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Arguments against Same Sex Marriage #1 November 15, 2009

Posted by Geekgirl in A Biologist Speaks, LGBT, social.
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Today’s blog is an editorial. As I continue to explore both LGBT research and what is happening in our society, I think that the viewpoint of a biologist can be added to the debate. I speak only for myself. All statistics here are provided by the Guttmacher Institute and Center for Disease Control.

Marriage is for Procreation

Let’s just take one argument at a time. Procreation. Marriage is not for procreation. Sexual intercourse between a male and a female is for procreation. We’ll leave out religion. After all, I need a topic for part 2.

But is the desire for sexual intercourse a desire to procreate? As a biologist, let’s think about this. If we wanted sex only when we want children, how often would that be? Would that be a very successful strategy for a species to continue? I believe  the answer is no. We’re programmed to want sex.

From a biological point of view, sexual desire is a trick to promote procreation. Getting pregnant is the accidental result of our sexual desires. The more we want sex, the more children we have, the more successful we are as a species. It’s an insurance plan. With 6 billion people on the planet, and that is double the population from 40 years ago, it’s pretty good proof that this biological strategy is successful. Maybe too successful. Prior to the invention of reliable birth control and modern means of abortion, many of us arrived here by accidents. In fact, many children born today are from unwanted pregnancies.

Our desire for sex is a desire for sex, not children.

Need proof?  Look at some statistics.

According to the Guttmacher Institute,virtually all women (98%) aged 15–44 who have ever had intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method.  Among the 42 million fertile, sexually active women who do not want to become pregnant, 89% are practicing contraception. Yet, half of pregnancies among American women are unintended and four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion. Twenty two percent of all pregnancies end in abortion.

For years, conservative religions have encouraged abstinence. The Catholic Church went so far as to say that couples should have sex only when they want children. When that failed, they encouraged the rhythm method. I don’t recommend it. It has a 25% failure rate.  Has abstinence worked? Not according to research already posted on this blog. 3% of Americans are virgins when they marry.

Why do gays and lesbians want children when they are attracted to persons of the same gender? Easy. Because the desire to have children is separate from one’s sexual orientation.  Ask the gays and lesbians that want children. Ask straight people who want children. Some of us do, some of us don’t. It’s not correlated to wanting sex.  Know any couples who struggled to get pregnant? I did. There’s nothing magical about the day the thermometer says that you are about to ovulate. Sadly, we are not overcome with an intense desire for intercourse, nor are our male partners. It can become a chore.

We know that many children are born out-of-wedlock. According to the Center For Disease Control, in the year 2007, four out of ten pregnancies were to unmarried women. You can get pregnant without being married. Another biological fact.

Clearly, the desire for sexual intercourse does not equal the desire to be a parent.

So what about marriage protecting families? This is true. The 1138 Federal Rights given to married couples include many rights designed to protect children. This is why LGBT people want the right to marry.

Let’s end with bringing this back to legal rights.

  • The law has never required that couples procreate nor adopt children.
  • The law does not require that individuals who procreate outside of the law get married.
  • The law does not require that individuals abide by any religious faith or religious interpretation of marriage.
  • Atheists can marry, infertile couples, couples past the age of reproduction, couples who do not desire children; all can marry.
  • The law doesn’t require that you prove that you love each other. Unless they are trying to catch you for marrying someone just to allow them to stay in this country. Then, suddenly, love is important.

There you have. Neither the law nor biology can uphold the argument that marriage is for procreation.

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1. Tweets that mention Arguments against Same Sex Marriage #1 « LGBT Latest Science -- Topsy.com - November 15, 2009

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2. Duncan - November 26, 2009

“The Catholic Church went so far as to say that couples should have sex only when they want sex.” Well, I can go along with that! But I think you meant “when they want children.”

Also, while I laud your pro-gay intentions, I think you’ve misunderstood and possibly misrepresented this ‘argument.’ At least, it appears that bigots have clarified their position. When I hear something like this nowadays, it takes the form that marriage is supposed to provide a stable environment for the rearing of children. Many same-sex marriage proponents agree with that, by the way, and they use it as an argument for their position, even though it is dubious. The anti-gay know very well that it isn’t necessary to marry in order to procreate; that’s one of their complaints, in fact: that there are so many unwed parents in America today. And again, many proponents of same-sex marriage would agree; it’s part of the reactionary swing of the gay movement in the past 30 years.

“For years, conservative religions have encouraged abstinence.” This is one area where conservative Christians are in tune with their founder. Both Jesus and Paul agreed that marriage was a bad idea, and that sexual abstinence was preferable since one’s mind should be on the wishes of Yahweh, not on the wishes of one’s spouse/sexual partner. This was at odds with mainstream Jewish and ‘pagan’ beliefs of the time, though sexual abstinence had adherents among those influenced by Greco-Roman philosophy, especially Plato.

Geekgirl - November 26, 2009

Thanks for the correction Duncan, I did indeed mean that the Catholic Church wanted couples to have sex only when they wanted children.

I’ve lost count of the number of articles, groups like NOM, readers comments and even the lawyer defending Prop 8 making statements that marriage is to protect procreation. So let’s have it your way. Marriage is to protect the stability of the family. I agree. Do you support equality for LGBT people Duncan? I’m sincerely interested.

3. Same Sex Parents - January 29, 2012

Ahaa, its nice dialogue on the topic of this article here at this website, I have read all that, so at this time me also commenting here.


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