Homosexuals and Housing
Objectivism in the Homosexuality DebateJuly, 2003
I’m a heterosexual male; have been all my life. In fact, I happen to be in whatever percentage of the population that has never had a “gay experience”. I make no apologies; I like women. As such, I am certain that there are those that would use that fact to claim that I have nothing to add to the debate on homosexuality. There are those that hold the opinion that unless one is homosexual one has nothing substantive to offer the homosexual community. There are also those that believe that no one can be truly objective about homosexuality, one is either for it or against it.
I reject both of those positions. In fact, I believe that one can be objective about the matter and that bringing objectivism to the table can offer truly unique insights to the homosexual debate. To point, when I was in college a classmate and I wrote a letter to editor of the campus newspaper that was rather crudely entitled “Homo’s and Housing”. That letter encapsulated what I felt was a rather unique perspective born of true ambivalence and objectivity. And please do not be put off by the rather coarse title, the piece was specifically written to offend both sides of the debate. It was one of my earlier attempts at writing and I was still under the impression that shocking the reader was the best way to make a piece entertaining and ensure that it was read.
The impetus for the letter involved the proposed creation of a GLBA chapter on campus. The college is a Methodist university and had a large contingent of heavily religious individuals. As such, the issue of having a GLBA chapter on campus became a hotly debated topic. It seemed that there were three camps, those strongly against, those strongly for and those that were completely apathetic. I didn’t fall into any of those camps. I was rather ambivalent about the whole thing, but I was not apathetic, I had an opinion and a position. My position was that I could really care less if a GLBA chapter was created or not, but I did have an opinion on the consequences of the creation of a GLBA chapter and that position comprised my letter to the editor.
My position in the letter was that if the university recognized the GLBA, then this would be the first official recognition of homosexuality on campus. As such, this had some consequences to the regulations regarding housing within the university. The university had regulations forbidding individuals of the opposite sex from living in the same dorm room. Now regardless of the reason or reasons for the regulation, officially recognizing homosexuality created a big problem. If the university recognized the GLBA, then my position was that they must also immediately end this housing rule. The point was that homosexual couples would have more rights than heterosexual couples because homosexual couples could live together in the same dorm room while heterosexual couples were denied that right.
I think that this analysis shows a couple things. First, it is entirely possible to be objective about and think rationally about homosexuality. However, in order to be objective, one must not have a vested interest in the outcome or else there is a conflict of interest. Therefore, true objectivity about homosexuality can only come from the heterosexual side of the population. Heterosexuals do not inherently have any vested interest in the debate. The only heterosexuals with a vested interest are those that are particularly religious in nature or have some form of prejudice against homosexuals. Second, there are larger issues at stake when institutions and society look at recognizing homosexuality. People tend to get wrapped up in their individual sides of a debate and can only see the immediate issue at stake such as in the college's case, whether or not to officially recognize homosexuality on campus. Both sides of the debate could only see as far as whether or not a GLBA chapter should or should not be formed. I chose to look past that issue and peer into the consequences of changing the status quo.
My recently rediscovered letter seems relevant to today’s world via Lawrence vs. Texas, which is the reason I remembered my previously forgotten letter to the editor. Lawrence vs. Texas could very well be the biggest boon or the biggest setback to the gay rights movement. Immediately after the verdict was announced, there were homosexuals parading in the streets. In addition, the religious right was immediately galvanized in the defense of marriage. There are even talks about a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The worry is that the Lawrence vs. Texas verdict might lead to verdicts in favor of gay marriage, which might in turn lead to the expansion of marriage to polygamists, bigamists and perhaps even pet owners.
I am, again, rather apathetic and ambivalent to the whole issue. On the one hand, I do not think that sodomy should be illegal and I particularly do not think that homosexuals should be singled out for persecution. On the other hand, the Supreme Court was heavy handed in its decision. In my opinion, both sides of the debate got wrapped up in the issue at hand versus paying attention to the consequences of changing the status quo. However, I do not agree with Justice Scalia that this is effectively the end of all morals legislation because nearly all laws are moral laws. Guess what? Being able to kill someone or not kill someone is a morals issue. So is stealing. So is just about every single law on the books. A democratic society is absolutely a society of morality legislation. Majority rules, minority rights. A democratic society, by definition, is one in which the majority imposes its values and morals.
All in all, I think that the day the Supreme Court announced its verdict in Lawrence vs. Texas is a terribly black day for homosexuals everywhere. The reason is that it came at a time when society has not democratically arrived at a solution for homosexuality. The effects of officially recognizing and endorsing homosexuality within society are far reaching and must be analyzed closely and objectively. The society that exists today is rather apathetic and/or ambivalent to homosexuality. Most people tend to believe in the policy of live and let live. However, our democratic society also holds marriage in relatively high regard. While most people do not have a particular problem with homosexuality, they do have a problem with people, any people, thumbing their noses at society and flaunting their sexuality. This goes for homosexuals and heterosexuals alike. People have kids that they want to protect from the more carnal and lascivious aspects of society and life. Most people also respect and define marriage as the union between a man and a woman. It is only natural for a democratic society to impose its morals and that is exactly what will occur. Lawrence vs. Texas will do nothing less than result in scores of laws being passed that will define marriage as consisting of a union between a man and woman and may even lead to a Constitutional amendment. These laws will at a minimum take decades to challenge and repeal and quite likely may never be overturned.
The bottom line is that the legalization of homosexual conduct is one thing. The effects of such recognition and legalization are quite another. Society will move to head off the effects of this verdict because society is simply not currently prepared to deal with the sweeping and profound changes that result from a verdict such as Lawrence vs. Taylor. Homosexuals will be feeling the backlash from Lawrence vs. Taylor for decades, perhaps forever. And to be honest, it will serve as a good lesson for the future. Minority rights are one thing. Militantly imposing a minority position upon a majority is doomed to fail in a democratic society. If you need an example, just take a look through a history book sometime littered with such doomed attempts as prohibition.
Oh and about my alma mater? The GLBA chapter failed in its attempt. I was there at the meeting where the student body rejected the formation of the GLBA chapter. I was present because my friend who helped pen the article was starting a chapter of another organization, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). The student body gave its blessing to the formation of that organization. However, a recent search of the college's website did list an Open Doors (GLBA) organization, but it was also the only organization out of several hundred that was marked as “inactive”. By contrast, AIAA was still present and active. Looks like even on the level of my old alma mater that homosexuals won the battle but lost the war.