Gay and Lesbian Marriage

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Re: Gay and Lesbian Marriage

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Fri Feb 06, 2015 1:08 pm

James wrote:So what does that mean? "Homosexuals are unable to love one another as heterosexuals do because they don't fall properly into these categories of 'love' as defined by Lewis"?

Why are you refusing to answer the question using your own language? Can you enumerate any number of clear reasons as to why they cannot love one another as a heterosexual couple can? Or is your best, clearest answer really that it disagrees with the philosophical categorization/conceptualization you've outlined above?


I'm not. I see no reason to continue this discussion if you continue to use these obtuse, derailing and baiting debating tactics with regard to the straightforward answers that are given to you.

Very simply, I told you precisely which tradition my answer comes from, and how it is informed. That there are different kinds of love is completely backed up by the basics of human experience. The loves which occur in each of the five relationships of Confucianism are conceptually different from each other, they involve different levels and kinds of emotions, and they are aimed toward very different things.

The relationship between a king and a subject - or between a boss and an employee - is very different than the relationship between a parent and a child, even though the analogy is often drawn, including by Confucius himself. The relationship between teacher and student is also different than that between parent and child. A parent's love for his child is different than the relationship between siblings growing up. The relationship between siblings is different than the relationship between friends. And the relationship between friends is different than the relationship between sexual partners.

Sexual love draws upon the reproductive urge. Always. It is a basic fact of biology, that it is impossible to have sexual love without the necessary hormones, which are produced by the body specifically for the function of preparing the body to procreate. The procreative urge can only be completed with a certain kind of act, an act which unites male and female sexual organs - I'm sure I don't need to go into further detail there. The sex drive therefore has a definite biological origin and a proper biological end. The sex drive is misused when these ends are physically thwarted, or when the social or emotional circumstances of the act go against the proper ends of procreation and childrearing. Thus, the only sexual relationship which society is bound to recognise as normative is a permanent and caring one between husband and wife.

If, however, two men or two women wanted to have a long-term sexual relationship, that's none of my business. Whatever emotions they share between them are also none of my business to comment on. Everything discussed to this point has been entirely theoretical.

If they want to make a civil contract for hospital visitation rights, child custody, next-of-kin rights and so on - all the rights that married couples enjoy that are relevant to their relationship - that's also perfectly fine and they should be allowed to do so without any legal hindrance. But it isn't marriage.
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Re: Gay and Lesbian Marriage

Unread postby Shikanosuke » Fri Feb 06, 2015 11:48 pm

WeiWenDi wrote:
Sexual love draws upon the reproductive urge. Always. It is a basic fact of biology, that it is impossible to have sexual love without the necessary hormones, which are produced by the body specifically for the function of preparing the body to procreate. The procreative urge can only be completed with a certain kind of act, an act which unites male and female sexual organs - I'm sure I don't need to go into further detail there. The sex drive therefore has a definite biological origin and a proper biological end. The sex drive is misused when these ends are physically thwarted, or when the social or emotional circumstances of the act go against the proper ends of procreation and childrearing. Thus, the only sexual relationship which society is bound to recognise as normative is a permanent and caring one between husband and wife.

If, however, two men or two women wanted to have a long-term sexual relationship, that's none of my business. Whatever emotions they share between them are also none of my business to comment on. Everything discussed to this point has been entirely theoretical.



WWD, we're fully in agreement concerning the purpose of both the sexual desire which comes from the biological instinct to reproduce. We're also fully in agreement that our biological instinct, together with our respective organs, have particular and definite purposes. Homosexual acts do not align with said purposes. My curiosity, and perhaps I simply haven't been paying attention enough (no worry if you call me out on that) is how you tie certain observations and conclusions. Largely I think we probably agree on most of it.

I agree we're only mandated to accept the heterosexual relationships as normative, but my two questions would be a) does that preclude us from electively accepting others? and b) i dont understand how you get from our biological desire and design to the exlusivity of husband/wife. Specifically on point b, if we're speaking biological terms, if society was trying to embrace and encourage our biological aims wouldnt it encourage any union regardless of formality that encourages mass opportunities to produce offspring?

If they want to make a civil contract for hospital visitation rights, child custody, next-of-kin rights and so on - all the rights that married couples enjoy that are relevant to their relationship - that's also perfectly fine and they should be allowed to do so without any legal hindrance. But it isn't marriage.
[/quote]

I also think we agree for the most part. But do we not agree what is or isnt marriage is largely arbitrary? Arbitrary in that I see no reason why the definition of marriage is somehow imperatively linked to the biological act of reproduction. In my opinion, that is more of argument of what marriage should be instead of an argument of what marriage is and can be. (Apologies if this was a bit disjointed today).
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Re: Gay and Lesbian Marriage

Unread postby James » Fri Feb 13, 2015 6:48 pm

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:So what does that mean? "Homosexuals are unable to love one another as heterosexuals do because they don't fall properly into these categories of 'love' as defined by Lewis"?

Why are you refusing to answer the question using your own language? Can you enumerate any number of clear reasons as to why they cannot love one another as a heterosexual couple can? Or is your best, clearest answer really that it disagrees with the philosophical categorization/conceptualization you've outlined above?

I'm not. I see no reason to continue this discussion if you continue to use these obtuse, derailing and baiting debating tactics with regard to the straightforward answers that are given to you.

I literally do not understand your answer. I'm not trying to be obtuse unless you literally believe I am slow to understand your perspective. In which case, fine, but I really do not understand. You've given some philosophical outlines as to the differences between love, including from at least one philosopher who seems to agree with some fundamentals of your position, but I haven't seen anything more substantive.

What I was looking for was a difference you could clearly outline in your own language and my hope was to hear that from you so I could better understand where you're coming from.

We've had philosophers who have landed on all sides of this discussion as well as cultures (largely against, as far as I know). But I'm not sure of any extent to which those realities should speak for us except to inform the decisions and beliefs which ultimately become our own. Additionally, views of the past, including those of philosophers, are informed by the reality in which they live.

WeiWenDi wrote:Very simply, I told you precisely which tradition my answer comes from, and how it is informed. That there are different kinds of love is completely backed up by the basics of human experience. The loves which occur in each of the five relationships of Confucianism are conceptually different from each other, they involve different levels and kinds of emotions, and they are aimed toward very different things.

The relationship between a king and a subject - or between a boss and an employee - is very different than the relationship between a parent and a child, even though the analogy is often drawn, including by Confucius himself. The relationship between teacher and student is also different than that between parent and child. A parent's love for his child is different than the relationship between siblings growing up. The relationship between siblings is different than the relationship between friends. And the relationship between friends is different than the relationship between sexual partners.

A type of love such as the love between a king and subject, between teacher and student, between siblings, between friends—those types of love simply are not what we're talking about.

WeiWenDi wrote:Sexual love draws upon the reproductive urge. Always. It is a basic fact of biology, that it is impossible to have sexual love without the necessary hormones, which are produced by the body specifically for the function of preparing the body to procreate. The procreative urge can only be completed with a certain kind of act, an act which unites male and female sexual organs - I'm sure I don't need to go into further detail there. The sex drive therefore has a definite biological origin and a proper biological end. The sex drive is misused when these ends are physically thwarted, or when the social or emotional circumstances of the act go against the proper ends of procreation and childrearing. Thus, the only sexual relationship which society is bound to recognise as normative is a permanent and caring one between husband and wife.

Our innate desire to reproduce—one of our strongest urges—is what encourages us into sexual union. It does not, however, require having a baby. Orgasm and sexual stimulation, for example, are some of the key rewards we've evolved to promote this goal. These are evolutionary traits which encourage reproduction but which do not require creation of a child to be realized. A same-sex couple is every but as capable of sexual stimulation and orgasm—of realizing the benefits of these evolutionary traits—despite differing anatomy.

You want to claim they are 'misused' or that it 'is not natural'? That is entirely subject of your opinion and/or belief structure. In fact, upon further reading through this week, science is now rather unified behind the cause of homosexuality lying in product of genetics or other influences such as the hormonal environment in the womb. By current scientific standards it is a natural occurrence, although more sophisticated/complicated research remains necessary. We've largely ruled out environmental cause such as abuse. Here is an excellent summary of where we stand on the subject today.

'It is not natural' or that such a union represents 'misuse' of our organs or evolution does stand just fine as your perspective, and I see nothing wrong with forming beliefs based on that perspective, but it is not a fact-based assertion. About as much as I could agree on this would be to say that, yes, it is atypical in that a relatively small subset of the human population is homosexual in the first place.

WeiWenDi wrote:If, however, two men or two women wanted to have a long-term sexual relationship, that's none of my business. Whatever emotions they share between them are also none of my business to comment on. Everything discussed to this point has been entirely theoretical.

Some theoretical/based on belief, some not, some merely informed by ongoing science.

WeiWenDi wrote:If they want to make a civil contract for hospital visitation rights, child custody, next-of-kin rights and so on - all the rights that married couples enjoy that are relevant to their relationship - that's also perfectly fine and they should be allowed to do so without any legal hindrance. But it isn't marriage.

But you believe it isn't marriage. But as we've discussed before, marriage doesn't belong to you, your religion, or indeed, any religion. The foundation of marriage predates Christianity and has formed across different cultures in the world, just as surely as spirituality and belief in varied concepts of 'god' or 'gods' have.

Maybe, as suggested perhaps by your quote above (?), this is just your perspective on what marriage should be rather than something factual you're asserting. If that's the case, that is something I can respect. But you don't word it as such—cause for my potential confusion—and then my issue would simply be in you believing that others should be subject to your interpretation of what marriage is.
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Re: Gay and Lesbian Marriage

Unread postby Shikanosuke » Fri Feb 13, 2015 11:10 pm

James wrote:
You want to claim they are 'misused' or that it 'is not natural'? That is entirely subject of your opinion and/or belief structure. In fact, upon further reading, science is now rather unified behind the cause of homosexuality lying in product of genetics or other influences such as the hormonal environment in the womb. By current scientific standards it is a natural occurrence, although more sophisticated/complicated research remains necessary. We've largely ruled out environmental cause such as abuse. Here is an excellent summary of where we stand on the subject today.

'It is not natural' or that such a union represents 'misuse' of our organs or evolution does stand just fine as your perspective, and I see nothing wrong with forming beliefs based on that perspective, but it is not a fact-based assertion. About as much as I could agree on this would be to say that, yes, it is atypical in that a relatively small subset of the human population is homosexual in the first place.


Can you clarify the sentiment about it being natural? From what I understand it, at best, can be considered a natural occurrence. But it does stand that that isn't how we, as humans, are naturally programed or designed to operate.
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Re: Gay and Lesbian Marriage

Unread postby James » Sat Feb 14, 2015 1:30 am

Shikanosuke wrote:Can you clarify the sentiment about it being natural? From what I understand it, at best, can be considered a natural occurrence. But it does stand that that isn't how we, as humans, are naturally programed or designed to operate.

Right. I may have been unclear there.

Homosexuality in mankind is, by scientific consensus, a natural occurrence, but of course science cannot speak for our personal view of what is or is not natural. And because homosexuality is rare relative to heterosexuality (6%, 9%, 11%, whatever odd number we decide to go by) I can see why some might call it abnormal or lend reasoning or credence to unnatural. Calling it unnatural, though, seems like an odd use of the term (in my opinion) because 'natural' in this context typically speaks more to what is a natural occurrence ("existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind") than what is abnormal.

I say that knowing that there are other interpretations of what 'natural' means. For example, I've encountered arguments that it is unnatural from an evolutionary or religious standpoint ("of or in agreement with the character or makeup of, or circumstances surrounding, someone or something"). Homosexuality is, I can agree, a curious development in mammals from the perspective of evolution.
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Re: Gay and Lesbian Marriage

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Sat Feb 14, 2015 11:10 am

James wrote:I literally do not understand your answer. I'm not trying to be obtuse unless you literally believe I am slow to understand your perspective. In which case, fine, but I really do not understand. You've given some philosophical outlines as to the differences between love, including from at least one philosopher who seems to agree with some fundamentals of your position, but I haven't seen anything more substantive.

What I was looking for was a difference you could clearly outline in your own language and my hope was to hear that from you so I could better understand where you're coming from.


Okay. Again, very sorry. I suspected you were being deliberately difficult; obviously I was wrong.

James wrote:A type of love such as the love between a king and subject, between teacher and student, between siblings, between friends—those types of love simply are not what we're talking about.


I beg to differ.

Homosexuality as it has been practised historically (and specifically by the Greeks and Romans) was almost always within the context of a teacher-student relationship, a master-subject relationship, or a relationship between comrades-in-arms. Obviously the classical Greeks had no problems with same-sex eros between two men or two women whose relationship was defined in ways other than the sexual one, but the confusion of the different types of love became very problematic first for Plato (who saw homosexual eros as something that needed to be sublimated and transcended into inspirations for some other creative act), and then for the Christians who came after him.

It is also still problematic within Confucian circles for the same reason. Jiang Qing cites same-sex marriage (but not homosexuality itself!) as something which is 'contrary to the way and principle of heaven' alongside prostitution, human cloning and biological weapons research. From other reading I have done by Jiang Qing and by the people he debates with, though, his objections to state recognition of homosexual partnerships have to do with the physical- and role-complementarity inherent to married relationships that he feels is absent from same-sex relationships.

James wrote:Our innate desire to reproduce—one of our strongest urges—is what encourages us into sexual union. It does not, however, require having a baby. Orgasm and sexual stimulation, for example, are some of the key rewards we've evolved to promote this goal. These are evolutionary traits which encourage reproduction but which do not require creation of a child to be realized. A same-sex couple is every but as capable of sexual stimulation and orgasm—of realizing the benefits of these evolutionary traits—despite differing anatomy.


Okay, we're talking about very different things here.

I'm very far from denying that same-sex couples are capable of sexual stimulation and orgasm. That would indeed be very stupid of me, and I'm not entirely sure why you think I would think that.

But the ends of sexual stimulation and orgasm, and the reason that sexual stimulation and orgasm are so pleasurable, is precisely the 'innate desire to reproduce' which you mention. And what same-sex couples are not capable of, is precisely making the means (sexual stimulation and orgasm) match the ends (reproduction).

One of the big things for me, ethically, is that ends and means should agree with each other. In fact, I think one of the major shortcomings, indeed one of the terrible tragedies of modern ethics and modern philosophy as a whole, is that we have separated means and ends to the extent that we have, such that we are only capable of talking about one or the other as a basis for moral theory in the first place.

James wrote:You want to claim they are 'misused' or that it 'is not natural'?


The first? Yes.

The second? No. In fact, I explicitly avoided using the word 'natural', partly because in everyday parlance that word is so horrendously misused as to be meaningless, and partly because its application to same-sex relationships is incredibly off-base.

James wrote:In fact, upon further reading through this week, science is now rather unified behind the cause of homosexuality lying in product of genetics or other influences such as the hormonal environment in the womb. By current scientific standards it is a natural occurrence, although more sophisticated/complicated research remains necessary. We've largely ruled out environmental cause such as abuse. Here is an excellent summary of where we stand on the subject today.


First off, as I know you know, 'natural' doesn't always mean 'good'. There's a very good reason I didn't use the word 'natural' above.

The rest I tentatively agree with, though I think you are painting the scientific community's stand on this particular question with a bit too broad a brush. The Brückner study at Columbia University on identical twins shows that there is a genetic correlation but it is very clearly not the only factor. (It should be noted that Brückner was an early critic of sample sizes and bias in early identical-twin sexual orientation studies, and designed her own study with her own criticism in mind.)

Also, from the article you just linked:

Joseph Osmundson wrote:There are caveats, however, to even the most straightforward behavioral genetics research. Because of the assumed low frequency of homosexuality in the general population, much of the twin research suffers from low sample sizes and population biases (Kendler et al. 2000). Even when a large, unbiased twin database was used (Kendler et al. 2000), families that were more accepting could certainly have been more likely to respond to questions, therefore creating a self-selection bias. More recent work has also thrown the entire enterprise of twin-based genetic studies into question (Schönemann 1997).

Caveats notwithstanding, there is a loose consensus among geneticists, if not social scientists (Butler 1990; Kitzinger 1995), that there is some evidence for a genetic predisposition to homosexuality (Kallmann 1952; Bailey et al. 1993; Risch et al. 1993; Ferveur et al. 1995; Hamer 1999; Rice et al. 1999a). There certainly is no single “gay gene”; the relative weak values for the heritability of sexuality clearly illustrate that if sexuality is indeed genetic, it depends on at least several genes and that these genes are not deterministic. Additionally, the low values for heritability imply the importance of societal factors and socialization that are often ignored in much of the scientific literature.


That last sentence is incredibly important here. The 'nature vs. nurture' debate on sexual orientation is far from settled and likely will never be; even though nature (genetics, hormone exposure) is clearly a contributing factor, it is also almost certainly not the only contributing factor.

James wrote:But you believe it isn't marriage. But as we've discussed before, marriage doesn't belong to you, your religion, or indeed, any religion. The foundation of marriage predates Christianity and has formed across different cultures in the world, just as surely as spirituality and belief in varied concepts of 'god' or 'gods' have.


As we have discussed before, also, marriage has an anthropological objective, which is rooted in facilitating, protecting and providing legal support and resources for the projects of reproduction and childrearing. Talking about marriage without talking about 'the children' makes no sense - even in cases where a married couple have no children. Indeed, key legal aspects of marriage that have developed within the traditions of English common law (like consummation and adultery) are rendered meaningless when divorced from an assumption of sex complementarity. There are also precedents in American case law, as in Baker v. Nelson, which invoked '[t]he institution of marriage as a union of man and woman, uniquely involving the procreation and rearing of children within a family'.
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Re: Gay and Lesbian Marriage

Unread postby James » Tue Feb 17, 2015 12:34 am

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:A type of love such as the love between a king and subject, between teacher and student, between siblings, between friends—those types of love simply are not what we're talking about.

I beg to differ.

Homosexuality as it has been practised historically (and specifically by the Greeks and Romans) was almost always within the context of a teacher-student relationship, a master-subject relationship, or a relationship between comrades-in-arms. Obviously the classical Greeks had no problems with same-sex eros between two men or two women whose relationship was defined in ways other than the sexual one, but the confusion of the different types of love became very problematic first for Plato (who saw homosexual eros as something that needed to be sublimated and transcended into inspirations for some other creative act), and then for the Christians who came after him.

It is also still problematic within Confucian circles for the same reason. Jiang Qing cites same-sex marriage (but not homosexuality itself!) as something which is 'contrary to the way and principle of heaven' alongside prostitution, human cloning and biological weapons research. From other reading I have done by Jiang Qing and by the people he debates with, though, his objections to state recognition of homosexual partnerships have to do with the physical- and role-complementarity inherent to married relationships that he feels is absent from same-sex relationships.

Foremost, such circumstances do not apply to this discussion because that is not the sort of 'love' we are discussing here. We are discussing the same sort of love between a couple whether homosexual or heterosexual. I think it is reasonable to ask that discussion actually focus on as much for the sake of relevance unless a clear and direct correlation can be drawn.

As to history, first, society has been largely opposed to homosexuality. Society is pretty darn good at being opposed to almost anything it deems radically different or abnormal, and homosexuality is a poster child for such things. Not just opposed, violently, cruelly, viscerally opposed. While there are historic examples of prominent figures engaging in homosexual acts and relationships it is almost always in secrecy. This cultural or dogmatic bias is going to impact the thinking of philosophers, religious leaders, government leaders, and society. And this is going to impact the teachings of religion (it has), the actions of governments, the beliefs of philosophers, the actions of peoples.

But more to the point, who cares what a philosopher, religion, government, or history from another time has to say on this subject? It is meaningful to discuss why certain circumstances take their current form. It is interesting in terms of history. It is interesting as a subject of history. But any argument must necessarily translate to today to be relevant for consideration today.

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:Our innate desire to reproduce—one of our strongest urges—is what encourages us into sexual union. It does not, however, require having a baby. Orgasm and sexual stimulation, for example, are some of the key rewards we've evolved to promote this goal. These are evolutionary traits which encourage reproduction but which do not require creation of a child to be realized. A same-sex couple is every but as capable of sexual stimulation and orgasm—of realizing the benefits of these evolutionary traits—despite differing anatomy.

Okay, we're talking about very different things here.

I'm very far from denying that same-sex couples are capable of sexual stimulation and orgasm. That would indeed be very stupid of me, and I'm not entirely sure why you think I would think that.

But the ends of sexual stimulation and orgasm, and the reason that sexual stimulation and orgasm are so pleasurable, is precisely the 'innate desire to reproduce' which you mention. And what same-sex couples are not capable of, is precisely making the means (sexual stimulation and orgasm) match the ends (reproduction).

One of the big things for me, ethically, is that ends and means should agree with each other. In fact, I think one of the major shortcomings, indeed one of the terrible tragedies of modern ethics and modern philosophy as a whole, is that we have separated means and ends to the extent that we have, such that we are only capable of talking about one or the other as a basis for moral theory in the first place.

Okay, here I think I follow you clearly.

My position is that if we're to talk ethics the need to correlate the ends and means, at least in this case, are completely trumped by the ethical concerns of segregation, discrimination, bigotry—some products of the anti-homosexual views, actions, and legislation pressed by people who are opposed to homosexuals as people or homosexual intercourse/affection. If, in order to resolve ends and means, more harm is produced, the act, in my estimation, is immoral. Now some Christians might justify that position by invoking the afterlife, sin, or some other consideration—that's fine for them and their faith. It's not something any human outside their organization and views should be subjected to.

As to our discussion, the moral imperative to connect the ends and means in this circumstance does not relate in any meaningful way I can envision to a homosexual's ability to love another homosexual. Biologically. Psychologically. Morally, that's in the eye of the beholder, organization, culture, etc.

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:You want to claim they are 'misused' or that it 'is not natural'?

The first? Yes.

The second? No. In fact, I explicitly avoided using the word 'natural', partly because in everyday parlance that word is so horrendously misused as to be meaningless, and partly because its application to same-sex relationships is incredibly off-base.

Misused? Okay, as long as it's understood that it's a product of your personal belief and not relevant to another couple's ability to have a healthy relationship in any context beyond that which they adopt (i.e. if they believe they are 'misusing' their biological equipment and associate a negative connotation it becomes a problem, but does not pertain if they have no such concern). But I do feel like I'm starting to understand where you're coming from.

Understood on the later. Although 'natural' means something. While it may be misused I'm using it with purpose in this discussion. I elaborated in response to Shikanosuke on the subject above. One may choose not to care what is or is not natural in a context, which is fine, but the word doesn't lose its meaning.

WeiWenDi wrote:First off, as I know you know, 'natural' doesn't always mean 'good'. There's a very good reason I didn't use the word 'natural' above.

The rest I tentatively agree with, though I think you are painting the scientific community's stand on this particular question with a bit too broad a brush. The Brückner study at Columbia University on identical twins shows that there is a genetic correlation but it is very clearly not the only factor. (It should be noted that Brückner was an early critic of sample sizes and bias in early identical-twin sexual orientation studies, and designed her own study with her own criticism in mind.)

Also, from the article you just linked:

Joseph Osmundson wrote:There are caveats, however, to even the most straightforward behavioral genetics research. Because of the assumed low frequency of homosexuality in the general population, much of the twin research suffers from low sample sizes and population biases (Kendler et al. 2000). Even when a large, unbiased twin database was used (Kendler et al. 2000), families that were more accepting could certainly have been more likely to respond to questions, therefore creating a self-selection bias. More recent work has also thrown the entire enterprise of twin-based genetic studies into question (Schönemann 1997).

Caveats notwithstanding, there is a loose consensus among geneticists, if not social scientists (Butler 1990; Kitzinger 1995), that there is some evidence for a genetic predisposition to homosexuality (Kallmann 1952; Bailey et al. 1993; Risch et al. 1993; Ferveur et al. 1995; Hamer 1999; Rice et al. 1999a). There certainly is no single “gay gene”; the relative weak values for the heritability of sexuality clearly illustrate that if sexuality is indeed genetic, it depends on at least several genes and that these genes are not deterministic. Additionally, the low values for heritability imply the importance of societal factors and socialization that are often ignored in much of the scientific literature.


That last sentence is incredibly important here. The 'nature vs. nurture' debate on sexual orientation is far from settled and likely will never be; even though nature (genetics, hormone exposure) is clearly a contributing factor, it is also almost certainly not the only contributing factor.

Be careful of reading too much into positions of the late '90s where research on this subject was less mature and we anticipated a greater role for social influence. This is why I provided you with that article—it outlines, from the perspective of an educated individual on the subject, the current direction and position on the subject, which has been moving more and more into the realm of genetics playing a role.

We know social factors can have an impact on how a person matures. For example, in the twins study, pressure from one twin upon the other to behave heterosexually. But a foundation in genetics/biology is the supported consensus. You can read some more about the interplay at Wikipedia beyond what was outlined in the article I shared.

And you're leaning too much on sample size here. Each study done on the subject outlines weaknesses and provides direction for continued research to learn more or identify contradiction. Or at least that is the case for an honestly constructed study. What matters again is consensus among studies, and studies are generating some consensus in many areas even if research is ongoing (e.g. that genetics play a role, although how genetics plays a role is still being researched).

And yes, 'natural' most certainly does not always mean good. Natural can be a bad thing. But the only 'bad' here is subject to the moral objection of observers. Beyond that, no harm exists outside that presented by society (bigotry, disgust, disparagement, hate crime). I do remain open to hearing another example of harm—one which does not pertain to a morale view that it is wrong despite it harming nobody—but haven't seen a convincing argument from anyone.

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:But you believe it isn't marriage. But as we've discussed before, marriage doesn't belong to you, your religion, or indeed, any religion. The foundation of marriage predates Christianity and has formed across different cultures in the world, just as surely as spirituality and belief in varied concepts of 'god' or 'gods' have.

As we have discussed before, also, marriage has an anthropological objective, which is rooted in facilitating, protecting and providing legal support and resources for the projects of reproduction and childrearing. Talking about marriage without talking about 'the children' makes no sense - even in cases where a married couple have no children. Indeed, key legal aspects of marriage that have developed within the traditions of English common law (like consummation and adultery) are rendered meaningless when divorced from an assumption of sex complementarity. There are also precedents in American case law, as in Baker v. Nelson, which invoked '[t]he institution of marriage as a union of man and woman, uniquely involving the procreation and rearing of children within a family'.

The legal precedent in the United States of marriage being between a man and a woman is falling apart. SCOTUS will settle the matter more definitively but it is highly unlikely that Scalia's view on the subject will have sufficient support. Federal courts have almost unanimously overturned such clauses as unconstitutional. And much of the 'man and woman' clauses were actually added in relatively recent history in response to gay marriage support in Republican states. Same goes for any argument pertaining to children. By large, the United States does not define marriage on terms of having children.

As to the history of marriage, there's mixed support for your position here. It's roots prior to Christianity are not concerned primarily with children. And even if it is a religious concern today that marriage be tied to having children (the support for this argument today comes from a religious perspective, or in the United States largely from Republicans who want to support those views or create arguments opposing gay marriage) it does not matter. A gay couple should be able to marry without concern for children as surely as I should be able to marry without concern for children. And that pertains to a decision on my part not to have children, or a circumstance where I couldn't biologically have children.

Children are not a defining element of marriage outside the religious context (or those new legal efforts designed more around opposing gay marriage than around honest intent) in the United States (and many other countries in the world) and that is what concerns me, the law, and the country in terms of how it sees and defines marriage.

P.S. Reply semi-rushed. Sorry if some points aren't adequately clear. Give 'em a reread or ask for clarification. :)
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Re: Gay and Lesbian Marriage

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Tue Feb 17, 2015 1:21 pm

Fair enough, James. I shall strive to be charitable!

James wrote:As to history, first, society has been largely opposed to homosexuality. Society is pretty darn good at being opposed to almost anything it deems radically different or abnormal, and homosexuality is a poster child for such things. Not just opposed, violently, cruelly, viscerally opposed. While there are historic examples of prominent figures engaging in homosexual acts and relationships it is almost always in secrecy. This cultural or dogmatic bias is going to impact the thinking of philosophers, religious leaders, government leaders, and society. And this is going to impact the teachings of religion (it has), the actions of governments, the beliefs of philosophers, the actions of peoples.


Okay - first off, where we agree. I agree with you that anti-homosexual discrimination exists now, and it exists within society.

The questions of why does it exist, and what causes it, I don't think you've managed to answer satisfactorily. Your argument essentially boils down to a kind of circular logic, 'society does it because society does it', and the reasoning is rather vague and unsubstantive.

Also, your historical perspective is overgeneralised, and I think you could have stood to flesh it out a bit more. I don't think that the argument stands very well, that historical societies have been more opposed to what is radically different in principle, except insofar as the difference posed an actual threat to the social order. Classical historians, like Herodotos, actually deployed a kind of exoticism for what was 'radically different', particularly regarding the Iranians and the Persians. Confucius did also - not just once but repeatedly in the Analects (here, here and here) he very pointedly preferred the customs and company of barbarians and foreigners to what he saw as the decadent, insincere, surface-level manners of his fellow Chinese at the time. This exoticism is problematic nowadays for other reasons, but it doesn't constitute opposition.

This broad-strokes approach to history, particularly with respect to homosexuals, also simply doesn't work. In Classical Greek societies (Spartan, Athenian, Theban, Makedonian), in Roman society, in ancient pre-Israelite Near Eastern societies, in Indian society prior to the British, in certain Native American societies - homosexuality was not only tolerated as a private practice, it was practised openly. In Norse society, they had no problems with a homosexual man in the active role, but they considered a homosexual man who was 'ridden' by another man to be shameful and cowardly.

Suspicion and moral proscription of homosexuality as a practice was an innovation of the ancient Hebrews and the ancient Persians in the Near East, and of the Chinese classicists (who saw homosexuality as one of the reasons for the Shang Dynasty's decline and collapse). Proscriptions on homosexuality arose largely out of Axial Age societies and cultures, probably largely because Axial Age thinking emphasised universal forms of moral thought and protection of the weak as one of the most important moral axioms.

James wrote:But more to the point, who cares what a philosopher, religion, government, or history from another time has to say on this subject? It is meaningful to discuss why certain circumstances take their current form. It is interesting in terms of history. It is interesting as a subject of history. But any argument must necessarily translate to today to be relevant for consideration today.


Remember what Santayana had to say about that.

And I believe extrapolating from historical thought to present circumstances was precisely what I was doing. Jiang Qing is not an historical thinker, he's a modern-day one. And, I believe, a very important one to watch in China in the coming years.

James wrote:My position is that if we're to talk ethics the need to correlate the ends and means, at least in this case, are completely trumped by the ethical concerns of segregation, discrimination, bigotry—some products of the anti-homosexual views, actions, and legislation pressed by people who are opposed to homosexuals as people or homosexual intercourse/affection. If, in order to resolve ends and means, more harm is produced, the act, in my estimation, is immoral. Now some Christians might justify that position by invoking the afterlife, sin, or some other consideration—that's fine for them and their faith. It's not something any human outside their organization and views should be subjected to.


You know what my response is to this already. Or at least you should.

First, there is more to morality than Mill's harm principle.

Second, this is an appeal to relative privation. Segregation, discrimination and bigotry are all bad things - you won't find me disagreeing with me on that. But the causal connexion you're proposing, between any of these things and the question of public recognition of same-sex marriages, strikes me as a highly-attenuated one.

What is at stake here is not the right of gay people to live in the same communities as straight people, sit in busses next to straight people, go to the same schools as straight people or apply for loans on the same terms as straight people - physical segregation is not at issue here. If the question of equal access to the relevant legal rights and goods of marriage is at issue, then civil partnerships would be the proper way to address that.

In fact, I would say that the causal relationship goes the other way than what you're proposing. I think that in certain cases, opposition to same-sex marriage is caused by discrimination and bigotry. Not the other way around. But for many of us who do oppose same-sex marriage, personal animus or discrimination against homosexuals has nothing to do with it, and personal understandings of sexual morality and its proper social recognition have everything to do with it.

James wrote:As to our discussion, the moral imperative to connect the ends and means in this circumstance does not relate in any meaningful way I can envision to a homosexual's ability to love another homosexual. Biologically. Psychologically. Morally, that's in the eye of the beholder, organization, culture, etc.


Biologically, homosexual love precludes the possibility of procreation. The procreative element which drives heterosexual love is still present, but it is thwarted by the object - the failure to connect means and ends creates a circumstance where the full range of possibilities and life plans is severely self-limiting.

James wrote:I elaborated in response to Shikanosuke on the subject above. One may choose not to care what is or is not natural in a context, which is fine, but the word doesn't lose its meaning.


For what it's worth, though, I agree with you here. Insofar as by the word 'natural' we simply mean 'occurs in nature', yes, homosexuality is natural.

But to attempt to derive normative meaning from that is where you possibly run the danger of fallacious thinking.

James wrote:Be careful of reading too much into positions of the late '90s where research on this subject was less mature and we anticipated a greater role for social influence. This is why I provided you with that article—it outlines, from the perspective of an educated individual on the subject, the current direction and position on the subject, which has been moving more and more into the realm of genetics playing a role.

We know social factors can have an impact on how a person matures. For example, in the twins study, pressure from one twin upon the other to behave heterosexually. But a foundation in genetics/biology is the supported consensus. You can read some more about the interplay at Wikipedia beyond what was outlined in the article I shared.


No, that article you linked was from 2011, not from the late 1990's.

Your objections to the article are completely off-base. I do hope for your sake that you actually take the time and effort to read the things that you post here. The current direction of research into what causes homosexuality does acknowledge the genetic factor as significant, but both denies the existence of a single 'gay gene', and questions the scope of the degree of genetic causation and looking more into socialisation and social factors being relevant to forming sexual preference.

James wrote:The legal precedent in the United States of marriage being between a man and a woman is falling apart. SCOTUS will settle the matter more definitively but it is highly unlikely that Scalia's view on the subject will have sufficient support. Federal courts have almost unanimously overturned such clauses as unconstitutional. And much of the 'man and woman' clauses were actually added in relatively recent history in response to gay marriage support in Republican states. Same goes for any argument pertaining to children. By large, the United States does not define marriage on terms of having children.


This is not something that is immune to critique.

The SCotUS has also essentially ruled that people with money are entitled to influence our political system in completely unlimited ways. I don't think this is the right decision from the view of US case law generally or from the standpoint of political ethics, merely because the SCotUS ruled it to be constitutional.

James wrote:It's roots prior to Christianity are not concerned primarily with children.


[citation needed] there.

James wrote:A gay couple should be able to marry without concern for children as surely as I should be able to marry without concern for children. And that pertains to a decision on my part not to have children, or a circumstance where I couldn't biologically have children.


Regardless of your personal motives for marrying, you're still entering into an institution where the legal definitions of parenthood, consummation and adultery apply in full force. Under English common law, your wife is entitled to an annulment if you sire a child with a mistress outside the family, or if you 'can't perform' adequately to produce a child. The legal definition of 'consummation' applies explicitly to heterosexual partners.

The abrogation of English common law in these cases creates conditions which compromise the legal autonomy of married couples from encroachments, particularly by big business. The conservative concern about alterations to the objective, legal definition of marriage as it has existed pretty much forever, is a concern with basis and merit which deserves to be considered seriously.
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Re: Gay and Lesbian Marriage

Unread postby James » Tue Feb 17, 2015 4:21 pm

Thanks for your understanding in my unrefined reply earlier.

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:As to history, first, society has been largely opposed to homosexuality. Society is pretty darn good at being opposed to almost anything it deems radically different or abnormal, and homosexuality is a poster child for such things. Not just opposed, violently, cruelly, viscerally opposed. While there are historic examples of prominent figures engaging in homosexual acts and relationships it is almost always in secrecy. This cultural or dogmatic bias is going to impact the thinking of philosophers, religious leaders, government leaders, and society. And this is going to impact the teachings of religion (it has), the actions of governments, the beliefs of philosophers, the actions of peoples.

Okay - first off, where we agree. I agree with you that anti-homosexual discrimination exists now, and it exists within society.

The questions of why does it exist, and what causes it, I don't think you've managed to answer satisfactorily. Your argument essentially boils down to a kind of circular logic, 'society does it because society does it', and the reasoning is rather vague and unsubstantive.

Also, your historical perspective is overgeneralised, and I think you could have stood to flesh it out a bit more. I don't think that the argument stands very well, that historical societies have been more opposed to what is radically different in principle, except insofar as the difference posed an actual threat to the social order. Classical historians, like Herodotos, actually deployed a kind of exoticism for what was 'radically different', particularly regarding the Iranians and the Persians. Confucius did also - not just once but repeatedly in the Analects (here, here and here) he very pointedly preferred the customs and company of barbarians and foreigners to what he saw as the decadent, insincere, surface-level manners of his fellow Chinese at the time. This exoticism is problematic nowadays for other reasons, but it doesn't constitute opposition.

This broad-strokes approach to history, particularly with respect to homosexuals, also simply doesn't work. In Classical Greek societies (Spartan, Athenian, Theban, Makedonian), in Roman society, in ancient pre-Israelite Near Eastern societies, in Indian society prior to the British, in certain Native American societies - homosexuality was not only tolerated as a private practice, it was practised openly. In Norse society, they had no problems with a homosexual man in the active role, but they considered a homosexual man who was 'ridden' by another man to be shameful and cowardly.

Suspicion and moral proscription of homosexuality as a practice was an innovation of the ancient Hebrews and the ancient Persians in the Near East, and of the Chinese classicists (who saw homosexuality as one of the reasons for the Shang Dynasty's decline and collapse). Proscriptions on homosexuality arose largely out of Axial Age societies and cultures, probably largely because Axial Age thinking emphasised universal forms of moral thought and protection of the weak as one of the most important moral axioms.

Not much to disagree with here in terms of examples.

I did not exactly set out to definitively demonstrate why anti-homosexuality exists or what causes it, though. It should certainly be clear that a wide range of factors come into play across societies and cultures. But at the same time, it should go without saying that some factors take their toll. If you've got a religion identifying it negatively (typically to a greater extent) that will have a profound impact on how homosexuality is viewed within societies and cultures where that religion holds sway. And you can consider some universal factors. A heterosexual man, especially after having been exposed to societal intolerance, is going to have a negative response to homosexuality without other factors playing a role (e.g. society today now actively promotes tolerance and understanding). A heterosexual man has a gut level, so to speak, reprehension to the idea of sexual interaction with the same sex. This must surely contribute to the widespread lack of tolerance for homosexuality in cultures (you listed some examples of acceptance, to varied degrees at least, but the examples of intolerance through history are myriad).

Today in the United States, and many Western cultures, acceptance of homosexuality is growing. Minds are slowly changing and support is more widespread with each new generation. But still today there is widespread animosity and opposition to gay marriage. It goes well beyond a personal lack of acceptance, which is certainly understandable given the 'old brain' influences at play in terms of driving us to procreate, into positions that seek to impose anti-gay positions upon other people. In Western culture Christianity and its views play a prominent role here.

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:But more to the point, who cares what a philosopher, religion, government, or history from another time has to say on this subject? It is meaningful to discuss why certain circumstances take their current form. It is interesting in terms of history. It is interesting as a subject of history. But any argument must necessarily translate to today to be relevant for consideration today.

Remember what Santayana had to say about that.

And I believe extrapolating from historical thought to present circumstances was precisely what I was doing. Jiang Qing is not an historical thinker, he's a modern-day one. And, I believe, a very important one to watch in China in the coming years.

What particular caution is there for us to learn from through reprimands such as "those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it," in this case? I agree that it is important for history to be known and considered in modern decisions. In many regards, we'd be better off. But the greatest lessons I've learned from history on this particular subject tell us that we need to buck the larger trends of history and not repeat them.

Any correlation to history or even a modern day thinker, in my view, should be rooted in clear understanding as it pertains to modern day circumstance. Someone can present that something is harmful but unless they can demonstrate actual harm, are they worth listening to? Someone can present that something is immoral, but unless they can demonstrate why it is immoral and the context we must keep in mind, are they worth listening to? Someone may present that a course is dangerous, but unless they can demonstrate why it is dangerous, why listen to them?

In the case of gay marriage we have plenty of arguments telling us why it is bad for religion but no credible argument (in my opinion, that I have heard to date) why it will do harm to society or marriage (as viewed outside specific religious interpretation). There are two primary sides to this argument in my estimation: first, the societal side, where laws must not discriminate and must take all into account, and second, the religious side, where laws and morality may pertain to that particular religion's views.

I see it as an important distinction. If you were to present an argument on grounds of morality from the religious view—to define or defend your religious views—the moral views of your religion matter. But as soon as you extend any religious view of the subject outside the religion—to those who are not members of the religion, or to law where it impacts others—these views quickly become, to me, destructive and bigoted. An argument pertaining to society as a whole must necessarily be based on reasoning that can apply to society as a whole. These lines can be blurred for one who sees Christianity as a thing which should be applied to the government and the people (including those who are not Christian), but as a person who favors a separation of church and state I am completely opposed to that view. Christians should not dictate morality grounded in their particular religion (e.g. acting on homosexuality is a sin) to Buddhists, Wiccans, Agnostics, Atheists—whatever.

WeiWenDi wrote:[...]Second, this is an appeal to relative privation. Segregation, discrimination and bigotry are all bad things - you won't find me disagreeing with me on that. But the causal connexion you're proposing, between any of these things and the question of public recognition of same-sex marriages, strikes me as a highly-attenuated one.

What is at stake here is not the right of gay people to live in the same communities as straight people, sit in busses next to straight people, go to the same schools as straight people or apply for loans on the same terms as straight people - physical segregation is not at issue here. If the question of equal access to the relevant legal rights and goods of marriage is at issue, then civil partnerships would be the proper way to address that.

In fact, I would say that the causal relationship goes the other way than what you're proposing. I think that in certain cases, opposition to same-sex marriage is caused by discrimination and bigotry. Not the other way around. But for many of us who do oppose same-sex marriage, personal animus or discrimination against homosexuals has nothing to do with it, and personal understandings of sexual morality and its proper social recognition have everything to do with it.

I'm going to jump straight to the meat here.

I don't see the use in pointing out that the civil rights concerns of homosexuals that do not correlate with other civil rights concerns such as those in the civil rights movement. Yes, we're not segregating them on the bus, but we're segregating them in a range of legal means, many tied to marriage, and we're discriminating in many ways as well. You've defended here the 'right' of a store to refuse service to homosexuals, a view supported by others, and discrimination also takes many other forms as well (here a governor reversing anti-discrimination law already in place). These are the concerns at hand here—the concerns which do pertain to homosexual/LGBT rights.

How is opposition to same-sex marriage caused by discrimination on a material level?

You wrote, "[for you and many others opposed] personal animus or discrimination against homosexuals has nothing to do with it, and personal understandings of sexual morality and its proper social recognition have everything to do with it." This strikes me as a contradiction. Not animus, but discrimination. You're taking, to my eyes, an impetus granted by your view of morality and your view of 'proper social recognition' (what is that?), and using it as grounds to justify discrimination against those who do not share your views. It's one thing to use these factors as grounds for your own morality and your religion, but quite another to believe they should be imposed—forced—upon others.

I don't see merit to the concept of a 'civil partnership' as I don't believe a specific religion should be able to define marriage outside that religion. No need to rehash our disagreement here as we've gone over it a few times. I agree with your religion's right to define marriage within its own boundaries but am opposed to your view that your religious perspective should be imposed on the state or those outside your religion. It may simply be that we disagree here.

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:As to our discussion, the moral imperative to connect the ends and means in this circumstance does not relate in any meaningful way I can envision to a homosexual's ability to love another homosexual. Biologically. Psychologically. Morally, that's in the eye of the beholder, organization, culture, etc.

Biologically, homosexual love precludes the possibility of procreation. The procreative element which drives heterosexual love is still present, but it is thwarted by the object - the failure to connect means and ends creates a circumstance where the full range of possibilities and life plans is severely self-limiting.

It seems to me that you're making a specific scientific claim. That somehow the inability to produce the child must necessarily matter psychologically, hence it must impact their ability to experience the same sort of joy, happiness, fulfillment from their relationships and intercourse. Our biological drive and reward have evolved, it seems fair to say, specifically to aid in creating children, but the rewards they impart upon us are not in producing that child. Any reward we have there is in an individual desire to have that child. If anything, the biological/psychological drive is to procreate and move on. It's a thing we actively work against/overcome in monogamy.

A couple which cannot have a child is no less capable of loving one another, having a fulfilling relationship, enjoying sexual intercourse, than a couple which can have a child.

WeiWenDi wrote:For what it's worth, though, I agree with you here. Insofar as by the word 'natural' we simply mean 'occurs in nature', yes, homosexuality is natural.

But to attempt to derive normative meaning from that is where you possibly run the danger of fallacious thinking.

I don't think I have? Or at least such certainly hasn't been my intent.

My concerns on the subject are simply those of civil rights and consequences. It is a matter, to me, of discrimination and civil rights and nobody is presenting a good argument against it outside the context of their personal belief structure.

WeiWenDi wrote:No, that article you linked was from 2011, not from the late 1990's.

Your objections to the article are completely off-base. I do hope for your sake that you actually take the time and effort to read the things that you post here. The current direction of research into what causes homosexuality does acknowledge the genetic factor as significant, but both denies the existence of a single 'gay gene', and questions the scope of the degree of genetic causation and looking more into socialisation and social factors being relevant to forming sexual preference.

I bungled this reply rushing and misidentified what you were discussing through the context you quoted. I'm going to try again.

Here you're 'not seeing the forest for the trees'. We have not identified a 'gay gene'. Professionals expect that we never will. It is the expectation of professionals that any genetic impact will be based on a more complex interaction insofar as genetics are concerned and that multiple causes are viable to produce the complex phenomena that is homosexuality, or as the article says, "This means that there are likely many genes that play a role, and no single gene (or even the totality of relevant genes) is deterministic." This is one reason why it is important to take in the current conclusions, or the sum argument of that article, rather than drill down to specific points. It is also important in my view to do so when reading the conclusions and perspectives of professionals from a non-professional perspective.

The conclusions of research as a body—the science of the subject—is in terms of biological concern. Genetics, hormonal development in the womb. Research into social contribution is ongoing, as it absolutely should be, but the body of research is taking us into the biological direction. We're continuing to branch off into the subject, such as in reviewing epigenetics.

If you want to say that there is much we don't know, that's true. But it's another to press an argument which disagrees overall with the present course of science and research on the topic without basing that perspective on science and research. At least insofar as the concern pertains to science.

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:The legal precedent in the United States of marriage being between a man and a woman is falling apart. SCOTUS will settle the matter more definitively but it is highly unlikely that Scalia's view on the subject will have sufficient support. Federal courts have almost unanimously overturned such clauses as unconstitutional. And much of the 'man and woman' clauses were actually added in relatively recent history in response to gay marriage support in Republican states. Same goes for any argument pertaining to children. By large, the United States does not define marriage on terms of having children.

This is not something that is immune to critique.

The SCotUS has also essentially ruled that people with money are entitled to influence our political system in completely unlimited ways. I don't think this is the right decision from the view of US case law generally or from the standpoint of political ethics, merely because the SCotUS ruled it to be constitutional.

I agree that SCOTUS (they themselves inexplicably capitalize the full acronym) is not infallible. Far from it, they are also political. But like it or not, they are the final legal say in the United States. I agree mostly about Citizens United (the greatest harm is a product of not only that ruling but others expanding it). But the criticism of SCOTUS, here, does not address the overarching legal narrative. Federal courts, with precious few exceptions, have been striking down legal grounds of defining marriage between a man and a women across the country and continue to do so today. The legality of same-sex marriage in the now majority of states has been largely guided by multiple such rulings at different levels of federal court. It is not a subject of bias in SCOTUS (which is more right leaning than left) but rather the consistent narrative.

Unless SCOTUS somehow comes around to undo all of that—to take a narrative against the norm of federal courts—SCOTUS will be ruling with the whole. And if they do strike it down, they will be the remarkable exception. The position opposing same-sex marriage on legal grounds in the United States (not just here, but again, many Western countries) is crumbling. And even if SCOTUS does rule against the current standard/trends (I doubt very much that they will, though we'll probably get some bonus commentary from Justice Scalia), it will not survive terribly long into the future.

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:It's roots prior to Christianity are not concerned primarily with children.

[citation needed] there.

After some additional reading and re-reading on the subject I'm going to have to cite against myself in that marriage, in the form of a family contract, was in the very least concerned with children from earlier histories. It more or less governed the woman as property and a marked concern was her ability to produce a child.

With agreement on that subject, my next question to you, upon reflecting on the extent to which this new information should apply today, is to what extent does and should this history play in modern marriage? We certainly (or at least typically, and we hope) do not honor roots in treating the woman as property. And modern marriage no longer holds any contract on the production of children (again with limited exception where religious views have evolved). We've already discarded this requirement (at least literally as it once was) and I see that as a good thing.

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:A gay couple should be able to marry without concern for children as surely as I should be able to marry without concern for children. And that pertains to a decision on my part not to have children, or a circumstance where I couldn't biologically have children.

Regardless of your personal motives for marrying, you're still entering into an institution where the legal definitions of parenthood, consummation and adultery apply in full force. Under English common law, your wife is entitled to an annulment if you sire a child with a mistress outside the family, or if you 'can't perform' adequately to produce a child. The legal definition of 'consummation' applies explicitly to heterosexual partners.

The abrogation of English common law in these cases creates conditions which compromise the legal autonomy of married couples from encroachments, particularly by big business. The conservative concern about alterations to the objective, legal definition of marriage as it has existed pretty much forever, is a concern with basis and merit which deserves to be considered seriously.

Well, first, that was an awful, biased article.

"And this, I argue, reveals what is really at issue here. There was no demand for "gay marriage" and this has nothing to do with gay rights. Instead, it is a strategic move in the modern state's drive to assume direct control over the reproduction of the population, bypassing our interpersonal encounters. This is not about natural justice, but the desire on the part of biopolitical tyranny to destroy marriage and the family as the most fundamental mediating social institution."

Are you kidding me?

And no, gay marriage does not mean 'adultery' needs to be dropped as criteria for annulment.

[citation needed] on your commentary regarding the law, consumption, and annulment. I couldn't find information to support the position on a federal level, only a few states which support it.

So to be clear, here, is it your position that marriage should not extend to people who cannot have a child? Including heterosexual couples, here? And if so, beyond your morale/religious beliefs, that the rest of society should be subject to those rules?

To say nothing of the fact that, once we press this on a federal level (national), this is again imposing a specific religious view of marriage upon others—a view not supported by all religion.
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Re: Gay and Lesbian Marriage

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Sun Feb 22, 2015 4:49 am

First off:

James wrote:I don't see the use in pointing out that the civil rights concerns of homosexuals that do not correlate with other civil rights concerns such as those in the civil rights movement. Yes, we're not segregating them on the bus, but we're segregating them in a range of legal means, many tied to marriage, and we're discriminating in many ways as well. You've defended here the 'right' of a store to refuse service to homosexuals, a view supported by others, and discrimination also takes many other forms as well (here a governor reversing anti-discrimination law already in place). These are the concerns at hand here—the concerns which do pertain to homosexual/LGBT rights.


I considered reporting your post for this paragraph. I was deeply offended by it. I'm still not certain whether or not I chose rightly in not doing so, because you are very clearly, blatantly misrepresenting my position and denigrating me personally.

I have not defended the 'right' of a business 'to refuse service to homosexuals', or discrimination in any other form. I have defended the right of businesses to not provide a specific service to the public which violates their religion or their ethics. It is not discrimination for a Jewish deli to refuse to serve a pulled-pork sandwich to a Gentile customer no matter how much that customer might want it; by that very same token, it is not discrimination for a Christian bakery to refuse to bake cakes commissioned for same-sex marriages. In principle, it has nothing to do with the sexual orientation of the person ordering the cake, any more than the Jewish deli owner's refusal has anything to do with discrimination against non-Jews!

James wrote:Today in the United States, and many Western cultures, acceptance of homosexuality is growing. Minds are slowly changing and support is more widespread with each new generation. But still today there is widespread animosity and opposition to gay marriage. It goes well beyond a personal lack of acceptance, which is certainly understandable given the 'old brain' influences at play in terms of driving us to procreate, into positions that seek to impose anti-gay positions upon other people. In Western culture Christianity and its views play a prominent role here.


To be quite blunt, I think you're looking for a bogeyman in the wrong place here.

I'm certainly not imposing 'anti-gay positions' on anyone else. You're certainly free to believe whatever you like and to behave however you like. Likewise, Orthodoxy, whilst proclaiming homosexuality to be sinful, never forces anyone to accept its teachings, nor calls for homosexuals to be punished by law. There is no 'imposition' of anti-gay prejudice or ideas on anyone, no call to exclude or commit violence against the people who struggle with same-sex attractions! The teaching that homosexuality is a vicious distortion of the human sexual urge, is not to be confused with bigotry against the people who do it.

James wrote:In the case of gay marriage we have plenty of arguments telling us why it is bad for religion but no credible argument (in my opinion, that I have heard to date) why it will do harm to society or marriage (as viewed outside specific religious interpretation).


I presented you with one. Both from the Guardian (not a newspaper known for its conservative or religious leanings) and from the Australian public radio site. You ignored the first and threw a tantrum about the second.

James wrote:I see it as an important distinction. If you were to present an argument on grounds of morality from the religious view—to define or defend your religious views—the moral views of your religion matter. But as soon as you extend any religious view of the subject outside the religion—to those who are not members of the religion, or to law where it impacts others—these views quickly become, to me, destructive and bigoted. An argument pertaining to society as a whole must necessarily be based on reasoning that can apply to society as a whole. These lines can be blurred for one who sees Christianity as a thing which should be applied to the government and the people (including those who are not Christian), but as a person who favors a separation of church and state I am completely opposed to that view. Christians should not dictate morality grounded in their particular religion (e.g. acting on homosexuality is a sin) to Buddhists, Wiccans, Agnostics, Atheists—whatever.


Religions take moral views which apply to those outside it all the time. Secularism particularly.

You yourself have taken moral views which apply outside your religion. Particularly with regard to vaccinations - you are dictating morality grounded in your worldview upon those who do not share it (Christian Scientists, Scientologists, faith-healers). You are engaging in a kind of special pleading for your own religious outlook and denying it to others - the entire takeaway for those of us who belong to other religious groups, then (even those who might agree with you on these particular topics), is to do as you say and not as you do.

James wrote:You wrote, "[for you and many others opposed] personal animus or discrimination against homosexuals has nothing to do with it, and personal understandings of sexual morality and its proper social recognition have everything to do with it." This strikes me as a contradiction. Not animus, but discrimination. You're taking, to my eyes, an impetus granted by your view of morality and your view of 'proper social recognition' (what is that?), and using it as grounds to justify discrimination against those who do not share your views. It's one thing to use these factors as grounds for your own morality and your religion, but quite another to believe they should be imposed—forced—upon others.

I don't see merit to the concept of a 'civil partnership' as I don't believe a specific religion should be able to define marriage outside that religion.


The big thorny problem in the centre of this discussion is that marriage is a legal reality which has adapted over time to serve the purposes of religious people. That legal reality has presumed and still presumes sex complementarity, for the purposes of legally defining consummation and adultery. Just because the new legal definitions of both under the new regime of same-sex marriage have not yet been tested doesn't mean that they don't matter, or won't matter to the definition of the institution as a whole.

James wrote:It seems to me that you're making a specific scientific claim. That somehow the inability to produce the child must necessarily matter psychologically, hence it must impact their ability to experience the same sort of joy, happiness, fulfillment from their relationships and intercourse.


Again, taking 'happiness' as the sole baseline or catch-all measure of a relationship's health is questionable at best. It certainly isn't 'scientific' in any way, and depends entirely on an a priori assumption that you are making (and subsequently refusing to clarify or quantify in any conceptually-meaningful or quantifiable way) of what is valuable to any given couple. It's better to step back and take a look at just two measurable criteria - faithfulness within a sexual relationship, and length of a sexual relationship. Generally speaking, in our society, faithfulness within a sexual relationship is considered a credible barometer of its health, even if it is not followed by everyone.

The Bell-Weinberg study from 1978, though it has faced severe criticism in citation for failing to take into account the impact of the AIDS epidemic, shows very clearly that in this specific period, the broad-strokes norm for relationships amongst sexually-active homosexuals was short-term, low-stakes and low-information, with the vast majority of respondents reporting more than 50 sexual partners in their lifetimes. Since the AIDS epidemic, several studies have shown that homosexual relationships have developed ways of coping with sexually-transmitted infection, but current studies (like the one referenced here and this one as well) seem to show that monogamy is something honoured by same-sex couples, particularly same-sex men, more in the breach than in the observance. Dan Savage has been an open advocate of 'monogamish' infidelity as a norm within male homosexual relationships that he hopes will begin taking hold within heterosexual relationships. Quite frankly, this disturbs me.

It is very, very difficult to find statistics on the length of homosexual relationships that aren't commissioned by groups who have a dog in the fight on either side, which is a shame. (I pulled the above studies on same-sex faithfulness from a range of websites, both for and against same-sex marriage. There are a lot of biased studies out there; these are the ones which are cited broadly and seem the most credible.) But two studies by the late developmental psychology expert Larry Kurdek (both of which are linked here) show that same-sex relationships are dissolved more frequently, all other factors being equal, than heterosexual relationships.

Kurdek posits two possible causal factors - one of which being that marriage itself creates liminal barriers to leaving a relationship. The other one is precisely the presence of children in a relationship, which itself constitutes a reason for a relationship to continue!

James wrote:After some additional reading and re-reading on the subject I'm going to have to cite against myself in that marriage, in the form of a family contract, was in the very least concerned with children from earlier histories. It more or less governed the woman as property and a marked concern was her ability to produce a child.

With agreement on that subject, my next question to you, upon reflecting on the extent to which this new information should apply today, is to what extent does and should this history play in modern marriage? We certainly (or at least typically, and we hope) do not honor roots in treating the woman as property. And modern marriage no longer holds any contract on the production of children (again with limited exception where religious views have evolved). We've already discarded this requirement (at least literally as it once was) and I see that as a good thing.


With regard to your first question - that really depends on what values the society ought to be serving, doesn't it?

The idea of wives-as-property is something that was largely overcome by the legal model of marriage as it held in Europe during the Christian era. Wives were generally not treated as property after Rome converted, and it was generally held to be the case that women themselves were allowed to own property through the institution of the dowry. On the other hand, the idea that marriage grants legal rights, protection and access to a broad array of social goods for any natural children of two spouses is something that societies have tended to encourage even more up until the present day... though since the 1970's we have seen something of a regress in that area.

That each idea has a history, within the context of the same institution, is no reason to equate them. The questions are, what are the proper ends of the institution, and how best can the means of that institution be matched to them to promote human flourishing and the development of healthy characters? Certainly not every married couple has to have children, but that's no reason to deny natural children the legal rights, protection and social goods that they already enjoy as a result of being born within a marriage!

James wrote:Well, first, that was an awful, biased article. Are you kidding me?


You'll have to take that up with Milbank.

But on the legal aspects of the matter, he's factually correct.

And he has a good case to make on the historical side as well. Apart from Baker v. Nelson, the first appeals for same-sex 'marriage' began happening in the mid-1980's after Karen Thompson's lawsuit for care rights for her injured partner in Minnesota. But these appeals were not endogenous to the homosexual liberation movement from the very beginning! It is not a mere coincidence that these calls for same-sex 'marriage' happened alongside Reaganomics and Thatchernomics. The economic self-sufficiency of the family was already being eroded by Reagan's anti-labour policies, as a single earner's wage was no longer sufficient to support it. A similar development happened in Great Britain over this same period.

Milbank, being a theologian and social theorist whose antipathy toward neoliberalism generally (and Thatcher specifically) has never been in question, no doubt rightly regards with suspicion the motives with which corporations, including such outfits as Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Microsoft, Amazon, Nabisco, Nike, Target and Nordstrom have suddenly begun bankrolling and publicly supporting same-sex marriage initiatives. None of these companies has been particularly caring toward workers. Most of them are openly anti-union. Practically all of them have contributed to the depression of American wages by sending jobs overseas, including a few (notably Nike and Nordstrom) who have still employed sweatshop labour in recent years.

That certainly smells suspicious to me, as I have mentioned before; I imagine this is why Milbank framed the issue the way he did in his own article, but of course I can't speak for his own actual line of thinking.
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