Jonah: I would certainly count myself a do-nothing person on this. I don’t myself agree with legal disabilities against homosexuals doing what they do. Once those disabilities have been removed, however, I can’t see what else is required. Inheritance? I don’t know the laws of testacy that well, but I’m not aware of anything that prevents me leaving my stuff to anyone I please. Hospital visiting rights? Yes, some injustice there, but requiring only a change to hospital registration requirements, surely not a constitutional upheaval. And so on. I very much want the institution of marriage left
Incidental to this: There is more to the issue of male-homosexual promiscuity than meets the eye. I have read in numerous places that male homosexuals are promiscuous at levels stunningly higher than single male heterosexuals. Most recently, in Michael Bailey’s book /redirect/amazon.asp?j=0309084180 , p.86: “The panel [of male homosexuals invited to speak to Michael's undergraduate class] is also asked about the number of sex partners they have had, and their answers always elicit gasps. All the men have had hundreds of sex partners…”
Well, now. An acquaintance of mine, a conservative journalist–but this is from private correspondence, so no names–is doing some research into this topic on his own account. He points out that a study widely regarded as sound delivers much less dramatic numbers. The study is Laumann, Gagnon, Michael & Michaels, “The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States,” 315, tbl 8.4. I confess I find the numbers, as presented, very confusing, but my acquaintance says that they “show that the averages [i.e. of numbers of sex partners] for gay men are about 1.5 to 3 times higher than for straight men — certainly a difference, but not a ’stunning’ one, I think.” He also quotes something called the General Social Survey to similar effect.
This is a curious and interesting finding. Apart from the fact that I can’t follow his readout of the numbers, which is probably just a consequence of my own mental laziness, it occurs to me that there could be a number of things going on here. For example: (1) Great differences between urban homosexuals (which would include those who have deliberately migrated into the metropolitan areas to enjoy the “gay culture” there) and provincial or rustic ones. (2) Perhaps some small subset of homosexuals is terrifically promiscuous, thus skewing the statistics, and the rest not. (3) Perhaps some larger (and possibly overlapping) subset go through a “wild phase” of great promiscuity, then settle down. I asked one of the few homosexuals I know about this, and he said he thought (3) the most probable.
As I have said before–started out by saying, in fact–I don’t think the social-science arguments are the whole story, and I don’t think they should be decisive. They are important in the debate, though, and persuasive to a lot of people, and to resolve them we need as much data as we can get. As in anything to do with people’s most private activities, there is a thick fog of misunderstanding, misrepresentation, dishonesty, propagandizing and wishful thinking shrouding the whole area.