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I've met quite a few gay people and an average proportion of them have been average people. Most have been likeable. This makes it slightly unsettling for me when one of my favourite authors, Orson Scott Card, who I consider to be very wise in the ways of the world, produces an [article] on his blog that, from anyone else, I would immediately place in the 'cylindrical filing cabinet' as homophobic crap.

I hope to god that I am in no way homophobic, but the article in question has made me think a little. Is there a social cost to homosexuality? Is there the same social benefit to heterosexual and homosexual marriages? Is homosexuality a life choice or an immutable part of one's nature? If the former, is it good or bad for society to have homosexuality seen as equal to heterosexuality? If the latter, should it be considered a reproductive dysfunction, as Card suggests?

Frankly, this is one are where, in my opinion, the FUD flies a little too heavily in both directions. I'd be interested to hear the opinions of toothywikizens on these issues.
I can see his point. I don't think I agree with him, but I see where he gets it from - SunKitten

It's a fairly well reasoned argument. It assumes that marriage is about tax breaks and that these tax breaks are compensation for the time and money required to raise children properly. It seems to ignore the issue of Gay adoption except to repeat the argument that children are best raised by one male and one female parent. That's a question for the sociologists in my opinion but I don't see any reason why having two same sex parents is more damaging than growing up in a care home.
If the premise that the purpose of marriage is to produce children is incorrect then of course the whole argument is flawed.--King DJ
Yes, it's some of his assumptions that I'd question, not the logic of the argument. Although that would require hard thought and I'm on holiday at the moment ^-^ - SunKitten
On the other hand, is there any other social benefit of marriage that we should be rewarding apart from producing children? I realise I'm now making the assumption that the purpose of tax breaks is to reward "merit goods" but I feel this is reasonable - CorkScrew
I think people say its stability is essential to the wider social climate, or some such thing, but I don't think it's actually been backed up in nonreligious terms that I can remember. I do think marriage is generally good, for society and a community. What I'm not sure is why a gay marriage can't give those 'wider community' benefits too - SunKitten
Speaking secularly, partnership that works is good because people looking after each other is good - it can mean less effort is required on the part of society to sustain the couple than would be required to sustain the individuals separately, leaving more resources to go around for people that really need them. In purely emotionless, nonreligious terms marriage could be seen as an attempt to formalise such a state of affairs and provide an accepted set of contracts and contingency plans for assorted ways things can go wrong that help keep the partner(s) self-sufficent. - MoonShadow
On that point, I see no reason not to have some kind of 'civil partnership', a contract between two or more people, that would function similiarly to marriage, legally at least. That way, not only could nonreligious couples and gay couples sign the contract satisfactorily, and the state would be happy with the contract and thus award them the same (deserved) breaks as normal marriage, but also more unusual partnerships - for example, two people who like living together and treat each other like family but have no intention of 'sexual' marriage could also benefit. This would be a completely secular affair, however, and I imagine churches, mosques etc would continue with their marriage rites, and you still have the problem of individual couples being denied that for whatever reason. I don't think you're going to get round that - SunKitten
Civil Partnership is crap because straight people can get a civil marriage and giving gay people something that is 'the same but different' is not a good idea.  Really.  This sort of thing rarely works.  Either they should call everything that isn't religeous 'civil partnership' (churches etc. should obviously get to decide what they do on their own terms but what the gummint do isn't anything to do with what churches etc. decide to do) or call it 'marriage' for everyone.  Of course, it ought to include every conceivable arrangement of people who might want to get married to each other in any number of complicated ways and the marriage contract (as well as the ceremony) should be able to adjust to accomadate such arrangements.  And until they fix it I refuse to get hitched on principle... -- Naath
(MoonShadow) AIUI, SunKitten meant to suggest something like the former - that is, separate the religious and secular aspects, give the word-that-causes-much-grief over to the religious people to argue about all they like and let anyone who wants to make the secular contract be able to make it. She wasn';t seeing it as trying to mollify the sexual minorities - she was seeing it as giving everyone something approaching equal rights and the sexual minorities getting at least part of what they want as a side effect.(SunKitten - did I get that right?)
Yeah, I meant pretty much what Naath described (any conceivable arrangement of people etc etc). I wouldn't see it as being about sex necessarily either - a couple who are friends (with no sexual element) and vow to support each other should have the same access to a civil partnership IMV - SunKitten
(MoonShadow) As more wine is consumed here, the plan becomes more and more elaborate. Five and ten-year contracts just got proposed. It's all beginning to resemble a BraveNewWorld.. I'm gonna butt out about now, I think ^^;
And that's a worry in itself. Can we afford to fsck with existing social structures when we really don't know what effect we're going to have? Also, an open question: who should determine what legally constitutes marriage? --CorkScrew
It isn't really fscking arround.  People *live* in these arrangements already, they are just asking for legal recognition.  This has two parts, first people want the benefits (being legally next of kin, not paying inheritance tax, getting powers of attorney without having to hire a lawyer) and partly just because they want recognition as an aim in itself.  The person/people who draw up the marriage contract define what legally constitutes marriage, or rather what benefit you will get from being married.  The government gets to determine what you are allowed to put into that contract and what benefits they are willing to give you.  Personally I feel that there should be (no? - M) restrictions at all on who can enter into a marriage contract with whom, provided that all involved are capable of giving consent and are consenting to the contract in its entirety (and who should be able to consent is an entire other argument).  -Naath

"Can we afford..?" - that goes for all sides of the debate. "who should determine..?" - well, we do happen to live in a society that claimes it's democratic.. --MoonShadow
so you'd be willing to have a vote on homosexual marriage? bear in mind the number of british citizens who are basically rednecks.
I would, yes. Except not 'homosexual marriage' but all of it - the establishment of the civil marriage contract thing. There might be enough 'rednecks' who don't want to get 'churchy marriaged' to swing it. On the other hand, I am not personally affected by the outcome, so what I think is less useful than what someone who would benefit from (or be disadvantaged by) the change thinks - SunKitten
What *I* think is largely irrelevant. It's just that I think a proposal to split things up into their different aspects followed by a vote / consensus on the matter is the most viable alternative to eternal pointless bickering. Which may not be saying all that much, but hey. - MoonShadow
You have to remember, though, that people will continue eternal pointless bickering whether or not a consensus/vote on the matter has happened.  People are like that. --M-A

... Re: CivilUnion?.  That is what we already have.  It is called marriage.  Since actual blessed and sanctified marriage is very much the rarity, why not rename ''it';'?  --Vitenka  (Incendiary, yes, but marriage has been a civil contract in the past - and is very much a temporary contract in today's society.  Of course, it'd give gubblement a good excuse to eliminate tax breaks.)
OK, but you have to convince everyone else of that. It'd be much easier to start with a new word than to reuse an old one - SunKitten (not getting into the discussion of the definition of 'marriage')
Well, to bifurcate the problem - TrueMarriage? ;)  Why not have 'ReligiousUnion?' and 'CivilUnion?' (which would be nice for FreedomOfReligion? type reasons) and then let 'marriage' remain the fluffy undefined term it is currently, meaning one or the other or both depending upon the speaker.  Let CommonUsage? argue it out.  --Vitenka
That's much what I'm proposing, except the religious side would argue they've got a few thousand years' worth of usage precedent on the term "marriage" to mean "union of one man with one woman" and frankly I see little reason not to let the religious side have the term unless you start bringing emotional aspects into the debate, at which point you open an entirely different can of worms. - MoonShadow
Sure, so let 'em bicker about it.  As long as there are discrete terms to mean explicitly what you want to mean, then at least the discussion can take place.  Right now, it's pretty hard to say "Marriage means marriage" without sounding, well, stupid.  --Vitenka
The problem with that is that giving things a different name can make people think that they are different and inferior.  It leads to discrimination (seperate but equal in a nonsense) --Naath

The problem is that from a Christian POV, "marriage" is defined explicitly as a union between man and woman approved by God (todo: ref.), and there happen to be rather a lot of people around that think of the word that way whether they are Christian or not. Some Christians attempt to argue that God disapproves of homosexual union, others attempt to argue that celibate relationships are OK but sex is not, still others attempt to argue that God makes no relevant comment on the matter, yet the definition of the word alone is generally enough to create tension whenever a legal contract under that label is proposed. That's fair enough for people who *want* to create tension because they have an ax to grind, but.. *shrug* There is no easy answer in practice. I guess some would disapprove of such unions whatever you called them and whatever they involved, and others would feel maligned by Christians no matter what motions were made. Perhaps the whole exercise is pointless and there is no friendship or love to be had for either side from the other. It is a very depressing thought. - MoonShadow
The problem with the Christian POV is that I couldn't give a shit what Christians want to do with their lives but I'm not one and I really wish they would stop imposing their views onto the law that we all have to obey.  In a world where anyone can marry anyone an individual still has the right to a monogamous heterosexual marriage sworn before God, in a world where only monogamous heterosexual marriage is all that is allowed I do not have the right to a bisexual polygamous marriage  - I would not dream of telling people that they can't live their life that way, just so long as they stop impinging on my right to live my life the way that I choose to live it.  I don't think that the religious argument has any place in the government's policy on whom they will grant a bit of paper to. - [[Naath]
Pretty much agreed. Disestablishmentarianists of the world unite! - CorkScrew

I think we've done marriage to death, at least in terms of religion. I originally asked the question in terms of social cost/benefit: "Is homosexuality a life choice or an immutable part of one's nature? If the former, is it good or bad for society to have homosexuality seen as equal to heterosexuality? If the latter, should it be considered a reproductive dysfunction, as Card suggests?" Any answers? --CorkScrew
Well, as far as I'm concerned, you got given one above - an opinion that can be summarised as "if the former, and leaving out the religious POVs, homosexual partnerships are exactly as good or bad for society as those heterosexual partnerships where the couple concerned don't intend to bear their own children." You never really responded to it - do you disagree? If so, why? - MoonShadow
I think you're exactly right there, but I would raise the question of whether marriages where no kids are intended are as socially "good" as ones where kids are intended. Of course, if this were an issue then the benefits assigned to married couples are partly suffering from freeloaders (those who don't want kids). The question in this paradigm is whether it is right to include people who are guaranteed to be "freeloaders" in the interests of fairness.
Seen from a moral perspective, I believe it is absolutely right to allow homosexual marriage. Seen from a social-benefit perspective, I'm unconvinced either way.
I propose to you the possibility of couples adopting kids. Does this alter your views? - MoonShadow
That depends. From the point of view I have been arguing from, this would be fine if kids aren't likely to develop as homosexuals based on their parents' behaviour - otherwise, you're just pushing the issue forward a generation. Ironically, this would lead to the conclusion that gay couples should only be allowed to adopt to the extent to which homosexuality is a "dysfunction" ie inherited characteristic restricting ability to reproduce.
Would you be in favour of actively preventing heterosexual couples with a family history of hereditory conditions from breeding, rather than leaving the choice with them? Where would you draw the line - conditions that have a chance of dramatically shortening lifespan, conditions that have a chance of crippling, conditions that impart a chance of impaired mental development, conditions that just have a chance of affecting fertility? - MoonShadow
This is one area where I genuinely have no idea. The one thing that I feel slightly confident about is that natural selection no longer applies to the human race in any major way. We have to decide whether to apply selection to ourselves and, if so, how. Personally, I'm for meddling with genes once we've got that technology working. That gives you a nice solution: if a part of the world is rich enough to prevent natural selection, it is rich enough to select itself. - CorkScrew
Homosexuality is presumably a complex mix of genetics and memetics, but an adopted child has the genetics of its (presumably) straight parents and will pick up memetics for a large number of poeple, parents, grandparents, friends, friends parents, religious leaders, teachers, TV... I don't think that having homosexual parents means that a child will be homosexual. (Indeed, it doesn't work the other way around - most homosexual children are raised by heterosexual parents, perhaps somewhat unsurprisingly - MoonShadow) In fact, I feel that it is far less likely to pass on homosexuality (though why would that be a problem?) than you are to pass on Haemophilia or Autism, though I have no proof to substantiate that claim. (But even if that weren't the case, it only matters to people who already think of homosexual families as bad for some other reason.. - MoonShadow) The part of the world that is rich and suited to live (if we look at life today you will see that the best 'suited' to live are no longer the strongest but the cleverest and those competent at doing business... these are the rich and the intellectual people who run society) in this world of ever increasing complexity are precisely the people who *are not breeding*, the birth rate is far far higher in those who are so 'unsuited' to modern life that they are living off the charity of others  - and poverty is apparently an inherited factor (mostly memetic I would assume).  Thus 'natural selection' has ceased to function (in that it says that those most suited to life are those which breed successfully) and indeed has reversed.  In a world where homosexuality has lost its stigma then there would be no problem in people 'breeding' homosexual children.  --Naath
(MoonShadow's comments are inline since he sees them as complementary to the thrust of the text. If Naath disagrees and/or doesn't want them there s/he is welcome to remove them.)
The only reason I can think of for disliking the idea of homosexual marriages is the reproductive factor, although Orson Scott Card introduces the idea of role models (which I think is approaching the very dodgy). - CorkScrew

You ask one question then give two answers to a different one.  The answer to the first is that, like every other human quality, it is influenced both by nature and nurture and that it can be influenced to a fair degree in later life.
The answer to the second is that it is dumb stupid and harmful both to individuals and to society to overly classify anything.
Where do you draw the line of "overclassification"? Playing devil's advocate, if one's sexuality can be influenced in later life, should we be trying to influence kids towards heterosexuality? The population of Europe is shrinking at the moment (I believe) and a rise in birth rate may be the only way to avoid being entirely an immigrant population. Nothing against immigrants, but I'd prefer not to see my phenotype die out.
Heh.  I draw the line at classifying what is classification and what isn't.  Or at least I draw a fuzzy splodge somewhere in the region of it ;)  As for the BirthRate?, frankly, that is an incredible advantage to homosexuality - anything that decreases the birth rate worldwide is a good thing.  --Vitenka  (Who draws the line at increasing the DeathRate?, which would have the same effect)
I appear to generally be out on a limb with the beliefe that the world is allready overpopulated and is fast getting worse and thus that haveing no children is a definate GoodThing.  I wonder why people hate the idea of a shrinking population so much?  Before the explosion in infant survival rate that went allong with improved sanitation and health care the population of this country was less (much less) than half what it is now and no one went arround saying 'oh, if only we had another few million people arround'.  Admitedly there will be a crisis point where there are too many old people arround, but eventually they will all die off and the population will be stable at a new lower level. - Naath
You're not out on a limb - I agree, to some extent. I just think it's a separate argument and that it's actually possible to defend my points here without taking a stance on it either way. - MoonShadow

As for 'is it harmful to society to change this?' - we can only know with a historical perspective.  The closest analogy would be greek/roman society, and that did not really have the same kind of marriage in the first place to compare it to.
Card says "Do not change it, it is risky" which is a valid POV.  Then he justifies it with a lot of stupid shit, and with some sensible but unrelated shit.

Final point - why is it that people insist on attaching different qualities together?  Especially when simpleminded logic implies the opposite conclusions.  Many many nice people cannot write a good book.  Ergo, all book writers are poopy ;)  --Vitenka  (Yeah yeah, I know, it's natural.  It's still dumb.)
Which qualities did you have in mind as being wrongly associated?
Good book does not imply 'writer does not hold incredibly strong and controversial (or indeed batshit insane) views'  - in fact good authors more often than not are totally off their rockers.  Though CounterExamples exist - the scientologists being a case in point of batshit insane and a terrible author :)  --Vitenka

Re:"Gay marriage" - it might be worth thinking about the reasons that homosexual people are asking for some form of recognised union.  Possibilities include:
  1. Romantic "fluffy" feelings - it just seems nice to be able to get married if you love someone.
  2. Legal benefits - recognition as next of kin, ability to inherit joint assets more easily, tax breaks to do with inheritance, etc.
  3. On principle - we're all just people, and gender shouldn't matter in such areas.
  4. ...
Which areas? In reproductive areas, gender necessarily matters a lot. I guess the question is: to what extent do you consider the concepts of marriage and reproduction to be linked in the public mind? And to what extent do you think they should be linked? - CorkScrew
  1. Because legal recognition helps to lessen discrimination.  And being discriminated against is never nice - Naath

Allow me to rephrase: is homosexuality a life choice or is it an immutable part of one's nature?
Yes. (different replyer to the one above)  - you asked an or question and we chose to interpret it logically.  Sensible clarification below.
If you think it's at least partly nature, what evidence is there to confirm this (I am genuinely interested - google was not helpful)? If you think it's at least partly nurture, do you think it's acceptable to nurture someone in a way that may exclude them from reproducing (ignoring the possibility of weird IV type treatments and surrogate mums)? In addition, on the "nurture" front, if someone is for one reason or another cut off from reproducing, is it then hypocritical for them to propose their lifestyle to other people's kids (a la the removal of clause whatever-it-was)?
These are all open-ended questions, to which I'm frantically searching for answers that fit in with my liberal instincts.  --CorkScrew
Uh - am I misunderstanding something here, or are you equating 'homosexuality is always an effect of nurture' with 'homosexuality is always a mutable life choice'? How did we get from "mutable vs immutable" to "nature vs nurture"? - MoonShadow
I'm sorry, you're right, I'm being unclear. The question I was trying to ask was aimed at answering the associated question of whether it's possible for someone who otherwise would have been homosexual to end up being heterosexual (or vice versa) without being profoundly unhappy at life as a direct result. --CorkScrew
That's still not clear. Do you mean "Could they have been if they'd been raised differently?", or "Could they become if they get treatment?" I would argue that those are entirely separate statements that require separate answers. - MoonShadow

Probably. Have you thought about why they might claim that? In what sense would you want to claim it is less desirable? - MoonShadow
Homosexuality is a lot more fun, with much less risk of pregnancy.  Too many people are set in the 'must breed' mindset. - Naath

[Experience] says no, and medical associations without a religious agenda generally recommend [against] attempting it. - MoonShadow
At what point in human development do you think that a person's sexuality becomes unsafe to interfere with? - CorkScrew
I wouldn't know, not being a child psychologist. The pages linked advise against therapy to change orientation, without qualifying this advice, so presumably at any point. The other way to read your question is with the implication that the upbringing of a child can involve interference with its sexuality - am I reading too much into it? I think that would, in general, need justifying. Consider that a lot of homosexuals, presumably most of them, are born to and brought up by heterosexual couples. Unless you intend to try and demonstrate that homosexuality is in some way invariably an "unnatural" state brought about directly by human "interference"- in which case I must advise you that nature appears to [disagree] with you - it seems that way of reading things might rest on false assumptions. - MoonShadow

Can I request that you sign paragraphs please?  Right.  The answer is yes because, like everything, it is something from both parts.  All human nature is that way.  Indeed, the answer elicits a 'duh' sound from me.  However, I would disagree with 'immutable' - part of your natural nature, yes - but nothing is immutable.  Dead people aren't anything sexual.  ([WikiQuote], sadly.)  --Vitenka
Partially nature examples are mostly anecdotal - though the existence of homosexual behaviour in lower animals is a strong hint.  There's also some paper flying around (check NewScientist?) suggesting that there is some genetic basis for it.  However, genetics is a strong argument against ('pure' homosexuals have trouble passing down their genes)  --Vitenka
As for lifestyle influence - where do you draw the line?  You can't put kids in white boxes until they are eighteen (not and expect any sanity) but equally you shouldn't be allowed to indoctrinate them.  --Vitenka
What sort of indoctrination are we talking about here? Because, for example, we (hopefully) indoctrinate our kids with the belief that beating up old ladies, for example, is unacceptable. Where do you draw the line between things that we should and shouldn't add to our kid's belief set if we get the chance? - CorkScrew
We should add "think it through for yourself", "I could be wrong" and "make up your own mind" to the set of things we indoctrinate, every chance we get. "This is how people used to think, this is what they used to do, this is what came out of it, this is why we now regret it. Now go and think for yourself how to do things you don't regret later." That way, we at least stand a slight chance of the rest of what we indoctrinate kids with not mattering much in the long run. - MoonShadow
***round of applause*** - CorkScrew

I think there's another general question here: how much should we support Darwinian evolution in our own species?  --CorkScrew
As my comment above suggests, I favour the painless elimination of the human species.  --Vitenka

The Nazis went for full-on massacre as the means to "purify" the race - I'm sure that most, if not all, of us consider this completely unacceptable. On the other hand, if we don't select in any way, it seems likely to me that over time our genes will become less likely to produce an intelligent, fully mobile human without any major genetic disorders.
On the one hand, I really don't want to see a Spartan approach, where those who are weak are exposed on a cold mountaintop at birth. On the other hand, I believe that someone who is intelligent and fully mobile will, in some circumstances, be able to add more value to society than a less fully-enables equivalent. For example, Stephen Hawking is a great physicist, but wouldn't be a very effective bricklayer if one was needed. If the human race, through lack of selection, becomes generally more likely to be disabled then bricklayers may be at a premium.  - CorkScrew
I claim a partial godwin!  You hit the obvious problem about 'all types of people are equally valid and valued.'  'We are all special' can be life affirming, and it can be stupid.  I think you're dropping into a tangent here though - the technology has been developed to make everyone sufficiently abled in every way.  It will continue to develop - if that is to the detriment of the physical bodies, what of it?  Apes traded physically fit bodies for social groupings that are more capable together.  Ye gods, I am rambling all over the place.  --Vitenka

I don't think we need to worry about it. It strikes me as an issue that will sort itself out - natural selection is quite capable of taking care of whatever genetic disorders society cannot cope with, pretty much by definition.

This links strongly with the issue of homosexuality - given that homosexuality may have a "nurture" component, is it a mistake to support a lifestyle that effectively sterilises the person in question? Does anyone have any thoughts on this area? - CorkScrew
It doesn't necessarily render one incapable of passing on one's genetic material.  The rest of this debate has missed out the concept of bisexuality, whereby someone who desperately wishes to marry someone of their own gender might be more than happy to shag someone of the opposite gender in order to reproduce (thinking just on a reproductive level here), also the possibility that you can physically have sex with someone with whom you are not in love or indeed particularly attracted to (especially if you happen to be female) - and science can now do all the icky bits for you vs. IVF.  Indeed it is postulated that it is now possible for two men or two women to have a child that is genetically both of theirs, though a woman is required to carry the child. Case in point - many of the men in ancient Greece were homosexual or bisexual and were shagging other men left and right, they however 'performed their duty' and got their wives (who knows what they were doing locked away in the women's quaters) pregnant, and the society didn't die out. - Naath
Indeed true, but this seemed like another complication - I wanted to show that the "don't spread dodgy genetic material" position as stated was indefensible even if you limited the method to IVF. - MoonShadow

Inverting the phrasing of your question, one can equally ask something like "do you think people who are not attracted to people of the opposite sex should be forced to breed anyway?", or even "do you think people who have made vows of celibacy should be forced to breed?" Considering that, I am forced to respond to your original question with at least an "I don't know, but I think it is a definite mistake to condemn such a lifestyle." -MoonShadow
I was thinking more along the lines of "if homosexuality did turn out to be partially genetic, would it be sensible to allow those genes to be 'forcibly' passed on, for example by IV fertilisation?" - CorkScrew
Do you think it would be sensible to forbid it? - MoonShadow
Good point and that would be my main argument in favour of (in the short term at least) avoiding implementing such social policies - the absolute outrage that tends to erupt when issues like this are raised. However, I don't think that outrage is necessarily a good thing - it's a little too close to animal rights protestors for my comfort ("that's right, son, throw rocks at the nasty students who kill fluffy rabbits" => "that's right, son, throw rocks at the nasty bigots who hate homosexuals") --CorkScrew
I'm unconvinced. I'd say it's more like "no, son, you shouldn't throw rocks at anyone, not even people you dislike, and if you get a chance do try and talk your friends out of throwing rocks at each other too." - MoonShadow
I think that's a healthy attitude. It's not the one that exists at the moment, as I suggested - CorkScrew
I beg to differ. I fear we are unlikely to agree on this. - MoonShadow
3 points to make:
1) everything I have said so far has been a discussion of homosexuality not homosexuals (picking holes in the former is an interesting social debate; picking holes in the latter is bigoted - my opinion only)
2) If, for the sake of argument, we take this as given then angry responses to anyone asking questions about this sort of thing (which have, impressively, not appeared in this discussion but do, unfortunately crop up elsewhere) are themselves bigoted at worst and signs of lack of self-confidence at best.
3) We are not unlikely to agree on this - I mostly agree with you. However, I am aware that my own beliefs have some gaps in the logic, and I was using the toothywiki to explore them.
To clarify: Obviously some people are genuinely nasty bigots. However, not everyone who, for example, wants to consider the social impact of issues such as homosexuality is a bigot. - CorkScrew
To clarify: radical proposals to "deal" with "issues" such as homosexuality have tended to be perceived as unjust towards homosexuals, hence the reaction and the attitude of equating such proposals with throwing rocks unless they are very well justified. - MoonShadow
Agreed. This is possibly because most discussions of homosexuality unfortunately tend to have an anti- or pro- homosexual agenda.

I was thinking more along the lines of "if homosexuality did turn out to be partially genetic, would it be sensible to allow those genes to be 'forcibly' passed on, for example by IV fertilisation?" - CorkScrew
In order for it to be sensible, you would have to demonstrate that homosexuality is at least as good a reason as other accepted grounds for forbidding genetic information to be passed on. I reiterate the question - do you think it would be sensible to forbid it? Why? - MoonShadow
I was mostly thinking in terms of "if genetic material naturally deselects itself, is it in the interest of the species to reinsert it into the gene pool?" --CorkScrew
I counter with "if part of the species have a desire to reinsert it into their gene pool, and they can achieve it, can it be said to have deselected itself? - MoonShadow
Ooh, excellent argument! I'd counterargue that, if the genes have deselected themselves, but the society that the genes' owners live in reinserts them, this does not prove the fitness of the genes for any purpose whatsoever. --CorkScrew
Neither does it disprove it. What purpose in particular were you thinking of? - MoonShadow
Any purpose whatsoever. A gene could be actively harmful to the human race in every possible way (say it causes learning problems, paraplegia, early death and extreme stupidity - come on, don't tell me you've never wondered if stupidity is genetic...) and, by this method, it would be carried on if anyone was willing to embed it into the required zygote and send it baby-wise. Think of any definition by which a gene could be considered unfit (that allows for production of sperm) and, if we start getting into gene reinsertion, it is possible for it to survive an unhealthily long time, making the lives of its carriers a misery. --CorkScrew
But what you are describing now is quite a different thing from what happens when a couple who are happy with their life decide to have a child to share some of that happiness with, wouldn't you say? - MoonShadow
True. What I was describing was a limiting case, showing that it is not always best to artificially reinsert genes into the gene pool if they are behaving as if they don't like the chlorine. Now we just have to decide whether homosexuality is one of those cases. --CorkScrew
Generally, when one considers such things, one examines the quality of life of the child. Those making such decisions usually try to err way, way over on the side of letting the parents choose unless the likely outcome is *really* horrific. Now, correct me if I am wrong, but your original suggestion for why permitting homosexual children might not be a good idea was that their quality of life would suffer - they would be unhappy, presumably unsatisfied enough with their life that they would rather not have been born; since what else would justify a decision to stop them being born? - because they were unable to reproduce. I would argue that you would have a very hard time putting that case across to a homosexual couple who were happy with each other and with their life, and who were about to make a decision on whether to reproduce or not. Alternatively, reading your suggestion the other way, in order to be consistent ISTM you should, unless you have something against homosexuality in particular that you haven't mentioned yet, argue that all methods of artificially increasing fertility, and possibly methods of artificially decreasing infant mortality, chances of miscarriage and so on, should be prohibited since they help reintroduce the weaker, less able DNA into the gene pool. I can see that the latter could be held as a consistent, defensible position, actually, although I personally would not agree with it. Don't Jehovah's Witnesses teach something like that, or am I getting it wrong? - MoonShadow
The latter position would indeed be the most consistent with all that has gone before. Unfortunately, it would also lead to the conclusion that civilisation is bad for society. Mind if I quit playing devil's advocate now? I think we've thought through this thoroughly enough. Thanks for your help. - CorkScrew
Sure ;) - MoonShadow

Re Gay kids having a hard time of it... the topic here is GayRights. If GayRights were the same as everyone else's rights and the rest of society stoped thinking that gay people are abominations then gay kids would have no harder a time of it than anyone else.  It's not a disability (especially with advances in reproductive technology), it doesn't make you less able to get a loving partner (or 2 or 3...) or a good job or a nice house.  - Naath
The (devil's-advocate) argument I was attempting to apply was that anything that reduced one's ability to reproduce could (stretching the definition obviously) be defined as a disability. Then, building on that (fortunately shaky) foundation, I suggested that it would be in the best interests of society, ceteris parabus ("nothing else changing", if my latin serves), for people not to have disabilities - I wasn't even considering things at an individual level.
Of course, the "ceteris parabus" is the important thing. Acting against a pattern of behaviour that does so little harm (if any - possibly some good if the population is rising too fast) is a waste of resources and would incite prejudice. If we accept for the moment that homosexuality is unlikely to be fully genetic, we can also add that having loving parents is far more likely to be important to a child's happiness than the gender of said parents.
To conclude with reference to the article this discussion was originally based on, Orson Scott Card's logic is good in some places and supportable by facts in others. However, for example, he assumes that the popularisation of homosexuality as being valid is a destruction of the family unit. This may not even slightly be true. And, even if everything he said were true, tolerance would still be worth more.
Now can you guys please stop writing and let me sleep dammit :) - CorkScrew
This is where I point out RaymondEFeist's quote about a society being stagnant if stability is more important than change. Except he put it better but I can't be bothered to find out where... - SunKitten

Is 5 editconflicts in a row a record? - CorkScrew
:-(  The below are from YetAnotherEditConflict?

Interesting... do you know any references? It'd be cool to find out the facts, although my vague understandings also support the aforementioned theory - CorkScrew
See the research done by Marc Breedlove in Berkeley on the effect of parental androgens on foetuses.
Since this thread has just bounced back to life, [this] article seems to say something about testosterone whilst in the womb manifesting itself in the difference between finger ratios. --AR

Yes, I too had heard that, but wanted someone else to mention it first since I'm not certain where to start backing it up if challenged :) - MoonShadow
Also interesting. Good to know, thanks. Again, do you have any links? - CorkScrew
Try the following:

See previous discussions on Sexuality. MaintainMe: the contents of this page should probably be somewhere over there.
I propose putting it in as a subsection of Sexuality - it doesn't directly fit with anything already there.

If this get's moved, can the name be changed too?  I think it is unfortunate that "Human Rights for Gay People too" gets shortened to "Gay Rights" rather than "Human Rights" or "Sexuality Equality" or something, as people oppose them by saying that gay people don't deserve any special rights.  The point being of course that they are not asking for special rights, just the same human right as anyone else not to be persecuted for something they were born with.
Very good point. For the record, I'd be wary of saying that sexual preference is necessarily something you're born with - as mentioned previously, it allows folk like OSC to call homosexuality a disability. Besides, from what I know it's not necessarily true. Can't think of any RealWorld examples that you guys would know so I'll resort to pointing at Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Except that Willow is obviously bi, since she was so in love with Oz before she was in love with Tara. -Naath
Back to the point - what would be a good name for this? If we can think of a good one, maybe we can start a trend :) - CorkScrew

Sexuality/Equality? or Sexuality/Rights? seem good to me. Don't move it there yourselves, you'll lose the revision history - I'll do an admin move at some point once we hit consensus on where. - MoonShadow


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