Gays, Lesbians & Society: Speaking of Assumptions

Article excerpt


The struggle over admitting self-acknowledged homosexuals into the armed services has something to do with the nature of the military but a lot more with the nature of homosexuality. It strikes me as a battle over assumptions: whether homosexuality is chosen or discovered; whether it can and should be "cured"; whether gays are predatory recruiters for their "lifestyle"; whether it's sound public policy to enact statutory protections of gay and lesbian rights in housing, employment, inheritance law, admission to the military, etc., and thereby to foster greater tolerance and, eventually, social acceptance of homosexuality; whether gays and lesbians can be good parents; whether the notion of same-sex marriage cheapens and undercuts or compliments and complements the male-female variety; whether the effect of the gay sensibility on politics, family life, theater, films, the arts in general is malevolent or positive, or both, or neither; whether, psychologically, homosexuality is an aberration, a basic flaw, or simply a difference; whether, morally and ethically, homosexual love-making--men lying with men, women with women--is perverse, repulsive, evil, or merely a sexual variant, in itself neither better nor worse than heterosexuality; and, finally, whether the belief that homosexuality is of its very nature a social disvalue, a psychological aberration, and a moral evil is rounded on sound, time-tested personal and social values or is rooted in inherited bias, personal ignorance, and/or homophobic fear.

I speak of "assumptions" in that 205-word sentence because, in my judgment, there is no evidence on either side of any of these issues so compelling that it will simply overwhelm the opposition, shaming them into silence. The experts, including ethicists, moral theologians, and biblical exegetes as well as psychiatrists, anthropologists, and sociologists, differ. Since we're all sexed, we all have a stake in the matter--and a limited perspective. The tactics of victimization and political correctness, used on behalf of homosexuals, can influence the judgments even of professionals. The depth of conviction among anti-gay advocates, and their sheer numbers, have considerable impact that is similarly unrelated to the force of their arguments. …