My two posts on Brendan Eich have attracted a commenter who wants us all to know he thinks homosexuality is a form of mental illness, and that therefore it is “tough love” to discriminate against them and deny their right to get married. He and I have been having a long back-and-forth discussion, in the most recent of which he said supporters of gay rights are guilty of “mental gymnastics” and “misrepresenting facts.” I have summarized my understanding of the relevant facts in my reply to him, but after thinking it over I’ve decided to promote it to a blog post as well. I’ll be interested in hearing your comments.
Here are the facts, as I see them.
- It is normal and natural for sexual behaviors to have functions unrelated to reproduction, in a number of species.
- Many biological behaviors are non-reproductive in nature, including sexual behaviors, and therefore it is incorrect and prejudicial to label any sexual behavior as “biologically abnormal” solely on the basis of reproduction.
- Many biological behaviors are neither optimally adaptive nor maladaptive, but merely neutral. It is therefore a false dichotomy to declare that every behavior is maladaptive unless it is optimally adaptive.
- Homosexuality occurs naturally, in humans as well as a number of other species.
- Homosexuality causes neither distress nor debilitation to homosexuals (see next point), and thus there is no objective basis for categorizing it as a disease or mental illness of any kind.
- Homosexuals are sexually attracted to people with whom they cannot reproduce, however this is not a disability or abnormality because it is normal and natural for sexual behaviors to have functions unrelated to reproduction.
- It is prejudicial, harmful, and oppressive to brand people as “mentally ill” for having sexual behaviors unrelated to reproduction, especially when you do so to only some of the people whose sexual behavior has no reproductive potential.
- Accusing someone of mental illness is no justification for mistreating them.
- No third party suffers any harm when two homosexuals fall in love with each other, any more than any third party suffers harm when two heterosexuals fall in love.
- The anti-homosexual movement has a long history of mistreating gays, up to and including imprisonment, torture, and death.
- Anti-homosexual rhetoric and policies, when unopposed, consistently lead to extreme abuse of gays and gay sympathizers and family, as is currently being demonstrated in Russia and Uganda. This is not in any way motivated by science, “tough love,” or objectivity.
- Anti-homosexual rhetoric consistently offers slanders, misrepresentations, distortions, and even delusions, as though they were factual arguments against homosexuality. Examples include the absurdly-contrived Regnerus study, dire threats that “marriage, America, and civilization will be destroyed unless we do more to persecute gays,” “prophetic” declarations that God is angry with us for not doing more to snuff out homosexuality, psychologically devastating de-programming techniques designed to brainwash gays into denying their sexuality, and of course attempts to canonize heterosexual behavior as the only “normal” and “natural” form of sexual behavior, for reasons that are based on the assumption that only heterosexual behavior can be normal and natural.
- The most powerful weapon against homophobia is the discovery that homosexuals are real, ordinary, nice people rather than the crude demonic monsters homophobes make them out to be. That, all by itself, should be enough to tell us where the facts really stand here.