get their opinion, but until you get out a ruler you won't know if they are tall or not."

If true, then at least some gay people should tell you that being gay is a choice, right? How many do -- exactly zero. When you have 100% of the population agree on something, it would take extraordinary evidence to convince anyone that they are all wrong.

Exodus is the leading 'ex-gay' organization. They claim that they can change a gay person into a celebate one, but only after years of trying, and even then most will not be able to. And they do NOT claim that they will ever change you into a heterosexual. Guess they must all be lying, too, right?

Can you tell if I'm gay without my telling you? No, of course not. So you have to ask me. And I will tell you that I've been attracted to men for as long as I can remember, at least since around 6th grade, and have never been attracted to women. I have never had a sexual fantasy in my life that involved women, only men. I tried very hard to be straight when I was in my 20s -- but I still couldn't actually bring myself to have any sort of a relationship with any women.

But you will blithly say either I'm lying, or you know me better than myself, because you and Neurodoc just KNOW that this is a choice I made. That is not good science, just good old fashioned idiocy.

So please, Guest, why is it so important to you to cling to this notion, against all evidence, that being gay is a choice? Does it make is easier on your conscience to hate gays for their choice than if it were something that is innate in them?
11.9.2008 11:16pm
anonymous934848 (mail):
We just lost a ballot fight in which we were falsely but effectively portrayed as attacking religion. So now some of us attack a religion? People were warned that churches would lose their tax-exempt status, which was untrue. So now we have (frivolous) calls for the Mormon Church to lose its tax-exempt status?

you're surprised? i'm not. but then i wouldn't have dismissed those portrayals and warnings as false...because apparently they aren't. what, you really think these same militant homosexuals wouldn't throw the law and irs at churches given the chance, to bring them in line, even if prop 8 failed? you've got to be kidding.
11.9.2008 11:24pm
snelson (mail):
Hey, I hope they do find a proven genetic basis for homosexuality. Why? Because 10 minutes later there will be an in-home genetic test kit (see the paternity test kit being sold by Walgreen's today)

And then the Religious Right and Loony Left are going to have to decide:

Right: "Does my homophobia allow me abortion if I carry the gene?"

Left: "Does my love for abortion at will trump the rainbow?"

Since I don't think the government should be involved in either, I plan to buy stock in Orville Redenbacher and La-Z-Boy.
11.9.2008 11:50pm
anon1029384756:
Marriage is a word that has been defined one way for hundreds - thousands - of years. Furthermore, no one is discriminated against (or for) by retaining that definition. (Yes, I mean that a single straight or gay man may marry a single straight or gay woman without fear of legal ramifications.) If so-called 'gay' couples wish to make their relationships 'official', they should come up with their own word for that relationship. Just make one up, I don't care, how about 'gayriage? Would that be enough to make them feel gay...er, blithely happy? What a bunch of cry-babies.
11.9.2008 11:52pm
anon1029384756:
And to cry-baby snelson:

Actually, the first thing that would happen is that 'gay rights' activists would (again) move to have any such evidence buried to keep from having to break philosophical ranks with their fellow pro-abortion leftists. If you think any expectant, pro-abortion mother would voluntarily give birth to another gay cry-baby, you've got another think comin'.
11.9.2008 11:57pm
neurodoc:
Randy R: It's funny, these people who are anti-gay...But the anti-gay people, and Neurodoc in particular...

John D: Neurodoc strikes me as someone who knows enough on a subject to use it to promote his prejudices and obfuscate an argument.

Pardon me guys, but whom the f**k are you talking about? I'm quite sure it isn't me. Can you point to a scintilla of evidence for your claim that I am "anti-gay" either in the course of this thread or elsewhere? Randy R, where did I say sexual orientation was a product of "learning"? (It is not always be "predetermined" matter, because sometimes medical circumstances dictate a choice for a child that does not simply follow from their sex chromosomes.) Do you think because I have disputed Jon Rowe on matters that fall within the realm of medicine, especially neurology, like cognitive (language) and motor (handedness) development, I am reflecting some personal prejudice relating to anyone's sexual orientation? How so?

And LM, I appreciate your coming to my defense, but I'd rather that you had asked courtwatcher to say which of my "conjectures relating to law and policy" he had problems with and why. Then I might know what exactly he took issue with other than what he sees as "professional arrogance" on my part. I regret if it comes across to courtwatcher as "professional arrogance," especially since I claim a pretty minimal degree of professional expertise in this human sexuality stuff. I do know, however, how silly is some of Jon Rowe's pontificating on medical/scientific topics, especially neurologic ones like that about "brain chemistry," "wiring" or neural pathways, handedness, and language function. And I do think it funny to be told that one is only making appeals to authority, only to have the person saying it then cite for support the NY Times' perfume critic. Whatever said critic may know about olfaction and its consequences, he is misinformed about when most infants first show signs of handedness, which usually reflects cerebral dominance.

Guest12345, thank you too for coming to my defense ("Neurodoc is in all likelihood the most qualified poster in these threads to read and understand the research.") But I have relatively little knowledge about these questions concerning human sexuality and only stepped in to respond to some of Jon Rowe's attempts to liken how sexual orientation is determined to how handedness and language capacities develop, which I think is so misguided and misleading.

Jon D, blather away and others can judge whether there is anything to what you say or not for themselves. If you think I am wrong about something like how early in infancy handedness is usually apparent and Jon Rowe and his NY Times' perfume critic "authority" are right that it isn't evident until about 2 years of age, then you can look it up for yourself. Contradictory facts, if you can find them, do the most for purposes of rebuttal. (BTW, what exactly have I said that you take exception to?)
11.10.2008 12:07am
neurodoc:
Oh, I missed Randy R's last post in response to Guest12345. Seeing that we are really getting into the scientific high grass now, I think it time for me to leave the field to him, Jon D, and those others (Jon Rowe) with personal investments in this that I don't have.

Maybe another time we can talk more dispassionately and objectively about scientific evidence regarding sexual behavior like that coming from studies by Tom Insel (current head of NIMH) and others on voles. (Manipulation of small neuropeptides causing ordinarily monogamous species to be sexually promiscuous and vice versa.)
11.10.2008 12:15am
anon1029384756:
To Randy R.

The 'test' you suggest would still not constitute proof. Are you familiar with the concept of a fetish? Look, either there is a 'gay' gene or there isn't. If they ever find such a gene (something I seriously doubt...I mean, think about it, how would it propagate itself in the gene pool?), the person with the gene will be 'gay' regardless of their lifestyle be it a 'choice' or not.
11.10.2008 12:18am
Randy R. (mail):
Well, Neurodoc, perhaps from comments like this:

"A woman who is in a stable, ostensibly satisfactory marriage for years, with children in the course of it, later divorces and enters into a monogamous sexual relationship with another woman. Since you believe sexual orientation to be "immutable," you would conclude that she was faking it all along with the heterosexual mating or she can go either way (bisexual) or what?"

or this: "I only engaged here to say that human sexuality is too complex a phenomenon to be explained in the fashion you are going about it, and it is NOT a matter of simple A into B or A into C or whatever it is you would reduce it to, nor is it "immutable" as you would have it."

So homosexuality is not immutable? So than what it is? It can change? Just like prisoners who engage in homosexuality, and you can't understand why they are not gay if they engage in gay sex?

Your comments are very clear: You don't believe that homosexuality is immutable, which means that you believe it can change. You still haven't provided any evidence to back up your claim that it is not immutable. If I am wrong, please go ahead and correct me, and I will be happy to apologize.

"Maybe another time we can talk more dispassionately and objectively about scientific evidence regarding sexual behavior like that coming from studies by Tom Insel (current head of NIMH) and others on voles. "

Please do. I would like to see if voles choose to engage in homosexual behavior and why.
11.10.2008 12:34am
whiskey (mail):
Let's review, for 2,000 years, marriage has been defined in the West as one man and one woman.

A very few Gays want to change that. Toronto, in the ten years it has offered Gay Marriage, has seen 200 takers and about 8,000 polygamous marriages.

We are talking about changing the law, to allow Gay Marriage, to benefit no more than a thousand people IF THAT. Gays don't marry. They just don't. They have public sex festivals like the Folsom Street Fair as documented by "Zombie" at "Zombietime" but that's it. They only rarely get married, and there are very few gays or lesbians in the population.

Moreover, the Prop 8 advocates were correct, Churches WOULD lose their tax exempt status, people would go to jail for sermons, and kids WOULD BE FORCED to learn about Gay Marriage in schools. They have in other states.

This is all about Gays forcing other people to adhere to their wishes, and push the Gay Agenda of deconstructing the nuclear family. As a practical matter, Gay Marriage in EVERY OTHER PLACE has meant, Polygamy. It will also turn marriage as "gay" as Broadway and drive men even further from it.

Gays can and should have civil partnerships. But marriage is not so strong that "fixing" a non-existent problem will fail to make things immeasurably worse.

Gays taking it out on Mormons and Evangelicals is the part and purpose of the Gay Agenda anyway. That's the whole point.
11.10.2008 12:37am
Guest12345:
Randy R.:

I never said I didn't believe that homosexuality exists. I never said it should be "cured". I never said you weren't gay. All I'm doing is noting that you seem to choose to attack your opponents instead of debating them. You claim motivations for others that you have no possible way of knowing.

Your being attracted to males the entire time you've had any sexual identity says nothing about the reasons or causes. We can go around and ask person after person after person and it will never, ever provide a single bit of information as to reasons or causes.

Your attack that I quoted:
Of course, people like Neurodoc will say he knows you better than you do and make up his own mind without your input. But I prefer the more scientific approach.


Ends with an insinuation of a "scientific approach" based at least somewhat on "your input." It's not science. Where's the hypothesis? What's the experiment? What can be falsified in your hypothesis to provide a means of testing? Nothing. So it's not science. You just wanted to attack Neurodoc's credibility with claims that your approach/opinion was "more scientific", implying that his is bigoted or some has other irrational basis.

And your last paragraph:
So please, Guest, why is it so important to you to cling to this notion, against all evidence, that being gay is a choice? Does it make is easier on your conscience to hate gays for their choice than if it were something that is innate in them?


Classic Randy R. Attack. Make false claims. Make accusations. Excellent job. Does wonders to move the conversation forward.

(If I argued like you this would be the point where I'd ask "Why is it so important to you to cling to this notion, without any scientific evidence, that being gay isn't a choice? Does it make it easier to fight your shame at being gay and having pedophilic desires to bugger young boys?" See, I worked in all the elements. I implied you had some latent emotional need in the answer. I claimed you were ashamed without any possible way of actually knowing that. And I just pulled some disagreeable attitude from nowhere and built the question around it.)
11.10.2008 12:37am
Randy R. (mail):
Neurodoc: "Oh, I missed Randy R's last post in response to Guest12345. Seeing that we are really getting into the scientific high grass now, I think it time for me to leave the field to him.'

Perhaps instead of insulting me, you can address the issue that I raised, which is why do you completely discount the stated evidence of all gays regaridng their own sexuality? On what basis?

I'm sure most of us would be quite happy to have such a distinguished scientist explain that.

Anon: "The 'test' you suggest would still not constitute proof."

Perhaps not. But please give me better 'proof' that homosexuality is a choice. Or 'not immutable.'

That's all I'm asking for, Neurodoc, Anon, and Guest -- If you have ANY scientific evidence at all to support the notion that sexuality is just a choice for all or most humans, or even that it is not immutable, please enlighten us all. Otherwise, in the absense of proof, then I can apply Occam's Razor, which is that simplest explanation is usually the best. And in this case, the simplest explanation is that it is not a choice.

Or, if you can't come up with such evidence, then please show any evidence that demostrates that all gays are either lying or misinformed about themselves when they say that their sexuality is something that they cannot change.
11.10.2008 12:40am
Randy R. (mail):
Guest: "Your being attracted to males the entire time you've had any sexual identity says nothing about the reasons or causes. We can go around and ask person after person after person and it will never, ever provide a single bit of information as to reasons or causes. "

True. And as I stated above, none of us actually know the causes of sexual oreintation. However, saying that I was born gay is not stating the cause -- it is merely a statement that one is immutably gay. People with very dark skin have been saying that they were born that way for eons, without ever claiming that they know the cause of skin pigmentation. All they know is that their skin color was that way from birth, and there is nothing that they can do to change it.

I apologize if I put words in your mouth. but I just do not understand why this concept of innate sexuality is met with so much scepticism. It may end up that sexuality is NOT innate for every single person, but that does not mean that every single person can easily choose their sexuality.

It is also true I'm no scientist, so perhaps I should ask for scientific methods. But if you claim to be a scientist, you cannot just say, trust me because I just know the answer. You still have to produce evidence, something that no one has to support the notion that sexuality is not immutable.

in the absence of any evidence whatsoever to the contrary, then the best evidence regarding my sexuality is my testimony. If you have any thing better to prove that I am somehow wrong about myself, please bring if forth. But until then, don't tell me that I can change my sexuality, or even imply it.
11.10.2008 12:51am
Randy R. (mail):
Whiskey: " Gays don't marry. They just don't."

18,000 gay couples have gotten married in CA since this summer.

"They only rarely get married, and there are very few gays or lesbians in the population."

Then why are you so worried?

"Kids WOULD BE FORCED to learn about Gay Marriage in schools."

Actually, the kids learned about gay marriage by hearing all the ads on tv and radio from the Mormon church denouncing it. And what, btw, is wrong with kids learning about gay marriage?

"Gay Marriage in EVERY OTHER PLACE has meant, Polygamy. It will also turn marriage as "gay" as Broadway and drive men even further from it. But marriage is not so strong that "fixing" a non-existent problem will fail to make things immeasurably worse."

You mean straights have made a mess of marriage? People like you? And the one or two gay couples that get married will destroy this institution that is thousand of years old? And Massachusetts, Canada, Belgium, Norway, Spain, S. Africa and The Netherlands all allow polygamy?
11.10.2008 12:58am
Randy R. (mail):
Guest: "Classic Randy R. Attack. Make false claims. Make accusations. Excellent job. Does wonders to move the conversation forward."

I noticed your lack of indignation when comments like this are posted:

"This kind of selective memory for the past is as infantile as your perverted affections. For the rest of my life I intend to exercise my free speech rights to say that homosexual behavior is a perversion of nature and of God's law just like murder, stealing, marital infidelity and juvenile fornication."

It's really fun being compared to murderers and theives, and being called a pervert. And it doesn't help when people are saying that being gay (i.e., a pervert and a sinner) is just a choice, and so society shouldn't do anything to encourage such perversion. When anyone makes claims that sexuality isn't immutable, it gives fuel to these sorts of people, and that has a direct affect on me.

So sometimes I do take things a little personally precisely because it is highly personal to me. It's my rights on the chopping block, not yours, afterall.
11.10.2008 1:10am
David Warner:
DC,

I vote DC for SSM Czar.

Marriage itself was once an innovation. It has turned out well.

It is incumbent upon SSM advocates to recognize that SSM, too, is an innovation.

It is incumbent upon SSM opponents to recognize that traditions are collections of innovations that have worked.

It is incumbent upon both, and in the interest of both, to agree to criteria which the innovation of SSM must meet to be widely accepted and to fairly accept it once those criteria are met.
11.10.2008 1:27am
Guest12345:
Randy, I'm not trying to say anything about you except for the conversational approach I'm seeing lately. I've mainly lurked and occasionally posted here for a while and while I pretty much always disagree with you, I believe you are coming from a position of honesty and you're clearly quite intelligent.

I am definitely not an expert, but following the news over the years I've read reports (with the level of detail that you'd expect to find in the popular media) that go both ways on the issue. I think that for whatever reason, a person can honestly pick either side of the issue and there is no malice involved in the choice.

For what it's worth I believe that we have attributes that are not genetic or biological but none the less are not profitable to attempt to change.
11.10.2008 1:31am
John D (mail):
Guest12345

Maybe you could, oh, I don't know... read back over the last year or two of posts made by Neurodoc? Then you could decide if you believe his credentials or not. You'll find that he offended Kerr or Bernstein, but you'll also find that he seems to have a background in medicine. Or you could just go with your current antagonistic stance and start from the position that everyone who disagrees with you is a liar.


I've read them. And if I wanted to use them to determine if the current status of science suggested that sexuality is innate or immutable, i'd be out of luck.

I would join with Randy to ask Neurodoc to provide a clear thesis and specific evidence.
11.10.2008 1:38am
Karl R.:
There is a liberty, a right called freedom of association. No place in the USA are gays denied that right.

There is no such thing as an individual right to state licensed marriage. Marriage is an institution, society at its absolute discretion deciding that a particular defined relationship is worthy of recognition and support.

Those who favor legal, licensed gay marriage should get about the business of convincing their fellow citizens of its value. If and when you convince 50+% of voters, you'll have it.

Trying to force it upon society through the courts, insisting it is a right, is a psychologically disordered and infantile attempt to extort dishonest certificates of approval and recognition from a society that doesn't approve and prefers not to recognize.
11.10.2008 1:39am
Greg Q (mail) (www):
Dale,

More than a mere vote, protests communicate intensity of feelings.

So what?

They're valuable in a democracy.

No, they're utterly worthless, especially in a democracy.

Reason and logic matter. They can be shared with others. If your reason and logic is better than other's you can possibly convince them to change their minds.

Feelings are worthless. You feel strongly one way, a who bunch of people feel strongly the other. Now we're done. I'm not going to adopt your feelings any more than you're going to adopt mine. And a third party has no way of judging whose feelings are "better", whereas with logic than can do that.

Something incredibly precious was lost on Tuesday.
It's a trifecta, because you're wrong again. Something incredibly precious was gained Tuesday: The rule of law was restored. Four black robed thugs tromped on democracy, the Constitution, and the rule of law. Tuesday they and their foul deeds were repudiated. (SSM isn't the "foul deed", replacing the Constitution with their personal preferences is.)
11.10.2008 1:56am
MikeInSanDiego (mail):
The saddest part of all these protests is that it exposes the bigotry of the homosexual movement. Gay Marriage was never about "marriage"; it is about forcing society to accept homosexuality as normal. It isn't, and it will never be, no matter how much you threaten Mormons, or stand outside black churches and scream, "Nigger!"
11.10.2008 2:29am
Public_Defender (mail):
It's the Religious Right (including the Mormon Church) that should be reaching out. They barely eeked out a win in this battle, and society is shifting away from them. Looking back, the Religious Right is all too confident. They note that they have "won" most of the fights so far.

But the tide is turning. More and more people don't see why the children of same sex couples should be denied the protection of marriage. More and more gay couples are getting married where they can, and the sky isn't falling. More and more workplaces and social circles are hostile to openly anti-gay people.

Long term (maybe even medium term by now), the marriage equality forces are in a position of strength. Not too long from now, the people who opposed Proposition 8 will look like those who used to oppose interracial marriage or those who used to be openly anti-Semitic. Anti-gay people need to work hard to build bridges now if they don't want to end up as pariahs.
11.10.2008 6:11am
aloysiusmiller (mail):
Randy R If you left it up to me there wouldn't be any civil unions but I do recognize a persons right to make a private contract for mutual support and give medical power of attorney etc. Civil union was the camel's nose in the tent.
11.10.2008 8:45am
Cornellian (mail):

There is no such thing as an individual right to state licensed marriage. Marriage is an institution, society at its absolute discretion deciding that a particular defined relationship is worthy of recognition and support.


Society's "absolute discretion" once prohibited people from marrying someone of a different race.

Those who favor legal, licensed gay marriage should get about the business of convincing their fellow citizens of its value. If and when you convince 50+% of voters, you'll have it.


And on that standard, interracial marriage would probably still be illegal in Alabama.
11.10.2008 10:31am
ForMeItWasEasy:
Randy, I have seen this tactic used more than a few times: "....You mean straights have made a mess of marriage? ...."

When the left runs out of logical arguments, which is incredibly quickly in most cases, they try to shift the focus. "Marriage" isn't a mess made by anyone. It is a commitment and many, if not most people these days don't have a clue what the term "commitment" means. As soon as anything goes wrong or gets a little tough, they run away rather than try to fix it. I have been married for over 20 years and I can tell you it wasn't the easiest thing in the world to do, but I DO understand the word "commitment" and all of its implications. Not to be outdone, I spent over 25 years in our military as well. Again, I know what the word "commitment" means.

So even the attempt to shift focus is a dismal failure. It isn't the marriage institution that is messed up. So please stay on topic and quite trying to alter the conversation by shifting focus to vainly attempt to shame people. Use some logic and proofs.
11.10.2008 10:42am
Randy R. (mail):
Guest: "I've mainly lurked and occasionally posted here for a while and while I pretty much always disagree with you, I believe you are coming from a position of honesty and you're clearly quite intelligent."

Thank you. I know I sometimes get a bit emotional, but that happens when you see some of the hateful comments directed at us. It's no excuse to hate back, but sometimes it's difficult.

"I am definitely not an expert, but following the news over the years I've read reports (with the level of detail that you'd expect to find in the popular media) that go both ways on the issue. I think that for whatever reason, a person can honestly pick either side of the issue and there is no malice involved in the choice."

But it isn't for a person to pick a side as to whether homosexuality is a choice or innate. The only 'news' i've ever seen about it being a choice has originated from anti-gay website and people like Mr. Cameron (who had his license to practice psychiatry revoked recenlty).

Yes, there is a lot of research done on sexual orientation and why one person is gay and another isn't (and where bi-s fit in), but I haven't seen anything to suggest that it's a choice, like choosing red or white for dinner. But that's what I'm asking -- come up with *anything* at all that suggest it does, and I'll be happy to consider it. Until then, the evidence is way too strong on the side of innateness to just dismiss it out of hand.
11.10.2008 10:48am
ForMeItWasEasy:
Cornellian: ".....And on that standard, interracial marriage would probably still be illegal in Alabama....."

Uh, in case you haven't noticed, greater than 50 percent of the people of this country voted a black man president. Even Alabama had a large percentage of people voting for a black man to be president. The others were voting for a woman on the other side. There was no espcaping the reult, no matter which way it went. Cut the "people" some slack. They have and continue to make strides that are apparently way beyond your 1950's thinking.

Still, you are trying to assume gay is a protected class which it apparently isn't, yet. It may never be. Your comparison is apples and oranges. Interracial marriage isn't even slightly akin to SSM, according to the law.
11.10.2008 10:57am
Randy R. (mail):
Formeitwaseasy: "So even the attempt to shift focus is a dismal failure. It isn't the marriage institution that is messed up."

They why do the defenders of marriage keep saying that it's in trouble? And that if gays are allowed to get married, it will destroy marriage?

" Use some logic and proofs."

Okay, I will. 18,000 gay couples got married in the past few months in CA. Did it affect your marriage in anyway? Mass. has had gay marriage since 2002. Has that fact affected marriage in any way? Has it been harmed in any way? I see none — straight people are still getting married in both states, having children and raising them.

" DO understand the word "commitment" and all of its implications." Perhaps you do, but obviously with a divorce rate of about 50%, many straight people do not. So if marriage is in trouble, why not put the blame where it belongs, on straight people?

And if you DO understand the word commitment, then why can't you believe that gay people do too? Surely, those 18,000 couples understand commitment, as many of them have been together for many years.

You challenged me to use logic and proof — now I challenge you to do the same. Please show any demonstrated harm to straight people in general or to marriage in particular that has occured in the jurisidictions where gay marriage is allowed, which include CA, Mass, Canada, Norway, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain and S. Africa.

and yet, there is plenty of benefits. Just as people argue that children deserve to have married parents instead of divorced, or just living together, so it is with gay parents who have children. They benefit from having married parents. If you disagree, then please provide proof and logic to show that either they are harmed or at least not benefited from having married parents.
11.10.2008 10:58am
ForMeItWasEasy:
Randy: "...then why can't you believe that gay people do too? ..."

What makes you think I don't? For a group that is supposed to be so very understanding, etc, you do indeed place people in little boxes. In my case, you are utterly and completely wrong. Let me explain:

First, I think "don't ask, don't tell" was a HUGE cop-out for the savior of democracy, Clinton. HE promised one thing and delivered THAT! What a crock. I don't think of the military as a place for social experiments, BUT gay folks have been in the military since time began, so who cares? I didn't. Well before don't ask, I found a corpsman in compromising situation and did NOT turn him in. I could have, that is for sure. Instead, he confided in me his orientation and that was that. *I* knew, so it couldn't be used against him by anyone. HE was the best corpsman I ever knew and he saved more than one of my guy's lives. This example is by no means unusual.

So don't peg me as some sort of homophobe, not that it matters one way or the other. I made it quite clear, on the other thread, why I voted the way I did and that is the ONLY reason I voted that way. Rights are rights. It isn't a one-way street. That was and is and will be the only reason I vote against or for anyone's right (as they see it).

Under no circumstance do I think your marriage would be harmful to the institution. As to how long a SSM would last, in reality? That has to be seen. I am pretty sure that homosexuals aren't any better or worse than any other group when it comes to commitment-keeping.
11.10.2008 11:32am
ForMeItWasEasy:
Randy, permit me to modify my "any other group" statement. ANY group, SSM included, has to be better than hollywood..... straight or gay hollywood. With a near 100 percent divorce rate, anyone has to be better than them. So I intentionally exclude them from my comments about "other groups." :)
11.10.2008 11:49am
CM Henri (mail):
All well and good Dale, but religion IS the problem. I admire the protesters who are attacking what is the true ill.

We already know where Civil Disobedience got protesters back in the San Fran marriage debacle.

Grow a pair. None of this would be a problem without the religious bigots black, white or brown.
11.10.2008 12:34pm
Randy R. (mail):
formeitwaseasy: "So don't peg me as some sort of homophobe,"

I didn't mean to, and I didn't say you were. But you did say that you know what commitment means. Usually when a person emphasises a particular point with caps, they do so to contrast themselves with the other point of view. If I midjudged, my apologies.

I applaud your actions in the military, and certainly am glad that you found that the sexual orientation of a person didn't matter to you. It shouldn't. As Barry Goldwater said, it should only matter whether you can shoot straight, not be straight.

"Under no circumstance do I think your marriage would be harmful to the institution. As to how long a SSM would last, in reality? That has to be seen. I am pretty sure that homosexuals aren't any better or worse than any other group when it comes to commitment-keeping"

On this, we totally agree. So I just curious -- what's the big problem?
11.10.2008 1:07pm
ForMeItWasEasy:
Randy, for me it wasn't a big problem. Oh, when I use caps, it is generally to emphasize a particular word nothing more. More often than not, I use them to make sure the word isn't missed. I could probably do something else cuz I don't want people to think I am yelling when I am not :) :)

Ok, back to *my* particular point. It has everything to do with support for my (and yours, whether you want it or not) second amendment rights. As I mentioned on an earlier thread, I am a bit tired of voting in favor of a particular group of folks and have them stab me in the back, figuratively of course, by electing anti-second people. So for me, it is really and truly that simple. Boxer and Feinstein are RABID anti-second people and they keep getting voted into office.

To me, a right is a right. So if people want me to vote for theirs (which I actually have without fail til this time), they need to trade the favor. A right is a right. You let one go, they are ALL gone. If you want to add one, we need to protect those that exist. If the only way, in my little way, I can make that visible is to put it this way, then so be it.

Believe me, that was not an easy decision for me to make, either. Unlike my screen name, it wasn't really all that easy. (Affidavits not necessary, as I said earlier..... it will be obvious when the gay voting block goes pro-second.... B &F, and anyone like them, will be gone..... period).

Call it extortion, and you might be right...... but I can say the same the other way around. Every four years, I have to be concerned with how many other ways my right will be infringed (and it has been infringed much). This time around especially so. Obama and Biden are the two MOST rabid anti-second people in Washington, bar none. Given how gays feel about mormons these recent days, it would be like Mitt Romney being elected in your eyes..... "OMG, what ELSE will go wrong?"

Ok, I don't want to drag this topic into the world of second amendment arguments. There are other threads for that. But I just wanted folks to know that by supporting something a rather large group of people care about fervently, may just buy something YOU want in return. I cannot guarantee that, of course, but you could easily make the point that YOUR support deserves something in return. As I said in an earlier post, why do people think "riders" are put on bills in congress? To make them more palatable maybe? You bet! :)
11.10.2008 1:53pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"You don't believe that homosexuality is immutable, which means that you believe it can change."

I'm not sure that holds. I don't believe homosexuality is immutable, nor do I believe it can change. I don't know, and have no basis to believe either alternative. Nor do I feel compelled to adopt a belief. There are many thngs I don't know; this is one of them.
11.10.2008 1:54pm
John D (mail):
A further thought on civil disobedience

Our beef is not with the California government.

The legislature voted for marriage equality twice.

The court has found in our favor.

The governor says that he thinks Prop 8 should be struck by the courts as discriminatory.

The marriage equality advocates have no complaint with the California government. I think it would be counterproductive to make things difficult for them.

Should we really protest against the people who agree with us?

I think it's better to remind religious groups that if you get too involved with rough and tumble of politics you can't back out with the claim that you're just interested in the religious life of your membership. Too late now.
11.10.2008 1:54pm
ForMeItWasEasy:
Randy, dang I forgot to mention something. When I am talking about voting someone in or out, I am NOT talking about a preferred party. While republicans are generally pro-second more often than dems, there are some notable dems who are pro-second. The reason being that they are, in my humble opinion, JFK-type dems. They believe in rights..... all of them.... period.

When it comes to rights, and the second-amendment in particular (because it is the one that is under the heaviest attack at the moment), I am a *single issue" voter. I, for the most part, like many of the social things dems are in favor of. But, they lose my vote for that simple reason I mentioned. I am, by no means, the only one who thinks this way by a very long shot (no pun intended).

Anyway, I was meaning to let you know that I am speaking to rights only. Those who support ALL of them and those who don't. I have no place for those who don't and, in fact, they are domestic enemies of the US Constitution in my eyes. But that is another story :)
11.10.2008 2:05pm
UmYeahRight (mail):
"Finally, Mormon temples are rarely used religious structures. Most worship takes place elsewhere. The temple protests are street theater. No one is being threatened. "

Not true. Temples are used 6 days a week and draw from a wide area. Local churches are used 2-3 days a week and draw from a local area. There are probably 100-200 local churches for every temple. More people will worship at a Temple per day than at a local church house. The two are used for different types of worship. A typical member may attend their local church 6-12 times a month where they may attend the temple once a month. But again the temple will draw members from hundreds of local churches.

First seek to understand before being understood.
11.10.2008 2:09pm
Aidan Dunn (mail):
I wrote a blog entry addressing a similar issue:

Why I'm not at the Mormon Temple protest today
Posted by Aidan Dunn on November 9, 2008 at 4:21pm
http://queertoday.ning.com/profiles/ blogs/why-im-not-at-the-mormon
11.10.2008 2:16pm
rickster:
Down from the Ivory Tower:

Do you expect us to just shut up and give them a pass because their homophobia is supposedly based on a couple gold plates Joseph Smith claims to have dug up in his backyard? Please.


Actually, Mormon "homophobia" (as you call it) comes from the Bible, an authority common to all Christianity. The Book of Mormon doesn't touch on the topic.
11.10.2008 2:31pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

And on that standard, interracial marriage would probably still be illegal in Alabama.


Also, I think that if you use the standard that gay marriage would not be common enough to be "normal" enough to deserve protection, I would point out that interracial marriage still accounts for somewhere less than 3% of marriages in this country.....
11.10.2008 2:55pm
Perseus (mail):
Something incredibly precious was gained Tuesday: The rule of law was restored. Four black robed thugs tromped on democracy, the Constitution, and the rule of law.

Don't forget the despots in the California state legislature, who tried to override Prop. 22 despite the state constitution's clear prohibition of any repeal/modification of a voter-approved initiative by the state legislature.
11.10.2008 3:45pm
Greg Q (mail) (www):
And on that standard, interracial marriage would probably still be illegal in Alabama.

14th Amendment ring a bell? How about the US Civil War? Or are you just utterly ignorant of US History?

When someone passes a US or State Constitutional Amendment specifically for the purpose of banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, then you can legitimately compare SSM to interracial marriage.

Until then, doing so just demonstrates your utter dishonesty, ignorance, and lack of seriousness.

(Here's a little hint: how many societies have had interracial marriages? How many have had SSM? Go back 40 years, and look backwards in time. See any SSM? No? Gee, does that perhaps tell you something about its status as a "fundamental" right?)
11.10.2008 5:24pm
Anatid:
Let's take a quick look at the institution of marriage.

Almost universally, cultures develop some form of marriage. This form of formalized pair-bonding will vary depending on the cultural and geographical needs of the environment - for example, the Bedouin, trying to survive in a harsh region with scanty survival resources, found it advantageous to practice cousin- and multiple-marriage. Several Inuit tribes, before contact with the West, found it most stable for a woman to take two husbands, with them fishing and hunting while she maintained the home. An island tribe in the South Pacific, for reasons of population control, had young adult hunters take boys as brides and teach them to hunt, and would take female brides to start a family later in life. Even the ancient Athenians, who made a massive contribution to Western philosophy and reasoning, found it socially convenient to allow married men to take adolescent boys as lovers while introducing them to political and social life.

Throughout human history, a staggering number of variations on the "one man and one woman share resources and make babies" idea have cropped up, been considered normal, and been successful. And in no small number of them, homosexual practices coexisted with marriage without families crumbling.

Despite the fact that modern scientific evidence suggests the incidence of homosexuality/bisexuality is around 3-10%, there have been cultures with a substantially higher level of homosexual behavior. To argue that our American version of marriage is "the" institution of marriage is incredibly shortsighted. I'd even argue that trying to examine the definition of homosexuality and homosexual behavior that is used in American culture as "the" model is dangerous.

In summary:
-Sexual orientation is not binary, and is largely, if not entirely, immutable.
-Sexual behavior can express in wildly different ways depending on culture, situation, and other contextual factors.
-Humans have defined marriage and other long-term relationships in many, many different ways.

There is no single, objective definition of marriage that can be applied to all human situations, so please stop trying to argue that any one definition is best suited for the entire species. We need a definition that is most socially advantageous. What advantages does American marriage bring to our society? Stability and protection for families. Will permitting gay marriage help or hinder us from reaching those goals any more than straight marriage will?



Neurodoc: Why do you mention the vole study? The vole study noted the connection between oxytocin and promiscuity, with no particular connection to homosexuality. Also, oxytocin does not appear to be a hormone particularly implicated in fetal development of sexual preference areas.

Perseus: I understand you have a problem with the families of gay workers receiving benefits if SSM is granted. How is this different from the families of straight workers receiving benefits? (Does the argument still work if the straight couple is childfree? How about if the gay couple adopts and/or has a surrogate?)
11.10.2008 6:45pm
I. Justus:
If a wealthy social conservative put Proposition 8 on the ballot, and religious institutions largely funded the campaign, why should those of us who are upset with the result be having sit-ins at civic buildings, as you suggest? The government of California didn't take away our rights, and they can't give them back. The voters, influenced largely by places of worship and the campaign they funded, took away our rights. Therefore, targeting those institutions is both logical and right.

For too many years, activists on both sides of the political spectrum have confused and conflated "free speech" with a lack of accountability. Free speech is protected by our constitution, and political donations are considered an extension of our right to free speech. However, free speech does not exempt an individual from being taken to task for what they said, or for where they gave money.

Therefore, I will be picketing churches that urged Yes votes and donations until further notice. And I will be advocating boycotts of any and all businesses that directly supported or endorsed Proposition 8.
11.10.2008 7:23pm
Bob C. (mail):
I understand the idea of redirecting the anger away from religious institutions. But. The reality is that the LDS and Catholic church, by their structure, ordered their congregants to participate in the defeat of Prop. 8. They try to sidestep this simple fact, but the reality of their organizations show them to be neck-high in the political process. Personally, I'd like to see 20,000 descend on SLC during the April 4-5, 2009 General Conference. It should be peaceful, but they should see the faces of the people whom they attacked. They need to know they attacked me, my husband, and our family. They need to know that we're not going to just shrug our shoulders and walk this off. Like my sign at the recent rallies says, "NO MORE MR. NICE GAY." I will follow Mormon Missionaries around my neighborhood and tell people with whom they try to speak about the hypocricy of their church. I was happy to live and let live, but when the Mormon and other religious institutions (and I'm a died in the wool cradle Episcopalian, and we regularly go to church)start interfering with my personal life, my happiness and my family, Game On!
11.10.2008 7:39pm
LM (mail):
Randy R.,

Yes, there is a lot of research done on sexual orientation and why one person is gay and another isn't (and where bi-s fit in), but I haven't seen anything to suggest that it's a choice, like choosing red or white for dinner. But that's what I'm asking -- come up with *anything* at all that suggest it does, and I'll be happy to consider it. Until then, the evidence is way too strong on the side of innateness to just dismiss it out of hand.

Here's where I think you do yourself a disservice. As you do here, you often seem to conflate or confuse (I assume unintentionally) origins/cause, mutability and choice. Whether or not sexual orientation is innate, it could logically be either mutable or immutable. Immutability would preclude choice, but mutability would neither require nor preclude it. And like mutability, choice/no choice says nothing about innateness (the example in your comment, above).

FWIW, I'm as uninformed on the science (hard and social) as someone who reads a fair amount of general news and social commentary can be. I credit as honest the consistent testimony from dozens of gay friends and acquaintances and thousands I've never met that they had no conscious part in determining their orientation. I see no reason to believe otherwise. And as far as I'm concerned, that alone should settle most if not all questions about morality and equal rights for reasonable, compassionate people.

The other areas (causation and mutability) seem very much an open question. All we can say with certainty is that neither innateness nor immutability has been disproven. So far, so good. There are some early signs pointing toward innate causes, but even if proven conclusively, they wouldn't preclude additional extrinsic determinants. (And mutability seems to be in an even more primitive stage of exploration.)

More important, I'd think, than where all this preliminary data may lead is why you'd concede it matters. If it turned out that sexual orientation was determined by the color of your mother's shoes or her favorite TV show, would you admit any less right to equal treatment than if there's a determinative gay gene? If it wasn't your choice, nothing else should matter, and it seems you risk a lot by pinning hopes and arguments on events unknown.

But that's all beside my purpose for this comment. And that was just to suggest that if you're going to exchange on these causation and mutability issues, you probably ought to be a little more meticulous about how you refer to and distinguish among them.
11.10.2008 7:54pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

-Sexual orientation is not binary, and is largely, if not entirely, immutable.


Okay fine. But for some folks it is immutable. Again race seems a telling analogy; race is not binary; it exists on a continuum. And for some folks at one end of the continuum they are so black they have no chance of "passing." But for some folks in the middle (Obama, Colin Powell, Thomas Jefferson's relatives) they can indeed "pass" as
not black. Whether they embrace a black identity or "something else" IS a meaningful choice.

What about folks like Randy for whom his homosexuality is immutable? And what if Randy's immutable homosexual orientation represents the overwhelming majority of homosexuals who say "I'm gay."
11.10.2008 8:01pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
All this is thrilling for professional fund-raisers (aka "suits"). This degree of widespread emotional heat and silly direction could not be better evidence that there are a whole lot of people who will contribute money towards their cause without expecting anything like results (gasp!) for it.

Heaven forbid that these marks, err, contributors!, should expect accountability when they are so undiscipined themselves. There was a reason why the No On Prop. 8 folks carefully excluded these guys from power and worse, public visibility in the campaign.

But, since winning and losing are no longer issues, why now is the time to vent, to paint yourself blue and howl at the moon concerning The Injustice Of It All.

And there are these fine people in suits who promise that they will make everything right if you just give them money. They will make certain that the issue stays visible, and its proponents get lots of exposure expressing their issues, so nothing happens which might inhibit the flow of contributions from generous marks, err, justifiably aggrieved people, to deserving suits who perpetually promise that the Big Rock Candy Mountain Is Just Around The Corner.
11.10.2008 8:10pm
Anatid:
John, what specifically are you asking?

I said that "Sexual orientation is [...] largely, if not entirely, immutable." To the best of my knowledge, true sexual orientation is completely immutable, determined during fetal development (see the MRI study that shows regions of the male homosexual brain that appear near-identical to the corresponding region of the female heterosexual brain when exposed to male musk odors, for example).

I just didn't want to phrase my point quite that strongly, since this is still an emerging field of research, and new evidence towards mutability might conceivably emerge. That's all.

As for Randy ... he says he never made a choice, and who are we to question him? But if a member of an ex-gay organization swears he successfully made the full conversion from gay to straight, are we allowed to question him? My personal feeling is that such a person is doing an excellent job of living in denial, but if we accept Randy's testimony, then we also have to accept opposing testimonies until we start backing up the evaluation with science.
11.10.2008 9:00pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"I understand you have a problem with the families of gay workers receiving benefits if SSM is granted. How is this different from the families of straight workers receiving benefits? (Does the argument still work if the straight couple is childfree? How about if the gay couple adopts and/or has a surrogate?)"

Your post quite correctly pointed out all the varying forms of marriage that have existed. I'd suggest our benefit system was designed with one form in mind, that being the mother/father/child with the father working and mother staying home with kids.

The further we move from that particular model, and we can move quite far from it even with marrage restricted to male/female, the more outdated and often silly the benefit system becomes. People realize this at different points along the scale. For many, the light goes on at SSM, even though the system has outlived its efficiency without any help from SSM.
11.10.2008 9:05pm
Perseus (mail):
There is no single, objective definition of marriage that can be applied to all human situations, so please stop trying to argue that any one definition is best suited for the entire species. We need a definition that is most socially advantageous.

Your argument directly contradicts the claim that marriage is a "fundamental right" (adopted by various courts) since fundamental rights are eternal. Under the more utilitarian view that you seem to advocate, by contrast, if a regime finds SSM or any number of possible arrangments disadvantageous at any given time, then it would be perfectly legitimate for the government to refuse to grant such unions civil recognition. I agree with that more utilitarian view.

I understand you have a problem with the families of gay workers receiving benefits if SSM is granted. How is this different from the families of straight workers receiving benefits? (Does the argument still work if the straight couple is childfree? How about if the gay couple adopts and/or has a surrogate?)

Yes, the argument does still work since I've already stated that I have no principled objection to restricting marriage to couples with children or are of child-bearing age (with some sort of time limit to procreate). That is basically the approach taken in Plato's Laws.
11.10.2008 9:12pm
Anatid:
Perseus:

Your argument directly contradicts the claim that marriage is a "fundamental right" (adopted by various courts) since fundamental rights are eternal.

I would hesitate to try and find any satisfactory definition of "fundamental rights" that can be applied across contexts. My discussion examined marriage more as an institution than a right.

It is perfectly reasonable to expect that no matter when and how SSM eventually becomes normalized, eventually the social pendulum will swing and some group will see fit to strip away again that civil right and plenty of other civil rights. Whether or not this is a legitimate practice is regardless to the fact that it is more than likely occur. For example, if we discard the outdated systems that you and Elliot have discussed, you could argue that we are legitimately stripping away secular marriage from everyone. The models for marriage and civil unions themselves could change entirely. Who knows?

Yes, the argument does still work since I've already stated that I have no principled objection to restricting marriage to couples with children or are of child-bearing age (with some sort of time limit to procreate).

Do you see any utility in marriage other than procreative benefits? The entire fight over Prop 8 seems to be an emotional argument on both sides for the use of a symbolic title, not an economic debate, so clearly they see some other benefit. From your perspective, it sounds like it might be best to separate the two functions: perform civil unions for civic purposes (although why not give benefits to a long-term husband or wife even if they don't have kids?) and leave the symbolic act of marriage, in whatever form the couple chooses, as a religious ceremony.
11.10.2008 9:31pm
Karl R.:
Re; Gay marriage ban = interracial marriage ban.

The race laws in question didn't ban all interracial marriage, only marriage between a black person and a white person.

The Supreme Court held that these laws violated the Fourteenth Amendment. Pleas by gays to the same court on the same grounds were rejected "for want of substantial federal question."

If the Supreme Court held marriage to be a Constitutionally protected individual right for consenting adults, it would eliminate laws preventing incestuous marriage and polygamous marriage as well. I don't expect such a ruling any time soon.
11.11.2008 1:08am
Chairm (mail):
The No on 8 side benefited from a blatantly biased newsmedia which had virtually every major news outlet (tv and print) framing the arguments in the pro-SSM way.

The one-sexed arrangement was not banned, not prohibited, not outlawed. Yet that is how this story has been reported far and wide -- before, during, and in the aftermath of the campaign.

The newsmedia probably delivered 5-10% points for the No side.

The arbitrary re-write of the amendment title also was designed to gain 5-10% points for the No side.

The judiciary rushed to declare the man-woman criterion of marriage to be unconstitutional -- prior to the Nov 4th vote -- and then refused to stay its decision until after the upcoming vote -- all for political effect. Then people rushed to SSM even though the vote was pending.

All theatrics. And all were part of the campaign to defeat the marriage amendment. The identity politics that happens to be gaycentric was on full display. It was not a civil rights movement. It attacked the principles of our form of government -- including the legislative attempt to over-ride the 2000 decision by the People to explicitly affirm the man-woman criterion in the marriage statute. More theatrics followed.

Forget the civil disobedience stuff. That's just another game of dress-up. It would just be more phoney baloney nonesense.

In the name of civil rights you invoke the profoundly flawed racist analogy. That analogy backfires because upon examination it becomes very clear that the racist identity filter has much in common with the gay identity filter: both would use marriage to press identity politics into constitutional jurisprudence, into marriage law, into obstructing liberties. Both selectively segregated the sexes; both propose a direct affront to the contingency for responsible procreation. Both would use marriage for a tyrannical nonmarriage purppose.

* * *

According to the exit poll at CNN, GLB voters and nonreligious voters who supported Proposition 8 may have delivered the margin of victory for the marriage amendment.
11.11.2008 1:45am
Chairm (mail):
GLB and Nonreligious voters helped pass California's Protect Marriage amendment?


The final vote tally on Proposition 8 was Yes 52% to No 48%.

The margin of victory on the marriage amendment is 2% (i.e. 50% to reject - 48% against = 2% margin). In other words, to defeat the proposition, the No side needed one vote more than 50% of the total but fell short by 2%.

According to the exit poll, 5% of voters in California were GLB voters and 95% were non-GLB (or "straight") voters.

This indicates that of all the votes cast on the marriage amendment, 44% were No votes cast by non-GLB people.

But what about the GLB votes?

The GLB sample is very small, however, the poll results suggest that of all the votes cast, 1% were Yes votes from GLB people and 4% were No votes cast by GLB people. The GLB voters may have split 1 Yes for every 4 No.

The upshot is that it appears that GLB voters supplied about one-half of the margin of victory for the Yes side.


coninued ...
11.11.2008 1:48am
LM (mail):

The judiciary rushed to declare the man-woman criterion of marriage to be unconstitutional

Yeah, those damn anti-Christian Republican Supreme Court Justices.
11.11.2008 2:41am
Chairm (mail):
You'll have to be more specific.

Of the 7 justices, to whom are your referring? And which way did they cast their votes?

And why have you added "ani-Christian" to your quip if not to emphasize your anti-Christian bigotry?

By the by, on 4-Nov-2008, more Democrats and Independents, combined, voted for the Protect Marriage Amendment than did Republicans. Likewise more liberals and moderates, combined, than conservatives. Same is true across the country on the total votes cast on marriage initiatives -- the Yes side cuts across partisan and ideological lines.

The pro-SSM side does too, but you also have your hardcore segments.

Yet, as I noted above, the margin of victory (i.e. 2%) may have been delivered by the nonreligious voters and the approximately 1-in-5 GLB voters who supported the amendment.
11.11.2008 3:06am
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Anatid,

I'm not disagreeing with you; although I think you describe male homosexual orientation and perhaps some forms of female homosexual orientation. There does seem to be a different kind of wavering lesbian/bisexual orientation that seems more psychologically driven; I'm thinking of Anne Heche, Lindsey Lohan, and Cynthia Nixon as celeb examples. They all seem to be "lipstick" lesbian in appearance. All have been with men and Heche has gone back (as Lohan probably will). But they all seem to be with more masculine, non-wavering lesbians as well. I wouldn't be surprised if Ellen DeGeneres or Mellisa Etheridge was "born that way"; but some of their partners it seems, were not.
11.11.2008 8:57am
Parenthetical:
Chairm,

the No side needed one vote more than 50% of the total but fell short by 2%.
* * *
The upshot is that it appears that GLB voters supplied about one-half of the margin of victory for the Yes side.

Actually, the upshot is that you cannot say anything meaningful about the GLB vote from the exit poll. Note that the exit poll didn't attempt to (no breakdown of the GLB data included).

For example, the exit poll also suggests that it is mathematically possible that the GLB vote contributed -0.4% to the margin of victory. Obviously, that's not actually possible; no one can cast a negative "yes" vote.

To the degree that the exit poll was a faithful description of how the electorate voted, the most the GLB vote might have contributed to the outcome was about 1.8% (assume a slightly larger proportion [5.4%] of the electorate was GLB and one third of those voters cast a "yes" vote).

Neither extreme is plausible.

I'm sure some fraction of the roughly half million GLB voters cast a "yes" vote. Aside from those voters who didn't understand the effect of a "yes" vote, supporters of same-sex marriage should concentrate their efforts elsewhere.

The non-religious straight voter is certainly a sensible place to begin.
11.11.2008 12:39pm
hazemyth:
A lot of my friends who are upset with the LDS Church's campaigning efforts have called that their tax exempt status be revoked as a consequence of their participation in the political process. I disagree. While it seems reasonable to me that there should be certain barriers between churches and political campaigning (say, candidates using churches as unofficial campaign centers), the LDS Church's actions seem to me, if deplorable, nonetheless permissable, in a secular society. I don't however understand the legal relation between separation-of-church-and-state and churches' status as tax exempt entities, if any. Can anyone help clarify this for me so I can articulate my position in more legal terms?
11.11.2008 12:42pm
Chairm (mail):
Parenthetical, as I said, the GLB sample is very small.

I said the GLB may have provided 1% to the Yes side, not the nearly 2% that you said would be extreme.

But more importantly, do you think that it is implausible that 1 of 5 GLB voters supported the marriage amendment? Whether yes, why? If no, what ratio do you think would be plausible? Are you basing this on something other than the exit poll data?

Likewise, the nonreligous voters, according to the SSM campaign, ought to be natural No's and yet about the same ratio of 1:5 voted Yes.

Again the sample is very small and, as your comment suggested, the margin of error is high also.

Is it healthy in politics to presume that these segments of the electorate are monolithic? I don't think so.
11.11.2008 1:10pm
Parenthetical:
Chairm,

Studying attitudes in the gay community is exceptionally difficult. One thing is abundantly clear: the gay vote is not monolithic.*

Setting aside voter error, I would expect the ratio of gay-voter support for Prop 8 to be much less than 1:10. How much less is really going out on limb. My moist-finger-in-the-wind guesstimate would be in the neighborhood of 1:60 with a huge margin of error.

That ratio is, frankly, pure conjecture. To the degree that it's informed by anything real (or reliable), it is a mash-up of:

1) Proportion of very religiously conservative (but still "out") gay adults
2) Proportion of radical queers who object to assimilation (and marriage is about the most offensive thing they can conceive of polluting their notion of queerdom)
3) Throw in a handful of other categories (a libertarian dedication to stopping all marriage madness, fear of backlash, etc.)
4) Temper all that by the circumstance (taking something away from people they probably know well; this factor strongly militates against a "yes" vote even in the broader electorate).

Ultimately, we'll never know. It's just too hard to measure.

I just believe that 1:5 is an implausibly high level of support for the LGB voter.

The straight nonreligious voter includes plenty of people who overlap some of the factors above (minus sexual orientation). It also includes a healthy proportion who do not attend services but can't support SSM because it's too icky, too weird, too presumptuous (okay, two of those categories also overlap the factors above).

Of course, the straight religious voting block also includes many who support SSM--certainly beyond the number of gay religious voters.

* Mark Hertzog wrote a fascinating book, The Lavender Vote: Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals in American Electoral Politics (NYU Press, 1996). He examined a variety of research (including exit polls) in early 1990s. The power of the descriptive statistics are, of course, limited by the difficulty of studying the LGB community. Regardless, there were some intriguing observations.
11.11.2008 1:54pm
LM (mail):
Chairm:

Of the 7 justices, to whom are your referring? And which way did they cast their votes?

As you could hardly avoid knowing, spending as much time on this controversy as you apparently have, three of the four justices in the majority (Ron George, Joyce Kennard and Kathryn Werdegarare) are Republicans.

And why have you added "ani-Christian" (sic) to your quip if not to emphasize your anti-Christian bigotry?

The sole point of my "quip" was obvious: It's far fetched to claim without any evidence that three Republican judges conspired for political ends to stick their thumb in the eye of Republican based, conservative Christian activist groups that oppose SSM. I neither said nor implied anything about the groups themselves (with which I sometimes agree), much less about Christians generally. But thanks for the gratuitous accusation of bigotry.
11.11.2008 5:42pm
Randy R. (mail):
formeitwaseasy: "I am a bit tired of voting in favor of a particular group of folks and have them stab me in the back, figuratively of course, by electing anti-second people. So for me, it is really and truly that simple."

Are you aware of the Pink PIstols? It's a national group of gays who are gun owners. They are apparently fairly popular at Rebpulican conventions.

As I've stated before, if there is a person who claims to be ex-gay, I will not tell them that they are wrong and no longer ex-gay. (I don't particularly care about those people in fact, as usually are gays who think that celebacy and the closet are better options that being gay. Weird, I know, but it's not MY problem).

As for the mutable, immutable argument, I'm not a scientist, so I can't really speak to that issue. I was taught that immutable characteristics are things like hair color or skin color -- you have no control over them, and you can't change them. If that's the defintion, then sexual orientation falls under that category.

As for the *cause* of orientation, no one really knows for sure. Some say it's genetic. Some say it's set in the womb with certain hormones and call that environmental. Some say it isn't set until after birth. So we can't even be sure when orientation is set! But we do know that it is set by at least the age of 7. (Some say early). But there is no disagreement among scholars that it is set by 7, and that after that, it simply cannot be changed.

Now, there are a great many people who are bisexual. Therefore, one person may swing from one side to another at different times in their life. They might be able to repress one side. But that is a matter of behavior, not orientaiton. (I believe most people who claim to be ex-gays fall into this category).

So why is this so important? For several reasons. First, people are afraid of homosexuality -- they are afraid that their kids will see two guys kissing, or learn about gay marriage in school, and then decide that they want to be gay. For these people, I want to say, chill. Most people are NOT homosexuals, and the chances of your child being one isn't very great. And if they are not gay, then you can show them all the gay porn that you want, and it will not influence them. So hopefully, that will disarm a lot of our opponents. (It was certainly a tactic used in the Prop 8 campaign).

Second, if your child IS gay, there is nothing you can do about it except accept it. Therefore, save your thousands of dollars on useless therapy and instead let your gay son help you pick out a better wardrobe and redecorate your house. You will be much better for it, and all will be happier.

Third, religious groups and other anti-gay people seem to think that if you grant us rights, it makes homosexuality for 'acceptable' in society. And if that happens, more people will 'choose' homosexuality. Again, you can give us superior rights, like we always get to the head of the line for popular movies and free popcorn, but that isn't going to encourage anyone to be gay. Why? Because it's not a choice.

So -- my belief is that if people understand it's not a choice, that takes away just about all their fears about us, and that paves the way for greater acceptance and rights.

Finally, I notee that I and others have called upon Neurodoc (or anyone, for that matter), to show us any evidence at all that homosexuality is a choice, and no one has come through.
11.11.2008 5:55pm
Randy R. (mail):
One last point: if your child is gay, I would hope that your only concern for him or her is their happiness, and that should include finding someone who will love and care for your child for the rest of their life. Isn't that what we wish for all our loved ones?

But but refusing to believe that homosexuality is immutable, you might push your child into a loveless marriage. Your child might believe it too, thinking it will cure him of his homosexuality. But in the long run, no one is fooled. I know many people who have been in these sorts of marriages, and they always end up in divorce, and sometimes with kids. It ruins the lives of so many people -- the wife, the husband, possibly the kids.

If you REALLY care about marriage like any of you say you do, you would be encouraging gays to get married to each other, not trying to say we don't exist, or shouldn't exist, or it's a choice we can snap out of.

It is interesting that if I enter into a sham marriage with a woman, everyone would applaud the traditions of marriage. It's sad when such a sham is considered good and even necessary to strengthen the institution of marriage.

Would you really want me marrying your daughter? I hope not. And I shudder at the thought! (Not that she isn't lovely, I'm sure, but I'd rather have a guy).
11.11.2008 6:03pm
neurodoc:
Neurodoc: Why do you mention the vole study? The vole study noted the connection between oxytocin and promiscuity, with no particular connection to homosexuality. Also, oxytocin does not appear to be a hormone particularly implicated in fetal development of sexual preference areas.
Because it is intriguing for its implications about the biologic basis of behavior, in this case an aspect of sexual behavior, and how it was susceptible to manipulation by playing with neurotransmitters or their receptors. Furthermore, as Dr. Insel would tell you, and did say when European investigators (Danish?) claimed not long ago to have found a simple answer to explain similar human behavior, it's more complicated then talk here, especially Jon Rowe's about "immutability" and neurobiology.

Anatid's point about sexuality not being a clearly binary proposition was well taken. Carleton Gajdusek's observations about the place of homosexuality among the Fore people of New Guinea provides more anthropologic evidence supporting Anatid's point about relevant differences between society where homosexuality is concerned. It is unfortunate Randy R thinks that if some challenges on scientific grounds this "immutability" proposition, they must be "anti-gay" and see his homosexuality as something he "learned" or a "choice" he made and might still change.
11.12.2008 12:14am
Chairm (mail):
Parenthetical, I like the content of your comment.

However, a 1 in 5 ratio is plausible, I think, based on just the list of possible GLB voters you described.

Also, there are GLB people who oppose the courtcentric campaign that has sought to over-rule the vote in 2000 and the (then) upcoming vote in 2008.

I think there is a principled basis upon which to vote against the No-side and for the Yes-side. I think many are satisfied with domestic partnership status because of equality, not because of a lack of it.

But you are correct, we won't have more than conjecture, really, to say one way or the other. Yet I have not seen much discussion, except between you and I, of the lack of more GLB votes for the No side.
11.12.2008 2:08am
Chairm (mail):
LM, I take it that you believe that there was no rush on the part of the Supreme Court to decide the Re Marriage case before the 4-Nov-2008 vote and that there was no haste in their refusal to stay their subsequent decision pending the outcome of the statewide vote.

And you believe this, you say, because you also believe that three Judges with backgrounds in the Republican party would not stick their thumbs in the eyes of the Christians who oppose SSM and who also happen to be Republicans?

I never implied they sought to stick their thumbs in Christian eyes. You lept to that of your own accord. And you say it was not anti-Christian bigotry. I take you at your word.

While I don't think your reasoning made smuch sense, I still thank you for the clarification.
11.12.2008 2:22am
Chairm (mail):
Randy, the one-sexed arrangement is not marriage.

You assert that it is and so you insist that the central issue must be the affirmation of the homosexual type relationship as the equal of the heterosexual type relationship, or at least that type which is conjugal.

But that elides the actual disagreement about the core meaning of marriage.

The No-on-8 campaign elided it as well. Until you can address it forthrightly, and I think that is very possible to do and would welcome the effort to do so, there will be no shared public meaning of marriage that matches your assumptions about the marriage issue itself.
11.12.2008 2:27am
Chairm (mail):
A couple of links related to the GLB vote on the Protect Marriage amendment.


The following letter was written sent to the Los Angeles GLBT Community Center by a friend. He and his partner are gay. Along with their parents and extended family, they will vote Yes on Proposition 8. Here's why.


And


As a retired police officer who is also gay, words cannot describe my anger at the gay community's violent response to the passage of Proposition 8. I am deeply offended by the hypocritical behavior of the gay community.

[...]

To all people of faith in California and across the United States who have been targets of hate by the bigots of the gay community, I apologize to you as well. While we may disagree on some aspects of faith, we agree on our right to worship in peace, vote as we believe, and support the political causes of our choice without fear of reprisal.

I am proud as an American to stand next to you. I support you. I lend my voice to your voice. I speak out in support of your rights, regardless of our differences regarding gay relationships. This is my way of living my life as an example to all. I hope that people will understand that not all gay men are mindless or cowardly imbeciles like those marching in the streets all over California.
11.12.2008 2:31am
Seamus (mail):

What the Mormons did was wrong. They used their political muscle to disenfranchise a group.



Huh? Which group can no longer vote, thanks to the Mormons?
11.12.2008 10:33am
Seamus (mail):

Whiskey: " Gays don't marry. They just don't."

18,000 gay couples have gotten married in CA since this summer.




The state of California may have called what they did "getting married," but as Abe Lincoln might have pointed out, that doesn't make it so, any more than a legislative definition of "leg" to include a tail would have meant that donkeys now have five legs.
11.12.2008 10:56am
Elliot123 (mail):
Does a woman have a right to choose abortion?

If there was a detectable gay gene, would it be OK for her to abort to avoid a gay child?
11.12.2008 12:18pm