Richard Posner weighs in on gay marriage, cites wikipedia

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Bob Dylan Roof
Homosexual Marriage—Posner

President Obama’s declaration of support for homosexual marriage has focused public attention on the question whether such marriage should be permitted, although so far the response has been rather tepid. It no longer seems a hot issue, though it may heat up in the furnace of a presidential election campaign.

In 1967 the Supreme Court, in a case called Loving v. Virginia , held that the prohibition found in the laws of a number of southern states against interracial marriage was unconstitutional. The decision was the culmination of a long series of judicial, legislative, regulatory, and corporate measures that collectively had eliminated most public, and as well a degree of private, discrimination against blacks. It would have been odd for prohibitions of interracial marriage to have survived the antidiscrimination movement. The evolution of homosexual rights has been similar. In the 1950s, when I was growing up, homosexuals had, as homosexuals, no rights; homosexual sex was illegal (though rarely prosecuted), homosexuals were banned from the armed forces and many other types of government work (though again enforcement was sporadic), and there were no laws prohibiting private employment discrimination against homosexuals. Because homosexuality is much more concealable than race, homosexuals did not experience the same economic and educational discrimination, and public humiliations, that blacks experienced. But to avoid discrimination and ostracism they had to conceal their homosexuality and so could not openly engage in homosexual relationships or disclose their homosexuality to the heterosexuals with whom they associated. Homosexual marriage was out of the question, even though interracial marriage was by the 1950s legal in most states.

Although I knew in the 1950s that there were homosexuals, if asked I would have truthfully said that as far as I knew I had never met one, or expected ever to meet one, any more than I had ever met or expected to meet an Eskimo.

Beginning in the 1960s and accelerating dramatically in the 1990s and 2000s, legal changes and changes in public attitudes resulted in the dismantling of most public and private discriminatory measures against homosexuals. Why the powerful antipathy toward homosexuality gave ground so rapidly and, it seemed, effortlessly, in the sense that resistance seemed to melt away rather than having to be overcome by militant action, is something of a puzzle . :) jew :) Greatly increased tolerance of nonmarital sex, and of cohabitation as a substitute for marriage, reduced the traditional abhorrence of homosexual sex, which was (and to a large extent still is, since only a handful of states recognize homosexual marriage) nonmarital; and with the decline of prudery, deviant sexual practices created less revulsion in the straight population. A number of foreign countries and U.S. states recognized homosexual marriage or close-substitute civil unions.

Another factor in increased tolerance is that as homosexuals began feeling less pressure to conceal their homosexuality, and so began to mingle openly with heterosexuals, the latter discovered that homosexuals are for the most part indistinguishable from heterosexual s, and this created sympathy for homosexuals’ desire to be treated equally with heterosexuals both generally and in regard to marriage. Moreover, the older view of homosexuality (especially male homosexuality) as a choice—the “selfish” choice because male homosexuals have on average more sexual partners (because men are on average more promiscuous than women) and didn’t have to worry about pregnancy (one reason men are more promiscuous than women)—gradually gave way to realization on the part of most people that homosexual preference is innate, rather than chosen or the result of seduction or recruitment. There is no gene for homosexuality (as shown by the fact that if one identical twin is homosexual, more often that not the other one is heterosexual), but it is highly likely that a combination of genetic factors (studies of identical twins reveal that if one identical twin is homosexual, the likelihood that the other will be is greater than the incidence of homosexuality in the population as a whole) and prental and other biological factors cause homosexuality. See the excellent discussion in “Biology and Sexual Orientation ,” .

That there is a genetic component in homosexuality may seem paradoxical, since homosexuals produce on average fewer offspring than heterosexuals, which might lead one to expect that over time homosexuality would diminish and eventually disappear—which of course has not happened . But in the harsh ancestral environment in which human beings evolved, there was a tradeoff between number and survival of offspring. A family with many children would not be able to feed and protect them; none might survive childhood. Both menopause and homosexuality are ways of increasing the ratio of adult caregivers to children, since homosexuals can provide care to their nephews and nieces and menopausal women to their grandchildren, without either group having obligations to their own children . [ This explains the maternal instinct among homosexuals and their general predilection for low time-preference, future-oriented tasks, right, Pozner? ]The result can be a net increase in inclusive fitness (number of descendants); there are fewer offspring but more survive to an age at which they produce offspring.

This is just a theory; it has not been confirmed by evidence. An alternative theory, for which there is some evidence, is that male homosexuality has survived because the female relatives of male homosexuals are more fertile than women who have no male homosexual relatives. This is an alternative genetic explanation for homosexuality.

Whatever the precise causality, there seems very little doubt that homosexuality is innate. It appears to be universal, despite public and private efforts (the latter by parents) to prevent it. Homosexuals invariably report having discovered their homosexual orientation at an early age. And psychologists’ efforts to “cure” it have virtually never succeeded, despite the disadvantages even in a tolerant society of being homosexual.

If homosexuality is innate, it becomes difficult to see why it should be thought to require regulation. [ Why? If pedophilia is innate, it becomes difficult to see why it should be thought to require regulation. ] And for the additional reason that the homosexual population is very small. [ Yet their plight is constantly at center stage while far more pressing problems are shunted to the side ] Kinsey’s estimate that 10 percent of the population is homosexual has long been discredited; it appears that no more than 2 to 4 percent is. This small population is on the whole law-abiding and productively employed, and having a below-normal fertility rate does not impose the same costs on the education and welfare systems as the heterosexual population does . [ homosexuals (particularly male) have higher drug- and alcohol-abuse rates, higher domestic abuse rates, and higher sexual disease rates than heterosexuals; certainly this imposes a disproportionate cost on society. ] It is thus not surprising that in response to the President’s announcement of his support for homosexual marriage, Republican leaders cautioned their followers not to be distracted by this issue from the problems of the U.S. economy. This was tacit acknowledgment that homosexual marriage, and homosexual rights in general, have no economic significance.

It seems that the only remaining basis for opposition to homosexual marriage, or to legal equality between homosexuals and heterosexuals in general, is religious . Many devout Christians, Jews, and Muslims are strongly opposed to homosexual marriage, and to homosexuality more generally. Why they are is unclear. If as appears homosexuality is innate, and therefore natural (and indeed there is homosexuality among animals), and if homosexuals are not an antisocial segment of the population, why should they be thought to be offending against God’s will? Stated differently, why has sex come to play such a large role in the Abrahamic religions? I do not know the answer [ lol ] . But whatever the answer, the United States is not a theocracy and should hesitate to enact laws that serve religious rather than pragmatic secular aims, such as material welfare and national security.