The last post about gay marriage generated some interest and some comments very much worth considering. I posted my response to those comments below:

Alright. I found some time, so I’ll now respond to my gracious commenters – even if they didn’t get my name right. (cough…Lauren!) ;)

Jon, let me first respond to you. It’s very interesting to me that you “won’t touch any of my religious stuff”. That tells me you assume that theology has nothing to do with biology and politics. That’s an assumption that a majority of people throughout history have not held, so it might be worth dealing with. The fact is, I assume that there is a Creator, all knowledge comes from Him, and therefore all knowledge is unified. That implies that theology directly bears on biology and politics. In my epistemology, theology is more certain to me than either of the other subjects, so I’ll have to be persuaded with some pretty staggering proofs to be moved. (This is a viewpoint looked down upon by modern thought, but has the excellent credentials of thinkers not to be dismissed such as Plato, Augustine, and Aquinas.)

You call me out on not citing data, thereby attempting to shift the burden of proof. I’m sorry, but it seems to me my position is much more intuitive than yours about homosexual lifestyle. For instance, have you ever heard of the diseases proctitis or colitis? These are fairly rare and attack the rectum and colon. They occur in very high percentages among homosexuals for pretty obvious reasons. All that to say, the burden of proof is on you to find statistics that are not from the far left, but have a balanced perspective and give us accurate numbers.

As to your second point, monogamous gay men still do cost society money by a) not having babies to replenish the population and b) contracting diseases such as proctitis and colitis. Look, the homosexual lifestyle is just hard on the body.

Your third objection is a better one. Churches offer counseling for free. The problem is making it accessible. Some churches do though.

In your fourth point, you assume that paying taxes is more valuable than raising children. This point makes me pretty angry, so I won’t respond to it right now.

Lastly, I agree with you that “irresponsible” sex is bad no matter what. I don’t think it’s so “unquestionable” that sinful heterosexual sex is a “far greater cost to society.” (Again, I would like to see some numbers.) The reason is: at least heterosexuals are having babies! Why do so many people not understand that having children is a really, really important and valuable thing! Our whole economic infrastructure is built upon that. You know who is paying for my generation’s grandparents to live on Social Security right now, right? It’s a good thing my parents had me, because I’m going to be taking care of them.

________________

Ok, Lauren. (By the way, it’s okay for us to have a conversation, too!) I would also encourage you to put the burden of proof on the other position first for the reasons given above.

“However, studies show no difference in the adjustment between children raised by heterosexual or homosexual parents, so long as there is one consistent care-giver.” Please may I see these studies? I have heard exactly the opposite thing quoted.

In regards to marriage being an institution set up by God, I think we need a distinction between the sacrament and what’s natural. I’m not sacramental, but even if there is a special grace given in the marriage of Christians this does not entail marriage is “defiling” for every couple. Marriage is a natural grace that makes the world function much better. A wise man once argued to me that civilization started when the first man decided to have only one wife because of the civilizing effect – especially on men – caused by marriage. So, marriage is natural, i.e. created by God, and therefore it is good regardless of the state of the couple. Did God institute homosexual marriage? The answer to that is a pretty decided no. I’m afraid you are comparing apples and oranges, Lauren.

As to your argument about economics, please see my counter-argumments to Jon above.

Finally, to address your point about not extending rights to a certain faction or group: it’s not clear to me that prohibiting gay marriage is doing this. If we still had anti-sodomy laws, it would be a different matter. Those laws restrict homosexual sex period. The freedom of speech comes in when they can freely have sex.

Posted by Andrew Selby

  • Jim

    “You call me out on not citing data, thereby attempting to shift the burden of proof…”

    This is where the debate coach in me kicks in.

    Jon didn’t “shift the burden of proof” in calling for you to warrant your claim. Rather, you’re attempting to shift the burden to him by claiming intuitive force. You started out with the burden, since you were the one making the claims.

    Whether the “gay lifestyle” incurs greater social costs is a matter of defining those costs, and defining a criterion (or criteria) for “greater.” It is undoubtably true that heterosexuals exact far greater social costs by their behaviors–if “greater” means “greater in number or scope,” since there are nearly 100 times as many heterosexuals as homosexuals. If “greater” means “greater per capita,” then show us the numbers–and remember, the burden of proof is still on you.

  • Andrew,

    I’ve got a pretty busy day and weekend, so I’ll do my best to pull up those studies (or at least the citations), but I can make no guarantees.

    However, I am curious as to why you would say “Marriage is a natural grace that makes the world function much better.” and then say that it is Christian to not allow homosexuals to marry. If it is a natural, or common, grace, extended to all who partake in the said institution (with the effect of making the world function better), then we should ordain homosexual marriage, so that the grace from marriage is multiplied. If that grace can be accessed by the unbelieving world through marriage, this includes homosexuals.

    You went on to say that “Did God institute homosexual marriage? The answer to that is a pretty decided no. I’m afraid you are comparing apples and oranges, Lauren.” It seems to me that God instituted marriage in a certain way that cannot be practiced by any unbelieving individual, so why do you still vote for them to get married but not homosexuals?

    Another way to articulate my concern is that I’m afraid you’re offering or denying benefits and protections based on the KIND or DEGREE of sin you see people in (an agnostic heterosexual could get married, but not an agnostic homosexual; why? both are separated from God and seem incapable (in one way) of practicing marriage the way God ordained it). It doesn’t seem to be a matter of degree to me.

    Lauren Maltby

  • 1.) Kurdek, L.A. (2004). Are gay and lesbian cohabiting couples really different from heterosexual married couples? Journal of Marriage & Family, 66(4), pp. 880-900.
    ABSTRACT: Both partners from gay and lesbian cohabiting couples without children were compared longitudinally with both partners from heterosexual married couples with children (N at first assessment = 80, 53, and 80 couples, respectively) on variables from 5 domains indicative of relationship health. For 50% of the comparisons, gay and lesbian partners did not differ from heterosexual partners. Seventy-eight percent of the comparisons on which differences were found indicated that gay or lesbian partners functioned better than heterosexual partners did. Because the variables that predicted concurrent relationship quality and relationship stability for heterosexual parents also did so for gay and lesbian partners, I conclude that the processes that regulate relationship functioning generalize across gay, lesbian, and heterosexual couples. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2004 APA, all rights reserved)(journal abstract)
    ISSN: 0022-2445

    2.) Serena, L. (2005). Gay and lesbian families: What we know and where to go from here. Family Journal: Counseling & Therapy for Couples & Families, 13(1), pp. 43-51.
    ABSTRACT: The author reviewed the research on gay and lesbian parents and their children. The current body of research has been clear and consistent in establishing that children of gay and lesbian parents are as psychologically healthy as their peers from heterosexual homes. However, this comparison approach to research design appears to have limited the scope of research on gay and lesbian families, leaving much of the experience of these families yet to be investigated. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2005 APA, all rights reserved)(journal abstract)
    ISSN: 1066-4807

    3.) Tasker, F. (2005). Lesbian mothers, gay fathers, and their children: A review. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 26(3), pp. 224-240.
    ABSTRACT: There is a variety of families headed by a lesbian or gay male parent or same-sex couple. Findings from research suggest that children with lesbian or gay parents are comparable with children with heterosexual parents on key psychosocial developmental outcomes. In many ways, children of lesbian or gay parents have similar experiences of family life compared with children in heterosexual families. Some special considerations apply to the context of lesbian and gay parenting: variation in family forms, children’s awareness of lesbian and gay relationships, heterosexism, and homophobia. These issues have important implications for managing clinical work with children of lesbian mothers or gay fathers. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2005 APA, all rights reserved)(journal abstract)
    ISSN: 0196-206X

    The first citation is of a study, the second two are literature reviews. It is more efficient to refer you to literature reviews so that you can chase down the footnotes of the studies there. I have included the ISSN number for each one so you could look it up on WorldCat and see if the studies are in a library near you (although I don’t expect you to do this since, you know, you have a life) :)

  • — For instance, have you ever heard of the diseases proctitis or colitis? These are fairly rare and attack the rectum and colon. They occur in very high percentages among homosexuals for pretty obvious reasons. —

    And they are, like AIDS, by in large, caused by communicable diseases and are therefore the result of promiscuity and lack of protection.

    Monogamous anal sex between non-infected partners is, for the most part*, an entirely safe practice.

    *I make that reservation because ANY sexual activity — even “normal” procreative sex between married Christian couples can have some unknown risk, for instance, vaginal tears and whatnot.

    — The reason is: at least heterosexuals are having babies! —

    A few things:

    First, gays are having children as well! Gays have significantly fewer children, but not zero children.

    Second, given that homosexuals are, always have been, and most likely always will be, a fairly small % of society — 3-4% — their lack of children really doesn’t impact the overall population. Heterosexual contraception has a far greater impact on population rates. But then again, I don’t see lack of making babies to be a *problem* in this society.

    Third, given that homosexuality (the orientation) is not a choice and cannot be changed, the only meaningful option a gay could make is celibacy, another “lifestyle” that produces no children; but I don’t see you railing against that.

    — Why do so many people not understand that having children is a really, really important and valuable thing! —

    It’s also can be in many circumstances, a really really costly and bad thing as well.

    There are many, many circumstances where it’s far better to bring no child into a particular circumstance than to have one. For instance, poor, uneducated, unwed teenage mothers.

    To compare THAT problem to the increased rates of VD that gay men have is truly laughable.

  • Wow am I ever happy to see this debate up and going. It’s made a fabulous read. Weighing in with my two cents — I’ll try to keep it brief.

    A point I think should be highlighted and expanded upon here, first mentioned by Lauren, is the number of rights afforded a married couple in America and therefore denied to committed homosexual couples. The specific rights I cite below were compiled by the Lambda Legal Defense Fund in response to a request from the Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary in 1996. The full text of their report and their research methodology can be found at http://www.gao.gov/archive/1997/og97016.pdf.

    Marriage, the social contract as instituted and defined by the U.S. government — necessarily distinct from marriage, the sacrament as defined by the Christian church — confers approximately 1,400 rights denied to committed same-sex couples. A short list includes joint parenting; joint adoption; status as next-of-kin for hospital visits and medical decisions where one partner is too ill to be competent; joint insurance policies for home, auto and health; dissolution and divorce protections such as community property and child support; immigration and residency for partners from other countries; inheritance automatically in the absence of a will; joint leases with automatic renewal rights; inheritance of jointly-owned real and personal property through the right of survivorship; benefits such as annuities, pension plans, Social Security, and Medicare; spousal exemptions to property tax increases upon the death of one partner who is a co-owner of the home; joint filing of tax returns; wrongful death benefits for a surviving partner and children; bereavement or sick leave to care for a partner or child; decision-making power with respect to a deceased partner’s burial and/or cremation; domestic violence protection orders; and judicial protections and evidentiary immunity. There are, of course, about 1,375 more.

    The take-home message here is that while whether marriage itself is a “right” may be a matter for debate, there are a vast number of significant rights that come in a package deal with the political contract of marriage, and these do place the gay marriage issue firmly in the camp of the gay rights movement. Perhaps more importantly for this discussion, however, they raise the issue yet again of secular marriage vs. sacred marriage and emphasize the vast differences between them. I, like Lauren, am stymied over the fact that the Church permits other forms of secular marriage (between atheists, non-Christians of other religions, etc.) but not this one, and I do not believe the “sanctity of marriage” is theirs to uphold outside the Church. Andrew, when you say that “Politically speaking, because homosexuality is a sinful behavior it ought not be encouraged,” I am puzzled. America not being a theocracy, it does not fall to the American government to ascribe to the Christian definition of sin and to ensure it goes unencouraged, nor to uphold the Christian definition of marriage if it should come into conflict with the interest of the State.

    Incidentally, one common argument I hear against legalizing gay marriage is one I haven’t seen mentioned here yet: “If we allow committed same-sex partners to marry, we’ve extended the definition to the point that pedophiles and polygamists will be next on the list trying to claim marriage rights.” I tend not to subscribe to slippery-slope and domino theories in general, and it doesn’t seem at all likely to me that legalizing gay marriage will have even the slightest effect on the sociocultural attitude towards any other sexual behaviors; I’m willing to “cross that bridge when we come to it,” which seems literally impossible in the case of pedophilia and has already been tacitly crossed in certain parts of the country where polygamy is practiced (viz., Utah).

    I do, however, believe that America is slowly reaching a consensus in favor of legalizing gay marriage. I do not believe this is an overly optimistic view despite the volume of vocal opposition from an opposed majority. I am convinced it will happen in our lifetimes. Trace the history of the civil rights movement in the ’60’s and you’ll see political change happening from the top down as a social norm is being aggressively modified from the bottom up. Consider: violent hate crimes against gays are becoming highly publicized and severely punished. It is increasingly unacceptable to deny gays employment on basis of their sexuality. We would recoil in horror from the notion of a gay person being denied access to a public water fountain or forced to sit in the back of a public bus. Slowly but surely, the word “fag” is leaving the range of acceptable language, largely due, in my opinion, to a growing zero-tolerance policy for verbal slurs against gays in middle and high schools.

    Why do I bring up these points in a debate about the legalization of gay marriage, which ostensibly has nothing to do with anti-gay discrimination? In this circle of friends and readers, you’re probably right that no inherent anti-gay prejudice is marring this academic political debate. I will go on record stating emphatically that this is not the case elsewhere. Those opposed to civil rights for blacks weren’t opposed to principles of equality; they were opposed to sitting next to one of “them,” letting “them” vote officials into office, having “them” move in down the block and devalue their property. I believe the gay marriage debate, at the individual, non-governmental and non-institutional level, is not really about principles either, and that many or most Americans still harbor racism-esque prejudice against gays and don’t want to be forced to afford them their full measure of human dignity. (I can already tell I’m going to take a lot of heat for this sweeping generalization of “many or most Americans.” It can’t be helped. Having worked in anti-homophobia education for four years, I know what I’ve seen, and that was in a predominantly liberal urban setting in one of the most gay-friendly cities in the country. I will be happy to share stories and reflections with anyone who requests them.) I contend that whether or not marriage itself is a “right” being denied on a discriminatory basis is a moot question because the real question at hand is the question of the last socially acceptable form of discrimination in American politics and society. Any and all instances of legal discrimination under such circumstances must therefore be examined from the popular as well as the judicial and religious level; another truth is being told there.

    To return briefly to the civil rights movement, racism became a publicly unacceptable attitude in two phases: first, a vocal contingent raised the issue to national consciousness through protest and education, and second, the government recognized the changing consensus and acted accordingly. We are well into phase one with respect to gay marriage, and it seems reasonable to conclude that phase two is only a matter of time as the consensus continues to change. Once the people begin to acquiesce to the necessity of affording equal rights to gays, the State will follow, and overturning Bush’s explicit heterosexual definition of marriage in the Defense of Marriage Act will be the logical consequence.

    An apology seems in order if I have unwittingly and unfairly accused any writer here of prejudicial attitudes. It was not my intention to do so. (“In this circle of friends and readers, you’re probably right that no inherent anti-gay prejudice is marring this academic political debate.”)

    On an unrelated note, I hope you at Mere Orthodoxy (and elsewhere) are all well; God bless, and hoping to read more here soon.

  • Lauren,

    Isn’t the sample group for the first study you listed (and, if I remember right, others like it) so small as to make it not very conclusive in the end?

    Cheers.

    Matt

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  • Naomi,

    You said:

    “Incidentally, one common argument I hear against legalizing gay marriage is one I haven’t seen mentioned here yet: “If we allow committed same-sex partners to marry, we’ve extended the definition to the point that pedophiles and polygamists will be next on the list trying to claim marriage rights.” I tend not to subscribe to slippery-slope and domino theories in general, and it doesn’t seem at all likely to me that legalizing gay marriage will have even the slightest effect on the sociocultural attitude towards any other sexual behaviors; I’m willing to “cross that bridge when we come to it,” which seems literally impossible in the case of pedophilia and has already been tacitly crossed in certain parts of the country where polygamy is practiced (viz., Utah).”

    A couple comments:

    1) The argument isn’t a social argument, really. It’s not “If you do x, then y will happen.” Rather, it’s “If you do x, then on what grounds would you be able to deny y?” If homosexual marriage is adopted by the State, then on what grounds would the State be able to not prohibit Man/Boy marriage? If “marriage” is a linguistic construct that is socially defined, then it seems there are no grounds on which the State could stand to prevent it’s redefinition to include Man/Boy love. I find this much more compelling than any of the practical arguments.

    2) Even if it is a “slippery slope” of the kind you described, it’s not so clear that the “bridge” of pedophilia is so impossible as you think. From a Slate article (that is mostly about politics of sexuality, and not sexuality per se):

    The first controversy begins with a July 1998 article from Psychological Bulletin, the journal of the American Psychological Association. Researchers Bruce Rind of Temple University, Philip Tromovitch of University of Pennsylvania, and Robert Bauserman of University of Michigan re-examined 59 studies in which child sexual abuse victims had been surveyed as college students. They concluded that victims, especially boys, typically do not suffer “intense psychological harm” from childhood sexual abuse. The researchers also recommended changing the terminology of sexual abuse: An encounter between a “willing” child and an adult should be called “adult-child sex,” not “child sexual abuse.”

    Here’s the link: http://slate.msn.com/id/29453/

    From a paper responding to the study:

    In the end, the study’s conclusions were formally (and un–artimously) denounced by both the U.S. House of Representatives (H. R. Cong. Res. 107) and the U.S. Senate. It is believed to be the first time in U.S. history that a scientific study was formally repudiated by a legislative body.

    Despite the controversy surrounding it, the article by Rind et al. has been referenced in legal proceedings. For example, in State of Arizona v. Steward (1999) a convicted child molester used the article to argue for leniency, saying that research shows that children are rarely harmed by sexual molestation. In deposition testimony, a psychologist working as an expert witness for a pedophilic priest relied on the study to form the opinion that a victim’s psychological injuries were not due to sexual abuse, because the current scientific literature does not support the existence of a relationship between CSA and maladjustment in the population at large (Brainerd, 1999). The article by Rind et al. has also been cited as evidence that the legal age of consent for sex should be lowered (Graupner, 1999, see Dallam, in press, for a more complete review).

    The link to the article: http://www.ipce.info/library_3/files/dal/dal_1.htm

    In sum, the situation may soon be taking the spot of homosexual marriage in the national eye (which would be a sure sign cultural conservatives lost).

    Cheers,

    Matt

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  • Matt,

    No. Read the study. I can’t speak for the ones in the lit. review, but the effect size is at least average for every other social-science study we take seriously. And, the powerful thing about the lit. review is that the literature is consistent, which adds power to the claim.

    Lauren

  • Just to respond to Matt’s reference to the Slate article:

    It is unfortunate that it was run in Psychological Bulletin, one of the journals published by the APA. However, theirs is hardly the opinion of most social scientists, and the examples you cited of pedophiles using it to argue for leniency seem to be a clear example of people taking advantage of ONE STUDY rather than considering the entire body of data and research we have on children and sexual abuse.

    The only reason I post this is because, while the APA has its issues (boy do they), supporting or enabling childhood sexual abuse to continue is hardly one of them. The article was published in part because is contradicts almost all previous findings, and therefore should be responded to or explained by others in the field.

    I agree that it may be worth noting, at least in so far as responding to Naomi’s points about the slipperty slope and being closer than she may think, but let’s not paint the APA or even most social scientists as sex-abuse-supporters because of a few bad seeds.

    Lauren

  • Lauren,

    Admonishment accepted on both counts. : ) I wasn’t attempting to paint the APA as a wicked organization. Sorry that it came across that way.

  • Jim

    “In sum, the situation may soon be taking the spot of homosexual marriage in the national eye…”

    A few obscure attempts–three in six years, all of them unsuccessful, by my count–to use the article as exculpatory evidence hardly constitutes a burgeoning national trend.

  • Caught again!

    I’ll grant the overstatement. Interpret “soon” loosely and it makes sense (50 years).

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