Remember 7th grade science? Do you remember Newton’s third law? “For every action, there is an equal or opposite reaction.” This is true, but more pertinent to our daily lives is that rather “regular life” sort of law that tells us that sometimes the effects of our actions have unintended consequences, unforeseen things that we could never have planned for.
This occurred to me over the weekend as I read two articles that talked about some of the interesting and possible unforeseen consequences of gay marriage becoming more accepted both socially and legally: gender disparity in who is doing it and the eventual decline in the homosexual population because people are doing it.
The first idea was discussed in an article that came to me via my good friend Chuck (Hi Chuck!) who sent me David K Li’s New York Post article in which the disparity between the number of female same sex marriages and male same sex marriages is painted in stark relief.
Connecticut (2008): 3,252 female couples and 2,053 male couples.
Massachusetts (2004): 8,404 female couples and 4,911 male couples.
New Hampshire (2010): 1,113 female couples and 411 male couples.
Iowa (2009): 1,376 female couples and 772 male couples.
Vermont (2009): 1,157 female couples and 597 male couples.
Now, some will argue that wanting to get married is more of a “female thing” and that men, whether straight, gay, or other, are more hesitant to commit.
I don’t think we have quite enough data to call it one way or the other, but one thing is for sure. Once the right to marry is established, same sex couples have to deal with the question of “should” as well as “can.” Just because you can do something, doesn’t always mean you want to.
Of course, same sex marriage activists are quick to point out, and justly so, that the point of the right to marry is the choice, not a mandate to action. I hope that all couples, same sex or not, take the time to evaluate if they are getting married due more to social pressure or actual emotional drive.
And, as same sex marriage becomes more and more common, so will same sex divorces. While it is way too early to compare divorce rates between the rainbow contingency and their hetero counterparts, I’m sure that data will e just as interesting.
Again, to all those same sex couples out there, welcome to the turmoil should/shouldn’t faced by many, many different sex couples.
The other article came to me from the online Scientific American blog and my handy google alerts. In his most recent article Jesse Bering argues that the prevalence of gay marriage could ultimately lead to a decline in the homosexual population.
He builds his case with a series of claims and assumptions, some of which I am wary of. First off, he cites numerous studies that pinpoint or attempt to pinpoint the “gay gene” as it were. Homosexuality is a genetic component, at least according to his work cited page. To actually quote him: “there are indeed clear, contributing genetic factors underlying homosexual orientation”
He cites a few popular twin studies but I would caution you, my gentle readers, to remember that biological variants are not the same as genetic creations and that so far the studies looking for the “gay gene” have not been as widely reproduced as we might wish. In fact there are several studies that link homosexuality to hormonal levels in the womb and others that link birth order to the likelihood, and still others that point to other factors or some combination of any of these… My point is that there are no definitive answers. Yet.
But okay, if we accept the claim that there is some sort of genetic reason for all the gay, the next step in his logic is pretty easy to follow. He basically says that due to social pressure and lack of options, gay people have been mating with straight people for eons and thus passing on these genes, somewhat recessive genes apparently but no matter, in to the general population.
Ok, moving on… if gay marriage becomes the norm, the number of same sex couples that procreate biologically and thus pass on the genes, will dwindle due to the cost of insemination and surrogacy, the only real biological option for same sex reproduction. Also we must take into account the lack of unplanned pregnancies, a trend that leads to a lot of hetro couples procreating, which wouldn’t be an issue for same sex couples.
His argument is basically that unless there are significant advances in reproductive capabilities, the gay genes might become further and further recessive due to the lack of gene mixing leading eventually to a dwindling population of homosexuals. That is rather a big leap, but it does make a certain amount of logical sense.
I am not a scientist, just a skeptic and an avid reader, and so even if I am wary of his final hypothesis, I do see merit in continued research into the biological and genetic components of homosexuality.
It is a frightening thought though, is it not, that the very act of global acceptance might lead to the global diminishment of our community? Only time will tell, of course, and there are advances in terms of reproduction just waiting in the wings. In the meantime, let’s brush up on our 7th grade science and continue to watch for unexpected consequences.