Science has established that homosexuality is based in biology, and is not a “choice”. Genetics and brain development show that there are definitive differences between homosexual and heterosexual humans. Social science tells us that family stability and a close parent-child relationship are important in any family, and that these are much more important to child health than parental sexual orientation.
Anecdotes and long-term research show that homosexuality is common in the animal kingdom. My personal favorite story is of Carlos and Fernando, the flamingo pair that wanted a chick so badly that they kept sneaking eggs away from nests until zoo keepers set up an “adoption”. Back in 2006, the University of Oslo opened an entire exhibit on homosexuality in animals titled Against Nature?.
In other words – science accepts homosexuality as natural. There is no reason based in logic or in fact that tells us we should prevent relationships between two people of the same sex, or that we should prevent same sex couples from raising children (assuming that they are otherwise fit).
There is also no legal reason to prevent homosexual relationships. Strangely, one of my favorite explanations of the lack of danger of homosexuality to our society is from a speech given by John McCain (via Mike’s blog). McCain was explaining judicial activism and the fundamental differences between conservatives and liberals. The legal distinction between practices that do and do not harm others makes sense from a scientific standpoint as well.
So, even if the majority believes that homosexuality is a sin and a personal vice on a par with prostitution and gambling, it is not the function of law to prohibit any of these activities when pursued in private and between consenting adults… The key reason for extending toleration and legal protection to homosexuals is that they are not harming others. So, Bork and Scalia need not worry that the sympathy of liberal judges will soon turn to polygamists, rapists, and pederasts, since the latter all involve harm to others. Even the Prophet Muhammad admitted that polygamy harms women and convinced his son-in-law to avoid the practice in order not to harm Muhammad’s daughter, Fatima.
Why then, is homosexuality so difficult for so many to accept? Today, NPR’s Talk of the Nation asked if gay marriage is a conflict between equal rights and religious freedom. I see it as a direct conflict between science or logic and religion. The concept of equal rights is supported by science (social and biological) as well as most religious beliefs. Treating people differently due to their biological characteristics is generally regarded as immoral – so why are homosexuals the exception? If a church (or restaurant or government agency…) can not legally or morally deny services to a mixed race couple, people with disabilities, etc then how can discrimination toward homosexuals be justified?
ReligiousTolerance.org has a lot of detailed information on the topic. I am particularly struck by the different interpretations of certain Biblical passages. To some, they forbid gay marriage, while others think the passages mean something else entirely. Some beleive that all homosexuality must be stopped while others take the NIMBY approach. I personally think that erring on the side of compassion makes the most sense, but I admittedly don’t depend on religion for morality.