Pretty and witty and gay

By Phil Plait | April 7, 2005 10:18 am

This blog entry isn’t about astronomy. But I’m getting pretty tired of watching critical thinking going down the tubes in this world, and unfortunately it’s happening everywhere I look. I’ve held back making political and social statements for many reasons, but I find these reasons getting thinner and paler as time goes on. If I don’t say something now, then when? Tomorrow? Next week? A year from now?

No. Now.

Today as I write this there is a protest going on in my home town. Northern California is known for protests, of course, but this one threw me: it’s against homosexuality.

Against gays? In northern California?

These narrow-minded twinkies are driving around in trucks with billboards and signs on them sporting the usual tired arguments against what they ironically think is deviant behavior. At one point a guy in one of these trucks was right behind me, and I considered saying something, but I was too angry. Probably that’s a good thing. Later I spotted a couple on the road well behind me, and they were driving too slowly for me to let them catch up. I was thinking of communicating my feelings to them through some “sign” language of my own. Perhaps it’s best they were too far back.

On my bulletin board I have a rule that trolls (people who say outrageous things just to see what kind of argument they can start) should be ignored. They are looking for attention, so the best thing to do is starve them. I was thinking of that as I watched the two small-minded drivers a hundred meters behind me. I realize now that these guys are not really trolls: they are not trying to just get a reaction, they are trying to mold the world into their own twisted version of reality.

Maybe I should have said something. But like most people who have some irrational view of things, they will never change their mind because of something I say. But if we sit idly by others may be swayed. It’s our silence that makes us weak.

So I’m saying something here, where thousands of people can read it. Yes, this isn’t astronomy-related (though this certainly falls under the category of critical thinking, or the lack thereof), but I am not only an astronomer. I’m a human being. As such, it’s my right — and my duty — to protest the protesters.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Piece of mind

Comments (86)

  1. One should post whatever he wants on his weblog as long as he doesn’t call it a “blog” and doesn’t focus on his angst (in this case, the latter the price of popularity, I suppose). Unless you plan on recruiting more people to writing the website, it seems to me this should be called the Bad Astronomer’s Weblog.

    How widespread exactly are these protests?… I live in Florida, so I’m used to a generally anti-homosexual bias, but the idea of protests, especially in California, is a surprise to me. I suppose I should mention this to some of my more ignorant friends- they may think California is “waking up” or somesuch.

  2. Just wanted to say ‘thanks.’ These are quickly becoming frightening times. To hear that you are outraged by the growing spread of hysterical homophobia — enough to say something on your astonomy site — means a great deal to me. We may not have loudspeakers and banners, but the tolerant and accepting must say something, anything, whenever we can. Keep up the great work.

  3. wedgebert

    What is wrong with calling a web log a blog considering that blog is short for “web log” and it’s the same as calling it TV or reading the “paper”

    You have to appreciate the irony of all the anti-homosexual bias. You have the North American and Canadian branches of the Anglican church being punished for allowing gay ministers and gay marriage because it destroys the scantity of marriage. The irony is it comes from a branch that was formed because King Henry wanted a divorce.

    Also, marriage would stripped of it’s meaning if homosexual marriages are allowed. However shows like “Who wants to marry a millionare”, people marrying just to get a green card and marriages of power, wealth or convience don’t harm marriage at all.

    I think it’s just that some people need to cast others down in order to justify their beliefs and currently homosexuals are the target. Once that battle is over, they’ll move one to another group that they don’t like.

  4. gopher65

    I suspect that hardly anyone will disagree with you on this subject given that most of the readers of this website are mostly likely left leaning (although not necessarily liberal or Democrats).

    On the same subject:

    Conservative(adj): averse to rapid change.

    Therefore by definition these people are backwards and behind the times. *shrug* And that is THEIR OWN definition of themselves. I can think of substantially less flattering terms;). But I don’t like extreme liberals either.

    Anyone who takes extreme positions tends to be a bit… eccentric:).

  5. HvP

    Some people don’t want to understand nature – they want to force it to bend to their will. On the other hand, a person such as yourself who has a reasoned scientific mind understands that nature is actually the one instructing us. As you might imagine, living here in northern Texas I encounter far more of the former than the latter, unfortunately.

    I offer you thanks for such a variety of things. I thank you for reinvigorating my interest in astronomy and specifically in the simple pleasure of stargazing. Thank you for intruducing me to the powerful tool of skepticism; from revealing the absurdity of things such as the “moon hoax” to making me aware of Mr. James Randi’s wonderful organization. Lastly, thank you for respecting a cause which affects me most greatly on a personal level. Thank you for voicing what everyone should be able to see – homophobia is ignorant and irrational.

  6. The Black Cat

    I find it incomprehensible that in a country that supposedly prides itself on freedom and justice people are actively working towards the persecution of a significant minority group within our own population. This is supposed to be a country where we don’t, or at least try to avoid, discriminating against people based on superficial and irrelevant characteristics. Yet here we are with not only vocal bigots but even our national leaders attempting to modify the US constitution, a symbol of liberty in this world, with the express purpose of oppressing a harmless and law-abiding group of people. We teach how bad the oppression of blacks and women was, yet people are actively trying to continue it with another group on equally baseless grounds.

    “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression. ”
    -Thomas Jefferson

    (The irony of such a quote coming from a slave-owner like Thomas Jefferson is not lost on me, but it is a good quote nonetheless)

  7. RBG

    I will protect to the death any person I see being unfairly attacked. Any religion, any creed, any nationality, any colour, any age, any persuasion. Any belief. Anybody.

    But I believe the argument for the existence of homosexuality is right up there with horoscopes. Not to say that it might not exist as a biological fact – it just hasn’t been researched enough and the evidence just isn’t there or presented. Or at least the proof is pretty skinny. Or maybe it’s simply being kept secret.

    Just because everyone is doing it (think horoscopes) doesn’t mean it has any basis in scientific organic fact. This from a Zoology graduate. Or perhaps in my four years of study, all the professors and all the zoology books simply missed seeing homosexuality in animals. (Maybe it hadn’t evolved yet when I was in school. Or maybe zoologists just sniff too much formaldehyde.) Because I sure never learned about this in any of my classes, particularly evolution classes. Maybe I should ask for my money back.

    And if you ask virtually anyone to explain what evidence they have to support the concept of homosexuality in animals, they’ll cite such things as “homophobes” and unfortunate displays such as the BA witnessed. That’s the so-called “evidence”.

    Obviously homosexual behaviour exists, just as there are a myriad of behaviours in this world. (Though some seem to have better press agents than others.) Is it part of our human genotype/phenotype intrinsic makeup? Well, I’m sorry but I’m a skeptic. And I’ll remain a skeptic until I see the evidence. (That’s the way it works, by the way.) And if you want to see a group of people so repressed that they fear for their jobs and fear for their standing in the community (think hiding in a closet) try finding an honest-to-goodness skeptic of homosexuality. Or a professional zoologist. Especially one who teaches in a school these days.

    Here we are in the so-called “information age”. An age when so much expensive research is being conducted. Also an age when the concepts of homosexuality are tearing our society apart. And ruining good lives. It appears to be one of society’s biggest questions. Yet most of us know more about the private life of Madonna than we do about the scientific evidence for homosexuality. In fact, I think we know more about *everything* else than such evidence.

    It’s a simple thing really. If horoscopes were proved to be true, I believe the BA would have a degree in it. Similar concept for homosexuality. If correct, I would be preaching its truth. But no one should have to believe in something because it is the fashion. No one should have to believe in something simply because of group pressure. Or worse.

    The fact is I want to believe in human homosexuality. I want the indisputable evidence to be right in front of my face and everyone else’s too. If it truly exists – more than just a matter of choice or lifestyle, as I currently believe – it is a complete travesty that this evidence has been – for all purpose – suppressed; for the sake of all those who may actually be gay and have had to pay such a big price. Indeed, a much bigger price than the ridicule heaped upon psychics and horoscopemongers.

    Now every once in a while a little smattering of research makes it to print in support of the homosexuality concept. Volume-wise, it appears to be about the same as for water dousing. In fact there may be volumes of scientific evidence on the subject. But I can tell you that you and I and everyone we know and virtually everyone else in this world knows nothing of it. Just ask them.

    That’s not right. And it is not right to merely believe in something simply because a lot of other people do. And it’s not right to believe in something merely because otherwise you are called a homophobe. Whether it comes from the back of a truck. Or a web site.

    It is right to treat everyone with dignity and respect. At the very least it is the polite thing to do.

    Now here was a homophobic message you’re not used to hearing. I’ll now crawl back into the closet with the rest of us.

    BA, imho you were wrong to open such a subject on the BA web site. But I appreciate this one chance to say something about the subject.

    RBG

  8. RBG: A search on the words “homosexuality animals” on google yielded lots of interesting links. I am not a biologist, behavioral or otherwise, so I cannot judge their veracity.

    The reason I wrote about this issue is that it ties directly into uncritical thinking. Many people make judgements based on emotion, or dogma, and not on looking fairly at the evidence. Rational thought may very well be our only way out of the mess we’re in right now.

  9. Bad Astronomer's Objectivist Fan

    The Black Cat wrote: “I find it incomprehensible that in a country that supposedly prides itself on freedom and justice people are actively working towards the persecution of a significant minority group within our own population. This is supposed to be a country where we don’t, or at least try to avoid, discriminating against people based on superficial and irrelevant characteristics.” The only minority we should concern ourselves with is the individual. If he is vindicated in his rights the groups(of individuals)will follow. As for discrimination, I’m in favor of it. Lots of it. If you don’t make judgements, you die. If you don’t make sound judgements, you die. And it is hardly superficial and irrelevant that homosexuals, dominated by their paraphilia, engage daily in deceptive, destructive & deadly behavior.

  10. An objectivist fan

    The Black Cat wrote: “I find it incomprehensible that in a country that supposedly prides itself on freedom and justice people are actively working towards the persecution of a significant minority group within our own population. This is supposed to be a country where we don’t, or at least try to avoid, discriminating against people based on superficial and irrelevant characteristics.” The only minority we should concern ourselves with is the individual. If he is vindicated in his rights the groups(of individuals)will follow. As for discrimination, I’m in favor of it. Lots of it. If you don’t make judgements, you die. If you don’t make sound judgements, you die. And it is hardly superficial and irrelevant that homosexuals, dominated by their paraphilia, engage daily in deceptive, destructive & deadly behavior.

  11. Austraco

    I agree with the BA that critical thinking is important and the facts need to be separated from the feelings to get to that critical thinking.

    Whether or not homosexuality is biological, or a lifestyle or a mixture, I am uncomfortable with people proclaiming something about themselves that only a very few people would actually have any reason to care about.

    What I mean is, we have no idea which way the BA swings, but I couldn’t care less. I certainly doubt that any more than .00001% of his readership will have any chance to partake in that particular activity with him.

    No offense BA, but I don’t want to hear about your sexual conduct or proclivities even if they are the same as mine, and especially not if they are different.

    I have a problem with people shouting about what you shouldn’t do in the privacy of your own home. Although, providing extra rights for certain people, or more punishment to those that harm them, is a form of discrimination as well.

    Finally, if the definition of persecuted is that you are on average more successfull, educated, wealthy, protected, and happy than any other group, please persecute me!

    Long live Bad Astronomy!

  12. Well, Austraco, this isn’t about my own preferences. If the signs on those trucks had been about blacks, or atheists, or any other social minority, or some group which is repressed, I would have felt the same way. I am simply trying to speak out against what I think as an act of unthinking incivility. It’s not illegal to talk about removing some group’s civil rights, but it sure is to act on that speech. And given the chance, those people surely would act.

    Also, from what I gather, most gays don’t go out of their way to “flaunt” it. It’s just how they are. In fact, many say (sarcastically, in general) that heterosexuals flaunt their heterosexuality by holding hands and kissing in public! I find that to be a humorous and interesting analogy.

    Think of it this way: do Jews flaunt their Jewishness? They are a minority, as gays are. Does their being Jewish affect how they work, how they play? Well, maybe a little here and there, but in general, if they didn’t tell you, you might not know. I think this is a useful analogy as well.

  13. Kris

    It’s actually a bit of a myth to say “conservatives” are for things that happened in the past and “liberals” are for things that are new.

    The past is a long, long time and many people who think they stand for age-old traditions actually represent something very transient. Take the nuclear family for example, this is actually something very rare historically and on a global scale. In Europe the nuclear family only really began to exist on a mass scale in the late 1800s. Most humans have lived in extended families.

    Public decency is another example. Here in Britain “conservatives” will often paint a picture that long ago society was decent and now it’s falling down the toilet citing the increasing level of obscenity in the media. Well, again, if you actually look at life before 1800 it was a totally different story: there’s a street in London called Grape Street, but that’s not what it was originally called. If you look on a map of London from the 1600s the same street is called Gropec*** Lane (and yes, c*** meant the same thing then as it does now). The Victorians “sanitised” the name, along with many other things, always claiming that they represented true moral values (although modern fans of the Victorians might like to ponder why marijuana was legal, as was cocaine).

    Those are just very small examples, but if you actually look at humanity globally and historically, there are very few things which are “natural” or “have always been true”.

    A prominent politician in Britain took a stereotyped view of Arab culture based on events within his lifetime and in a newspaper article said “Can anyone think of a single contribution they’ve made to civilisation?” Well, if he was really asking: mathematics, writing, written laws, cities, services funded by taxation… all the foundations on which modern society is built. It would be healthy for world affairs if both Arabs and non-Arabs remembered this, instead of thinking science is some kind of Western institution.

    The true delusion is to think that because things have always been a certain way in your short lifetime and your small patch of the Earth, that they have always been that way everywhere and that they should remain that way everywhere.

  14. Questioner

    @RBG: I am sure if you had had personal relationships with people that are homosexual, I don’t think you’ d be saying any of what you are saying. You sound like you are a pretty tolerant person, I think you should get to know some homosexual people and maybe you might change some of your opinions. And even though it does not have to do with homosexuality , I think you should listen to this http://www.itconversations.com/shows/detail440.html or read the book which talks about scientific studies as well as personal stories which might equally challenge your view of what is considered “normal”.

  15. Carlos

    This to RBG:

    I don’t get it. What ‘evidence’ are you requiring? The fact is that people are gay, so therefore it exists. Who cares about animals, that’s a seperate issue. You seem to claiming that homosexuals are somehow ‘not really’ gay, in a biological sense, simply because you can’t see any evidence of homosexuality in the animal kingdom. What does that have to do with the moral appropriateness of homosexual behaviour? It smacks of Social Darwinism to me, the ideology that what is ‘natural’ is morally right, and vice versa.

    Anyway, what would you consider evidence? If a man feels sexually attracted to another man, isn’t that evidence of sexual attraction within a gender? It doesn’t really matter why he is like this, whether it’s genetic, environmental, or some combination thereof as, at the end of the day, you can’t measure sexual attraction on any scale other than subjective feeling. Ie. if you feel gay, you are gay. Anything else is simply a contradiction, or worse: the attempt to define sexuality and attraction as something other than a subjective desire, which is what fundamentalists and others who believe in some kind of universal moral absoluteness do.

    All I know is that human sexuality is an incredibly powerful and complex thing; to try and define it in terms of only animal behaviour is naive at best and reprehensible at worst. I would argue that one’s sexuality is a chaotic combination of physicality, emotional needs, social expectations, and probably many other undetermined factors. To try and pigeonhole it so tightly seems ridiculous, and I would ask what your evidence is for justifying defining a subjective thing in objective terms.

    So once again: what evidence is it that you require?

  16. I don’t understand why people seem to believe one’s sexuality is strictly based in genetics or choice. I’m sixteen, so forgive my probably equal ignorance of psychology and biology, but don’t people outside of myself have sexual fetishes? Are these genetic? Does one “choose” to have a sexual attraction to specific attributes or objects? No; I believe the development of these characteristics is based in one’s social environment before and during puberty. The idea I constantly hear of “choice” in homosexuality strikes me as moronic and without any sense of empathy.

  17. Why does the argument about genetics verusus chioce in homosexuality matter in this case (Or any case, but that’s beside the point)? These are still people being protested against, like they have less of a right to be human beings than the people who are doing the protesting.

    Irony indeed.

  18. Germ

    I consider myself quite homophobic, and I don’t pretend otherwise in public. This however does not implicate that I’m participating in campaigns trying to describe homosexuality as abnormal or against any kind of track laid out by ‘nature’.

    Hmm, having written the last two sentences I don’t even know whether I am really homophobic in the definition of homophobia. In my family there are a few people who are attacted to others of the same sex, and that doesn’t seem to bother me. Anyway .. I feel as if these campaigns do not result from the interest in following a strict path in nature, but it results from the fear of being “assimilated” (forgive me the use of weird vocabulary, english isn’t my mother-language). Those people fear that homosexuality is taking over their own little world, their loved ones, their children. They’re victims to an atmosphere of fear and ignorance, which, I hope you don’t mind, is not only limited to homosexuality, at least judged from the view we get here in europe.

    I think it’s about time that this discussion is brought into other circles, rather than having religious fundamentalists ( and no, not the muslim type of fundamentalist this time ) and gay activists. It is time for the average Joe to realize that in a society of 6 billion humans is exploring all different kinds of behaviours and that we can’t say “This is right, and that is wrong.”

    That probably didn’t make much sense, as I have serious problems putting my thoughts into words, even in my mother language .. but keep up the good work, and do mention stuff like this, even if it’s not really related to (good/bad) astronomy.

  19. Jim

    I have to wonder why this group of protestors is assumed to not employ critical thinking. Without stopping and speaking with one single person, BA labeled them under the banner of lacking critical thinking. Aren’t his actions also examples of ones lacking critical thought? The thought processes by both are rather similar. Protestors find homosexual behavior offensive (despite the fact that it doesn’t hurt them), and they made a statement about it. BA found their behavior offensive (despite the fact that they didn’t hurt him) and, he in turn made his own statement. If one lacks critical thinking, then both do. I guess we either publicly include BA as one who lacks critical thinking skills (for his momentary lapse), or we drop the topic. I for one think we should drop the topic.

  20. Kevin

    Jim, those protesting against gays ARE looking to hurt people. Not physically, but they seek to strip them of basic freedoms that all Americans should be able to enjoy. Obviously, these protesters are excersizing one of their own rights and they are free to do so. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t look at their actions and make judgements based on them.

  21. Andy

    Well…. in terms of critical thinking, it all comes down to WHY they are protesting against homosexuality.

    There are those who are against homosexuality because their religion tells them to be: dogma contrary to critical thinking. ALL religions are in some degree or another asking you to suspend critical thinking on some level or another, mostly to a HUGE degree.

    There are those who are against homosexuality because they believe it is biologically abnormal. Hormones, phermones, incompatible parts, etc, etc… Irregardless of wether other species of animals are homosexual or not (I’ve seen plenty of studies showing homosexual behavior but not in exclusivity in other animals) humans are hardly at some crisis point of not making enough children… Quite the opposite really. Overpopulation is a huge problem, and not just in the underdeveloped countries. Unfortunately many of the same religions which irrationally decry homosexuality also irrationally oppose contraceptives.

    And lastly there’s psychology. Some people, mostly men although that’s admittedly subjecture on my point, feel themselves threatened by homosexuality. Even amongst the educated population you might hear “gay” or “fag” used as an insult. Many people feel threatened or repulsed by that which is different from them. In this homophobia is remarkably similar to racism.

    Thus the protesters may be “offended” by homosexuality and it’s not that they’re wrong for expressing their views or why one should be “offended” by them. It’s the fact that the protesters were “offended” in the first place that raises ire and wrath from those of us who employ critical thinking. There’s nothing wrong with saying “Homosexuals are bad” or “Black people are bad” or “Jews are bad” in and of itself. There’s EVERYTHING wrong with feeling “Homosexuals are bad” or “Black people are bad” or “Jews are bad”. And there’s nothing wrong with feeling “People who think homosexuals are bad are bad thinkers because they’re letting their religion, glands, or Freudian fears color their appraisals.”

    I myself am guilty of the same thing perhaps in saying “ALL religions are psychollogically and sociologically damaging and should be erradicated.” …but then, I’m only human. Is being intollerant of intollerance wrong? That’s a question philosophers love to tackle.

  22. Pat Kelley

    The point being, Jim, it’s the behavior and advocacy for passing laws agains (insert minority here) that are offensive. Think carefully before okaying exclusionist behavior, because you too might end up in an outgroup (Married or unmarried? Kids or no kids? Above or below average I.Q?) As we speak, this same mentality has proposed offering free sterilization to obese couples to save on future healthcare costs…in California no less. Prohibiting acts of self-enjoyment that don’t harm anyone doesn’t advance society, doesn’t prevent crime, and makes as much sense as the proposed legislation.

  23. David Leemon

    I think the BA is considering the protesters irrational and lacking in critical thinking because he, like me, have been unable to find any rational reasons for discriminating against homosexuals (except perhaps as dating partners; as a heterosexual man, it would be useless to ask lesbians for dates), and there is especially no reason for enshrining a ban against gay marriage in the United States or any state’s consitution.

    I am reminded of a statement I read once, which was “The price of bigotry is eternal ignorance.” Letting gay people get married is threatening to fundamentalists because if gay people are allowed to form families and raise children, then they can not effectively be cast as the threatening “other”. How can religion teach that homosexuality is an abomination if the gay people next door are raising happy, well-adjusted children?

    I don’t know if the BA has examined the arguments against gay marriage, but the only arguments I could find have been based in a superstitious fear that gays will somehow “ruin” society, perhaps by turning everybody else in this country gay, perhaps by provoking a disasterous comet strike from a vengeful deity, or perhaps by raising children who are so confused that they are unable to function in society.

    The “real” threat is that homosexuals will be seen as normal, perhaps even likable, people. This is the same fear that provokes protests against Harry Potter (children will think that wizards and witches can be nice people) and Independence Day (banned in some Middle Easter countries because it portrayed a Jew as a heroic person who saved the world; one of my Arab friends even complained about the movie for that reason).

    My fear is that if religious people are successful at promoting bigotry and discrimination against homosexuals, they will next turn against a group that I belong in. I am an atheist, I play Dungeons and Dragons, and I believe in the Theory of Evolution, and all three of these are groups the religious conservatives have targetted in the past.

    If there is any good reason for banning gay marriage, I have yet to hear it.

  24. Cyber-Hick

    Ok this is all very silly really. Why do we as a society even care what people do. For example, I like tall blond women. It’s a sexual preference, an attraction if you will. Now imagine me trying to pass legislation against men who like brunetts. Pretty silly, huh. Same lines, just a little further off center.

    Secondly, one thing that does disturb me is when a homosexual says that he was that way from brith and that’s why homosexuallity is natural. Flawed thinking here. Every psychologist will tell you that heterosexual’s do not develop sexual tendancies until puberty. How many of you have young sons that have said “ewww girls”. Now, I am not saying that homosexuallity is not natural, frankly don’t know, don’t care. Their sexual attractions are their own problem, just like my sexual attraction is mine.

    The othe problem that I have is the word homophobe. Broken down it basically is implying that a homophobe is afraid of gays. Which I think is completely missing the mark of these people labeled homophobes. They are not really afraid of them, they are just to involved in their lives if anything. If people would learn to mind their own business and stop thinking about what people are doing in their own bedrooms, this wouldn’t matter.

    The whole sanctity of marriage bit is laughable too. If this is the main reason for inacting these law’s they need to also inact laws against swingers, adulters, etc. These people live lives that are completely contrary to the beliefs in the bible. Let’s get rid of them too!!!! (That was sarcastic).

    And my very last point. Why is the government involved in my personal life? What is the reason for me having to get a marriage license? Is it really any of their business who I’m getting married too? Why am I taxed more or less for being married? As long as I’m not hurting anyone else, I should be able to do whatever I want. It doesn’t really make sense to me. But then again, I liked Jefferson’s idea. The government that governs least, governs best. Or something like that.

    Just my two cents,

    C-H

    P.S. BA Love the website. Only complaint, I want to see more stuff. Just about read everything on the site twice. KEEP POSTING!!!

  25. Paul in CT

    Personally, I don’t approve of the homosexual lifestyle. Women are such gorgeous creatures (well, some anyway). However, being a registered Republican (shocked yet?), I don’t by into the discrimination of any homosexuals in this country. One thing I will stand firm on is the sanctity of marriage act. Even President Clinton enacted legislation to say that marriage should be between a man and a woman. I mean, the core purpose of a marriage is to have children. You can pontificate all you want on it, but the core, rock foundation of a marriage is to procreate. Love comes into it, well, sometimes. Physically, same sex couples cannot do this. Now, that being said. I am for civil unions (AKA Marriage on Paper), and think gay couples should be allowed to adopt the millions of kids that are in need of a good home. I think the backlash you’re feeling is because of blowhards like Rosie O’Donnel who force her lifestyle in everyone’s face. The judges ruling from the bench, totally circumventing the reason we have an elected legislature is also to blame for the homophobic backlash. My best friend is a black American (no I won’t say African-American, that’s stupid PC talk), and he was appaled when he saw a gay rights activist on TV comparing their struggle to that of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s. I swear, he almost kicked the TV set. When he calmed down after a lengthy string of cursing, he told me that being gay isn’t something you can see on the outside of a person, like skin color. And you know, at that moment, it was clear that even if homosexuality isn’t a choice, you can’t look at someone and say “Oh, she’s gay.” Well, maybe with Elton John, but that’s besides the point. LOL. It’s sad that we all can’t just live together without the animosity, but unfortunately the human ego won’t allow us to live in unity.

    As a Christian, and a Republican living in a “Blue State” like Connecticut. You can imagine the bigotry I go through for just having a Bush/Cheney bumpersticker on my car. I can’t tell you how many times my tires have been slashed, or fights that have come my way. It’s sad. The left likes to claim their for tolerance….yeah right. Only if you agree with their ideology.

    I think the biggest, and best comment on why gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed was from Dana Carvey on the Dennis Miller Show where he said “DON’T DO IT! WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU WANT TO GET MARRIED?!” Ha. Ha. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  26. Michelle Rochon

    What I think about gays? I was often asked that before. Here’s what I think: I don’t CARE what you’re doing in your bedroom. Just don’t impose it on me with crazy parades where you look like weirdos. We have parades like that here, and quite frankly? It’s nothing to make your cause work. If anything, it makes you look crazy.

    And mind you, the same thing works with the OTHER side. Heteros going on ranting about how they hate gays… Hey, get a life. Why do you mind what they do in their house?

    Also, some people don’t understand me when I say that I don’t like seeing two guys kiss or two girls kiss. I can’t help it. I’m heterosexual. I’ll like a girl and a guy kissing. And even then, when heteros overdo it in public, I’m annoyed. A small kiss, fine, aah it’s love… But a long heated one in the middle of the street? Come on. Get somewhere private.

    And BA, there’s nothing wrong in saying your opinions! If you feel like it, maybe writing a disclaimer about sayings on the blog would make it better! It’s always good to write opinions down somewhere to vent off. :)

  27. Kevin

    Michelle, do parades on St. Patty’s day get on your nerves too? Don’t you wish those people would just stop flaunting their Irish-ness?

    Why do people insist on applying double standards to gays? Having a parade is not “shoving it down my throat”. Neither is having it on TV or seeing it in movies. No one is forcing you to watch that TV show or that movie, and a parade of Irish people blocks the street just as much as a parade of gay people.

  28. Kevin

    Cyber-Hick, just because a tendancy becomes apparent later in life doesn’t mean it wasn’t always hardwired that way. Having known a number of gay people, I can tell you beyond any doubt that even as a child they were “gay”. They march to a different beat so to speak and many times it becomes apparent well before they ever reach puberty. Not always, but sometimes.

    Paul, if marriage is all about procreation, I assume you must support banning infertile men and women from marrying the opposite sex. It’s only fair Paul.

    Personally, I believe the government should get out of the marriage business. Civil Unions for everyone, with the same benefits and liabilities legally as marriage has now. Leave marriages completely up to religious institutions.

  29. Viggen

    I don’t often post to BBs like this, but I thought I would respond to something I read above in RBG’s post. I have no real opinion on whether homosexuality is “right” or “wrong” or even whether it should be regarded from some sort of ethical standpoint. It exists, and that is as it is.

    However, I would like to point out that there is a very real evolutionary reason for homosexuality, and it comes back to how evolution itself works.

    Evolution progresses by a statistical process due to recombination of breeding individuals. If any “species” is regarded as being a collection of genetic characteristics, then the change of that species -or its evolution- is required to be the alteration of those genetic characteristics. Individuals do not evolve, they recombine by breeding to cause evolution. We all know about natural selection, the process by which a characteristic is enhanced in a population because it improves survival and therefore facilitates breeding. What people rarely ask is where a selectable characteristic came from. How did some particular characteristic exist at just the right time in history for it to allow a species to survive? In many cases, it didn’t and a lot of species died out. However, the population of a species is a reservoir of random chance- even though the person sitting next to you is the same “species,” you have only to look them in the face to know that they do not possess the same genetic characteristics as you do. Biology of a large population under little selective pressure has the opportunity to undergo random genetic divergence. Every person born is not only an amalgamation of their parents, but is also a mutant in SOME regard. Out of 30,000 genes creating a human individual, it would be incredibly difficult not to see some random mis-translation between parent and child, and very likely that alteration is more or less silent, although still-births and miscarriages are not all that uncommon (tell me you haven’t met somebody directly or somebody who knows somebody). With 6 Billion -as in nine zeros capital B- humans on the planet, the population has a huge capacity for the species to genetically diverge and acquire new characteristic that do not necessarily effect either breeding or survival. This is padding; if we are suddenly subjected to a selective pressure, the sheer size of our population will allow for the right combination of genetic traits for survival to exist somewhere. This is much more powerful in a less niche evolved species than humans, but it could be the edge between life and death at some point in our future.

    The major point here is that the agency creating this reservoir of traits is entirely blind and random, which means that every combination of traits is going to exist, including the ones that don’t work. While homosexuality will not result in breeding individuals, random trials all the time, in every generation, with every child, in a humongous population will result in the appearance of such a non-fatal outcome. I would point out that this does not mean homosexuals are a “mistake,” it means that they are simply another manifestation of nature trying everything the same way it creates schizophrenics and megalomaniacs and Einsteinian geniuses. It is more than likely that there is some genetic basis for homosexuality, if only for the fact that nature tries every possible combination in order to create the one that will someday facilitate survival.

  30. Pat Kelley

    Approve or disapprove of group X doesn’t matter. Making laws against group X or mistreating group X because group Y is the majority is wrong. Our nation was founded on not only the rule of the majority, but the institution of checks and balances to prevent the tyranny of that same majority.

    If old men two hundred years ago in a position of privilege realized this, why is it not permanently carved in every government building, and tought not as a doctrine of “tolerance” but a necessity to a well-governed society? Why can’t people understand that the same government that they would seek to twist to their own ends would then be liable to twisting the other way?

  31. Glom

    Since homosexuality is based on genetics, like being African or Asian, homophobia is the same as racism. Of course, this particular genetic trait doesn’t seem very practical for survival so the question is why it has survived. First answer is that the genes can be carried. Second answer, an intolerant world forces gay people to partake in heterosexual relationships hence the traits is passed on, hence these people are shooting themselves in the foot through their intolerance. Come on, if you’re going to be racist, at least do it properly. (Slightly tongue in cheek)

  32. D Gavin

    Before I chime in on this issue would like to state that I don’t feel the homosexuality is right.

    BUT I believe that discriminating against them is far far more disgusting and wrong, then what they are doing.

    In point of fact I voted to allow gay marriges in Oregon for the main reason was that too vote the other way is to invite other discriminatory laws to follow.

    Unfortunately it did not pass, and they were outlawed in Oregon.

    I was shocked that more people did not see, and still do not see that this country is back sliding into an mind set that will soon see most of our rights vanished.

  33. JohnW

    Does it matter whether homosexuality/heterosexuality are genetic traits? Either way, homophobia is wrong.

    There’s an obvious parallel with religious bigotry. No one has ever suggested that there is a “Methodist gene”. Methodism must therefore be a “lifestyle choice”. Does that mean it would be OK for me to beat up Methodists, deny them employment, refuse to sell them my house, etc. because I didn’t like what they did in church?

  34. HvP

    Paul in CT: Lack of critical thinking employed…

    A significant number of the heterosexual popluation are also unable to conceive children. There are NO restrictions upon marriage of any kind which exclude couples who are unwilling or unable to have children! So there is already a double standard in place. You’re saying that homosexuals should not be allowed to marry because they can’t conceive children but blindly ignore the fact that anyone who has had a vasectomy, tubal ligation or hysterectomy are known to be biologically incapable of bearing children and yet are allowed to legally marry.

    It’s also very ironic that your black friend is unhappy about the comparison of the gay rights struggle to that of the civil rights movement in the ’60s. Especially considering that it was “judges ruling from the bench, totally circumventing the reason we have an elected legislature” who struck down laws preventing interracial couples from marrying. Go look up the text of the “Loving v. Virginia” trial and you will see EVERY SINGLE lame argument which is now being used to deny same-sex marriage was used THEN to deny interracial marriage.

    As for the comment about not being able to tell on the outside if someone is gay as opposed to being black… That is not an appropriate analogy. The appropriate analogy is, “it is not possible to tell from outward appearance if a person is attracted to someone of their own gender OR SOMEONE OF THEIR OWN, OR DIFFERENT, RACE.” You can’t look at an individual and tell if they are attracted to black people, white people, Asians, Native Americans… what have you. And when interracial marriages were finally allowed NO ONE required that interracial couples prove that they were born with an instinctual genetically programmed attraction to people of any particular race. Because it didn’t matter WHY, just that it wasn’t damaging to society. So far no one has been able to show that same-sex couples are in any way damaging to society – so why bother ask if they were born that way if it has never mattered before?

    Race = inborn genetic trait; Gender = inborn genetic trait
    Attraction to certain races = variation in human behavior protect by civil rights
    Attraction to certain genders = variation in human behavior which SHOULD be protected by civil rights

    Oh and BTW, yeah all those Christmas parades make me wish that Christians would stop flaunting their religion, and those breast cancer marches make me wish people would stop trying to raise awareness for causes which are important to people’s lives, and those huge televised crowds of people going to view the Pope make me wish that people wouldn’t subject us to their grief and mourning… *sarcasm off*… These things exist because they are IMPORTANT to the people participating! That’s what matters.

  35. wedgebert

    I would like to point out that the “the point of marriage is to have kids so gay marriage is wrong” argument is flawed.

    Marriage is a human construct. We were having children long before marriage came along and continue to do so out of marriage.

    Marriage is typically about one of four things: Commitment to a loved one, convenience (be it for tax purposes, nationalization, etc), wealth/power, or pressure from family, peers or society.

    By telling homosexuals they can’t wed because they can’t have children, you’re also saying to every married couple that doesn’t plan on having kids that their marriage is also wrong.

    Behind every “logical” arugment against gay marriage, it all boils down to wanting to discriminate against people who’s lifestyle you don’t agree with. All this time you spend fighting gay rights, you’re just teaching your children to be as bigoted as you are and doing more damage to society than having two dads or two moms ever could.

  36. hale_bopp

    I can vouch for the fact that gay people can have children. My father is gay. If you recall the 1960’s some gays were subject to electroshock therapy to “cure” them. Well, let’s just say that I am here because of electric shock therapy :)

    I have some mannerisms that get me mistaken for gay on a regular basis. I am repeatedly asks for dates by men (which I find flattering just as if I were asked for a date by a woman). I have also received hate mail, had religious tracts placed on my car, and even the odd death threat. Once, I was even attacked by two men with switchblades who wanted to “Kill the fag”. Quick thinking and a lucky break prevented my bloodshed. So I guess people who advocate discrimination againt gays assume they are so straight no one could ever mistake them for gay. Even being married isn’t always enough. If a gay man gets married, his wife is sometimes called a “beard” in the gay community.

    I teach high school, and all my students know that they don’t use insults about sexual orientation around me. It happens once and when they see my reaction, word gets around that you just don’t do that sort of thing around me (maybe that’s why a lot of my students think I am gay…but I have also been mistaken for a Jehova’s witness since I don’t say the Pledge of Allegiance, but that is another topic…so I am the gay Jehova witness science teacher). I have even given talks about my father at student assemblies with the support of my school. They need to know that their words hurt others, even those who are not personally gay or lesbian.

    Anyway, I do a lot of theater. I share laughter, tears, the spotlight, costumes, dressing rooms and everything else with the cast which invariably includes a disproportiante number of gay men in particular (okay, I don’t have to share the attractive female cast members!) I celebrate their loves and mourn their loves lost as they do mine. Maybe I just have been so immersed at times that I can’t even understand why people see such large differences.

    So yes, when I hear the insults flying about gays and lesbians, I take it personally. When you insult the most important people in my life, I am going to strike back. I have told my students if I made negative comments about their parents for being Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Asian, or anything like that, I would probably be fired. They don’t have the right to make those types of comments about my family and friends in my classroom.

    Okay, that was sort of random and rambling, so I will stop here.

    Rob

  37. Miriam

    I wanted to point out to the Black Cat that even though Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner, he didn’t agree with slavery. He inherited his slaves from his father in law and took care of them like extended family. The slaves he took with him to France could have declared freedom while they were there, but didn’t and went back hom with him to America.
    I think at one point he was trying to abolish slavery, but decided not to because America needed more time to adjust to the idea. He didn’t free slaves because he was afraid that they’d be captured by slave traders, and he didn’t sell his slaves unless they wanted to be sold (in order to return them to their family members).

    You gotta admire him for that, even though he couldn’t abolish slavery, he did his best to be kind to the ones he could be kind to.

    *Learned that all in history 107 on Tuesday*

    More on topic, It’s great that the BA isn’t afraid to bring up these topics in his blog. Even though i’m severly for Gay Rights, I’m always trying to think up reasons against it. With all the things I believe are right, like the right to die, abortion, and sex education for teenagers, i’m able to find very good reasons why they could be wrong too, and I’m always trying to think of a solution to these debates where both sides of the argument can be content.

    But with Gay Rights, I cannot think of ANY good reason to be against it. They don’t hurt people because of their sexual orientation, they don’t contribute to overpopulation, they even adopt unwanted children. Yes, it’s against some religions, but thoes religions can choose not to recognise the relationship and not allow them into their religions. Yes, Gays might be more likely to spread STD’s because they don’t need to use birth control methods, but better sex education could help fix that problem.

    It’s also really sad how most of the people against Gay Rights are bible thumpers. It makes christians look bad. I’m not christian, but my mom’s catholic church welcomes gays and I’ve gotta admire that.

    Okay, i’m talking too much. But this is the storm before the calm. I think gays will get the rights every American deserves by this generation or in the next few. This is the internet age, where young people can get online and chat with people with different lifestyles, and it’s impossible for me to be homophobic after all the friends I’ve made who are great people that also happen to be gay. The homophobes will soon be the minority.

  38. Curtis

    This is what is cool about blogging. The blogger says things that he or she might not otherwise publish. It is understood that these types of blogs will generally be on topic, but with personal notes from time to time. Sagan would be proud, but Planetary Society please correct me if I am wrong.

  39. Excellent post, BA. We’ve all felt the same way about one issue or another.

    It happens to be something that I agree with you on, both the specific argument about homosexuality and the larger “division” that is occuring wthin this country. I know it always seems like the present is more divisive than any point in the past has ever been, but I really think that things are coming to a head within the next decade or so. Currently, there appears to be two countries within the united states (we see the borders drawn up every presidential election) – the northeast, southern florida and southern california comprise (more or less) one country while the rest is the other country.

    Normally this is annoying, but liveable. However, the coservative faction has really been pressing its agenda (interestingly, at first they refused to admit that they had an agenda, now, I’m not even sure that they pay lip service to that diversion anymore. Battle lines are being forced on us by this agenda, presumably because they think that they can win the confrontation. Like most aggressors, I think that they they have seriously miscalculated on their level of support. Of course, they can still do massive damage to society in the long run.

    Political (American) conservatism has traditionally implied a restraint on government and no ethical agenda. It used ot be a simple bargain. Taxes for basic services (roads, et al) and your life is your own. Lincoln, for example, beleived that every personshould have the opportuntiy to rise as far as talent would allow. He also advocated curtailing the expansion of slavery, but not its abolition.

    What we are therefore seeing today is not tradtional conservatism. It needs a new name: conservative activism. We can define it as equal to the goals of the conservative / religious right as they seek to remake the country into a theocracy. I know, it sounds extreme and I am not claiming there is some “master plan”, but I can assure you all that if let loose unchecked, they would not stop until the entire country looked like the backwater deep south. And currently, they are winning, not because they have more people, but because they have more interested people.

    We are currently in the middle of the period where the counterargument is still getting organized. The left is still responding to challenges on an individual basis, which is uncoordinated and inefficient. Like any “war”, the victror is frequently the better prepared and organized, not the more righteous. Examine the recent gulf war versus the occupation. There is a danger in waiting to long for the response, as too long may result in the answer being marginalized (see Marxism/Leninism) without being fully examined.

    Personally, I’m against getting together as a large group and becoming the counterargument. Given a choice, I would prefer to be left alone to write cheesy fiction, explore caves and draw cartoons. However, one of the things that history teaches (if you bother to listen) is that everything has its price in hard work, including our society. If we procrastinate, the price becomes higher and higher. So I’m a reluctant warrior here, but since I’ve thrown in my lot with reason, critical thinking and science, I am going to do the best job that I can. Because our society depends on those three things more than anything else (including God) and I like my society as is.

    John

  40. John Robert

    Paul in CT said, “You can imagine the bigotry I go through for just having a Bush/Cheney bumpersticker on my car. I can’t tell you how many times my tires have been slashed, or fights that have come my way. It’s sad. The left likes to claim their for tolerance….yeah right. Only if you agree with their ideology.”

    Please, spare us. I went through similar stuff here in TX with my John Kerry sticker. It goes both ways.

  41. You had me all excited for a minute there, BA! I mean, I’ve been searching for the missing link between homosexuality and astronomy since, well let’s see, 1994, and it’s been mighty elusive.

    I thought for a while it might have something to do with what causes Type Ia supernovae (a nice healthy white dwarf + red giant pair, or a perverse (but ha! doomed) white dwarf binary?).

    But it’s probably more subtle than that. Astronomy, and most of the other physical sciences, are defined to have nothing whatsoever to do with people. It all happens out there, it’s (pace quantum theory) outwith our control, and sexuality just isn’t relevant. Yet astronomers are overwhelmingly male, white and straight – how did that happen? I don’t really know. Margaret Wertheim has some good answers to why astronomers are predominantly male in her book ‘Pythagoras’ trousers’, but that’s clearly only part of the story.

    I think those of us who are involved in popularising science have to be careful about how we present things. Stars are not people – yet they are born, live and die in NASA press releases. Small galaxies don’t just merge with big ones – they get eaten by them. This is all necessary but it’s problematic. The way we describe nature depends on what we project onto it. Doing science is about having your world-view challenged all the time, and about trying to be honest about your experimental errors. I’m not sure we get that across all the time.

    Anyhow, that’s about as far as I’ve got in understanding my patch here in the overlap region where homosexuality and astronomy meet. With a bit of luck I’ll have more to say at some future juncture.

  42. Shawn

    Thank you for the post and the sentiments, BA. When the bill in Kentucky was passed to specifically discriminate against gay marriage, I must admit that I felt personally attacked. In every respect, I am a productive and contributing member of society with an excellent income and a single parent of a wonderful and precocious 11-yr old being raised in my home. Although I am single, I wonder why, if I should find my perfect partner, my state (or any other, for that matter) would consider me a second-class citizen and deny me the same benefits, access and recognition received by a male/female couple. After all, I have all the prerequisites the fundamentalist right usually argues about (children, stability, etc.). In fact, I have not encountered a single argument against gay marriage that holds up in my situation with the notable exception that it is a religious institution, to which I must wonder why our government gives ‘special’ recognition and benefits.

  43. Les

    Thanks, BA, for the website and the blog. Condemnation of gay marriage is provoked primarily by neocon Christians. The basis of their rationale (I use the term loosely) seems to be that marriage was 1) divinely instituted, 2) instituted for the procreation of children, and 3) instituted to prevent illicit fornication. TWADDLE.

    A little research (Fraser, Graves, et al.) clearly demonstrates that marriage in the west was instituted by the influx of peoples from central Asia who supplanted the inhabitants of the Mediterranean starting around the year 1,500 BC. The invading peoples were patriarchal; the peoples they supplanted were matriarchal (who also believed their society was divinely ordered). It was the single most extensive reordering of society since the domestication of plants.

    In a matriarchal society, power may pass from one generation to the next with relative ease because it is always obvious who the mother is. It is much less easy to determine who the father is for reasons equally clear.
    In the matriarchal society (as in certain societies existing today), it simply doesn’t matter who the father is. Promiscuity, although subject to certain restrictions, was not morally condemned as it was by patriarchs. If, however, a father wants to pass along his wealth and power to his son, he must make sure his wife has no other man’s son…not so easy. Hence, a woman (or women) must be legally and morally bound to one man; fornication becomes a sin; and illegitimacy becomes a stain, etc. Marriage was/is all about the inheritance of power.

    It’s my personal feeling that the activist fundamentalism of today is a reaction to the resurgence of feminism in the 70’s, along with the empowerment of African-Americans (a generation earlier), native Americans, Hispanic-Americans…and more recently gays. Any group that feels it is threatened will sooner or later strike back, which extremist fundamentalists are now doing…with a vengeance…literally. And isn’t it interesting that Muslim and Christian fundamentalists (both so unaccepting of other world views) are on the rise at the same time and in response to similar pressures?

    I guess it’s those pressures that inculcate so much fear in people that they can no longer “live and let live.â€? Rather they feel they must “kill or be killed.â€? I can’t wait til the pendulum swings back.

  44. Lyapunov 15

    Just a note. Don’t toss out dictionary definitions of “liberal” and “conservative” in political discussions. It’s silly, inaccurate and make you look like an amateur. Both liberals and conservative seek change in some areas and resist it in others. Things are vastly more complex than Webster entries.

    I’d like to request that Phil stick to astronomy and scientific debunking. I can get all these noodnick ideoloigcal debates everywhere else. In fact, I’ve recently joined the ranks of those who simply do not give a d*mn anymore. I’m working hard to retire early, and heading as far out into the countryside as I can get and still have Internet service and not have to dig a well.

  45. Lyapunov 15

    Oh, and those of you who put political stickers on their cars in a political enviroment boiling over with exotoxic memes- are you on crack or something? I don’t even put an Apple logo on my back window anymore.

  46. Pat Kelley

    Lyapunov 15 :

    That would be all well and good – your suggestion that is – except that Phil is human. And this is his space for expressing thought. Scientists do that a bit, well, quite a lot when they can, because they have opinions as well, and I for one find it interesting to see what else they think about, instead of digesting spoon-fed dogmatism handed out by major news channels. Feynman, Einstein, Sagan, and more than a few others have written on their everyday thought, had it collected in books even, and it can help in getting some perspective on their ideas, how a scientist views the day-to-day rather than the calibrated view of a beltway insider or a compensated attack dog.

    In this case, to bring in parallel the critical thinking that should be employed in science and social science. It is hard when the illusion that the speaker shares our own view is shattered, but to do otherwise would be denying them the fundamental aspect we cherish in ourselves and our beliefs: to hold them freely.

  47. Paul in CT

    This has been a great comments section and to those who disagree with me and have presented valuable arguments to counter my beliefs. I say thank you. I am always open to learning more and I am rethinking my stance on gay marriage to one of “do what you want to do” instead of the government intervening. I’m just tired of judges ruling from the bench, that is not their job. That’s all.

    Oh, the reason I put that Bush/Cheney sticker on my car is because I’m not afraid of anyone or anything. I gave 10 years to the Marines. Served in the first gulf war, saw my friends die in front of me. So I’ll be damned if some s**theel who doesn’t like my political choice threaten me. I feel sorry for my friend in Texas who was harassed for his Kerry/Edwards bumpersticker. Just because you backed the candidate that I couldn’t stand, doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t be the first one in the fray if you were going to be hurt by a bunch of moronic knuckleheads. That’s why I served, to preserve everyone’s freedom to say what they want and do what they want.

    Believe me, I’ve been all over the world, contrary to what you hear, America is actually a very well-respected nation. Fret not, regardless of what you hear on the BBC and Al-Jazeera.

  48. sfurules

    I have to agree with the statement that Phil should stay in the realm of astronomy and science. I am a very strong believer in Christianity, and at the same time a very strong believer in science. There are many who think that the 2 cannot mix, but at the moment there has been nothing said by science that contradicts my religion, nor the other way around. BUT, since politics can make everybody mad at everybody, I belive that the topic should be avoided in places where everyone just wants to get together and have scientific conversation. Unfortunatley, we all have to wonder whether some people are pushing a political agenda or not. Because of this we should ALL stay away from it here. It does nothing but cause trouble in the scientific arena.

  49. Tensor

    Phil,
    This is your blog, say what you want. Some of the commenters here evidently missed the point that this entry isn’t just about gays, it’s about applying critical thinking skills. Everyone knows you’re an astronomer, but what a lot of people seem to miss is your site promotes critical thinking, not just astronomy. Anyway, I love the blog, keep it up, and as I said, say what you want.

  50. girlgeek

    Phil,

    I loved the post; agree with it completely. Not here to argue any of the points that others have brought up; just to share a story about “sign language” in cars. You mention it was just as well that the car behind you was going too slowly to catch up to you so you could post some “sign language” of your own. I agree and here’s why:

    A few years ago I was at Kings Canyon National Park by myself. I’m a woman with no self-defense skills to speak of. One day I was leisurely driving the mountain road in my puny little four-banger car and this “huge” red truck comes barreling up behind me. I saw him coming and had put my blinker on to let him know I would turn out as soon as possible in hopes he would not do that, but oh well. I was so scared and angry that when I did turn out I gave him some, um “sign language”. Lo and behold, they were waiting for me at the next turn out.

    Great. I’m a woman alone and I’ve now pissed off two guys in a truck at least three times the size of my car. Visions of being rammed off the road flashed through my mind. I possessed enough presence of mind not to stop and passed them. They pulled out behind me honking and giving me some “sign language” in return. Of course, they were tailgating me even closer than before. I turned up my rear view mirror so I couldn’t see them. That helped me to calm down enough to come up with a plan. I decided to drive to my destination, park as close as I could to a ranger station and calmly explain to the ranger what had happened. Luckily I didn’t need to do this because my “friends” turned before I did. It was even luckier because there was almost no one at my final destination. Needless to say I learned my lesson!

    Just thought you’d like a little humor for your day and to encourage you to speak out like you always do. I’m a big fan of your website although I don’t have much time to go to the bulletin board anymore.

    Brenda

  51. Tensor

    Phil,
    This is your blog, say what you want. Some of the commenters here evidently missed the point that this entry isn’t just about gays, it’s about applying critical thinking skills. Everyone knows you’re an astronomer, but what a lot of people seem to miss is your site promotes critical thinking, not just astronomy. Anyway, I love the blog, keep it up, and as I said, say what you want.

  52. Les

    I have to respond to Paul in CT when he says he’s “tired of judges ruling from the bench. That is not their job.” That is exactly their job! They hear two opposong views and they make a ruling according to the law.

    Other than that I want to say thank you to Paul. I suspect that our political views put us so far apart that we’re actually standing back to back, but I appreciate what you have done for our country, and as long as we can keep talking to each other, we should be all right.

  53. Interesting that, Les – I didn’t read Paul in CT as intending “ruling from the bench” to mean “judging from the bench”, which is, of course exactly what we would expect judges to do.

    I interpreted him to mean “ruling *the country* from the bench”, or “legislating from the bench” based on the context of his comment. I didn’t even actually think about it until I saw Les’ comment, and saw that within the context of the sentence alone, “ruling” should certainly be interpreted literally, since it’s a common expression.

  54. sfurules

    CERDIP is correct in defending Paul in CT. The purpose of the judicial branch of the government is to act as a counter-balance between the legislative and executive branches. The problems (for both Liberals and Conservitives, I might add) is that the Judicial branch…which is not accountable to a voting public or anyone else for that matter…is able to undercut a law voted in by the Senate and Congress and signed by the President…even worse this can be done by ONE SINGLE JUDGE. On top of that, if a ruling doesn’t go the way a particular group wants, then they can begin to “judge shop” (kinda’ like what my kids do when they want something that one parent isn’t willing to give them) until they find the one judge that is willing to change a law. I believe that a rationally thinking adult (without regards to political biases) can see that this could end up being a serious problem. We should all be outraged that these glorified lawers are now starting to take away the power of our vote. On top of that, the accusations that the judges are being “threatened”, when in reality the word should be “disagreed with” is starting to border on idiocy. I can understand that with some recent events that some discretion should be made, but calling disagreements “threats” is outrageous and completely against everything that we stand for. Whether or not you like the decisions that we make in this Democratic Republic of ours, you should at least be able to know that the will of the people is being done, not the will of a few left or right fringed wackos.

  55. Irishman

    Comment from Jim above:
    “I have to wonder why this group of protestors is assumed to not employ critical thinking. Without stopping and speaking with one single person, BA labeled them under the banner of lacking critical thinking. Aren’t his actions also examples of ones lacking critical thought? ”

    Protestors typically display signs that state their positions. While signs are often simplistic in nature, they often give a good indication of the motivation of the person displaying the sign. It is fair and reasonable to conclude if someone is carrying a protest sign, the statements on that sign represent their position. Thus, it does not require stopping and speaking with these people to figure out their motivation.

  56. As a truth seeker, I was initially refreshed by the critical thinking I encountered on this web site. Unfortunately, it is critical of the truth. According to an article on your web site located at http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/misc/mccanney/snowballs.html, Jim McCanney couldn’t possibly be correct about comets not being balls of ice, because you can measure the temperature with a spectroscope. This URL of yours claims that you can use this device to read the temperature of an object in space depending on it’s COLOR in the light spectrum. Anyone who has taken a chemistry class knows that the color of light is direct response from the burning of a specific chemical element on the periodic table of elements. Each element gives off a unique color in spectrum of light that can be seen when that element is burned, regardless of the temperature. This article of yours is blatant disinfo, and I am left wondering why you would slander McCanney with lies. Honestly, I already know why, and hopefully anyone who reads this will too. Here’s a clue: it has to do with Nikola Tesla.

  57. Erik Johnson–

    I will gently suggest you learn a bit more (or a LOT more) about basic physics before saying things which are demonstrably wrong.

    The physics of spectroscopy shows that an object’s temperature can be determined from the spectrum. You can, for example, take the ratio of the amount of light emitted at various colors to get an object’s temperature. Another way is to measure the shape of the spectrum plot of intensity versus color (the Sun’s temperature can be found pretty well this way). Also, the fact that you see emission at certain colors at all indicates an object’s temperature.

    If comets were hot that would be so overwhelmingly obvious in cometary spectra that there would be no way to cover it up. McCanney never talks about this, because if he does, he’d have to admit that everything he says is garbage.

    By the way, the word you’re looking for is “libel”, not “slander”. Slander is oral, libel is written. Not that it matters; nothing I wrote about McCanney is even incorrect, let alone libelous. He’s the one who has lied about me; on a radio interview he talked about my luxurious office and huge mansion, both of which are patently false (see here: http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/misc/planetx/nutshell.html#disinfo). He has never visited my home or office, so how could he know what they are like? He lied, that’s how.

    For more of his silliness, start here: http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/misc/mccanney/conclusions.html

  58. Laura

    Great discussion, and in one of the last places I’d expect to find it. All I have to add is that anyone looking for data on same-sex attraction in animals should read Biological Exuberence by Bruce Bagemihl.
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0312192398?v=glance

  59. Irishman

    Erik Johnson, why do you assume the spectroscopy in question is that one application from basic chemistry, measuring content from the spectrum of the object burned? Why do you assume there are no other forms of spectroscopy, ones they perhaps don’t mention in basic chemistry? Why do you assume the Bad Astronomer is lying, rather than that there may be information he has (as a professional astronomer and a PhD) that you do not have (credentials not provided)? Why make an accusation rather than ask questions? That is rather rude.

  60. sfurules

    See? That’s more like it. Politics is a world ruled by opinion (how those opinions are formed is another discussion)…but science is ruled by fact…which cannot be disputed. That’s more fun. HAVE AT THEE!!!!

  61. I guess I got told =) I can handle it though, and I appreciate it because ignorance is our greatest enemy. I will admit my post does appear rude, but please believe me what I say that was not my intent. Let me take a moment to elaborate on my previous understanding so you can see where I was coming from, and hopefully offer some more specific correction. I recently saw a show on the Discovery channel that made the claim that you can tell exactly what elements a star consists of by the color of it. That program also said, conversely, that each color on the light spectrum is represented by a unique element on the periodic table. I can recall from my college chemistry class that certain elements always burned a consistent color. Now, here is where I made a leap of faith. If each element is a specific color, and each color of the spectrum is represented by a specific element, then how could you use variance in color to identify the heat of an object in space? Wouldn’t a color change denote an entirely different element?

  62. Also, I would be interested on your take of this video.
    http://www.jmccanneyscience.com/comet%20solar%20flare%20movie%2001072004.mpeg
    McCanney’s explanation for the solar flare is that the comet caused “an electrical discharge of the solar capacitor.” How else would you explain the solar flare? Could it simply be the force of gravity? Is the video part of an elaborate hoax? It looks legit to me.

  63. Irishman

    Erik, thanks for the extra info on your perspective. I can see the confusion. The judgement of rude comes from reading your last three sentences, where you declare the BA’s comments as “blatant disinfo”. That seems a leap to a conclusion to me, and an accusatory one.

    As for how the color of a star can represent both the element of the star and the temperature of the star, here is a brief introduction into stellar temperature from spectroscopy.
    http://www.answers.com/main/ntquery;jsessionid=3ekg8qiq4lole?method=4&dsid=2222&dekey=Stellar+classification&gwp=8&curtab=2222_1&sbid=lc03b

    In a quick google search, I was unable to turn up a more detailed explanation. From what I gather the temperature of the star effects the energy states available for photon emission, which controls the wavelengths emitted, i.e. the color.

  64. The comet video does show a CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) a few hours after the passage of the comet (Comet 96P/Machholz) in early January 2002. What isn’t directly obvious from this clip is that CME occur fairly often even when there are no comets passing by. Also there isn’t enough information in the video to tell if the CME occurred in the same plane as the orbit of the comet – only that it occurred on the same half of the SOHO image as the passage of the comet.

    See the SOHO web site: http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/

  65. Apestench

    I’m tired of being discriminated against, too. Just because I’m an adult male who is sexually attracted to 5 year old boys and dogs, shouldn’t I be allowed to express my sexual preferences? Ok actually I’m a happily married heterosexual with so-called “normal” sexual preferences. But the point is, (The ‘conservative’ point, that is) Where do you draw the line on which sexual preferences should be allowed and which should not. If we redefine marraige to include homosexual unions, why not redefine it to include three people? Why not redefine it to include people and animals? In fact, why have marraige at all and not give “marraige rights” to any group of people who want them? The whole issue of discrimination comes down to this, Is homosexuality genetic or environmental. I have not seen enough evidence to prove it is genetic. If so, how can homosexual people become straight? A homosexual gene should have been lost in the evolutionary process because it is harmful to the species as primitive homosexual man would have had no desire to reproduce and spread the gene.
    By the way, I’m speaking as a member of the most discriminated against group in America, fundamental Bible believing Christians. If you think we’re not discriminated against, try being a Christian and a high school science teacher. I’ve had my motives for even becoming a teacher called into question as some believe Christians should not be allowed to express their opinions. My mother has been told that she can’t express her political views because they’re influenced by her religious beliefs. But I digress.
    BA, I love your site. I love educated discussion. But to use your quote, most homosexual rights supporters also “will never change theit minds because of something I say.” so does that make them irtrational, too?

  66. Apestench, without trying to dismiss most of what you say, I’ll simply reply with the phrase “consenting adults”. That’s a pretty good place to start drawing lines.

  67. Maurizio

    There is very little critical thinking indeed on the subject of gay marriages.

    Otherwise, people with strong pro-marriage convictions would rally ON the side of allowing homosexual couples to marry

    ##################

    In fact, is there any point left in marrying?

    I am talking about the civil side of marriage, obviously, as what people want to do religiously is their own business

    On the one side, “civil unions” are going to become a sort of “marriage lite” (same rights, fewer committments), by a matter of course

    No Constitutional scholar would argue against that. You simply cannot state that all people are equal and then prevent a group of them from enjoying the rights given to another group

    On the other side, marriage has lost much of its social significance. There is no scandal anymore when unmarried couples have a holiday, or go living together.

    There is actually quite some pressure TO live together BEFORE committing to marriage, in order to avoid the dreaded “messy divorce”.

    Children born “out of wedlock” are too numerous to count (and too good for anybody to believe that there is something wrong with not being married)

    Marriage is left then as a “life committment in front of the law”, i.e. the establishment of mutual legal chains that should prevent the “other” from running away one evening after claiming to go and buy some cigarettes.

    We all know how things work in that case…Still, if things go wrong for some reason the State feels obliged to make it difficult for people to go their own ways (6 months to 1 year of wait for a divorce in the UK, up to 5 years in Italy, and so on)

    ##################

    Therefore, gay marriage opponents may actually be actively killing their beloved “heterosexual marriage”: because if gay people can opt for civil unions who in their right mind would not do the same?

    ##################

    Methinks “marriage” will become more and more a contract between 2 people, of whatever gender, with little supervision by the State: something of the order of nowadays’ “pre-nuptial contracts”.

    Keep in mind that all of this does not prevent “marriage parties”, presents, etc: it only makes the State mind its own business, instead of interfering in the private lives of its citizens…all in all, a return to the Romans’ more uxorio and a step surely to be saluted by all libertarians

  68. Apestench

    On the subject of “consenting adults” why then do we not allow marraiges between three or more “consenting adults” or between adults and minors as long as all parties (parents included) are “consenting?”

    One last thought on the subject of “gay rights,” homosexuals have all of the rights that heterosexuals have. What they want is more rights. Homosexuals cannot marry someone of the same sex, neither can heterosexuals. This is not like the civil rights struggle. Homosexuals do not want to be able to do the same things that heterosexuals can do, they already can. They want legal definitions to be ch

  69. Apestench

    Sorry, my thought wasn’t completed.

    They want legal definitions to be changed for their personal benefit. If we start changing definitions for them, we must allow every personal belief to have the same “rights.”

  70. David Leemon

    If homosexuals have all the rights that heterosexuals have, then why is it so important that I let people know that I am heterosexual, in order to avoid the hatred and scorn heaped upon homosexuals?

    I see no reason to deny homosexuals the right to marry each other.

  71. Irishman

    I’m going to fall right into that trap and ask why don’t we allow marriages between 3 or more consenting adults? What’s so special about the number 2?

    The larger question is what is “marriage”? Is it, as christians claim, a contract by God? If so, what business does the government have in paying any attention to it?

    The Libertarian answer, one that I actually support, is making a formal split between the state’s interest in unions (if indeed there is a legitimate role for the state, which would be all the associated privileges, such as inheritance rights, designated next-of-kin, joint property rights, child custody, etc.) and the religious marriage. Let religions decide for themselves who they want to perform ceremonies for. From the government’s standpoint, register anyone who wants as a licensed union.

    This, of course, is constrained to the legitimate legal distinctions of Consenting Adult Humans. Actually, you bring up the point about minors, and some states already do allow minors to marry with the consent of their parents. State’s set their own age limits – I believe the youngest is 14, but I’m not certain.

    That just leaves consenting and humans. I think the consenting is largely agreed to – forced marriages are out, aren’t they? What about marrying someone in a coma? Is that allowed? Should it be? (Okay, I’m being facetious.) I would suggest, however, that “consenting” and “human” are redundant. Well, maybe KoKo the gorilla can consent, but do we really expect any animal to have the understanding above a 5 year old human?

    Furthermore, the government has already been in active force against religious freedom for marriage – the Mormons. So if you believe marriage is a sacred covenant of God, then why do you fight polygamy, when one religious group says that God approves of polygamy? Heck, Islam also allows polygamy, so again, the God angle is not a good defense. Unless you claim that your religion and it’s views are somehow special and the only ones we should allow anyone to follow. Oh, wait, there’s that Pesky First Amendment to the Constitution again.

    You wave the strawman of pedophilia and bestiality. The issue here is not about sex, despite that preference playing a role in the distinctions between the groups. The issue is about marriage, and all the ramifications and consequences that status brings. Humans will have sex with or without marriage, even counter to marriage, in whatever manner they fancy, despite laws, despite religious injunctions. “Marriages” and “Civil Unions” and whatever other titles you want to use are about commitments and obligations and privileges.

  72. danika

    I’m sooooo against gay marriges and I think that you need more people saying that they are because the bible says: But when God made the world he made a male and a female. So man will leave his mother and unite with his wife(which is a female) Mark 10:6-8. I’m taking a stand because gay marriges are wrong. Thanks you.

  73. The Black Cat

    The Bible also says:

    Slavery is acceptable (Exodus 21.2).
    You should kill your child if he strikes you (Exodus 21:15).
    If you work on Sunday, you should be put to death (Exodus 35:2-3).
    If you curse, you should be stoned to death (Lev. 24:14-15).
    Happiness is smashing children upon the rocks (Psalms 137:9).
    Disobedient children deserve to die (Romans 1:30-1:32).
    A rebellious son should be stoned to death (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)
    If you capture a women during battle, you can force her to be your wife, and then discard her if she doesn’t please you (Deuteronomy 21:11-14).

    So are you in favor of those things as well?

    I’m not attacking Christianity, I am a Christian myself, but there are certain rules in the bible that are simply unacceptable today. Societies do not stay the same, they evolve and develop over time. Literal conservatives and reactionaries simply have to learn to accept that. Things that were appropriate 2000 or 3000 years ago are sometimes simply not appropriate today.

    Besides, we don’t live in a theocracy, we live in a constitutional republic. There is no justification under our system of government for the oppression of groups of people, no matter what any religious book states. Our rules are based on equality under the law for ALL people, not only those people certain religions approve of. It is so annoying when fellow Christians complain about how Christians are oppressed in other countries because of those countries’ religious ideas, and then proceed to try to oppress people in this country that they don’t like based on their own religious ideas. Oppression is oppression, plain and simple, and NO religion can justify oppressing others under ANY circumstances.

  74. Sfurules

    I am sorry to do the “religous” thing here, but I think that it is necessary to defend danika, because she is correct in her use of scripture.

    The Black Cat gives many scripture references as support to why the Bible is not able to be used as an argument against homosexuality…unfortunatly, he (or she) forgot to notice that ALL of the references used came from the Old Testament. First off, remember that the Old Testament has been really messed up in the 1000’s of years that it has been around (not as a whole book…stop yelling at your screen!). Back when it was being translated and transcribed, the monks and others that were doing it didn’t have “Spell Check” to fix minor errors. Over that long amount of time, and due to being re-transcribed and edited by hand so many times, the Old Testament has indeed lost some of its original meaning.

    Secondly, remember that the Old Testament is an account written about the Law of Moses, and the lesser commandments given to him by God (Remember the 10 commandmentments). The New Testament is an account given by many about the life of Christ (at least that is what the first four books are all about). He said in the New Testament that his purpose here was to “complete the law (of Moses)”. Therefore, when he finished his work he had replaced the old (and if you think about it, pretty dang easy to follow) law with a new, more difficult and powerful law (which is meant to bring about salvation, not prepare the way as the law of Moses was intended). Think about the Old Testament as John the Baptist, and the New Testament as Christ.

    Therefore, the use of Old Testament scripture to refute the New Testament is not appropriate. I am willing to admit that the use of scripture here is not the right way to go about the topic anyways though. Those who believe the Bible and its teachings are 95% of the time going to be against Gay unions and will agree with the quotes. Those that do not believe in the Bible will refute it as “fairytales” and say that it is not truth, and therefore inadmissable as intelectual fodder. So, by logical deduction you see that scripture has no ability to sway people one way or another.

    I am also interested about what Irishman was saying about Mormons and polygamy. I think it might be that I am tired, but I was unable to tell how that argument was related to. What do the Mormons beliefs on polygamy have to do with it? I am being serious here, I am not being critical. I just didn’t understand how it fit in.

  75. Apestench

    The argument about the Mormon beliefs goes like this.
    If the government is wrong to allow homosexuals (or anyone for that matter) to marry partners of the same sex, as long as they are consenting adults, then it was wrong to forbid polygamous marraiges among Mormons (or anyone else for that matter) as long as they were consenting adults.
    Again let me state that homosexuals are not being discriminated against. They have the same right to marry opposite sex partners as heterosexuals have. They (in most states) are not allowed to marry same sex partners and neither are heterosexuals allowed to marry same sex partners. What homosexuals want is for the legal term “marraige” to be changed so as to include unions between same sex partners so they can get the same legal rights as married couples. If the government is going to do that, then the government must also allow polygamous or other “nontraditional” unions to constitute as marraige as well.

  76. Irishman

    Actually, the point of bringing up the Mormons is that people are using God’s will to argue that marriage is between 1 man and 1 woman, so I’m pointing out that is not everyone’s belief. The Mormons believe God sanctions marriages between one man and many women, and so does Islam.

    danika, if you think gay marriages are wrong, then don’t get one. They’re your religious beliefs, and not everyone shares them. Live your life by them, and let others live their lives the way they want.

  77. Apestench

    So, was the government wrong to outlaw polygamous marraiges among the Mormons?

  78. Andrew P.

    From research starting in the 1920’s, it has been shown that all foetuses start out female. The relative level of testosterone in the foetus chiefly determines whether it will develop into a boy or a girl, or into something in-between. Most of the time the outcome is clearly one or the other, but sometimes the exquisitely fine balance between estrogen and testosterone levels is disturbed during critical phases of development, resulting in an individual with mixed or incomplete expression of sexual traits.

    Before the Berlin Wall came down, I saw a report on the evening news about an East German doctor who wondered why there was a spike in the percentage of homosexuals born to German women during and just after World War II. He theorized it might have something to do with stress-induced hormonal imbalances in the mother affecting the development of the foetus. He modeled his theory with pregnant rats, forcing them to swim in tanks to near-exhaustion and squeezing them into claustrophobic containers. The resulting litters showed homosexual behavior significantly exceeding the norm.

    It’s strange, but since that report in about 1988, I haven’t heard the doctor’s findings discussed in any medium or forum. People seem to be extremely polarised in their opinions — believing that homosexuality is a “lifestyle” a “sin” or a genetic aberration. The scientific evidence indicates that it is none of these. Once one understands the underlying cause, it is seen simply as an unfortunate accident, like any other kind of congenital defect.

  79. Irishman

    “Once one understands the underlying cause, it is seen simply as an unfortunate accident, like any other kind of congenital defect.”

    And that’s exactly the kind of attitude some people don’t want you to have. Accident? Defect? Those terms carry a certain air that they don’t want applied to the term. It’s why some homosexuals frown on research into what causes homosexuality – the idea that they may be labeled as defective, or worse, that they must be cured.

    Apestench, that’s a muddy topic. The initial laws were a clear violation of the First Amendment – actions taken by the government against Mormons for their religious beliefs. However, current unsanctioned* Mormon polygamies are a different situation, because they’re often not among consenting adults, but rather adult men and teenage girls.

    But the question was about my reason for bringing them up.

    *The LDS Church does not currently officially practice or sanction polygamy. Some self-proclaimed Mormons (LDS offshoots, sects) do.

  80. apestench

    I know that the LDS church does not currently sanction polygamous marraiges. The question was meant to ask. If one believes that the government should change the definition of marraige “in the legal sense,” to favor homosexual preferences (as long as they are between consenting adults) then shouldn’t the government also allow polygamous marraiges between consenting adults. Polygamy is the sexual preference of some people just as homosexuality is the sexual preference of some people.

  81. Sfurules

    I have to point out that the arguement that polygamy is a sexual preferance is not a valid one. Anyone who believes in polygamy will do so because of a belief that God has sanctioned said unions. That belief will also carry with it the belief that God has condemned homosexual relations. Therefore, to group the 2 together for this arugment would be falicious. Furthermore, polygamy is not a sexual preferance, it is a way to EXPRESS a sexual preferance. Polygamy, strictly by definition, is not biased towards homosexual or heterosexual unions. It only means the joining of one to multiple other others. If you are going to use a religous argument (pro or con), then do not use polar groups of the argument to make the same point. From a governmental point of view (and/or legal) you may have a valid point. I have not (nor is it worth the time for me) done any research on this topic, so I am not sure what the legal ramifications are.

  82. Irishman

    I’m sorry, my asterisked remark was meant as a disclaimer to preempt any squabling over the official LDS policy. Some Mormons get miffed at any mention of Mormon polygamy, and I just wanted to make clear my awareness of the official position in an aside, not directed at anyone in particular.

    apestench, yes, many people would make that argument.

    Sfurules said:
    “Anyone who believes in polygamy will do so because of a belief that God has sanctioned said unions. That belief will also carry with it the belief that God has condemned homosexual relations. ”

    That’s just not true. There are many reasons people might accept polygamy. Even religious basis for acceptance of polygamy does not require one to accept religious bias against homosexuality. I will accept that the preponderance of those using the religious justifications for polygamy stated in this thread would also be against homosexuality because of the religions involved, but it’s not 100%.

    However, I will agree with this statement: “Furthermore, polygamy is not a sexual preferance, it is a way to EXPRESS a sexual preferance. ” Multi-partner unions can be structured with and without homosexual components.

  83. Erik Johnson

    This debate has a very simple answer; no need to get into all this detail. Marraige is a union of holy matrimony. If the separation of church and state is to remain intact, the state should have absolutely no say in what constitutes a marraige. The preist, rabbi, etc who is marrying the couple should have freedom to marry whomever they choose on an individual basis according to what they believe regardless of what the people being married believe. If the person with authority to marry the couple does not object then that is all that should matter. This is part of a massive shift by the government to condition people to get used to giving up control to the state. “But the state isn’t taking any power away from us!” you say? The point is that they are taking control of issues they shouldn’t have any say in. In the past the state merely recognized marraiges, but now they are dictating what a constitutes marraige which is wholly unconstitutional.

  84. Sfurules

    I will admit that my use of the word “anyone” (which in this instance implies “everyone”) is a generalization that can never be supported in truth. Of course there will be someone that believes in polygamy as well as homosexual conduct…but I do not concede the argument based on that semantic error.

    I suppose a better way to put it would be to say that any GROUP that professes belief in polygamy based on a commandment from God would be againts homosexuality. Again, there might be some small small faction somewhere that doesn’t fit that mold, but they will have broken off from a larger group that does.

    I had made the incorrect supposition that, since the topic was based on religous beliefs, the arguments set forth would be viewed in that light and with that premise. If the God factor is taken out, then yes, I would bet that there are lots of groups that profess plural marriage, as well as sanction homosexual rights.

  85. The definition of “conservative” is not “opposed to rapid change”; nor is a “liberal” the opposite of a conservative.

    I consider myself a conservative; most people who are classified with that label are not. To be conservative is to believe that government should get involved with people’s lives only to protect people’s basic rights (“life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”; or as I count them: health, freedom, and the right to be let alone). No, I’m not a libertarian.

    A true conservative would not want to see any Constitutional amendment that has the effect of removing personal freedom. A true conservative would understand that it’s not the government’s business who I sleep with or fall in love with, or whom I form a contract with (save that said person must be willing and capable of understanding the contract). Marriage is a contract, so the government shouldn’t care who I marry, so long as everyone is consenting.

    Keep your damned laws out of my bedroom, and off my body.

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