Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Of Homosexuality and Murder

Is being a homosexual the equivalent of being a murderer? Supreme Court Justice Scalia draws some parallels:

“I don’t think it’s necessary, but I think it’s effective,” Scalia said, adding that legislative bodies can ban what they believe to be immoral. 
Scalia: It's It’s a form of argument that I thought you would have known, which is called the ‘reduction to the absurd,’” Scalia told Hosie of San Francisco during the question-and-answer period. “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?”

Scalia said he is not equating sodomy with murder but drawing a parallel between the bans on both.

Then he deadpanned: “I’m surprised you aren’t persuaded.”
So I guess we should not be counting on Scalia to provide that crucial 7th vote when the decision  regarding gay marriage is announced in June.

But in some aspects, I agree with Scalia, surprisingly enough.  I think it is perfectly fine to have moral feelings against homosexuality...or interracial marriage...or women wearing makeup...or clean-shaven men.  Everyone has lines that they personally don't feel right crossing, or strongly held thoughts and beliefs on certain subjects.

Where Scalia and I disagree is that he feels that it is perfectly acceptable to put those feelings about what someone may consider to be immoral into law.  In contrast, I think there has to be a articulate secular harm for feelings about immorality to be enshrined into law.  Therefore, separate and aside from morality, murder is wrong because it harms another person.  Most gay marriage supporters cannot come up with any secular harm at all, let alone one which would be worth denying a gay couple the right to marry.

What are some secular reasons against gay marriage?  And since I know someone is going to bring it up, why is polygamy illegal?  Bestiality? 


  1. It's a lot easier to come up with secular reasons to call murder a crime than to come up with secular reasons to ban gay marriage.

    Bestiality = consent issue.

    Polygamy = unstable for society, expensive for the families and potentially society (you reduce the number of potential wage-earners for each kid), demeaning to women and girls. The one I am most convinced by is the women and girls part. Shockingly. And why does no one ever advocate polyandry as a marital choice?

  2. Polygamy (I use it in the gender neutral sense, encompassing both polygyny and polyandry) is an easy case for me, as both societal and individual harms can arise from it. Bestialit has given me more trouble. I give some weight to the consent issue, but we don't gie much heed to animal consent under any other circumstance, so why give weight to it in that realm. It is surely worse to kill and eat and animal (from the animal's perspective) than to have sex with it? So why ban it? There are some public health issues of species cross-contamination, but I'm not sure if that rises up to the level of concern that we would need to criminalize it. Thoughts?

  3. Mandi, couldn't sex with an animal be considered animal cruelty, therefore making it illegal. We're allowed to kill them for food and shoes, but cruelty isn't allowed.

    I still think of it as a consent issue though, but I'm not a lawyer.

    As for homosexuality...there is no secular reasoning against gay marriage. Never heard of anything that comes close. And God is in not part of the legal ceremony, only the church ceremony (if you choose to have one) so I really don't see how there is even an argument here. I feel like this should be open-shut.

  4. I shudder to think of the future Google queries that will lead people to this post. :)

    I have two issues with your examples CJ against bestiality. We don't just kill animals for food and clothes, but often just for sport and general amusement. That isn't considered animal cruelty. In fact my unease with bestiality could be extended to the notion of "animal cruelty." It's something which I don't approve of, but I'm failing to articulate a harm that we don't already visit upon them without thinking twice about it.

    Next, the notion of consent vis a vis bestiality. Animals can't talk, but some are better at communicating their wishes than others. What if someone were to show by their animal's actions that the animal was clearly consenting. With some dogs, they don't seem all that bothered about getting *your* consent before trying to hump away at your leg. :) A story I read was about a guy who had the lovely job of artificially inseminating turkeys for a living. He said by the second week the hens would recognize him getting out of the truck and "assume the position" before he had even gotten his machines out. Consent? But either which way, what is the secular harm to bestiality? In the end, who cares if the animal is consenting or not?