Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Case for Limiting Government Recognition to Traditional Relationships

The majority in this country have come to appreciate how gay people deserve the same individual rights and liberties enjoyed by all Americans, including the right to choose where to live, be educated, obtain health care, and work (so long as the work place isn't a religious institution whose doctrine prohibits same-sex behavior).  Integral to such rights is being treated with courtesy, respect, and kindness, which form the core of any civilized and democratic society.

Just like all citizens, gay people deserve these rights because they're human.  Indeed, these are the very inalienable rights described in the Constitution because they exist irrespective of what people do, say, believe, or act, so long as their actions don't infringe on the rights of others or the welfare of society.

For this reason, it's important to distinguish between the person and what the person does.  A person simply is. He/she has no ability to be anything but a person, and is, therefore, deserving of rights, which no one can remove by vote or decree. The natural and immutable – or fixed – conditions of race and gender fall into this category.

A person's behavior is another matter.  Unlike the human condition, which is beyond our control, human behavior is not.  Instead, it begins with an urge, which many perceive as having little to no ability to  control.  However, we can decide whether we’ll act on the urge or engage in the behavior resulting from the urge. Sometimes the behavior is beneficial; sometimes it's not. 

For this reason, the Constitution assigns the public or its elected representatives the right to pass laws governing human behavior for the benefit of the individual and society.  In general, the intent of such laws ranges from prohibiting to encouraging different behaviors, based on their merits or lack of them.  For example, some behaviors furnish positive benefits to individuals and society, and should, therefore, be encouraged with financial and legal benefits.  Examples in this first category would include going to college, starting a business, buying a home, giving to charities, and entering into marriage.    Other behaviors have the potential for harm but banning them would cause an undue burden on personal liberty.  So, we limit these behaviors to consenting adults.  Examples in this second category would be smoking, drinking, gambling, and human sexual relations outside marriage.  Finally, some behaviors are so egregious that we prohibit them.  Examples in this third category would be the taking of life or property.

For some behaviors, the facts are supportive, indicating why they should be placed in the first behavioral category and encouraged with legal and financial benefits.  For example take traditional marriage between a man and a woman. In this relationship,
 people of differing genders offer psychological and health benefits to both partners and to offspring.  Among these are reduced stress, increased lifespan, and the best environment for raising children.  Heterosexual marriage also greatly reduces (if not eliminates) promiscuity and the potential for STDs, AIDS, and AIDS-related diseases. [1][2]

But homosexual unions would not offer these benefits, nor would they stop promiscuity among gay males or increase stability among lesbians.[3] [3A] Among males, the average relationship lasts about 1-½ years, yet still includes up to 8 casual partners per year in addition to the "committed" partner.  Indeed, according to one study, only seven couples out of 156 had no outside encounters, while being committed for less than 5 years.[4][5][[6][,[7]

The effect on marriage would be problematic, according to a study on divorce patterns among Scandinavian same-sex couples.  In Norway and Sweden, the likelihood of divorce between gay men was 1.35 to 1.5 times that of heterosexuals.  For lesbians, this rate was even higher, even though women have a tendency to be much less promiscuous than men.  In these same Scandinavian countries, married lesbians were 2 to 2.67 times more likely to divorce than married heterosexual women.[8] These factors contradict those who agitate for gay marriage, saying it would not impact the institution of marriage in this country.  On the contrary, given the findings of the Scandinavian study, homosexual marriage would diminish the institution below its already weakened state by increasing divorce, burdening the court system with more divorce cases, and saddling children (if any are involved) with the emotional baggage that often comes with divorce.

But divorce would not be the only impact to children. The other is parental influence and its affect on children and societal views. Homosexual parents of children, primarily men, are more likely to abuse or assault one another.
[9]],[10],[11],[12],[13]  Thus, living with either male or female same-sex guardians, children involved in such relationships would be more likely to live in abusive settings or with single parents due to the added risk of divorce. Also children living in homosexual households are more likely to learn that same-sex behavior is acceptable and to practice it themselves. Neither outcome would be healthy for children.  Finally, on a societal basis, this potential increases in a culture that erroneously teaches or considers homosexual behavior to be normal and beneficial. Measures promoting same-sex marriage or partnerships clearly promotes this erroneous teaching.

The basis for this view is American Psychological Association (APA), which supports mainstreaming homosexual behavior.  On its website, the APA currently states that “Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.”  So, in other words, the origin of homosexual orientation is not due solely to genetic or biological factors but also to social influences.

To study the interaction of these factors, researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and the University of London in Britain recently completed a study into the origin of homosexual behavior. What these researchers discovered was that homosexual orientation appears to result from a combination of genetic, shared environment, and unique environmental factors.  Documenting their findings in a paper entitled, “Genetic and Environmental Effects on Same-sex Sexual Behavior:  A Population Study of Twins in Sweden,”[15] they reported how these factors varied between men and women.  For men, the origin of same-sex behavior was approximately 34 - 39% genetic and 61 – 66% unique environmental, which is thought to consist of hormonal influences occurring before birth and social factors occurring after it.  Shared environment reportedly had no role in causing same-sex behavior among men.  For women, the origin of same-sex behavior was 18 - 19% genetic, 16 – 17% shared environment, and 64 – 69% unique environment.  However, according to the authors, these percentages were to be interpreted with caution because they varied widely among all three parameters for both sexes.
Because of this variability and because familial influences can vary among individuals, having information on children raised by same-sex parents is especially important.  According to research cited in a paper prepared by two researchers at USC, 25% of the adults raised by lesbian parents had a homosexual relationship. In comparison, none of the children raised by heterosexual parents had such a relationship. Based on another statistic, 64% of young adults raised in lesbian households report having considered same-sex relationships (in the past, now, or in the future), compared with only 17% raised in heterosexual families.[16]

These findings are important, since homosexuals, primarily males, are disproportionately at high risk for serious disease, making them ineligible to donate blood or organs, and, therefore, making it unconscionable to cast homosexual behavior in a favorable light or to encourage it.  For males, these diseases are HIV/AIDS (to which they’re at least nine times more susceptible than straight males), Kaposi’s Sarcoma, human papilloma virus, hepatitis A and B, anal cancer, non-hodgkins lymphoma, hodgkins disease, gonorrhea, syphilis, proctitis, proctocolitis, and enteritis. In fact, in terms of AIDS, male homosexuals comprise a small percentage of the population but comprise about 50% of all HIV/AIDS in the U.S. and over 70% of the ailment among American men.[16]  Prophylactics offer males mitigation of, but not complete protection from, these diseases.[17],[18],[19],[20],[21], [22][22A, B, C]

In comparison, lesbians are generally at lesser risk for disease but are still more prone than heterosexual women to some health concerns.  Examples include breast cancer, ovarian cancer, HPV, BV, chlamydia, syphillis, trichomoniasis, and even AIDS/HIV.  Of these diseases, HPV is at least as common in lesbians as in single heterosexual women, while BV is more so[23],[24],[25],[26]

But disease is not the only risk associated with homosexual behavior.  The others include physical damage for males and mental illness for both sexes.  Among males, the majority of homosexual activity involves anal receptive intercourse, which has a tendency to damage the voluntary and involuntary muscles surrounding the rectal area, including the lining of this area.[26][27] Further, male homosexuals have a greater tendency to experience bowel control issues later in life.  For both sexes, homosexuals have a greater tendency to experience mental and emotional disorders, such as major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and substance abuse/ dependence.[28]

Though the source of these disorders is unclear, social stigma is considered a possibility. Yet two studies appear to cast some doubt on this source. Showing no statistical significance, one study was inconclusive as to whether homosexuals early in life were more vulnerable to psychological morbidity caused by social stress.  The other study showed that Dutch homosexuals were as likely to experience psychological morbidity as their American counterparts, even though the Dutch are either more tolerant of it or more likely to consider homosexuality an equal of heterosexuality.

For all of these reasons, it’s not only wrong to portray homosexuality as harmless and benign but to categorize it the same as race or gender.  For unlike these immutable traits, homosexuality is not due solely to biological factors, nor is it a natural and fixed condition, the manifestation of which (behavior) is beyond human control. Instead, unlike these traits, homosexuality is a behavioral urge that is acted upon by choice, making it no different than any other human behavior – all of which is subject to law enacted through the democratic process – not judicial fiat.  Further, like all other behaviors, the likelihood for it to occur is heightened through familial and social influences.

Therefore, society shouldn’t codify same-sex behavior in marriage or in domestic partnerships.  For, in doing so, we’re saying that same-sex behavior is positive because marriage is positive, and is, therefore, a behavior that is to be practiced.  Quite clearly, the evidence concerning same-sex behavior says the exact opposite, as it does for other problematic behaviors, like smoking.  For this behavior (smoking), the government has spent millions trying to discourage it but now wants to promote another problematic behavior – same-sex behavior - through marriage. 
Discouraging one behavioral urge because of its harmful effects, while encouraging another behavioral urge, despite its harmful effects, isn't logical. A governmental policy encouraging and legally sanctioning same-sex behavior as “marriage” is contradictory and inconsistent with the goal of a healthy and stable public order and, therefore, makes no sense.  Consequently, the government should remain neutral on same sex behavior and recognize that it belongs within the second category of human activity - allowed but not legally encouraged - where it can be practiced among consenting adults.


[1]Three separate studies report that at least 75% of married men and 85% of married women have never had sexual relations outside their marriages.  These studies include:
A.       Robert T. Michael et al., Sex in America:  A Definitive Survey (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1994).
B.       Michael W. Wiederman, “Extramarital Sex:  Prevalence and Correlates in a National Survey,” Journal of Sex Research 34 (1997): 170.
C.   E.O. Laumann et al., The Social Organization of Sexuality:  Sexual Practices in the United States (Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 1994), p. 217.

 [2]Testimony Of Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, PhD., Co-Director, National Marriage Project, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey Before The Committee On Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Subcommittee On Children And Families, U.S. Senate, April 28, 2004 ( )

 [3]A. P. Bell and M. S. Weinberg, Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), pp. 308, 309; See alsoA. P. Bell, M. S. Weinberg, and S. K. Hammersmith, Sexual Preference   (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981). 

 [3A]Are Gay Male Couples Monogamous Ever After? Psychology Today, September 16, 2008.

 [4]Paul Van de Ven et al., "A Comparative Demographic and Sexual Profile of Older Homosexually Active Men," Journal of Sex Research 34 (1997): 354.

 [5]"Sex Survey Results," Genre (October 1996), quoted in "Survey Finds 40 percent of Gay Men Have Had More Than 40 Sex Partners," Lambda Report, January 1998, p. 20.

 [6]M. Pollak, "Male Homosexuality," in Western Sexuality: Practice and Precept in Past and Present Times, ed. P. Aries and A. Bejin, translated by Anthony Forster (New York, NY: B. Blackwell, 1985), pp. 40-61, cited by Joseph Nicolosi in Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality (Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson Inc., 1991), pp. 124, 125.

 [7]Xiridou M, Geskus R, de Wit J, Coutinho R, Kretzschmar M, “The contribution of steady and casual partnerships to the incidence of HIV infection among homosexual men in Amsterdam,” AIDS 2003, 17:1029-1038 (p. 1031)

 [9]Lettie L. Lockhart et al., “Letting out the Secret:  Violence in Lesbian Relationships,” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 9 (1994): 469-492

[10]Gwat Yong Lie and Sabrina Gentlewarrier, “Intimate Violence in Lesbian Relationships:  Discussion of Survey Findings and Practice Implications,” Journal of Social Service Research 15 (1991): 41-59.

[11]D. Island and P. Letellier, Men Who Beat the Men Who Love Them:  Battered Gay Men and Domestic Violence (New York:  Haworth Press, 1991), p. 14.
[12]  pgs. 14  and 15

 [14]Långström, N., Rahman, Q., Carlström, E., Lichtenstein, P. (2008).  Genetic and   Environmental Effects on Same-sex Behavior:  A Population Study of Twins in Sweden . Archives of Sexual Behavior, Online Version (90), No. 27

[16] Judith Stacey and Timothy J. Biblarz, "Does the 'Sexual Orientation' of Parents Matte?" American Sociological Review, Vol. 66, April, pp. 159-183.

[18]  According to at least one study, the incidence of HIV/AIDS actually increases in so-called “committed” homosexual relationships in comparison to transient ones: Xiridou M, Geskus R, de Wit J, Coutinho R, Kretzschmar M, “The contribution of steady and casual partnerships to the incidence of HIV infection among homosexual men in Amsterdam,” AIDS 2003, 17:1029-1038 (p. 1031)

[19] “Sexual Practices, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, and the Incidences of Anal Cancer,” New England Journal of Medicine, 1987.

[20] “Healthy People 2010 Companion Document For Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Health,” Gay and Lesbian Medical Association and National Coalition for LGBT Health, April 2001.

[21]“Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health: Findings and Concerns, January 2000, Conference Edition (work in progress),” Gay and Lesbian Medical Association and Columbia University Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health, Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health.

[22] National Guideline Clearing House - Proctitis, proctocolitis, and enteritis (

[22A]Mays, Vicki and Susan Cochran, 2011. Sexual Orientation and Mortality Among US Men Aged 17 to 59 Years: Results From the National Health and Nutrition Examination

[22B] Sexual Behavior Does Not Explain Varying HIV Rates Among Gay And Straight Men, Medline News Today, Dec. 13, 2007. (

[22C] Goodreau, Steven M. and Matthew R Golden, 2007. "Biological and demographic causes of high HIV and sexually transmitted disease prevalence in men who have sex with men," Sex Transm Infect 2007; Vol. 83, Section 6:458-462 doi:10.1136/sti.2007.025627 (



[26]According to, other methods of gay relations also expose the practitioner to disease.

[27]A.P.M. Coxon et al., “Sex Role Separation in Diaries of Homosexual Men,” AIDS, July 1993, pp. 877-882.

[28]S. Cochran, “Emerging Issues in Research on Lesbians’ and Gay Men’s Mental Health:  Does Sexual Orientation Really Matter?” American Psychologist, November 2001.