using biology to defend civil rights

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using biology to defend civil rights

Postby PAstrychef » Wed Jul 14, 2010 12:57 pm UTC

The topic name is not perfect, but I can't figure out how to say it more concisely.
In the push to equalize marriage and to be allowed to live "normal" lives (normal as defined by whom?) the LGBTQ community (or at least the politically active parts of that community as seen by the masses) have been pushing the concept that sexual attraction is innate and unchanging, that being gay isn't a choice, and that's why laws and discrimination against it are wrong.
I personally have no opinion on anybody else's sex life and think it's none of the State's business.
But I find myself wondering-
Isn't it worse that we have to use that frame for the question than to just tell the whackjobs to get out of our sex lives? I mean, what if sexual orientation was entirely a choice, and malleable. Why would we let one group of people limit our lives because they didn't like the choices we made? Heck, we don't like to let the government limit our choices of what foods to eat or recreational drugs to use (nicotine and alcohol and caffeine and so on), but somehow the government is still involved with my bedroom.
Would a campaign to promote the idea that It's none of your business do any good, or is it only the thought that no-one would choose to be gay, because it means such a life of heartbreak, that makes it even possible to try to change attitudes and laws? Would presenting the idea that current laws have the government restricting freedom of choice get any traction? Or does the whole religious underpinning to the homophobia mean that only biological determinism has a hope?
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby General_Norris » Wed Jul 14, 2010 1:57 pm UTC

Your post is very interesting and I actually thought about the topic long ago.

I think that there is simply no need for so many arguments. Homosexuality does no harm so banning it or shunning it makes no sense at all. It being a choice, natural, consented by the other person or anything else is irrelevant because it is not bad. If gay sex caused earthquakes and explosions it would be a bad thing, no matter how natural it were.

However using a pure strict rational argument that can be summed in one line is probably not the best political choice. It is the best debate tactic and the best way of proving that homosexuality is ok but it will probably not get you any votes. People have an irrational part to them and they will not find a single line satisfying even if they should.

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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby mmmcannibalism » Wed Jul 14, 2010 2:44 pm UTC

Do you think the best approach to combating religious oppression is to use biology; the science that is least trusted among the religious?

I think its better to approach just about anything from a rights perspective instead of trying to use the biology. For one, your opposition will get some nut job scientist to make it look like a controversial theory, and its pretty hard to convince people who don't want to believe something.
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby guenther » Wed Jul 14, 2010 4:26 pm UTC

I'm not a fan of the biology defense either. First of all, if it really held weight in terms of what we should do, then if scientists ever found weaknesses in the theory, it should make us question gay marriage. Secondly, it just politicizes science too much. People's desire for certain political outcomes would harm out ability to progress science in certain areas.

So I very much see it as a rights issue. However, even in that realm I've seen two arguments. Are we giving homosexuals the same rights as heterosexuals? Or are we giving everyone the right to marry a man or a woman? The latte argument is the one that won me over, and I think it's a better description.
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby mmmcannibalism » Wed Jul 14, 2010 4:36 pm UTC

So I very much see it as a rights issue. However, even in that realm I've seen two arguments. Are we giving homosexuals the same rights as heterosexuals? Or are we giving everyone the right to marry a man or a woman? The latte argument is the one that won me over, and I think it's a better description.


The easiest argument is that the government has no authority to regulate who you can love; therefore, they have no right to regulate what constitutes a legal marriage contract.(obvious child protection exception).
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby guenther » Wed Jul 14, 2010 4:58 pm UTC

I suppose that's another way to look at it. But it wouldn't sell me though. Since marriage comes with benefits from the government, I do believe the government gets to regulate what type of family structures qualify. If marriage offered no legal benefits, then I would agree with you.

So rather than opening marriage up to anything and everything (with obvious child protection exceptions), I think we should precisely expand marriage to allow people to marry people of the same sex. And I suspect that's an easier sell than one that permits polygamy as well. (That's not a dig at polygamy; I'm just stating a practical hurdle at winning people over.)
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby Le1bn1z » Wed Jul 14, 2010 6:56 pm UTC

Canadian Prime Minister Pierre-Elliot Trudeau said it best:

"The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation."

Absolutely, the governmental regulation of who may enter a relationship with whom is absurd and abusive. The sole standard ought to be equity in terms of regulating the rights of individuals within relationships or families.

The biological argument became crucial for a couple of reasons very early on in the rights in sexual orientation debate:

1.) The attempt by many religious organisations to reclassify homo- or bi-sexuality as a mental illness, rather than a sin, and could be cured; and

2.) The opposite assertions by some cultural commentators claiming that homosexuality was a psychological plague, spread by our decadent ways which constituted a direct threat to human procreation.

There were other bizarre fears and accusations (how can we forget the "AIDS as God's punishment for accepting homosexuality" fiasco) but these were the main ones.

Yes, yes, we laugh now. But it was no laughing matter to those locked away and stripped of any dignity or hope.

Convincing people that there was nothing to fear from homosexuality and, from there, nothing to fear and nothing to pity in anyone from the LGBT community and beyond was a crucial part of victories won for LGBT rights in the past decade.

Yes, the OP argument is far more logical and persuasive than the biological arguments. But the objections to LGBT never had anything to do with logic. Exposing them as superstitious drivel contrary to elementary science was critical to the triumph of tolerance.

That being said, I think that a person ought to be a far broader definition of family for the purposes of access and some legal issues. There are those who live with close friends, especially in their twilight years, with whom they have no romantic attachments. They should be able to set it up so that they have as easy access when it comes to hospital visits etc as a married couple.
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby PAstrychef » Wed Jul 14, 2010 8:12 pm UTC

Oh yes, I had neglected to remember the old disease paradigm. That does explain the rationale behind the argument of innate orientation.
Still, I think that people should be allowed to choose to do things that others label as sin or mental illness.
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby mmmcannibalism » Thu Jul 15, 2010 4:31 am UTC

I suppose that's another way to look at it. But it wouldn't sell me though. Since marriage comes with benefits from the government, I do believe the government gets to regulate what type of family structures qualify. If marriage offered no legal benefits, then I would agree with you.


Which is why I don't think marriage should have legal benefits(beyond the whole your spouse becomes next of kin thing).
Yes, the OP argument is far more logical and persuasive than the biological arguments. But the objections to LGBT never had anything to do with logic. Exposing them as superstitious drivel contrary to elementary science was critical to the triumph of tolerance.



I think this is an equally good argument for using primarily rights based arguments(though both together are probably best). If the problem is people thinking gays are icky(which honestly is what I see most of the time from real people* who oppose gay marriage), it seems easier to convince them its not their concern then it is to convince them its okay.

*while I normally hate the real people line, there is a difference between the ideologues and most of the population.
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby fooliam » Thu Jul 15, 2010 5:31 am UTC

General_Norris wrote:Your post is very interesting and I actually thought about the topic long ago.

I think that there is simply no need for so many arguments. Homosexuality does no harm so banning it or shunning it makes no sense at all. It being a choice, natural, consented by the other person or anything else is irrelevant because it is not bad. If gay sex caused earthquakes and explosions it would be a bad thing, no matter how natural it were.

However using a pure strict rational argument that can be summed in one line is probably not the best political choice. It is the best debate tactic and the best way of proving that homosexuality is ok but it will probably not get you any votes. People have an irrational part to them and they will not find a single line satisfying even if they should.



The problem is that there is a large portion of the US population that truly believes that homosexuality DOES do harm.
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby Iv » Thu Jul 15, 2010 9:05 am UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:Which is why I don't think marriage should have legal benefits(beyond the whole your spouse becomes next of kin thing).

That.
We shouldn't open marriage to more and more categories, we should be making it irrelevant. Let the religious people have their definition of it being an unbreakable oath before god between a man and a woman, yaddi yadda... but don't give tax benefits to married couples.

It shouldn't be more interesting legally to be married than single, or than living in a free-sex hippy community or in a gay harem. Why should the legal status of persons living under the same roof suddenly change if they sleep in the same bed or not ? Why should there be a difference between a room-mate and a partner ?

If you want to do something, give benefits to women who get pregnant if you believe this is a good thing for the state. Give benefits to people who accept a binding contract to raise a child (be them their biological parents or not). But don't give benefits to people who accept to have sex according to a given set of law. That is exactly inviting the state into the bedroom, which we don't want.

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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby mmmcannibalism » Thu Jul 15, 2010 10:50 am UTC

If you want to do something, give benefits to women who get pregnant if you believe this is a good thing for the state. Give benefits to people who accept a binding contract to raise a child (be them their biological parents or not). But don't give benefits to people who accept to have sex according to a given set of law. That is exactly inviting the state into the bedroom, which we don't want.


I think the whole incentivize "good" family structures is dubious to start with. That being said I have one nitpick, giving benefits to women who get pregnant is one of the worst ways to improve family structure(assuming that is our hypothetical goal).

On topic--

I'm going to cite the Black Civil rights movement as an example of why a rights based argument is better. MLK jr's speech isn't famous for the phrase I have a dream that one day people will be judged by the content of their genome.
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby Iv » Thu Jul 15, 2010 11:03 am UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:I think the whole incentivize "good" family structures is dubious to start with. That being said I have one nitpick, giving benefits to women who get pregnant is one of the worst ways to improve family structure(assuming that is our hypothetical goal).
I was more thinking about having a pro-natality policy.

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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby PAstrychef » Thu Jul 15, 2010 2:10 pm UTC

It's not "just" being someone's next of kin. The legal problems arise when there are property decisions to make and legal actions to take. Being married gives the spouse lots of automatic privileges in those areas. So you need to apply the same structure to every married grouping or it gets all kinds of ugly. Like the gay couple, married in MA who moved to Texas, which won't allow them to divorce because that would mean recognizing that the marriage was valid.
Not to get dragged into why marriage is or isn't a good idea for society.
Should we be allowed to marry and /or have sex with whomever we choose, because that's what we choose, not because we just can't help ourselves?
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby Iv » Thu Jul 15, 2010 3:24 pm UTC

PAstrychef wrote:Not to get dragged into why marriage is or isn't a good idea for society.
Well, I think this is the mother of most of the problems discussed here. With widespread and cheap contraception, the main goal and protection of marriage becomes obsolete. Too bad that there is no debate about how it should evolve. Too bad so many conservatives feel that in a changing world these things should stay fixed in stone. It is strange... 60's hippies are very old now and yet most of the lifestyle they introduced look weird and alien to the lawmakers of their generation. How many generations does it take to change society ?

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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby ShadE » Thu Jul 15, 2010 3:52 pm UTC

I tend to agree with Iv. Marriage is what muddies the waters.

In my opinion marriage should fall by the wayside like the antiquated institution that it is. We live in an increasingly individualistic society... marriage made sense when a division of labor was necessary for survival, but that is no longer the case. Marriage is rarely forever (as it supposedly ought to be)... divorce and infidelity make it a mockery.

Without marriage or even civil unions you could still make elections on how you want things to be.

--Next of Kin? Add a field on required tax filings where you update this on a yearly basis... wow... done.
--Insurance? Choose the plan you want and who you want it to cover... no 'legal relationship status' necessary. Plans already differ in cost based on how many dependents you have... "I want to cover Joe, Mary and these two kids." "OK, the cost for four dependents of these ages is $X"... wow... done.

It's simply a different filing system that is needed... no marriage licenses or civil union certificates necessary.

I'm also making the assumption that people can do whatever they want with their sex lives and it does not impact any of these 'made-up' legal statuses.

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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby guenther » Thu Jul 15, 2010 4:18 pm UTC

ShadE wrote:In my opinion marriage should fall by the wayside like the antiquated institution that it is. We live in an increasingly individualistic society... marriage made sense when a division of labor was necessary for survival, but that is no longer the case. Marriage is rarely forever (as it supposedly ought to be)... divorce and infidelity make it a mockery.

I believe marriage still makes sense today. It's a wonderful opportunity to grow and learn how to prioritize someone else's needs above one's own. Most opportunities to grow come with pain, and sadly too many people abandon ship. But rather than scrapping those whole thing, I believe we should aim to strengthen people's respect for lifelong commitment.

Of course, this is a separate point than whether the government should provide benefits for marriage. And if we were inventing marriage today, I don't know that I'd support it. However, while I see the need to sometimes progress beyond the old way of doing things, I'm not at all bothered by keeping some cultural structures around for culture's sake.
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby Ivor Zozz » Thu Jul 15, 2010 5:23 pm UTC

Marriage and raising children together (whether in a straight or gay household) is good as a cultural ideal because people who engage in it generally have a higher concrete investment in the future, and thus more reason to care about the long-term success of the society they live in. Present-oriented, hedonistic individualism rather sucks as a social trend.*

Also, marriage lasting until the death of one of the partners is hardly "rare."

* I know hedonism is not the only alternative, but it seems to be the basic attraction for many of those who plan never to marry, thus retaining the ability to sleep around until they die and have lots more money and entertainment time to themselves.
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby General_Norris » Thu Jul 15, 2010 5:47 pm UTC

fooliam wrote:The problem is that there is a large portion of the US population that truly believes that homosexuality DOES do harm.

Yeah I know. That's why I said that while its the best logical argument it is not the best political argument. I mean, I don't think I get your point. Could you explain?


While probably marriage right now is not the best way to achieve that goal it is neccesary because we need new workers to replace those who die. We need someone to support us when we are old and giving tax benefits to those who do seems a good incentive to create new workers. Perhaps moving the focus more to children (Be they born or adopted) is better but probably carries a high political and burocratic cost.

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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby Iv » Thu Jul 15, 2010 6:46 pm UTC

guenther wrote:I believe marriage still makes sense today. It's a wonderful opportunity to grow and learn how to prioritize someone else's needs above one's own. Most opportunities to grow come with pain, and sadly too many people abandon ship. But rather than scrapping those whole thing, I believe we should aim to strengthen people's respect for lifelong commitment.

Man, I don't question that. But you could say exactly the same about priesthood for instance. People don't need special laws to do comitments. The problem of making marriage a special case of contract law is that it create a very tight legal framework under which one can commit to something. Also notice that while one can use unlegitimate sex as an argument in a court of divorce, one cannot argue of "a lack of love". Strange laws for what you are trying to achieve.

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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby guenther » Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:52 pm UTC

Iv wrote:Man, I don't question that. But you could say exactly the same about priesthood for instance. People don't need special laws to do comitments. The problem of making marriage a special case of contract law is that it create a very tight legal framework under which one can commit to something. Also notice that while one can use unlegitimate sex as an argument in a court of divorce, one cannot argue of "a lack of love". Strange laws for what you are trying to achieve.

I'm no expert on divorce, but I think the idea behind no-fault divorces is that no one has to show any wrong-doing.

But that aside, I don't think the main benefit of the special laws is just to provide a framework for legal contracts. Rather our society has enshrined the concept of marriage as something important, and one facet of that is the legal side. I believe that removing the legal benefits would deal a blow to our cultural value of marriage. While some groups would try to carry on the tradition, the reality is that not being married is easier, and we'd see a dwindling in the number of people that commit to lifelong relationships.
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby thc » Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:42 pm UTC

I agree with the OP: there are a lot of bad arguments coming from both vocal sides of the debate. I seriously think the absolute most logical argument in favor of civil rights is along the lines of: "fuck you, who the hell do you think you are?" Unfortunately, when the opposition can contrive walls and walls of text justifying their bigotry, it's nearly impossible to debate on anything but their terms.

Another case in point: when "pro-marriage" likens gay couples to incestuous and polygamous relationships, the typical response is, "how DARE you compare us to something so DISGUSTING!" This is a bad case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The gay community rejects the rights of other groups and long term prospects of civil rights in hopes of scoring votes and political points right now. They don't even entertain the notion that the comparison could in fact, be valid and so they give pro-marriage a permanent foothold in the morality arena by refusing to argue on their own terms.

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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby Iv » Fri Jul 16, 2010 8:43 am UTC

guenther wrote:I believe that removing the legal benefits would deal a blow to our cultural value of marriage. While some groups would try to carry on the tradition, the reality is that not being married is easier, and we'd see a dwindling in the number of people that commit to lifelong relationships.

I hate when people takes what I said and turn it around so please tell me if it is what I am just doing, but are you not telling me that currently people commit into lifelong relationships because of legal benefits ? Would it not be better for this "cultural value" to see less of them but more trustworthy ones ?

More than half of the marriages end up in divorces, doesn't that say something about the need to re-think the framework ?

On a side note, I have a difficulty to see what is so particularly good or exceptional about lifelong relationships. Loving someone is a good thing, it is great while it lasts, why force it to last when the feeling is gone ? What is the idea ? If "committing to a lifelong relationship" means that it does two person miserable, how is that individualist to say it is a better thing that they separate. What good would it do if they stayed together ?

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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby General_Norris » Fri Jul 16, 2010 8:46 am UTC

thc wrote:The gay community rejects the rights of other groups and long term prospects of civil rights in hopes of scoring votes and political points right now. They don't even entertain the notion that the comparison could in fact, be valid and so they give pro-marriage a permanent foothold in the morality arena by refusing to argue on their own terms.

This is one of the reasons why I don't like the main LGTB organization in Spain.

@Iv

Note that the rate for first marriage is 41% and increases for each new marriage.

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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby Iv » Fri Jul 16, 2010 9:02 am UTC

General_Norris wrote:@Iv

Note that the rate for first marriage is 41% and increases for each new marriage.

After a quick googling, this is apparently harder to compute than I first thought. Here is a simple stat :
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/divorce.htm
# Marriage rate: 7.1 per 1,000 total population
# Divorce rate: 3.5 per 1,000 population

There is almost one divorce for each marriage in the US (same in my country). I am not sure why a second or third marriage shouldn't count as lifelong commitment. If it doesn't count, shouldn't we change the status or modernize it or something ? 73% of third marriages end up in divorce in America. How is it not a failure ? There surely could be another legal framework that would have a less laughable failure rate ?

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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby General_Norris » Fri Jul 16, 2010 9:18 am UTC

^Oh I didn't say that is a failure. Only that perhaps it is not completely right to group all marriages together.

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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby Oregonaut » Fri Jul 16, 2010 4:40 pm UTC

thc wrote:I agree with the OP: there are a lot of bad arguments coming from both vocal sides of the debate. I seriously think the absolute most logical argument in favor of civil rights is along the lines of: "fuck you, who the hell do you think you are?" Unfortunately, when the opposition can contrive walls and walls of text justifying their bigotry, it's nearly impossible to debate on anything but their terms.

Another case in point: when "pro-marriage" likens gay couples to incestuous and polygamous relationships, the typical response is, "how DARE you compare us to something so DISGUSTING!" This is a bad case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The gay community rejects the rights of other groups and long term prospects of civil rights in hopes of scoring votes and political points right now. They don't even entertain the notion that the comparison could in fact, be valid and so they give pro-marriage a permanent foothold in the morality arena by refusing to argue on their own terms.


Are there groups of people out there who are organized and proposing legalizing incest? Polygamy, sure, I can understand there being some debate there on whether or not it is a valid life choice. Incest, however, is typically considered much the same as cannibalism in most modern societies, to my knowledge. Which would mean that the comparison would rightly trigger disgust in most audiences. There has to be a way to re-frame the debate so that you turn their biases back on them.
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby guenther » Fri Jul 16, 2010 5:13 pm UTC

Iv wrote:I hate when people takes what I said and turn it around so please tell me if it is what I am just doing, but are you not telling me that currently people commit into lifelong relationships because of legal benefits ? Would it not be better for this "cultural value" to see less of them but more trustworthy ones ?

More than half of the marriages end up in divorces, doesn't that say something about the need to re-think the framework ?

First, I'm not bothered by the idea that legal benefits affect how likely people are to commit. There are a lot of factors that control our behavior below our level of awareness. I just don't want the legal benefits to be part of what people honestly affirm as their reasons to marry.

Second, I'm happy to see people rethink marriage. But I don't like the use of vague notions of something better as an argument for why we should get rid of marriage as it exists today. If we're talking about a replacement, I think we should know precisely what that is as well as some prediction of exactly where and how it will perform better. Otherwise I think we're more likely to destroy marriage with nothing to replace it.

Iv wrote:On a side note, I have a difficulty to see what is so particularly good or exceptional about lifelong relationships. Loving someone is a good thing, it is great while it lasts, why force it to last when the feeling is gone ? What is the idea ? If "committing to a lifelong relationship" means that it does two person miserable, how is that individualist to say it is a better thing that they separate. What good would it do if they stayed together ?

I think our perception of reality is very much shaped by what we believe is useful, which in turn is shaped by a selfish, short-term filter. Elevating someone else's needs above our own is hard, and I think when people get to the challenging part they'll be inclined to lose interest and become convinced that the love isn't there anymore. We have a bias to not overcome our own selfishness. So the sense of commitment and obligation is a way to counter that bias and keep people on the hard road to achieve better results down the road.

By the way, I don't want people to think that I'm arguing that every person should get married. But I do want our culture to value lifelong commitment, not just "til interest wanes do we part". And a value is different than a rule. We should value commitment, but sometimes other values should win, like saftey for example.

NOTE: As soon as this off-topic is deemed unwelcome by a moderator or the thread owner, please let us know.

thc wrote:The gay community rejects the rights of other groups and long term prospects of civil rights in hopes of scoring votes and political points right now.

This is related to my first post in the thread. Is the effort of pro-gay marriage to grant a right to the gay community? Or is it to grant everyone the right to marry someone of the same sex? I argue the latter. Which means it's not accurate to say that certain groups are being denied their rights; however, certainly some groups suffer more when all people are deined certain rights.

And maybe those votes and political points are what some people want to better achieve the result of gay marriage. Not everyone has the same ideological agenda.
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby Griffin » Fri Jul 16, 2010 5:29 pm UTC

Are there groups of people out there who are organized and proposing legalizing incest?

Organized? Not really, though as a significantly larger minority those few groups that do exist tend to be small and lacking in power, and there's certainly no cohesive movement. And honestly, they have the benefit of being able to hide a lot easier, so why should they draw attention to themselves by organizing, when it will only cause them to suffer more?

And yeah, Poly's definitely ARE organized and pushing for rights, though again smaller than the gay rights movement.

And both are "natural", so neither does the biology argument much credit. Gay lobby groups only use it, as far as I understand, because so many people are stupid enough to believe it matters (and their opposition, of course, uses the whole "unnatural" thing in the same way.) I understand why they do it, of course - its easier to get sympathy for something you can convince people you can't change and aren't responsible for.

Personally, I don't like it as an argument, because it weakens the case for those who can choose. They are sacrificing potential allies to get in good with the mainstream, and while that is working for THEM, its hardly good for those other groups who share similar ideological goals. And frankly, there is bigotry amongst many gay groups against those who can "choose", for whatever reason, so there may definitely be some prejudice playing a part. I assume that part is small next to the practical aspects, however.

But I know, practically, a lot of these arguments are damaging. I know I could come out to my parents as gay, and they would accept me. I could do the same to my teachers, my employers, and they would be alright with it.

The same would NOT be true if I came out as bisexual - my parents have made quite clear they it as disgusting, and so I haven't told them. There's a lot of prejudice there.

Ultimately, though - I'm okay with it. A world where gays are accepted as equals is, I think, a world where these other groups that are occasionally cast to the side are more likely to make progress on their own. Success in the gay community paves the way.

The funniest thing is this "paving the way" is exactly the thing that many conservatives are most terrified of, and how much time the gay community spends affirming "that totally won't happen!" when it already is...
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby diamonds » Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:26 am UTC

PAstrychef wrote:... In the push to equalize marriage and to be allowed to live "normal" lives...
Would presenting the idea that current laws have the government restricting freedom of choice get any traction? Or does the whole religious underpinning to the homophobia mean that only biological determinism has a hope?

I would refer you to some of the points made on the thread on gay marriage or one of the subtopics. If you want civil rights, that means the government stepping and defining what is "fair" for each party, determining what marriage even means and what benefits it grants the involved parties, what you do about people/couples/groups who don't want to marry (that is biological too, after all), and having a government performing marriages, does it violate church and state, worrying about cultural differences, what happens when different levels of government recognize marriages differently, do biological differences play in at all, or is it an illness that should be cured, do you allow polygamous marriages, etc. I would point out civil liberties (as opposed to often mis-used, but understandably, "civil rights"), where everyone individually defines marriage, where religions or individuals preform marriage, and where government is entirely indifferent to marital status, but instead uses contract law to perform the same functions. What impact biology or any other evidence would have on civil liberties would be meaningless, as opposed to civil rights where it becomes political and one size fits all, whether or not marriage is right for you.

In short I'm not agreeing or disagreeing, I'm pointing out that, with respect to government, it is not meaningful. Could it be useful to individuals though? If one is trying to decide if such a marriage would be beneficial, perhaps it can be comforting it is something that you can live with, at the very least, not something that is negative. (I really have no clue, personally I have no clue people can live like that please don't hurt me maybe they don't? That's a topic for another thread)
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby thc » Tue Jul 27, 2010 7:04 am UTC

This is related to my first post in the thread. Is the effort of pro-gay marriage to grant a right to the gay community? Or is it to grant everyone the right to marry someone of the same sex? I argue the latter. Which means it's not accurate to say that certain groups are being denied their rights; however, certainly some groups suffer more when all people are deined certain rights.


Just noticed this post.

Guenther, I always try to give you the benefit of the doubt when I feel you make questionable arguments like these. But this is exactly what I'm talking about in my other post here.

What you are repeating is essentially the same bullshit argument that "gays can already get married". This is semantics and equivocation in the worst possible sense. Gays are "not being denied rights" only in the same sense that the princess is free to leave the tower - all she has to do is jump out of the window (meanwhile, everyone else can leave the tower by walking out the front door). It's utter crap. Society is NOT granting any sort of additional rights by allowing gays to get married.

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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby PAstrychef » Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:10 pm UTC

thc wrote:
This is related to my first post in the thread. Is the effort of pro-gay marriage to grant a right to the gay community? Or is it to grant everyone the right to marry someone of the same sex? I argue the latter. Which means it's not accurate to say that certain groups are being denied their rights; however, certainly some groups suffer more when all people are deined certain rights.


Just noticed this post.

Guenther, I always try to give you the benefit of the doubt when I feel you make questionable arguments like these. But this is exactly what I'm talking about in my other post here.

What you are repeating is essentially the same bullshit argument that "gays can already get married". This is semantics and equivocation in the worst possible sense. Gays are "not being denied rights" only in the same sense that the princess is free to leave the tower - all she has to do is jump out of the window (meanwhile, everyone else can leave the tower by walking out the front door). It's utter crap. Society is NOT granting any sort of additional rights by allowing gays to get married.

Funny, I read this as saying that everybody is limited to having "opposite marriages". It is true that men and women can get married regardless of their sexual orientation, and same sex couples can't, again regardless of their orientations. As a basically heterosexual person I am as limited in my choices of whom to marry as any homosexual person is. That my current choice would tend to fall under the umbrella of the socially acceptable is irrelevant. I still can't choose to marry within my sex. If the princess had to say a magic phrase to get to go down the stairs and chose not to, then the need for the magic phrase is wrong-not that some people don't seem to have to say it.
Plenty of people have chosen to jump out of that window, at great cost to themselves. That the alternatives sucked was part of making that choice. Until very recently the idea that everyone should have equal access was almost unthinkable.
My question was why had the problem-of same-sex couples wanting to get married-been framed as it had been; Because homosexual orientation has been presented as innate, then homosexual people should be allowed to get married because because they have no choice as to whom they are attracted to. I saw the question as one of why should the state care to whom I got married, and shouldn't I be free to marry whomever I choose, whether it's out of innate orientation or not. I happen to think that if the question was framed more as one of equal access to civil protections and less of "let the poor homos act just like us, cause they might be gross, but they can't help it" it might gain more popular support.
But since the innate nature of sexual orientation is used to disprove the concept of homosexual attraction as mental illness it can't be entirely pulled from the argument.
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby guenther » Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:19 pm UTC

@thc: I already carried on with you once in good faith and sincerity when you challenged my integrity. If you still insist on airing the same grievances against me, then no volume of my words will convince you otherwise. I have no interest in going through this again with you (plus I think we'd get shut down pretty fast in SB). We don't all tow the same line of thinking. I get that you don't agree with me, and I'm OK with that.
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby podbaydoor » Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:19 pm UTC

PAstrychef wrote: I saw the question as one of why should the state care to whom I got married, and shouldn't I be free to marry whomever I choose, whether it's out of innate orientation or not.

Actually, this makes a lot of sense to me when I apply it to interracial marriage. As well as the argument that everyone's rights are being limited whether they choose it or not. Blacks were not allowed to marry whites...but on the flip side, whites weren't allowed to marry blacks either. Regardless of inclination. And now, at least legally, race is viewed as an irrelevant characteristic when it comes to state-approved marriage. Even though race actually is a biologically defined trait, I think the comparison to gay marriage is still useful.
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby Griffin » Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:23 pm UTC

Yeah, thc, I think what Guenther was getting at is this isn't a "gay right" - Its a right that we, every one of us, should have. Gays CAN get married, and many do, in states where "gay marriage" is illegal - but thats utterly irrelevant to the fact that there is an unfair curtailing of choice, a wrong that needs to be righted.

Gays are not the only ones who suffer because of the current state of the laws - they are just the ones who suffer the most and in largest amounts.

Your princess example is dumb. Instead, put her in a dungeon and a wheelchair, and make the only exit stairs.

Also, I hate the term "being denied rights". Noone has a right to get married to anyone, so you can't deny it of people. It IS, however, something everyone should be able to do with whoever they choose to do it with.
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby mmmcannibalism » Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:28 pm UTC

Also, I hate the term "being denied rights". Noone has a right to get married to anyone, so you can't deny it of people. It IS, however, something everyone should be able to do with whoever they choose to do it with.


The right to equal protection under the law; the government telling people who they can make contracts with while discriminating is a violation of that right.
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby thc » Tue Jul 27, 2010 6:07 pm UTC

Guenther, I think you may one day find that you aren't as progressive as you think. Your equivocation of civil rights probably does more harm then people who just say "because God said so" since you actively work to convince others on the fence that there is legitimacy on the other side. There seriously isn't. It is outrageous to imply that society would be doing gays a favor (e.g., making an "additional" right) by allowing same-sex marriage.

Analogy 2: it is like saying that women's suffrage is an additional right - after all, the right did not exist before. While this may be true in an extremely contrived technical sense, it's fucking stupid.

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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby PAstrychef » Tue Jul 27, 2010 6:33 pm UTC

It's not the creation of "additional rights". In the case of suffrage, it expanded the class of "citizens" to include women. That class also had to be expanded to include blacks, who at one point were considered only fractional citizens.
Guaranteeing equal access to the civil protections of marriage to all couples means expanding the class of marriageable couples. Doing so will expand access to those protections to more people, even those who have no immediate reason to need that expansion.
After all, a women whose family was rich and whose male relatives were indulgent could do just about whatever she wanted to, even without the vote. And in many ways expanding the right to vote did harm the interests of the rich white men who were in charge. They had to make concessions and allow the process to work even when the outcome was one they disliked. (of course they managed ways to work around this, but that's just how power operates)
Expanding access to marriage will make many people uncomfortable, because it will lead to social acceptance of things they find morally reprehensible. But the idea of equal protection is that even those whom you find objectionable have the same rights as you do.
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby diamonds » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:32 am UTC

PAstrychef wrote:It's not the creation of "additional rights". In the case of suffrage, it expanded the class of "citizens" to include women. That class also had to be expanded to include blacks, who at one point were considered only fractional citizens.
Guaranteeing equal access to the civil protections of marriage to all couples means expanding the class of marriageable couples. Doing so will expand access to those protections to more people, even those who have no immediate reason to need that expansion.
After all, a women whose family was rich and whose male relatives were indulgent could do just about whatever she wanted to, even without the vote. And in many ways expanding the right to vote did harm the interests of the rich white men who were in charge. They had to make concessions and allow the process to work even when the outcome was one they disliked. (of course they managed ways to work around this, but that's just how power operates)
Expanding access to marriage will make many people uncomfortable, because it will lead to social acceptance of things they find morally reprehensible. But the idea of equal protection is that even those whom you find objectionable have the same rights as you do.

At the risk of being OT, women were always citizens; states merely set the restrictions on voting. In some states it was all males (white males or all males), in others, it was all property owners (of at least $10 of property for instance) which included women. But they were always citizens. Voting is not an individual right, it is an entitlement provided by the state.
To tie this into the original post, remember what civil rights mean: It is something administered positively by the government. So does your argument make sense if government weren't the one performing the marriage? Let's enumerate which classes of individuals your argument would apply to, not religions, not individuals, not corporations, not employees (by themselves), but only the state.
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Re: using biology to defend civil rights

Postby markop2003 » Sat Jul 31, 2010 4:14 pm UTC

I completely agree. It seems that there's a lot of attention on arguments over whether it's a choice or not but no one seems to argue over whether it being a choice matters at all. Though i would note that only some nuts are against the actual act the real debates now are about gay marriage and gay people being around children.
It seems to me it would be easier just to remove the legal side of marriage all together then there would be no arguments about it. The gays are currently complaining about not being able to marry but then in the future we could have polygamists complaining which leaves you with a contract that as many people as you want of which ever gender can enter which makes the whole idea worthless. Better just to remove all references to it from the law then there would be no more arguments over it.


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