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Someone as clever as Posner should know better than to address the question of whether or not homosexuality is innate (or 'natural'), since the (false) charge that it isn't, that it's a choice, is a red herring that should be disregarded by those who defend the rights of homosexuals

This is so for two main reasons. First, even if homosexuality were a choice, it wouldn't follow that it's wrong.

Second, and relatedly, to engage the person who says it's a choice is to tacitly assume that it's wrong. After all, the question of choice arises primarily in contexts in which someone has done something that is widely thought to be wrong. We might, for example, ask of someone who has committed a crime whether he had a choice. But we ask this to determine whether the person is culpable for the wrong that's been done. We don't ask it to determine whether a wrong has been done. That's presupposed. To insist, therefore, that homosexuality is not a choice (in the face of the charge that it is) is to presuppose, if only implicitly, that engaging in homosexual behaviour is wrong. But that, of course, is precisely one of the issues under debate. It's not something that the opponent of homosexual rights can simply assume up front. In short, we grant those who oppose homosexual rights too much by even engaging in debate with them about whether homosexuality is a choice.

Terry Bennett

I'm not talking about permission; I'm talking about persuasion. You think it is arrogant for me to disagree with you; I think it is arrogant for you to demand that I run the status quo through your filter.

Gays already have everything that goes with the word 'marriage', including the part I consider inappropriate: equal status as foster parents. What they are demanding is the word itself. They may well be right that it is time to put the word to better use by making it more inclusive, but conservatives are at least equally right in asserting that the word 'marriage' has historically been used to describe a particular kind of relationship with specific attributes. This was not done to hurt anybody's feelings. It was a recognition that there was something distinct about a man and woman raising a family together, different from a man's love for his father or his friend.

So, if we are going to redefine the word in our time, let's do it on a rational basis. (Hank's post turned into something else entirely.) Technology aside, the fact remains that a sexual relationship between two men or two women does not produce children. Is that a relevant distinction today? Maybe, maybe not.

I'm not suggesting that you beg me. I'm explaining that if you want me to agree you need to convince me. Instead all I'm hearing is accusations that anyone who doesn't see it must be stupid, and it is with that cheap tactic that I have taken issue.

Adam Csor

"Gays already have everything that goes with the word 'marriage', including the part I consider inappropriate: equal status as foster parents."

How are you defining "marriage"? Your statement isn't even correct in those states permitting same sex marriage. Those couples cannot file joint federal tax returns, for example. Nor can a Massachusetts female citizen married to a French female citizen sponsor her partner for a U.S. permanent residency even though they are legally married in the eyes of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

How can a same sex couple in Tennessee have the same rights in marriage as a married heterosexual couple when the Tennessee constitution specifically prohibits same sex marriage? Or in Virginia in light of the Marshall-Newman Amendment?


Bennett above is correct. Gay marriage proponents seem disinterested in persuading others to accept their viewpoint. Rather, anyone who does not swallow the gay rights agenda hook, line, and sinker must be a homophobe, fascist, primeval knuckle dragger, fringe religious fundamentalist, idiot, or worse.

Posner's original post above has attracted an above average number of comments in a short time. Anyone who has enjoyed the experience of cleaning up after horses on a parade ground may appreciate the parallel.

Mark Adams Brown

I. The Selective Campaign For Human Rights

1. Protecting Children. If parents deny their offspring child support, the parents are jailed. But if parents deny their child the fundamental right to a mother and father, we salute the parents for “advancing” human rights. Regardless of their sexual orientation, adults who would intentionally deny artificially-created children a mother and a father should be legally barred from artificial insemination and surrogately-conceiving children.

II. "Marriage": A Property Regime to Benefit Children

2. What Is State-Sanctioned Marriage? It is a pre-defined set of property rights given spouses to encourage raising better children. The State has no capacity to bless marriages. State-sanctioned "marriage" (as distinct from a blessing by a religious authority or a private pledge between two persons) is designed to give a couple, and especially the wife, mutual property rights and expensive financial benefits (pensions, medical insurance) that enhance the couple's financial stability to encourage them to invest resources in bearing and nurturing children. Its rationale, which justifies society paying for the extra benefits, does not apply to same-sex couples who are naturally, and also ethically, disqualified from parenthood.

3. Ethically Disqualified From Parenthood. Same-sex couples, like some single adults who rely on artificial insemination or surrogates to produce children without a spouse, ethically disqualify themselves from parenthood. They selfishly withhold from children a FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT - the right to be born to a mother and a father. Artificially conceiving a child, with premeditated intent to deny the child a mother and father, is child abuse.

Mark Adams Brown
May 14, 2012

Adam Csor

" Gay marriage proponents seem disinterested in persuading others to accept their viewpoint."


Scroll down to the chart under the heading "Older Polls."

For a group disinterested in persuasion, those proponents have had rather incredible success in changing public opinion over the last 16 years. Either you are incorrect that proponents are disinterested in persuading opponents, or the argument in favor of marriage equality makes itself. I'm inclined to believe it's a little bit of both.

Adam Csor

It's interesting that while this debate raged in the comments, Governor Lincoln Chafee, a former Republican Senator and now independent Governor of Rhode Island, issued an executive order declaring that Rhode Island will recognize out-of-state same sex marriages. For a small state bordered on two sides by states that already recognize same sex marriage, it's effectively the the ninth state to recognize same sex marriage. It's the third state to do so just this year.


Feelings are more powerful than fact. Religion plays on superstitious feelings. Abrahamic religions (and their scribes and leaders old and new) are all convinced they are correct about everything, especially old feelings. Thus bigots are enshrined and promoted. QED


"Bennett above is correct. Gay marriage proponents seem disinterested [sic] in persuading others to accept their viewpoint."

Perhaps that's because the idea that gay marriage shouldn't be permitted is preposterous on its face. Trying to persuade someone who's antecedently committed to the idea that it shouldn't be (e.g., because that's what his/her preferred superstition asserts) is a waste of valuable breath. It's like trying to teach a pig to sing.

"Rather, anyone who does not swallow the gay rights agenda hook, line, and sinker must be a homophobe, fascist, primeval knuckle dragger, fringe religious fundamentalist, idiot, or worse."

Not all those who oppose gay rights are knuckle-draggers, fascists, or idiots, but all of them are homophobes - i.e., anti-gay bigots - of one kind or another. They're like racists: they deny, on morally irrelevant grounds, that a class people have certain rights in order to marginalize those people.



This is not a debate of morality (at least not where the evidence strongly suggests that homosexuality is an incidental of biology, not of morality, or lack there of), nor am I demanding acceptance.We Simply want to have what others are entitled to enjoy. And yes, to be told that we cannot marry because the legal definition of marriage is impressed upon us by religion, is an impedement on our rights as US citizens. I would suggest that is us being forced to abide by religion. We are being told that we cannot marry another man or woman because it is not natural or it is immoral. Our attraction to another human being is as natural as breathing, and again is not an issue of morality, but of nature.

Brent Davis

Marriage is not simply a contract between consenting adults with the possibility of sexual activity. Marriage has always meant the union of a man and a woman, generally for the purpose of legitimate procreation, and provides for a legitimate union of opposite genders, and their cohabitation with their offspring, whose separation under normal circumstances is and should be protected.

Marriage is generally the one universally acceptable condition where members of the opposite sex can be safely and honorably be left alone together with their children if they have any.

If a man attempts to be alone with a woman outside of this relationship it is a cause for concern and even alarm because of the sexual pressures that may ensue. (I certainly was led to understand this by a couple of fathers during my growing up years.) Ths is why we have segregated restrooms and changing areas: to protect us when we are vulnerable from unwanted sexual pressure and attention.

If someone of the same sex violates our privacy in a restroom or changing area by making unwanted sexual advances or engaging in voyeurism, we are understandably outraged. They are taking advantage of our vulnerability and harming civilized association by allowing expression of their sexual desires, which should normally be reserved for the opposite sex and fully expressed only after honorably winning the agreement of that member of the opposite sex and, ideally, entering into a marital relationship where such contact is clearly mutually desired and expected. This method of containing the sexual appetite is one that promotes safety, honor, the parental needs of children and the family needs of society. Marriage has thus become an honored institution.

Homosexual relationships are a violation of the understandably normal civilized sexual activity for procreation, that is of the institution of marriage. Homosexuality is a perversion of human sexual design--a vagina is designed for a penis--and results, if not checked, in the depraved mind that would allow an individual to continually engage in perverted or uncontrolled behavior: it does nothing to promote safe, faithful and civilized childrearing by both biological parents--those with the most in common with their children biologically. Those engaging in homosexual behavior see the honor given to those who commit to marriage relationships and they long for the same respect and privilege but they are violating the character of restraint necessary to deserve such honor. They cannot produce children with each other and so, to raise children they must deprive a child of at least one of his or her biological parents and of the honorable institution of marriage which should be the role model for the child in continued procreation and societal development. Those who seek to have their depraved unions stamped with the honorable label of marriage must change the definition of marriage to do so and by so doing do harm to a very important and necessary societal institution in which children can be honorably raised by their biological parents, those who have the most in common with them and therefore are most able to relate to them and understand them biologically.

As far as being a "homophobe," that is merely an ad hominem smokescreen thown up to avoid dealing with real arguments by potentially caring and helpful people. A person does not need to engage in homosexual behavior any more than people need to smoke, philander, or overeat--regardless of one's tendencies. There are groups that have successfully helped people behaving homosexually develop heterosexual attraction and behave heterosexually. That is what is necessary for one who is behaving homosexually to become married: regardless of his or her desire, they must behave heterosexually. It's his or her choice. He or she is free to choose. I personally will treat him or her just as much as a human being as any other person regardless of his or her choice. A private person's sexual choices are no business of mine. If a person's homosexual behavior becomes known to me, I will take that into account in dealing with that person just I would take into account that person's being a smoker, a philanderer or an overeater. I don't want my children doing any of those things, although my father smoked and my mother overate, and I am not a paterphobe or a materphobe. If my children get involved in these activities I will certainly try to help them out.

Now, a couple engaged in homosexual behavior can be faithful to one another and this is noble. They can be extremely talented and can do all sorts of things for the benefit of society. They can be "better" in many ways than particular "married" couples. They can be best friends, they can win Nobel prizes, they can win Pulitzers...but they cannot have children naturally with mutual DNA and they cannot be married, to each other.

Mark Adams Brown

An earlier comment stated: "30 years of studying homosexual parenting (yes, gay people have been raising kids for that long) has uniformly shown that children are no worse off with 2 daddies, and in fact statistically turn out marginally better. These children are also no more likely to be gay. So I don't quite see why you "expect" a heterosexual couple to be better, but I assure you it has no factual basis."

No authority was cited by the blogger.

There are plenty of studies to the contrary.

Stanton L. Jones, professor of psychology at Wheaton College, recently observed at http://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/01/same-sex-science (last visited 5-15-12):

"The small bit of research that exists suggests increased rates of same-sex orientation among the children of such couples; my informal synthesis would be that gay parenting approximately triples or quadruples the rate of same-sex attraction. It may be technically true that “the vast majority of these children eventually grow up to be heterosexual,” but only because if being raised by same-sex parents increases the occurrence of same-sex attraction from 2 percent to 8 percent, 92 percent are still heterosexual. But a fourfold increase is still a sizable effect statistically."

And, at http://unitedfamiliesinternational.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/98-say-no-to-same-sex-adoption/ (last visited 5-15-12), a dozen studies are cited on the subject.

Mark Adams Brown
May 15, 2012

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Any discussion of the problems associated with gay parenting, in particular the systematic intentional separation of children from one or both biological parents?


Let me amplify Professor Velleman's comment above. Opposition to same-sex marriage need not be premised upon hostility towards gays nor upon religious commitments. In fact, if the apparent majority of liberal philosophers and legal theorists who subscribed to liberal neutrality -- e.g., the Rawlsian ideal of "public reason" -- paid more attention to the implications of their commitments, they would realize that _they_ must oppose same-sex marriage. I think I demonstrate this pretty conclusively here:


Adam Csor

Mark Brown,

Studies supporting the original commenters position include:




The final link is interesting in that it is part of the record in Perry v. Brown. One of Judge Walker's findings of fact in Perry v. Brown is that, "[a] parent's gender is not a factor in a child's adjustment. An individual's sexual orientation does not determine whether that individual can be a good parent. Children raised by gay or lesbian parents are as likely as children raised by heterosexual parents to be healthy, successful and well-adjusted."


Walker could conclude as such because the defense could not provide any credible evidence that it was inaccurate. Walker found one of the defense's expert witnesses to be lacking "the qualifications to offer opinion testimony."


JB above proves the point well argued by Bennett earlier, with which I agreed -- namely, that gay marriage advocates are not out to persuade anyone; rather, they prefer to label anyone who dares to question their views a "homophobe." Such name calling is fair game to gay marriage advocates. Yet they would erupt with indignation were anyone to call them "faggots" or "dykes" or similarly offensive slurs. Hypocrites.

And, to the commenter above who crowed that gay marriage "proponents have had rather incredible success in changing public opinion over the last 16 years," please excuse those of us who gauge public opinion by measures other than whatever Katie Couric or Lady Gaga may think.


Adam Csor


Lady Gaga and Katie Couric? Lady Gaga I sort of understand, but why Couric? For what it's worth, I'm using Gallup to gauge the success of marriage equalty proponents' successful efforts at persuasion. http://www.gallup.com/poll/154529/half-americans-support-legal-gay-marriage.aspx What metric are you using?

And I'm ok with being called a faggot. As I've been told by my lesbian friends that I am both gay and lesbian, you can call me a dyke too if you'd like, though it'd probably be confusing to a lot of people.

I'll let you decide whether you're ok with being a called homophobe. Remember, it's your choice entirely.

Adam Csor

Also, on the persuasion front, as is noted by Posner in the original post, the most effective lobbying for gay rights is not done by what gays and lesbians say or argue, but by simply living out lives.

Several studies support that hypothesis, including http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/comeout1.html.

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Christopher Graves

I disagree with both Judge Posner and Professor Becker on their stance concerning the legal right of homosexuals to receive public recognition of their sexual union. I do agree that it is a "puzzle" why so many people have climbed aboard this bandwagon. First, contrary to Judge Posner's claim that homosexuality is natural, throughout history all cultures have found something amiss about homosexuality. On this claim, consider the research of sociologist Steven Goldberg. All world religions today condemn homosexuality, not just the Abrahamic ones. Furthermore, when the vast majority of people, including left-liberals, are presented with implicit tests on their reaction to homosexuality, they are negative. For example, consider MC Steffens, J Homosex. 2005;49(2):39-66, "Implicit and explicit attitudes towards Lesbians and Gay Men." Anyone can take similar tests at:


What these universal and enduring visceral reactions to homosexuality reveal is that there are good reasons, even if they cannot be fully articulated, to be careful about proceeding with normalizing behavior that has long been viewed at odds with a stable, thriving community as well as a healthy individual.

Even then, we can articulate some of these reasons and explicitly object to defenders of mainstreaming homosexuality. One consideration that we can document is that as society has become more permissive, people's happiness has decreased. There has been a significant drop in the level of happiness in developed countries since the early 1970's. See "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness" By Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers--available online. There might be a host of reasons for this fall-off, but one might very well be the Sexual Revolution. And one reason to come to this conclusion is that people who practice more traditional sexual mores are more likely to be happy. For example, people who are married (I mean heterosexual marriage) and are faithful to their mates are much more likely to be happy. Homosexuals and others who engage in sexual misconduct are less likely to be happy. This is true even in "gay friendly" countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark. Homosexuals are also much more likely to suffer from psychological problems such as depression and anxiety disorders. Consider J.M. Bailey(1999): Commentary: Homosexuality and mental illness. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry. 56, 876-880.

Male homosexuals are much more likely to suffer from a variety of physical ailments due to the nature of the male homosexual sex act. HIV/AIDS, anal cancer, and a range of related diseases grouped under the term "Gay Bowel Syndrome" are much more likely to occur to those practicing gay sex. Hepatitis B is much more prevalent among homosexuals than the general population. Homosexuality is a health threat, and it is because the human body is simply not designed for homosexual sex. This is one reason people have traditionally viewed homosexuality as unnatural.

As for the claim that conservative Christians and Jews should have no voice in this matter, one cannot reasonably embrace the view that all perspectives should be considered in discussing public policy as Judge Posner does in his defense of democracy, and then disqualify millions who take a traditional view of sex and marriage who base their stand on religious belief. It is also inconsistent to embrace a theory of natural rights, which the American political and legal system is based upon, and then flaunt what that same metaphysical/religious paradigm defines as unnatural.


One solution to the ongoing Debate about Alternate forms of Human Sexuality and it's social aspects; Hold a Nationwide referendum on the issue like we did when the "Bill of Rights" was put up for Ratification. It then becomes a simple matter of either "Puting up or Shuting up".

On occasion, "Democracy" does have it's uses...

Terry Bennett

Obviously this is an emotional issue for many of those commenting. I'm not trying to yank anybody's chain; this is just what we do, discussing issues among a diverse group of intelligent people. So here are some additional thoughts, pro and con.

The human species reproduces sexually. In order for the species to sustain itself, individuals must, at least during some phase of their lives, be moved to engage in heterosexual sex. Thus I would go so far as to say that the presence of the heterosexual impulse is a necessary human attribute. Most people do feel the heterosexual impulse, so it is fair to say that it is "normal", at least in a statistical sense.

Lefthanded people, such as I, are not "normal". Most people do not have this attribute. There was a time in history when lefthandedness was a distinct debility, but society has made subtle adjustments over the centuries and this disadvantage is no longer perceptible.

The absence of the heterosexual impulse is both abnormal, since most people have no such absence, and a debility, in that it precludes an individual left to his or her own devices from enacting this necessary human process.

Note that an asexual person has exactly this same debility, and a bisexual person does not. The absence of the heterosexual impulse is what matters. The presence of the homosexual impulse is an irrelevant triviality.

The homosexual impulse is similar to the pedophiliac impulse in that they are both abnormal, statistically. These two impulses differ in that the homosexual impulse is more or less benign and can be indulged in such a way that it doesn't really hurt anybody, whereas the pedophiliac impulse is uniformly negative and undesirable, and needs to be confronted and rebuked by society at large for the protection of our weaker members, i.e., children.

None of this is a moral judgment. It's more of a medical observation. To all our homosexual brothers and sisters, you have something wrong with you. It doesn't mean you should be hated. I think everyone who has posted here agrees you should not be hated. It doesn't mean you are a bad person - even the pedophiliac impulse does not mean you are a bad person. If you have pedophilia, you have the impulse to do something bad to another person, but you have not created that mentally. If you fail to restrain yourself, and if you fail to enlist whatever help you may need to perfectly effect that restraint, then you are a bad person and I wish you nothing but proximate and painful death for your evil act against another, but the mere impulse, like life itself, is something that is happening to you and for which you cannot account, any more than I can account for my heterosexual impulse.

So, what does all of this mean in 2012? My main point all week has been that it probably means something different from what it meant in 1012, or in 12, and it's well and good that we're considering this question at this time.

The word 'marriage' has a longstanding meaning. Is a relationship between two men or women sufficiently analogous to the relationship we describe as 'marriage', to warrant an official change in the definition to cover both the traditional meaning and these other types of relationships? Some say yes, some say no. The DOMA people are just being reactionary. I'm already on record that marriage is no longer worth defending, at all. As for the right of gays to co-opt the word, I'm far more yes than no, but I'm still waiting for one of you obviously capable intellectuals to quit blobbering with emotion and present a cogent case for moving my opinion further.

Adam Csor


What is "homosexual sex"? Is it only anal intercourse? Do you believe that only gay men have anal intercourse?

Your evidence that homosexuality is a public health threat doesn't include anything relevant to lesbians. If only male homosexuality is a public health threat, how should the law treat lesbians?

What exactly are the harms caused to society by legalizing same-sex marriage? It's been legal in the Netherlands for just over 11 years. In Belgium it's been legal just short of nine years. Spain it is just shy of seven years. And in Massachusetts it has been legal for eight years exactly (May 17, 2004). There are several other US states and foreign countries that have legalized same-sex marriage in the last five years. Enough time has elapsed and same-sex marriage has been made legal in enough jurisdictions for its opponents to specify the harms it causes to society at large. What are they?

You also mentioned that you believe individuals in monogamous, state-sanctioned relationships are most "happy." If that's true, is it then shocking that gay men are less "happy" if they are barred from such relationships? If you concede that you cannot make a homosexual turn heterosexual and that society should endeavor to make people more "happy," then why not permit state-sanctioned same-sex relationships? Wouldn't that also reduce the purported public health risks you note?

Hillel Traub

The question always lead to a religious divide of arguments actually. Knowing there are a lot of traditions and codes observed under most dominant religions in the world, this kind of liberal policy is always of controversy to implement.

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