Many people are arguing about what the coming ruling in the courts on the gay marriage issue will do and whether it will make marriage as traditionally defined obsolete. While, as I have said before, what the Supreme Court does on the issue of gay marriage does not interest me much… each justice will find excuses to promote whichever policy is most dear to them… I think we are probably at the apogee of gay rights. From a demographic standpoint gay marriage is a big, big winner with the younger generations in support of it… as am I.
But what may be coming on the horizon may not be so cheery for the gay community as what one might think or hope. No, I don’t mean that now homosexuals will get to experience all of the “pleasures” of married life. Actually married life is pretty good and there are many (reliable, if not so varied) pleasures.
No, I mean technology may be about to unknowingly and unintentionally make homosexuality obsolete. There has long been an argument over whether homosexuality is learned behavior or whether one’s sexual attraction is programmed in. I think the evidence is pretty clear that most people are born with a clear predilection for lusting after one particular gender, whichever one it may be. Scientists have been unable to find a “gay gene” but what they have found recently is something pretty interesting. Apparently it is not genetics but epigenetics that causes homosexuality. I am not qualified to explain it so do the link. But the important point is that as we understand the origins of something such as this then so it also follows that eventually we will know how to stop it from happening.
“But homosexuality is not a disease,” you say. “There is nothing wrong with it. It does not need to be cured like some sort of birth defect.” That is all true as far as it goes. But put aside any emotionalism for a moment and consider the numbers. Something on the order of 5% of the population is gay. That means of every 20 potential mates in a given age cohort only 1 of them will be gay. Most straight people never contemplate this fact. Imagine that in addition to there being 99 out of a hundred people of the opposite sex who won’t give you the time of day that only one in twenty of those like the naughty bits you are equipped with. All the rest find them below spec. and of no interest. It is a wonder and marvel of self-restraint that gay people aren’t out humping inanimate objects just out of frustration alone!
Oh, and assuming homosexuality occurs in both men and women at the same rate then halve that number since half of them will be of the opposite sex and thus not suitable as partners. That puts the number at one in forty for an appropriate age cohort before you even get to issues of compatibility.
“So what?” you say with growing impatience. Well the point is simply this. It is already extremely difficult for gay people to find suitable partners. Indeed, I do not know this for a fact, but I imagine it is nearly impossible for them to do so in many situations or locales and that probably explains why they often congregate in cities in general and certain cities in particular… to raise the odds of success. Many straight people do the same thing and they start out with the advantage of numbers so it is not a stretch to assume the same applies to gays.
Now set aside all animus against homosexuality (or support for it) for a moment and imagine you are about to have a child whom you have every hope will be happy and for whom you are willing to do anything in your power to increase their chances of finding that happiness. If you have the choice of making a decision that would give them 9 times as many possible life partners and make it much easier for them to find a mate would you not do it? Even if you wouldn’t, then how many others would? And what then would be the percentage of the gay population? Is there not a risk of there being an exponential effect where there are fewer and fewer gay people as more and more parents make the choice to change a fetus or child’s future sexuality? How would that influence the next set of parents faced with such a decision? To be sure bigots would also choose the same process thus accelerating the trend even though they would do it for entirely different reasons.
In many less tolerant countries I could easily see such “treatments” being mandatory. If the issue is still too fraught with emotion for you then change sexual proclivity to hair color where only blonds mate with blonds and black haired people mate only with others having the same hair color. Also assume there are no other hair colors (and no hair dye… jeeze you guys chap my ass sometimes with your infernal carping). If there are only a very few blonds then would you not make the decision to darken their hair color in infancy if you could? I know that is hard to imagine since we tend to think that the rarer something is the more interesting and valuable it is but keep in mind the inexorable numbers mitigating against a blond child finding a soul mate. In short, pretend they are gingers.
I don’t have the answer to any of this. I suspect there will be a big battle to outlaw such procedures. I also think such a ban would not likely work unless the world is a much poorer place with fewer resources or advances in technology than we currently have… that is to say if Obama has fundamentally altered our economics… which make it prohibitively costly in perpetuity to defy the law.
I guess what I am not considering is that maybe someone would make their child gay who otherwise was going to be straight. I am sure there would be some who would do so… maybe more militant people on the left or the environmental types who want to replenish the natural stock of sexual proclivities in society. “We are running low on free range homosexuals… global warming has decreased the supply… or… the wingers have scared people into taking these measures, we need to counteract them.”
But I would have to think those people would be few and far between. It is one thing to do something on principle. It is quite another to do something to someone else on principle. This is why the bad guys always threaten to kill the hero’s spouse. The hero may be willing to give up his own life for a cause (or on a lark even) but it is the nature of heroes that they do not so lightly take that decision upon themselves in regards to others’ lives. That is definitional. I think enough people share this definition of correct behavior that artificially changing sexuality to gay from straight would not be very common because the repercussions even in a perfectly nondiscriminatory society are pretty severe. Not because one sort of sexuality is morally superior to the other but rather because people do not find it appropriate to arrogate such powers to themselves unless they can convince themselves it is for the best. That case is much easier to see in going from gay to straight than from straight to gay.
This will all leave some on the religious right in a quandary. They will be forced to admit that God made their child (and by extension every other gay person) the way they are and the parent would be substituting their judgment for God’s in altering what He has created for reasons other than saving the child’s life. But I think many would put it down as just another disease or affliction which God has cursed us to suffer from before relenting and blessing us with the knowledge to cure it. I am not sure what the previous generations did to deserve such unequal treatment (for better or worse) but no one has ever won that argument with the universe or the powers that may have created it.
Anyway, we may not see this in our lifetimes but I have no doubt these question will have to be addressed soon enough. What do you guys think?