Saturday, April 4, 2015

Once You Go Gay, You'll Never Turn Away

Someone left a copy of Tuesday's Courier-Journal lying around in the library today, and the headline caught my eye.  KY: BAN ON GAY MARRIAGE IS NOT BIASEDKentucky Governor Steve Beshear's lawyer argued in a long brief filed with the US Supreme Court:
"Men and women, whether heterosexual or homosexual, cannot marry persons of the same sex" under Kentucky law, making the law non-discriminatory.
According to another box in the front-page article, Beshear's lawyer, Leigh-Gross Latherow, also argued that "Allowing only opposite-sex marriage promotes birth rates, 'ensuring humanity's continued existence.'"  On this logic it would be reasonable to ban celibate clergy or a religion like Christianity that exalts sexual abstinence, on the ground that such doctrines and practices hinder birth rates and endanger humanity's continued existence.  Does Latherow seriously believe that same-sex marriage will become so popular as to affect population growth?

The reporter, Andrew Wolfson, commented that the "Argument mirrors Virginia's against interracial marriage."  Since that argument failed to convince the Court in 1967, it probably won't be effective now; so why do Brashear and his lawyer think it will?

I'm mildly worried that some advocates of same-sex marriage will attack the argument from another position, using the born-gay view of sexual orientation as "status" to argue that we have to gay-marry because our genes make us, and you can't go against the Will of the Gene. I've pointed out before that the decision in Loving v. Virginia significantly didn't invoke a putative 'racial orientation' that compelled the Lovings to marry each other rather than partners of their own race(s); such an argument seems never to have crossed anyone's mind, despite the widespread racist belief that interracial liaisons violated not just religion but a fundamental biological mechanism that caused blacks to be sexually unattractive to whites.

As with Latherlos' assumption that if same-sex marriage is allowed, it will spread through the population like a radioactive virus and humanity will cease to exist, the white racist belief in the repulsiveness of black people coexisted with its opposite: that the black male especially was primally irresistible to white persons.  Similarly, antigay bigots believe both that homosexuality is naturally disgusting, and mysteriously, fatally attractive: if it's not forbidden and demonized, everyone will go gay.  (Once You Go Gay, You'll Never Turn Away.)  One of the corollaries of the born-gay claim, usually invoked by gay Christians, is that heterosexual copulation is somehow "unnatural" for the congenitally gay, and vice versa -- except for jaded degenerate heteros who dabble in buggery or sapphism out of boredom or mere degraded wickedness.

And of course one of the problems with the idea of sexual orientation as a status is that it has no room for bisexuality.  If gay people should be allowed to be gay, and to marry each other, because we are trapped by our genes and compelled to do what most people would be disgusted to do, then shouldn't bisexuals be compelled to live and marry heterosexually?  The implicit logic is that if you can function heterosexually, you must do so, and homosexuality can only be tolerated if we (pitiful slaves to our gay genes) can get satisfaction no other way. The tantrums thrown by many gay people over the idea that homosexuality is a choice probably connect to the hostility shown by many gay people to bisexuals: either they wickedly refuse to be heterosexual when they could be, or they are closet cases who just pretend not to be 100% gay in order to avoid stigma.  If we allow bisexuals to marry, before you know it, we'll have to let everybody do it, and then civilization will collapse.  Despite both sides' stance of moderation and sweet reasonableness, lurking beneath their placid surfaces are beliefs of sheer gibbering wackery, barely held in check by the suits and mild tones.

And now I face a slight dilemma of my own.  What shall I say to friends in Kentucky who only a week ago were informing their Facebook communities that they would, alas, just have to boycott Indiana because of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act?   How can they expect me to visit a state like theirs, which explicitly and overtly is denying marriage equality to its citizens?  I'd like to think that their smugness will come tumbling down, but I know better than to expect it.  Tremble, O Bluegrass State, before my wrath!