“I am Married … to a Woman”

I have resisted blogging on the notion of ‘same-sex marriage’, because the issue seemed beneath the dignity of my blog. But the U.S. Supreme Court is considering the issue, and I am sick of those ‘equal’ signs on Facebook. Also, I think that good people are being hoodwinked by the political Left aided by religious conservative straw men. So here goes.

I oppose the notion of homosexual marriage. Individuals have the right to associate by mutual consent; two, three, ten, twenty-thousand homosexuals have the right to do anything with or to each other if they all agree to it. But don’t force me to call such a relationship ‘marriage’.

[T]he concept “marriage” denotes a certain moral-legal relationship between a man and a woman, which entails a certain pattern of behavior, based on a mutual agreement and sanctioned by law.
— Ayn Rand (an atheist) (1966,1967), Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, New York: The Objectivist, p. 37 (Chapter 4).

The issue is not about religion but rather good epistemology—common sense, really—and the proper role of government regarding the meaning of concepts.

There is good cognitive reason for the traditional concept of marriage. ‘Marriage’ is a very abstract and complex concept, but it has basic, perceptual elements that are related to gender.

Children learn the concepts ‘mother’ and ‘father’ well before the concept ‘parent’; they learn ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ well before ‘sibling’; ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ well before ‘spouse’. Imagine trying to teach a child the concept ‘parent’ without the concepts ‘mother’ and ‘father’.

The fact is that males and females have profound differences—perceivably, physically, and psychologically. Our awareness of and relationships with males and females are very different, and we need concepts that recognize these differences. Marriage is such a concept.

If homosexual unions are to be called ‘marriage’, then there will no longer be a word for the current concept of ‘marriage’; that is, the concept of marriage will cease to exist. But marriage is too exalted an idea not to be a concept. A married man should not have to think or say, “I am married … to a woman.” It should be enough for him to think, “I am married” to summon his understanding of a man’s relation to the woman he shares his life with.

Calling homosexual unions ‘marriage’ is as bad as calling all spouses ‘wives’.

For those who want to change the meaning of a concept in the free marketplace of ideas, they are free to try to change one mind at a time through persuasion; and the burden of proof is on them. In my judgment as explained above, this burden regarding ‘marriage’ cannot be met. Instead, advocates of same-sex unions should coin a word or phrase distinct from ‘marriage’.

What is doubly wrong is for government—the agency of force—to change the meaning of a fundamental, rational concept.

Now I come to perhaps the most controversial issue: the normative issue. Marriage is, in principle and despite all the awful marriages that we all know exist, a profoundly healthy relationship: for the husband and wife, and for children that the husband and wife raise or otherwise interact with. The notion of ‘homosexual marriage’ implies the premise that a homosexual union is as healthy as marriage for all involved. To say the least, I doubt this premise; but again, more politically significant than my doubt is this point: It is not the business of government to end the debate over this premise by fiat, by declaring new meanings for a fundamental, rational concept in a free society.

When in doubt, remember this: The political Left is wrong about everything. Even when they seem right, their reasons are wrong, and their end goals are evil. The Left opposes objectivity, reason, rational self-interest, and individual rights; the Left favors subjectivism, emotionalism, and sacrifice of the individual to the collective, the state, some other individual’s whim, or nothing.

The Left opposes consent and favors force.

Leftists are parasites in spirit as in matter. They seek legitimacy and honor from civilized concepts—such as reason, rights, freedom, justice, art, love, and marriage—by trying to pervert the meaning of these concepts. Don’t get in bed with them.

See also Masculine Power, Feminine Beauty: The Volitional, Objective Basis for Heterosexuality in Romantic Love and Marriage.

40 thoughts on ““I am Married … to a Woman”

  1. Ron: You have articulated and thought through the issue brilliantly. I agree with you completely. Thank you!

  2. Ron: Charlotte Cushman mentioned your link. Re the gay marriage issue. I left this comment on a Sultan Knish column on gay marriage. I thought you might be interested in my comment. Aside from this, this is the first I’ve heard of you in years. Didn’t know you had a blog site.


    Daniel is correct that the whole gay marriage issue is an exercise in deconstruction. But it isn’t just a deconstruction of the idea of marriage, but of the idea of gender and sexual identity. From gay marriage it can lead to a legal “man-boy” relationship, or a “woman-girl” relationship, and at the very bottom, legalized pedophilia and bestiality. There is no limit when gender identity is destroyed and we are all regarded by the government as just a collection of manqués equipped with undifferentiated, optional genitalia. One of Ayn Rand’s villains had a formula for deconstruction: “Elevate mediocrity and the shrines are razed.” Today, that could be paraphrased, “Elevate homosexuality to a state of normalcy, and normalcy is razed.” As Daniel has pointed out, the assault on marriage is merely one facet of a larger assault, which is on rational epistemology and metaphysics.


    As a further observation, first, I don’t think the Supreme Court should even be reviewing the propriety of “gay marriage,” but it’s a federal law they’re arguing there, and it has to do with money and benefits. This is actually about contract law, which should be beyond the purview of the court, at least in this context. Ed

  3. I agree that there is an epistemological reason to have different terms for heterosexual marriage and homosexual marriage – for the same reason we have different terms “heterosexual” and “homosexual.” They have different referents in reality.

    However, there is a significant problem under current in law in about 40 states which do not have a civil union statute.

    The government properly but involuntarily assigns every newborn with next of kin. There needs to be a legal mechanism for the child, once he becomes of legal age, to replace that involuntary choice and substitute next of kin of his choosing, form purposes of various legal presumptions relating to inheritance and support issues. The function of marriage (and civil union) laws is to allow individuals to make this legal designation.

    Note that contracts and wills do not allow for this, because they do not cut off the rights of the next of kin into which you are born to meddle by challenging the bona fides of those contracts (and if they succeed in invalidation them, the prior family succeeds to the legal presumptions established at birth). This is a hue problem in the gay community – I have litigated a will on test under those circumstances, and heterosexuals simply do not have the same obstacles in exercising/protecting their rights. Without the equivalent of a legal ceremony where the world is admonished to “speak now or forever hold your piece,” gay couples simply do not have the same ability to cut off the rights of family members who refuse to accept the chosen spouse/gay relationship.

    Approximately 40 states do not now allow homosexuals to make his legal designation. This is an intolerable violation of the rights of every gay person.

    DOMA is also a violation of rights. It improperly treats homosexual unions differently than heterosexual unions. having different titles is one thing – but having different legal rights is another.

    DOMA also purports to authorize states to ignore the Full Faith & Credit Clause, which is a blatant violation of the constitution separate and apart from any Equal Protection violation.

    I have a publicly available Note on this subject available on Facebook, but I can’t paste the link via my iPhone.

  4. Ron, excellent analysis of the Leftists agenda and why the concept of marriage should have nothing to do with gays co-habitating. Why is it they need to have their relationship sanctioned by the government? They don’t. Their goal is indeed to undermine the concept of marriage (a committed contractual relationship between a man and a woman). The root of the problem is when we allowed government to insert itself in our private affairs by legitimizing their granting of “marriage licenses.” Why should the government be in the business of granting us a license to marry? If marriage license didn’t exist, the whole gay “marriage” issues would be a moot point. Why should marriages be sanctioned by the government?

  5. I agree with Ed. Marriage is a contract. I would add that as a private affair, it shouldn’t require govt licensing. If later there is a dispute between spouses that requires a mediator, then the couple can always resort to the courts, but it shouldn’t require govt involvement to exist.

  6. I am a pilot. This means I fly an aircraft through the sky. The fact that I am a rotorwing pilot is a further definition of what I do. The further definition does not take away from other pilots — if I fly rotorwing it does not take away from fixed wing pilots. Furthermore I fly helicopters, another more destinct definition. For any other pilot to say that me being a helicopter pilot has some negative effect on them being a pilot, but of the air-balloon sort would be silly. Yet you want to say that this classification of marriage would detract from other marriages?
    You are right, in the sense that the government should not have any say in any of this whatsoever. Two consenting adults doing what they choose to do, then so be it. The issue is that the govt. currently does have a say, and therefore forms an exclusion against those that do not conform to their definitions. This means that there could be huge effects in medical, insurance, retirement, and chain of custody issues. Therefore it is an allowance to strip rights away from some individuals based upon their decision to enter into a contract willingly that the govt. does not support.
    This is a simple thing really, are the parties involved able to make rational decisions, have they agreed on the rational decisions without physical or mental force, and has the agreed upon contract between the two been upheld? It is merely a matter of the individual rights of the two.
    I would say the greatest issue with what is going on is that once again the fight is for a group of people to have rights, when it should be about individual rights (establishing individual rights would have negated the need for the civil rights, woman’s rights, and gay rights movements). Just my 2Cents.

  7. This may cost me a few friendships, but I must say it, because particularly many Objectivists seem to be dodging the issue: Homosexuality (male or female) is a neurosis brought on by or aggravated by some traumatic childhood experience, or some other event in a person’s life that caused him to doubt or question his sexual identity. Unless a person is born a hermaphrodite, there is no rational excuse for a person to deny the gender he or she is born with. As far as I’ve read, there’s no brain anomaly that causes a person to become a homosexual, there’s no scientific explanation for the phenomenon except for an adult refusing to acknowledge his gender. All else is extended whim-worshipping, a lifelong denial of reality. And, no, those who oppose “gay marriage” are not advocating denying homosexuals their right to cohabit or do what they please in their personal relationships or even establish their own “pre-nups” or other civil contracts.

    Marriage predates any government involvement in the issue, and I’m going back a few thousand years. And, frankly, all the noise and publicity about the Supreme Court cases seem to be about money and benefits, and not about a “moral issue.” It’s as bogus as the Left’s attempts to make the military “gender-neutral.” Finally, in a broader context of our culture, the push for the legal sanctioning of “gay marriages” is part and parcel another campaign of the Left to “deconstruct” American society, and that’s a philosophical issue, not a topical one. The “gay marriage” campaign is but another form of Saul Alinsky’s “target and isolate” tactic. If I were on the Supreme Court bench, and this issue was put on the docket, I’d have said, “We won’t hear this case, because it’s none of our business.” But it’s a federal law that’s being used as a wedge to “normalize” what is basically a neurosis.

  8. Ed Cline: I have admired your writings for some time, but your last comment is very bigoted. Homosexuality is not a “neurosis,” and even if it were it would not be a reason to justify government discrimination. The problems gays face because they are forbidden by law from substituting the next of kin with which they are born with the spouse of their choosing are very real and very substantial. born with the spouse of their choosing are very real and very substantial.

    You are a very prominent Objectivist whose words matter. Your above comment is a disgrace and a black eye on the movement.

    Ron: This is a moderated blog, so unless you post a dissenting opinion I can only conclude that you agree with Mr. Cline’s bigoted statements. There are some borderline statements in your own post for which I have given you the benefit of the doubt – both in my own mind and in defending you when some others have attacked your privately. I hope that my benefit of the doubt does not turn out I have been misplaced.

  9. Thank you all for your comments. Perhaps I will be able to address all your thoughts in a subsequent post. But for now, at the request of Ed Mazlish, I will address some of the comments of Ed Cline and Ed Mazlish.

    I do not agree with Ed Cline that homosexuality is a neurosis; I do not make psychological judgments without conclusive proof. Like Ed, I know of no involuntary explanation for homosexuality, but I am not as well read on the subject as Ed probably is. I do invite Ed or anyone else to present some of his sources of reference, which I am interested in reading.

    I do know that for me to engage in a homosexual act would be an evil and disgusting act not expressible in words and not to be contemplated. And I know why, which perhaps I will explain in another post, if I choose to contemplate evil long enough. That knowledge, along with Ed’s point that there is no validated involuntary explanation (to my knowledge) for homosexuality, is enough for me to doubt whether homosexuality for any individual is healthy or even ethical, and to doubt even more strongly whether it is healthy for a child to have homosexual role models. These questions are open questions in my mind.

    On the other hand, I have homosexual friends, and I know that they are good people. I wish the best for them, as I wish for all my friends. I accept their sexual choices, even though I may not praise those choices. I just don’t know.

    Of course, homosexuals do not need my praise or even my approval in order to be happy. Often an individual must simply accept that others do not know him as well as he knows himself, and that others may therefore doubt some of his choices. Recall these words in Atlas Shrugged (Part Two, Chapter 9), spoken by Francisco to Rearden: “‘Within the extent of your knowledge,’ Francisco said quietly, ‘you are right.’”

    Ed Mazlish, if you will tell me which statements of mine you think are “borderline,” perhaps I can elaborate on them in a subsequent post.

  10. Ed Mazlish: First of all, I’m not a “bigot.” As a novelist, I create characters who I imbue with certain moral and immoral attributes. If I could not do that credibly, I could not create anything, and could not make evaluations of real-life individuals, from whom those characters are drawn. I rely on my first-hand judgment of individuals, and they come in all shapes and sizes. This has been a life-long career, judging people and reaching my own estimates of their characters. If you read my novel “China Basin,” you’d see that there is in it a homosexual character in it who is a harmless “nice guy,” and also a bisexual villain who is also psychopathic killer.

    I stand by my statement that homosexuality is a form of neurosis, or another kind of psychological disorder. I’ve observed enough homosexuals to be justified in reaching that conclusion. See Ron’s remarks in reply to yours. Given the irrational state of psychology today, no rational explanation of homosexuality will be forthcoming for quite some time.

    Secondly, Congress had no constitutional leave to pass the DOMA legislation that is the point of contention here (but then it hasn’t had the leave to pass 95% of the laws it does). The gay advocate organizations challenging that law are challenging it for the wrong reasons. The Supreme Court ought to have declared DOMA unconstitutional after it was passed in 1996. If it had, there wouldn’t be nearly as much steam being vented as there is now. What these organizations are aiming for is the sanctioning of gay marriage as a measure of normalcy, to obliterate gender and reality. That’s the sanction they’re seeking. That is a wholly Left-wing end. And, from what I can see, the stakes are also for the money and the right to eradicate common law, as well.

    Thirdly, I’m not a “very prominent Objectivist.” I’m a pariah in “official” Objectivist circles and a non-person to them because I make my own first-hand judgments of people and events. I think my novels and my columns are proof of that. I don’t engage in “Ayn Rand said….” If I were a “very prominent Objectivist” my novels would be the subject of courses at OCON, or I’d be lecturing at these events. Neither of those things has happened, and isn’t likely to in the near future.

    Fourth, you’d better be able to back up your charge of bigotry with something other than just asserting that I’m a bigot. Where’s your evidence? I’m not open to slander or libel.

    Fifthly, you employ the phrase “spouse of their choosing.” What’s a “spouse”? Without going into the etymological roots of the term, which are extensive, it’s commonly understood to be a man, or a groom. More recently, the term “spousal” has come to mean one’s husband or wife. What the gay marriage advocates are aiming for is a marriage of two wives or of two husbands. I am familiar with the homosexual subculture, and it’s not a healthy realm to explore. If the advocates of gay marriage win the Court’s sanction, the next thing we’ll see are pedophiles filing suits for the legal status of man-boy or woman-girl relationships, or bestial relationships, all with the right to name the “partners” as “spouses of their own choosing.”

    Sixth: Several of my literary agents were homosexuals. We got along famously. The issue of their homosexuality never arose. I didn’t care about it. what they did in their personal lives was their business. Ours was a business relationship. But they never asked me to sanction what they were, they didn’t flaunt it in my face as the gay marriage advocates do today. They liked my work, and I liked them, and that was the end of it.

    Lastly, I’m amazed that so many people are overlooking the broader context, that the assault on marriage, which is also an assault on gender, is fundamentally an assault on reality.

  11. Ron–

    I found your piece on this subject most interesting and insightful (as usual) and agree with your assessment. My take, however, is a little different and born of hearing the likes of Limbaugh, Hannity, etc. on the radio while driving to and from NYC-PA., so I offer it as a side bar to your thoughts. They repeat-over-and-over-again their blinkered comments on homosexual marriage—I refuse to use the word “Gay” as it is the confiscation of a perfectly lovely word that means “happy,” and I am a writer, so words matter—and these guys and most everyone else are missing the point. The POINT is that the State should have nothing to say about personal relationships at all in any way whatsoever. There should be no such thing as a marriage license or public recording of a marriage. All marriage should be by private contract. Period. This whole brouhaha is about entitlements (and religion), not about love anyway. The Conservative Republicans are killing themselves daily, trying to force their Christian beliefs into laws that force the rest of us to heed not only the Constitution (a brilliant, rational, objective document) but also the Bible (a religious book regarding private beliefs).

    Alexandra York
    President: American Renaissance for the Twenty-first Century (ART)

  12. “But don’t force me to call such a relationship ‘marriage’.”

    I don’t believe anyone is forcing you to do anything of the sort, actually.

  13. I agree with the Sultan Knish blog post on deconstructionism’s attack on the very definition of marriage, including its epistemological and social consequences. That blog post is deeply relevant to Ron’s blog above.

    From the Sultan Knish post: “Deconstruction is a war against definitions, borders and parameters. It is a war against defining things by criminalizing the limitation of definitions. With inclusivity as the mandate, exclusivity, in marriage, or any other realm, quickly meets with social disapproval and then becomes a hate crime. If the social good is achieved only through maximum inclusivity and infinite tolerance, then any form of exclusivity, from property to person to ideas, is a selfish act that refuses the collective impulse to make all things into a common property with no lasting meaning or value.” http://shar.es/d7uNL

  14. Mr. Pisaturo,

    If you intend to defend the “traditional” and supposedly age-old definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman, then do you also intend to defend the traditional and age-old definition of a husband’s right to rape his wife? I highly doubt it. Clearly, marriage as a concept has changed a great deal since the times when coverture was a legally recognized essential characteristic of the marriage pact. So what is so offensive about expanding the legal definition of marriage to include members of the same sex?

    Here is an article that I think everyone support this argument should read, regarding the fallacious recourse to linguistic fiat:


  15. (I originally posted a satiric comment in response to Edward Cline’s statements, but Ron Pisaturo emailed me and asked me to elaborate on my reasons for disagreeing, and also asked me for evidence to support my belief that homosexuality is not voluntary. So, to be clear, I’m responding both to Edward Cline and Ron Pisaturo in this comment, which Mr. Pisaturo asked me to post here.)

    Mr. Cline’s statements have no basis in fact and are not deserving of anything but satire or mockery. To make unsupportable statements about another person’s psychology (in this case, claiming that homosexuality is neurotic without recourse to any actual evidence) is in no way rational. Let me attempt to explain why here, as briefly and concisely as possible:

    1. No one can know anything first-hand about the mental state of another person except for that person. I don’t need any “evidence” to prove that gay people (myself included) do not choose to be gay any more than you need “evidence” to prove that straight people do not choose to be straight. How could I prove to you that I don’t choose my sexual orientation? For that matter, how can I prove to you that any of my other orientations (for lack of a better word) are involuntary? How does one go about proving that they don’t “choose” to prefer chocolate to vanilla, almonds to pistachios, and so on? That’s an impossible demand, epistemologically. But if you want some indication of the harm done to people by culturally pervasive attitudes like Mr. Cline’s re: the neurosis of homosexuality, then please do a simple Google search on the utter impotence of so-called conversion or ex-gay therapies to “cure” people of this “neurosis.”

    2. Going beyond the purely introspective matter of “proving” whether or not something is volitional, Mr. Cline’s arguments are impossible to confront because he admits that he considers all current psychology to be utterly irrational. How can I prove someone wrong when their standards of proof are explicitly impossible to meet? If I disagree with him on the grounds of such-and-such a psychological study, he can simply accuse me of relying on the current irrational state of psychology. If I tell him that I certainly never chose my sexuality, or that there is nothing inherently unhealthy about my sexuality, he may just as easily ask me what proof I have for him. No matter what I do, there would be no way to satisfy his evidentiary demands. I’ve talked with people like him before. I know how such a conversation would go.

    3. To borrow a common trope of Ayn Rand’s, I would like to suggest that the question of whether or not homosexuality is voluntary is a completely improper question. Who cares if it is a volitional matter? Who cares if someone should question their sexuality, or choose to try something outside of their typical range of sexual activity? Why does this change your estimation of their character? The large number of rational, accomplished historical figures who’ve had same-sex relationships should give you some indication of the possibility of being a rational, happy, and healthy person while still having a relationship with someone of the same sex. And for that matter, what does it matter whom someone has sex with, as long as that person is moral, rational, of upstanding character, and both attractive to and attracted to their partner? Mr. Cline’s objections and demands are impossible to answer because they are the exact wrong questions to ask.

    None of this even addresses the sheer offensiveness of Mr. Cline’s claim that he is not a bigot simply because he included a psychopathic bisexual character in one of his novels. This is the kind of rhetoric which has been used to justify violence against sexual minorities for centuries, if not millennia. How much research has Mr. Cline done on this topic, other than what he’s found in his own “first-hand” experiences (read: assumptions) about other people? How much research have you done on the nature of sexuality, other than what you’ve read in Ayn Rand? Philosophy and novels cannot be rational justification for perpetuating unfair stereotypes and misconceptions about LGBT people.

  16. Ed Cline –

    Your views on homosexuality are profoundly mistaken because you are following a deductionistic, fact-ignoring approach instead of an inductive, fact-integrating approach. Just as one glaring example. You make a claim that homosexuality is somehow caused by some kind of childhood trauma or such. Well, to begin with, there is no evidence whatsoever for this, no referents for this in serious scientific investigation, and it is just purely arbitrary and already assumes what is to be proven, that having same-sex attractions is somehow bad. No, *if* being homosexual (or presumably bisexual, and in my factual inductive experience, MANY men are far from 100% straight…) then there would be some actual, measurable, demonstrable effect on their ability to live and have normal lives. Where in the world is this evidence? You claim to have gay friends and gay professional associates. They are presumably normal people. I’ve had tons of gay and straight friends alike and observe no difference in their ability to live, have a career, have friends, have romantic relationships, be parents. Etc. So what you are trying to say, is that these allegedly **deeply neurotic** people are… not in the least neurotic? Or have you already *started* by defining homosexuals as diseased and thus axiomatically neurotic and mentally ill? The mind truly boggles here. You seem to claim some allegiance to the ideas of Ayn Rand and presumably the methodology she almost completely consistently used across literally thousands of intellectual areas. That methodology was based on induction from facts–**contextually appropriate** induction from **contextually appropriate** essentials of facts–to form **logically consistent* ideas that integrated **without contradictions** into all other ideas. You very honestly need to ask yourself exactly what is the nature of reason, properly understood. It certainly isn’t shockingly ignorant and utterly unscientific pontificating that results in absurd contradictions without a shred of empirical evidence or fact in their favor. Do you have no ability whatsoever to recognize when the ideas you issue are riddled with such glaring contradictions that it strains the credibility of even the most generous onlooker of even modest intellectual means to believe you are actually intellectually honest? I have to confess, I find it difficult to find that generosity within myself…

  17. I have it on good authority that it’s an open secret, and one which was never whispered into my ear: We can’t discuss homosexuality and related subjects because, just as discussing Islam, we might “offend” a large number of Objectivists – gays and noncommittal fence-sitters – and incur their wrath and disapprobation. Well, that’s just spiffing. And Ed Mazlish claimed that my “bigotry” (a.k.a. “homophobia,” a companion slur of “Islamophobia”) was a big blow to the “movement”? So, the question now is: If this is true, and I’ve no doubt it is, with a censorial attitude like that, what kind of future could Objectivism hold for the country? But then, I can’t ask questions like that, because Brad Asia says I’m too “deductive” and Brendan says my character judgment skills are flawed, so, readers here should just dismiss anything I have to say on the subject. After all, I’m just a “bigoted” subjectivist who can’t write complete sentences, whose first-hand experiences with homosexuals are for naught.

  18. Being new to moderating controversy on a blog, I have let this discussion get out of hand. Please restrict future comments to pertain to my original post instead of to other commenters.

  19. Pisaturo makes use of AR’s offhand statement of a definition of marriage. (It is, indeed, an offhand example she gives to illustrate a wider point; her goal is not an extensive analysis of the concept.) Interestingly, however, the wider point she’s trying to illustrate with the example is one about how we form concepts of consciousness. Ironically, her whole point here is that as a concept of consciousness, marriage is a concept that “cannot be formed or grasped merely by observing the behavior of a couple: it requires the integration of their actions with a number of concepts of consciousness, such as ‘contractual agreement,’ ‘morality’ and ‘law.'” Her point, among others, is that not all concepts are first-level. Concepts of consciousness integrate things that are *not* perceptually similar in virtue of more abstract similarities.

    Yet Pisaturo goes on to analyze “marriage” almost as if it is a first-level concept formed directly from perception, as if we form it just to describe pairings of people who are recognizably male and female. of course we form “mother” and “father” before we form “parent.” But “marriage” is not a widenining from “mother” and “father”–obviously there are married couples who are not mothers and fathers, and mothers and fathers who are not married. And of course “male” and “female” are very close to perception, and of course male-female relationships look different from male-male or female-female relationships. But the question is whether these differences matter: they may well be measurements that are omitted by a more abstract concept. Notice that there are not special concepts needed for male-male friendships or a female-female friendships or a male-female friendships. we describe them all as “friendships.” “Friend” omits the measurements of sex of the individuals involved in the relationship. Why can’t the concept of “lover” or “spouse”?

    Of course we decide which measurements to omit based on the cognitive purpose of the concept. Why do we need the concept “marriage”? To distinguish a certain kind of relationship between two people from more transitory relationships formed for different purposes, like relationships between friends and (mere) lovers. A marriage is a more enduring relationship, forged with a legal contract with the purpose of creating a legal entity, like a corporation, but with a distinctive purpose. Marriage establishes distinctive types of common property rights, rights of inheritance, rights of executorship, rights of child custory, all of which are united by the fact that these facilitate cohabitation.

    In the past marriages were arranged by families in order to merge fortunes or elected by couples to fulfill religious obligations. Cohabitation was then was seen as fulfilling a certain economic relationship or facilitating child-rearing. Curiously, one aspect of AR’s theory of concept formation that is not discussed in Pisaturo’s essay is AR’s extensive discussion of how definitions can be revised with the growth of knowledge. Arguably human beings have discovered that there is one fact that is *more fundamental* to human cohabitation than child-rearing or economic convenience, a fact that even more strikingly necessitates the cluster of rights associated with marriage. It’s a very modern identification, one not made at least until the Renaissance or later: I’m speaking, of course, of romantic love.

    Can anyone dispute that it is possible for people of the same sex to be in love? Even if you claim–so far without much evidence–that homosexual love is neurotic, surely so is much heterosexual love. But people who love each other, for whatever good or bad reasons, often decide that their love justifies cohabitation. Purely as a cognitive matter, we need to be able to distinguish their relationship from that of friends or mere lovers. That is why we need the concept of “marriage.” Government recognition of such relationships via recognition of a legal contract, is just a recognition of this fact, no different than its recognition of other legal entities. As long as couples can seek cohabitation because of love, the particular sex of the members of the couple seems blissfully irrelevant to what makes this relationship different from others. In other words, the sex of the members of the couple is a measurement that is justifiably omitted in the formation of the concept of “marriage.”

  20. What the hell is a ‘traditional concept of marriage’? The word doesn’t even show up until the 1200’s and the etymology of the word ‘marriage’ itself is synonymous with either the act of buying your daughter into the ownership of a good man (dowry) or taking such a woman as your property. And if you mean the traditional practice of marriage, if you mean back to origins of similar practices (before the modern variants of the word) are you referring to the marriage in the bible such as David or Solomon? Solomon after all, had 700 such wives and 300 concubines. Is this the ‘traditional’ concept?
    Or do you mean the more recent ‘traditional concept’ of monogamous relationships where the modern trend is over 52% of them resulting in divorce and increasing incidents of infidelity and/or pluralistic sexual relationships and spousal abuse?
    You say it’s not a ‘religious’ notion, but without pretending to believe something that just plain doesn’t exist and therefore only can be realized as a myth, you can’t pin down any nirvana that is a concept of marriage.

    But with all that said, the question being asked is whether or not same sex relationships should be legally recognized by the state in the same manner that heterosexual precedent relationships via ‘marriage’ have been. I would answer that with both a yes and a no. It should not be the role of government to support any covenant based concept of marriage for that would violate non-establishment notions. It should not be the role of government to pick ‘winners and losers’ in any form (even though that practice is rampant through things such as entitlements, welfare, corporate welfare, bailouts, etc.) so providing special exemptions or bonuses for married couples is wrong. It should not be a role of the government to decide what kinds of relationships (free association, ala 1st amendment) constitutes a proper relationship.
    So what should government be concerned with? Prevent of people doing harm to others and enforcement of contracts between individuals – period! In other words, all ‘marriages’, as far as the state is concerned, should be treated solely as the enforcement of a social contract and should only be concerned with the rights attributed or agreed to by way of such a social agreement. (i.e. survivor benefits, visitation and right of attorney privileges, child custody, inheritance, mutual ownership of property, etc)

  21. I would not call any written statement by Ayn Rand, let alone a statement in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (ITOE), “off-hand.”

    ‘Marriage’ is not a concept of consciousness. Here is the paragraph, from ITOE, pp36–37 (Chapter 4) of the edition I cited, preceding the one I quoted regarding marriage (with emphasis added):

    The concepts of method are the link to the vast and complex category of concepts that represent integrations of existential concepts with concepts of consciousness, a category that includes most of the concepts pertaining to man’s actions. Concepts of this category have no direct referents on the perceptual level of awareness (though they include perceptual components) and can neither be formed nor grasped without a long antecedent chain of concepts.

    For instance, the concept “marriage” denotes a …

    Two paragraphs later, Ayn Rand writes,

    Composite concepts of this kind are formed by isolating the appropriate existents, relationships and actions [emphasis added], …

    To a heterosexual, the most important “appropriate existents” are a man and a woman; moreover, the appropriate “relationships and actions” are informed in a fundamental way by gender. In my original post, I did not identify specifics regarding the differences between men and women, because I thought such specifics were obvious. To a heterosexual, as well as to anyone who wants to understand heterosexuals, these specific differences should indeed be obvious. Apart from the differences in organs and physical appearance, the man knows that he is the physically stronger partner, that it is his particular responsibility—and joy—to provide physical safety for his wife, to take the lead in actions dealing with survival, to take the lead romantically, and to be in charge sexually—just to name a few characteristics. (Whether others will argue over the characteristics I mention, there is no denying that there are important characteristics of difference.)

    Whether or not there are homosexual analogues to these characteristics is irrelevant to my initial point. The initial point is that a married man needs to know the difference between a man and a woman in a relationship. He needs to know that being married means being a man to a woman, not merely being a partner to a partner. The concept of ‘marriage’ helps him to hold that knowledge in condensed form. That is why gender cannot be an omitted measurement in a heterosexual’s concept of marriage.

    The previous commenter (Anonymous) mentions Ayn Rand’s discussion of how definitions can be revised with the growth of knowledge. I presume the commenter is referring to Chapter 5 of ITOE. It is important to understand the difference between revising a definition and revising a concept. Ayn Rand goes through an extended example using the concept ‘man’; initially, a child implicitly has a perceptual definition of ‘man’, “such as ‘A thing that moves and makes sounds.’” (p. 42.) Eventually, a mature adult reaches the definition “‘a rational animal’.” (p. 43.) But note that throughout this process, the class of referents of the concept ‘man’ does not change.

    Suppose someday we encounter rational aliens on another planet. Does that mean we would retain the old definition of ‘man’ and broaden the concept to include these aliens? Of course not. Doing so would throw away much of what we know about man. Instead, we would retain the old concept ‘man’ and merely revise the definition, to something like ‘the rational animal indigenous to Earth’. We would form a new concept to identify the aliens, and we might form a third concept to encompass all rational beings, including man and the alien race.

    Similarly, revising the concept of ‘marriage’ would require us heterosexuals to throw out much of what we know about marriage.

    Nothing in my original post suggested that homosexuals should not have their own word for their analogue to marriage; in fact, I wrote that they should choose their own word. And nothing I wrote suggested that there should not be a wider concept to subsume both marriage and homosexual unions. I am not advocating any inequality in availability of concepts. I’m simply saying, don’t destroy the concept that heterosexuals need and have been using out of cognitive necessity. And I must say that I have been shocked to receive blowback on a point that should have been obvious once I mentioned it.

    Memo to homosexuals: It’s not all about you. The fundamental purpose of incorporating the concepts of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ in the concept of ‘marriage’ is not to distinguish heterosexual relationships from homosexual ones; the fundamental purpose is to remind heterosexuals—and anyone who wants to understand them—of the differences between heterosexual men and heterosexual women. That is why the definition of marriage already mentions man and woman, even before discussion of homosexuals. If all homosexuals went away, we heterosexuals would still need the concept of marriage. The presence of homosexuals does not eliminate that need. Don’t take our concept. It’s inconsiderate, disrespectful, and insulting.

  22. I have just made some small revisions to my comment directly above to be clearer that, though the concept ‘marriage’ subsumes heterosexual unions and not homosexual ones, the concept can be grasped by anyone; and knowledge is not determined by sexual orientation. For instance, I changed, “the fundamental purpose is to remind heterosexuals” to “the fundamental purpose is to remind heterosexuals—and anyone who wants to understand them—.” And I changed “To heterosexuals, at least, [these specific differences between a man and woman] are [obvious]” to “To a heterosexual, as well as to anyone who wants to understand heterosexuals, these specific differences should indeed be obvious.”

  23. Brendan, here are my replies to your thoughtful comments. I will parallel your numbering.

    I did waver on whether to approve of Ed Cline’s initial comment regarding neurosis, for the reason I stated in my own subsequent comment. I decided to approve it because he did outline an argument. I’m not convinced by his argument, but I don’t think he’s a bigot.

    1. I addressed some of your thoughts in my reply to Ed Mazlish. I agree that no one can know first-hand about the mental state of another. Just for that reason, I may never be convinced that homosexuality is healthy. You mentioned examples such as chocolate vs. vanilla; but a homosexual’s choices vs. mine are, from my perspective, more like pleasure vs. pain, or bliss vs. torture.

    But I don’t want to make you think I am imposing an impossible demand on you, because I am not imposing any demand. Neither one of us needs me to be convinced.

    On the other hand, I would like to know, and it would be beneficial to know.

    2. I do agree with Ed Cline that the field of psychology is dominated by irrationality, as are all the humanities. But there are bound to be some good thinkers out there who also have the benefit of much first-hand experience. Now that I have become acquainted with you, I invite you—along with all my other new acquaintances/detractors—to send me the best studies you know of. I will review them, because I want to know. Yes, I have major doubts, most of all about the effect on children immersed with role models with an opposite sexual orientation to their own. But I am not a serial doubter; I will not make up new doubts just to thwart you.

    3. I agree with much of your first paragraph, that for most professional and friendly interactions, a person’s sexual orientation—or sex life whatever the orientation—is not an appropriate topic for discussion or scrutiny. No commenter has disputed that.

    But there are contexts in which it is important to know the cause of sexual orientation. For example, a parent of a homosexual child needs to know, and so does an individual grappling with his own sexuality.

    Regarding informal first-hand observations of other people, I think they matter, and they are invoked often in the debates over sexuality. Even on this comment thread, you will find opposing references to informal first-hand observations of others. But they are not enough to draw sweeping conclusions.

    Regarding your question about how much research I have done on the nature of sexuality, I am not well read on the subject. But first-hand experiences count a lot.

    (Please see my following comment, which is an addendum to this one.)

  24. In my previous comment, when I ask for the best studies, I am not asking merely for surveys. I mean, send me you best research, including an objective theory of homosexuality.

    There is an objective basis for the health of heterosexuality. The psychological differences between a heterosexual man and woman integrate with their physical differences and their sexual relationship. The sexual relationship expresses the psychological and physical nature of the two parties. Also, heterosexuality is consistent with the ability to procreate (whether or not individuals choose to exercise that ability), while homosexuality is not.

    In short, I know why heterosexuality is an objective value that is consistent with all aspects of the nature of the parties involved. I invite anyone to present and validate an analogous theory for homosexuality.

  25. My earlier formulation that “marriage” is a concept of consciousness was a flub. But clearly the example is in this chapter for a reason. I should have said that “marriage” *involves* a concept of consciousness, which is what you would expect given that it is a “composite concept” which “requires the integration of their actions with a number of concepts of consciousness.” And this was all I needed to make my point: that you shouldn’t treat the concept as if it is a first-level or close to first-level concept derived nearly exclusively from perceptual similarities.

    Now of course the physical differences between the sexes are obvious to anyone. And surely these differences manifest in a way that makes male-female relationships distinctive from others. The question is whether this fact is relevant to how we understand the concept of “marriage.” I notice that you didn’t address my example of the concept of “friendship,” which we form to cover friendships regardless of the sex of the friends. You’ve not even challenged the idea that “lover” can apply to homosexual lovers. So why is “marriage” any different?

    Of course the heterosexual man needs to be able to know the difference between the man and the woman in a relationship. He already has concepts that help him know this difference quite readily: the concepts of “man” and “woman.” But what does this have to do with why the concept “marriage” has to specify sex? Now to say that the heterosexual man also “needs to know that being married means being a man to a woman, not merely being a partner to a partner” is entirely question-begging. To say that this is the need the concept fulfills assumes in advance that marriage is a sex-specific concept. But that is the very question we are now debating.

    I have shown a great deal of knowledge that is condensed by a concept of marriage that is sex-independent. So far Pisaturo has not shown what special knowledge is condensed by a sex-specific concept of marriage that is not just as easily captured by the qualified instance of a sex-independent concept: “heterosexual marriage” (vs. “homosexual marriage”).

    Pisaturo is of course correct that if we broadened our concept of “man” to include rational alien animals, it would mean abandoning the old concept and replacing it with a new one. And he is right this is not what AR is talking about when she talks about contextually-revised definitions. But the question is whether a revised definition of “marriage” would do anything like that. Homosexual cohabitating couples joined by a romantic interest are *a whole lot more* like heterosexual ones than human beings are like aliens. Defining marriage in a sex-independent way would indeed throw out reference to sex. But whether that matters is the very question up for debate. (See the third paragraph above.)

  26. I apologize for not having addressed the concepts ‘friend’ and ‘lover’ in my earlier comment.

    Simply, we do not as a rule treat our male and female friends that differently.

    ‘Lover’ is derived from ‘love’, which is so broad a term that it applies to inanimate objects and even ideas. ‘Lover’ is similar; there are ‘music lovers’ and ‘comic-book lovers’. Even in the realm of sexual relationships, ‘lover’ can mean anything from a casual sexual partner to a partner that one truly loves. Sadly, the term has already been lost to decadent modern culture. So we don’t really have any good concepts for committed romantic sexual relationships that have not obtained legal recognition through civil union. We have no words for heterosexual ones, same-sex ones, or the totality of the two. The closest words I can think of are ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’, but those words are unserious and too broad, like ‘lover’. Some people use the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ even though they are not legally married. A friend of mine refers to her partner as “my man.” As more couples eschew marriage, new terms may be needed.

    Turning the question around, what about ‘husband’ and ‘wife’? These concepts are even more abstract than ‘marriage’, as they are derived from ‘marriage’. Yet these concepts do not omit the measurements of gender. Why do we need these concepts when we have the concept ‘spouse’? Doesn’t ‘female spouse’ “capture” the meaning of ‘wife’?

    Well, who wants to say, “I love my female spouse” instead of “I love my wife”? The former statement is not condensed enough to be held it in our mind in the way we need. Sure, ‘female spouse’ “captures” all the characteristics that are “captured” by ‘wife’. But ‘female spouse’ is a phrase, not a concept; the phrase is not condensed enough to serve the cognitive need that a concept fills.

    The very existence of the concepts ‘husband’ and ‘wife’, let alone the prevalence in usage of these concepts over the concept ‘spouse’, is strong evidence for my claim that we need to retain the concept ‘marriage’ as it is. Gender matters a lot, even in some very abstract concepts that incorporate concepts of consciousness.

    Another example is ‘bride’ and ‘groom’; these concepts also are more abstract than ‘marriage’. Yet we do not even have, as far as I know, a concept that subsumes both of these concepts and omits the measurements of gender.

    The commenter above (Anonymous) says that I beg the question, but he (or she—sorry, I don’t know your gender, but it does not matter in this case) seems to ignore my passage, “Apart from the differences in organs and physical appearance, the man knows that he is the physically stronger partner, that it is his particular responsibility—and joy—to provide physical safety for his wife, to take the lead in actions dealing with survival, to take the lead romantically, and to be in charge sexually—just to name a few characteristics.” These characteristics are the basis for my statement that the commenter challenges. These characteristics show that—because of the natural differences between men and women—the role of the man in a marriage must differ from the role of the woman. Each partner must remain aware of these different roles, and he needs a concept that holds this knowledge in condensed form.

    I agree with the commenter that “Homosexual cohabitating couples joined by a romantic interest are a whole lot more like heterosexual ones than human beings are like aliens”; I was merely continuing the very example that the commenter seemed to be alluding to. So let’s take another example, from another commenter on this thread: the concept ‘pilot’. But I’ll revise the example to make it more analogous to the current question.

    Government currently issues pilot’s licenses and driver’s licenses, as government currently issues marriage licenses. (One can dispute the propriety of such practices, but that is the state of affairs.) Suppose the government declared: “From now on, we are calling everyone a pilot. An airplane pilot gets an airplane pilot’s license, a bus pilot (formerly known as a ‘bus driver’) gets a bus pilot’s license, and so forth for truck pilots and car pilots. After all, the phrase ‘airplane pilot’ captures all the knowledge captured by the old concept of ‘pilot’. The differences between an airplane pilot and bus pilot are perceptual measurements that can be omitted in the concept ‘pilot’. The airplane pilot pilots a vehicle in the air, and the bus pilot pilots a vehicle on the ground.”

    I think we can all see what would be wrong with such a policy. But I will elaborate if anyone asks me to.

  27. There is another very bad thing that the phrase “heterosexual marriage” (vs. “homosexual marriage”) would do as a replacement for the current concept of marriage. As the commenter Anonymous indicates, “heterosexual marriage” would emphasize the distinction between heterosexual unions and homosexual ones. That is not what the current concept of marriage does. The current concept emphasizes the distinction between marriage and other kinds of relationships between a man and woman. For example, a heterosexual man might think, “We’re not just living together, we’re married.” He’s not going to be thinking, “We’re not in a homosexual marriage, we’re in a heterosexual marriage.”

    This change kind of change in the relative importance of characteristics is one of the bad things that happens when you try to replace an important concept with a phrase.

    There is another very bad thing, which can be illuminated by the example of ‘pilot’. I will explain, if anyone asks.

  28. Ron, I disagree with your position, but I want to applaud you for this line, which is brilliant: “The commenter above (Anonymous) says that I beg the question, but he (or she—sorry, I don’t know your gender, but it does not matter in this case) seems to ignore my passage …” Well done, Ron. Well done. 🙂

  29. Ron,

    Thank you for responding to my comments and questions. I’ll respond roughly point by point or question by question.

    Why is homosexuality inherently tortuous or painful, in your eyes? I quite enjoy it. Most, if not all, of the frustrations I’ve had around my sexuality have been caused by social factors, like prejudice and stereotypes, or the social expectation that I should stay in the closet and pretend to be heterosexual because homosexuality is somehow shameful.

    I disagree re: imposing an impossible demand. If we are talking about whether or not I can have a particular civil right, and you say that one of your criteria is whether homosexuality is volitional / optional, then that is most certainly a demand. It’s not an idle question. It’s a question with political ramifications, i.e. potentially coercive ramifications. I’ve heard it from many people: “Prove that homosexuality isn’t a choice, and then you can have rights.” Arguing that homosexuality is (a) not a choice and (b) healthy was part of the fight to repeal “anti-sodomy” laws. And it’s part of the fight to legalize same-sex marriage. (Likewise, the claim that homosexuality is a neurosis led to many gay people being institutionalized, operated on, and killed, all in the name of their own good. After all, if you’re crazy, you can’t control your own affairs, right? This is an issue which persists today, as in many states it’s legal to send one’s child to receive shock therapy to “cure” his or her homosexuality. I can provide sources for these claims if you’re curious.)

    But the issue is that it’s a totally improper question. I could tell you till I’m blue in the face that I never chose to be gay, but I couldn’t “prove” it to you empirically. (Although, I think it’s fairly logical to point out that almost no one would willingly choose a sexual orientation which effectively turns them into a social pariah.) And so it’s entirely beside the point whether it’s a choice or not. What matters is whether being honest about one’s sexuality and pursuing life-affirming, consensual relationships with other human beings is healthy. And I think it is.

    2. (I appreciate the clarification, though I don’t know why you’d think that I would assume an opinion survey would be objective evidence.) I am not a psychologist; I don’t have empirical evidence on-hand (though I can link to some which I think, while not conclusive, is indicative) that homosexuality is healthy or natural. You think that homosexuality is dangerous? Prove it. You think that being around gay people is harmful to children? Prove it. The onus of proof is on you to prove that I am neurotic, insane, perverted, diseased, or whatever word you prefer. Just as the onus of proof is not on black people to prove to racists that they are not inferior or “dirty” (as was believed in the Jim Crow South), so the onus of proof is not on people with different sexual proclivities to prove that they are not sick. How do I prove a negative? How do I prove my sanity? Why should I?

    But for the sake of the discussion, I’ll provide you with some evidence. First, let me point you to what is considered to be the most conclusive study in favor of your view that “homosexual role models” are harmful to children. It was a study published in the journal Social Science Research, and is being touted by basically every anti-gay organization in the United States. The issue with it (well, one of the many) is that the author of the paper/study, Mark Regnerus, doesn’t check his premises. He assumed that homosexual parents would be sick, and so that’s exactly what he found. The “homosexual parents” he studied were people who were gay AND single parents, people in straight marriages who were hiding their sexuality, etc. Effectively, Regnerus counted absolutely anyone who had a same-sex relationship for any duration of time as a “homosexual parent,” and compared them with stable heterosexual married couples. This is the best scientific evidence currently which “proves” the inferiority of gay people as parents. Yet it was done in an absolutely un-scientific way and just perpetuates stereotypes about gay people without questioning why those stereotypes may exist. Why do many gay people surveyed tend not to be in long-term relationships? Perhaps it’s because marriage rights are denied them, or because of the sheer stress in most places of maintaining a same-sex relationship in the face of overwhelming social disapproval and prejudice. This is the general quality of the “research” you’ll find on homosexuality’s “negative consequences” for children.
    (the study itself): http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0049089X12000610
    (a review of the study identifying its numerous flaws):http://chronicle.com/blogs/percolator/controversial-gay-parenting-study-is-severely-flawed-journals-audit-finds/30255

    Here is some evidence that homosexuality is a naturally occurring (and totally healthy) phenomenon in non-human animals:

    Evidence that having gay parents does not inherently lead to developmental challenges in children:
    (The problem here is that I have access to all of these articles, because I have access to an academic database. You may have to pay to read these. I also recommend the book “Queer Science” by Simon LeVay on the history of the study of homosexuality.)

    Evidence that gay parents and straight parents tend not to have different parenting styles (sorry, it’s a survey, but it’s relevant considering it’s not asking about opinion, but asking about parenting style):

    And evidence that homophobia and bullying are far more harmful to the children of gay parents than the actual sexuality of their parents:

    3. The problem here, Ron, is that there is no such thing as “an objective theory of homosexuality” at present. (For that matter, there’s no such thing as an objective theory of sexuality or gender!) I don’t know what such a “theory” would entail, but if you’re asking for an aetiology, I can give you some starting points, but frankly, no one knows the “cause” of sexual orientation. No one even knows if there is ONE cause, or if it’s a combination. Nor do we know, for that matter, if homosexuality in one person is caused by the same thing which causes it in another. Proving that my sexuality, for instance, is genetic, doesn’t prove that genes are the controlling factor for everyone else, the same way that someone can be naturally predisposed to being thin while another diets to be slender. If you want some of the more “ground-breaking” studies, take a look at “A Difference in Hypothalamic Structure Between Heterosexual and Homosexual Men,” Simon LeVay, in Science, vol. 253, 1991; and “Epigenetics May Be a Critical Factor Contributing to Homosexuality, Study Suggests,” at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121211083212.htm. The number of studies out there on this issue is mind-boggling. It’s not an issue that will be settled any time soon.

    Furthermore, I don’t think that it’s necessary for me to know why I am attracted to the people I’m attracted to, any more than it’s necessary for someone to know why they have the skin color they do. It’s interesting and can be relevant in certain medical or scientific conversations, but politically, facts about melanin change nothing about a person’s rights. And it changes nothing ethically, either. The point of one’s life is to pursue one’s own happiness, and that includes a mutually beneficial, consensual sexual relationship with a person who shares many of one’s same spiritual values. That applies regardless of the science behind physical attraction.

    The “objective basis for the health of heterosexuality” you mention is not objective in the least. What are the inherent psychological differences between men and women you mention, and how does this somehow “match” the physical differences? Please provide evidence, just as you’ve asked me to provide my evidence. I would suggest to you that your concepts of femininity and masculinity, and your understandings of sex and gender (they are not the same thing), are skewed. But before I can argue that, I need to know what exactly you think femininity naturally entails, sexually, and what masculinity naturally entails, sexually. These things are not self-evident: ideas about masculinity and femininity change from culture to culture, and even from decade to decade. My context for understanding masculinity may be different from yours; ditto femininity. (Notice, I’m not talking about subjectivity or whim, just context and definition. We need to be clear on the terms we’re using.)

    As for the procreative nature of heterosexuality, let me rephrase what you’ve said: heterosexuality is special because men can sometimes accidentally impregnate women. Is procreation the purpose of human sexuality? Or is sex “an expression of self-esteem — a celebration of [man] and of existence” (per Rand)? Can pleasure ever be pleasure for its own sake? Or must it always be in service of procreation? Do you likewise condemn masturbation? Sex with condoms? Birth control? Abortion? A woman getting her tubes tied? If you choose to tie the fundamental morality of heterosexuality back to procreation, then you must also condemn all of these other potentially life-affirming choices.

    Ron, I invite you to convince me why I am sick. It’s not up to me to prove it to you, though I’ve made a good-will attempt. Now it’s your turn to prove to me why a man loving a man or a woman loving a woman is inferior, sick, or morally wrong.

  30. Brendan, thank you very much for these links. I have access to a research library, and I will review every one of these references.

    I am very sorry, though not surprised, to hear that social factors have caused you frustration. I do not want to contribute to your frustration. Whatever my questions about the origins of sexual preference, I respect that you are making your own choices in the face of opposition.

    Regarding politics, everyone in this discussion seems to be an advocate of freedom. The main contention seems to be over which bad guys are worst. From what I have learned from the comments and references, including the excellent article by Ed Mazlish (http://capitalismmagazine.com/2013/04/gay-marriage-and-the-role-of-state/) in Capitalism Magazine and the article (referenced by Ed Cline) by Daniel Greenfield, I oppose all of the political statists even more.

    I do think that I have written enough to establish a rational basis for doubting, from my context, that homosexuality is as healthful as heterosexuality. My own doubt was not a main point of my original blog post, but I do want to know the answer one way or the other rather than doubting. Your comment, which I take to incorporate the references you cite, deserves careful consideration. Rather than replying now, I will first review these references, because doing so may cause me to revise my doubts.

    I will give myself the goal of writing a reply, perhaps as a new blog post, in time for the announcement of the related decisions by the Supreme Court (though I don’t even know when that is).

    In the meantime, I may not have time to reply to any more comments, because Brendan has given me homework. But I will still post comments from others. And I invite others to send in references too.

  31. I have enjoyed this comments thread far more than I enjoyed the original post, with which I profoundly disagreed.

    I will not be able to contribute anything more from the perspective of Objectivism. Brendan and Anonymous have already done so in excellent fashion.

    What I might, perhaps, be able to contribute concerns the proper role of the government in our lives.

    We all seem to agree that there should be no exercise of state force in connection with this issue. No one should be prevented from calling themselves “married” and no one should be forced to recognize any couples as “married.”

    The problem, however, is that right now, today, the federal government is exercising its collective force to prevent people who believe themselves to be married and who were legally married in one jurisdiction from exercising the same rights as a heterosexual “married” couple could exercise.

    The plaintiff in the DOMA case before the US Supreme Court is named Edith Windsor. She was legally married to another woman for decades under the laws of Canada. They eventually moved to New York, which recognized their marriage as a valid one. However, when Edith’s “wife” died, the federal government collected more than $300,000 in estate taxes from Edith against her will and without her consent. Had Edith’s spouse been a man, the federal government would not have done so. But since, under DOMA, the feds do not recognize same-sex marriages as valid, Edith did not have the same rights to avoid inheritance/estate taxes as she would have had if either she or her spouse had been a man.

    A lot of people will say, Oh but they could have avoided this simply by using proper estate planning methods. Yes, they could have. But a heterosexual couple that obtains the government stamp of approval we call “marriage” would not have had to go through that trouble and expense. They just get the favorable treatment by virtue of being the approved genders.

    This brings me to the Equal Protection Clause. Now, I do not believe that the Constitution is the end all and be all of what is right. I do, however, believe that the EPC and the jurisprudence that has interpreted is a very good, very desirable legal framework.

    What the EPC has been interpreted to mean is this: All law discriminates in some fashion. But different types of discrimination require different types of justification from the government (both federal and state). There are three levels:

    1. Discriminations based on inherently suspect classifications (such as race) and/or infringe upon a fundamental right (such as the right to vote). For these, the government has a very, very high burden of justifying that the law is necessary to achieve a compelling end.

    2. Then, there are some intermediate level discrimination (based on gender) that requires an intermediate level of scrutiny.

    3. Finally there is non-suspect classifications (age is probably one) that do not infringe an exercise of a fundamental right. These are given very little scrutiny, but do still require some rational basis.

    People like me believe that there is a colorable constitutional argument that the gay marriage issue falls within the first category. That is because the right to marry one person of your choosing has been previously recognized as a fundamental right. This would subject a state’s refusal to grant a marriage license to same-sex couples to the highest level of scrutiny: the discrimination would have to be necessary to achieve a compelling end. Preserving the traditional concept of marriage so that people like Ron Pisaturo do not have to clarify that they are married to a woman would probably not qualify.

    People like me also believe that the discrimination might be considered gender-based. If Edith Windsor was a man, she would not have been required to pay over $300,000 in estate taxes. This would subject state discrimination against same-sex couples ot intermediate scrutiny.

    However, even under the lowest level of scrutiny, the rational basis test, the government entities that have litigated the issue have had a hard time prevailing. They have gone in, been given months of opportunity to explain why the government needs to prevent same-sex couples from receiving marriage licenses, and simply not been able to marshall that little thing we call “evidence” in support of their various theories. Hours and hours and hours of expert testimony have been received, all of the cutting edge research dissected, and the governments have simply failed to make any showing that would explain any legitimate, “rational” reason for this discrimination.

    It bears noting that when people complain about gay marriage by judicial fiat, they are a little late to the game. Judicial review has been the law in this country since Marbury v. Madison. Courts have been tasked with interpreting the EPC and its impact on state marriage licensing for decades and they could not just stop doing it now, because gay marriage has some special implications that take it outside our normal constitutional processes.

    The bottom line here is this: I agree that you, your family, your church, your privately owned business, should be free to define marriage as you wish, without being forced to recognize any relationship that is inconsistent with your values.

    But when government gets involved, and starts sanctioning certain couples with the imprimatur of validity that comes with a state-issued marriage license, and then beyond that, attaches all sorts of goodies to that status, then we are outside the realm of private conduct. We have entered a realm where the EPC is implicated..

  32. The issue of race was brought up in comparison to the issue of sexual orientation. One’s race is, of course, certainly not chosen–proving this requires merely pointing at black babies, say. However, as was already indicated, the causes of sexual orientation, at this stage of knowledge, are largely unknown or at least not entirely clear in general or for any given homosexual person (and the causes may vary between people, as was already mentioned). Homosexuality could be genetic, volitional, environmental–or some combination of the three. (I suspect in some cases it _is_ entirely volitional, though this can be disputed.)

    Paralleling race there is culture. If there is such a thing as “black culture,” with a history of “civil rights,” i.e., protest and demand for political and social recognition (let’s restrict it to the context of blacks seeking equal rights in America), as a set of chosen ideas distinct from any given black individual, then one could similarly examine “gay culture” (as a set of ideas and practices of homosexuals and their ardent supporters). On the whole, as a subculture, I find much of “gay culture,” which also includes broadly political issues and political recognition sought by homosexuals (akin to blacks and to women, earlier in the last century) to be pretty horrid, decadent and perverse. Partly this is a reflection of a bad culture in general, and the leftists who are typically behind “gay causes” (as opposed to the religious right, which largely condemns homosexuality as sinful) have, as Ron already pointed out, anti-reality, anti-rational, immoral or even evil ideas. These ideas are channeled by homosexual leaders and manifest in gay protests and public displays, e.g., “gay pride parades,” which turn otherwise decent people off of the entire “gay movement” and even homosexuality and homosexuals writ large. This cultural aspect, while distinct from the origins and root causes of homosexuality, is not unimportant in the sense that it leads some people, myself included, to see homosexuality as a perverse attack on sex, masculinity, and identity as such. In other words, I think it is vital that the better, rational homosexuals (a couple of whom seem to be vocal on this blog post), who see the cause of their homosexuality as truly unchosen, to vocally disavow themselves from “gay culture” in the same way that the more sane Muslims have repudiated the vicious and evil Islamists and the Muslim world generally.

    Until homosexuality develops a pro-life, healthy reputation based on some sort of rational theory of sexuality (which seems to be a losing battle given that reason itself is under attack from every side) and today’s gay cultural advocates are dismissed as whim-worshippers (or worse) who seek to destroy “the traditional concept of marriage” (which I think many of them do, based on their public statements and actions), homosexuals will continue to face vicious prejudice, bigotry, and hatred, inspired by unreason and blind faith.

    To conclude: I am neither a bully nor a bigot when it comes to your sexual orientation (though I do question it for myself); I support your right to live your sex life as you see fit, whether homosexual or otherwise, to the best of your knowledge, using reason to guide decisions.



  33. I use words to speak of concepts I formed, doesn’t everyone? I can’t assimilate knowledge from words spoken by others that refer to the concepts they formed. How can concepts be destroyed by ‘others’? I do not learn about reality by absorbing some things floating around in the ether called concepts. Concepts are the result of the integrations I made, aren’t everyones? Maybe some people don’t understand O’ist epistemology , or perhaps they do , they just apply it in an inconsistent manner.

  34. Regardless of anyone’s opinions about homosexuality per se, the subject of “Gay Marriage” is an issue of “equality before the Law” and nothing else. The question is, “Shall all people be equally free to enter into binding contracts recognized under Law?”

    Your worry about whether the meaning of the concept of marriage will change or not is irrelevant in this case. “Individual rights” and “Equality Before the Law” trump your worries.

    Justifying anything because it is “traditional” is insufficient. For hundreds of years, slavery was “traditional” as were many other horrors. I am surprised that anyone who is an admirer or adherent to Ayn Rand would ever try to justify anything under the justification of “tradition”. Mere prevalence in history does not prove the morality or immorality of something.

    As for me, I am a gay man who legally married the man I love in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. By what justification does anyone say that we are not equal under Law? What legal argument can you make that we should be denied the same legal protections afforded to other citizens?

  35. It’s very simple. An analogy: do people (under normal circumstances) need to learn to walk in order to live? Yes, of course. As a result, they choose to learn how to walk. Does this mean that they are literally, consciously, explicitly choosing to do so? No, of course not. Instead, the “choice” is simply the sum total of a long string of experiences where walking would come in handy, and the person’s reactions to them. The desire to get the rattle off of the tall table, to be able to catch up with big sister, etc. The person has no choice about what his life (and his happiness) demands of him, but only if that is what he will choose to pursue. So yes, technically, even heterosexuality is a choice – just as homosexuality is. For a person to say he was “just born that way” is akin to saying that his inability to walk well into childhood is inborn.

    Now, of course, the obvious objection to this is that such characteristics (the ability to walk or not, or one’s sexual orientation) are set at such an early stage of development – and (possibly) are so heavily dependent upon the external environment one happens to be in – that to call them volitional is to obliterate all meaning from the word volitional. That’s true, it would do that, if not for one key fact: it’s correctable. If, by neglect, or abuse, or something else, you end up unable to walk at the age when you should be able to, you can realize that that’s what happened, take an inventory of your current situation, and – provided you still have functioning legs – learn to walk.

    The same is true with sexual orientation. If one’s goal is to live the best life possible, then first and foremost one must respect reality. Reality clearly shows that males and females have distinct anatomical differences, as well as psychological differences (at least in how they relate to each other romantically). To ignore these differences – to treat them as superficial instead of fundamental to the relationship – is to ignore your own nature, and thereby sell yourself short in your potential for happiness. It’s no coincidence that homosexual relationships always resemble heterosexual ones – with one partner taking on the dominant, masculine role and the other the submissive, feminine one. It is the stunted efforts of neurotic people to overcome their neurosis and “be themselves.”

    One disclaimer, and then a couple of related remarks: none of the above remarks should in any way be interpreted as an across-the-board moral condemnation of homosexuality. Often times, upon discovery of one’s homosexuality, supposing that one has an otherwise completely healthy psyche and upstanding moral character, the effort involved in retracing the steps which lead to it are not worth it. Even though it could be done – as, again, sexual orientation is simply the sum total “choice” of a litany of other, smaller, subtler, seemingly-unrelated choices – the detraction from one’s current life and happiness that that would cause is not worth the marginal added benefit that being in a heterosexual relationship (of the same quality as one’s current homosexual relationship) would provide.

    Now the related remarks:

    First, if, in a given individual’s case, his sexual orientation was cemented as a result of choices made at such an early stage of his development that the only practical way in which choice applies once sexual orientation becomes relevant (ie: beyond puberty) is retroactively (ie: he discovers a maladaption to his metaphysical nature – the thing which should govern his psychology – and considers whether or not it’s worth correcting), this in no way makes it morally acceptable for someone to be “proud of who he is”; as so many homosexuals are. It’s one thing to be unashamed of it, and to refuse to be anything less than a genuine person – flaws and all – even at the cost of social ostracism or some other difficulty, but it’s another thing entirely to attempt to substitute being openly gay for genuine individual self-actualization (and the resulting self-confidence). The idea that it’s still somehow heroically courageous to be openly gay, in this day and age, is about as delusional as a leftist who thinks that questioning capitalism is still daring, and proof of his intellectual independence.

    Second, given that many (the vast majority of?) homosexuals define themselves as individuals almost exclusively by reference to their homosexuality, it’s highly suggestive that what motivated – or at least maintains – their homosexuality is faulty philosophical premises. Ryan Jamieson’s comment above alludes to this when he discusses “gay culture” – which is undeniably leftist, relativist, and nihilistic. To treat your unconventional, controversial sexual orientation as the most important characteristic of your identity – to the point where it’s the axis upon which all of your lifestyle choices turn (ie: “gay culture”) – is to confess that you are a social metaphysician. To be, first and foremost, “a homosexual” is to say, in effect: “As long as you all believe that I’m proud of who I am, then I’m proud of who I am.” It’s to emphasize your homosexuality ad nauseaum – which is to say that you have nothing else to be proud of (and the excuse that they must simply to protect against political persecution is, in this day and age, a bogus cop out). The only kind of person who would be capable of playing such a trick on himself – to say nothing of being so persistent in trying to get others to play along with it in order to maintain it – is someone who, profoundly, at the core of his being, has no respect for the axiom of identity. Someone who, for instance, would place his feelings above the facts, give in to the immature notion that he’s “not a real man” at his first encounter with childhood bullying, and set himself on a slow, gradual, subconscious course to abandon his masculinity before he ever developed it.

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