Monday, September 6, 2010

"Marriage Defender" Plays Social Darwinist, Badly

It's been a while since I've read the amateur "marriage defense" blog Opine Editorials. However, after perusing their usual smattering of echolalic articles there recently, I found one brief nugget that was worth pointing out. In it, our friend "On Lawn" evidences the hetero-supremacist Prop 8 mindset that Judge Walker rightly struck down.

He writes:

"Essentially, integrating the genders is better than not...

'Dr Dilara Ally and her team at the University of British Columbia, Canada, found that the fertility of clones declines with age.
This means that a tree cannot clone itself indefinitely; it must eventually sexually reproduce, or it will die.'"

This is an extremely brief post, to be sure, but it does fit into his obscure, bizarre narrative that heterosexual marriage is better than same-sex marriage because heterosexual marriage "integrat[es] the genders" and same-sex marriage doesn't, making it just like unsavory, racist racial segregation. It does not seem to be On Lawn's style to build much of a case for his arguments, instead Blankenhorning the evidence by essentially pointing to work others have done, ignoring contradictory evidence, and then acting as though all the facts in the whole world support his worldview and thus he doesn't have to use actual scientific methodology to make his conclusions. He's just tellin' it like it is, ladies and gents!

Yet, we can extract from this mini-post that On Lawn believes that "integrating the genders" [sic] (that would be "sexes" not "genders") is "better than not." He then cites a study showing that trees cannot clone themselves indefinitely. And, because it is sort of the theme of his blog, the implication from this post is that this study, therefore, proves that heterosexual marriage/relationships are "better than" same-sex marriage/relationships.

Because humans are "essentially" trees? Because gay people are trying to clone themselves?

Explanation please.

But seriously, the argument is startlingly simple. Yet, it is one that On Lawn has attached himself to in this era of judges who will strike down laws based on more overt anti-gay animus. Some such folks don't necessarily believe that same-sex couples are icky or gross or bad (although many certainly do), they just see it as an objective statement of fact that hetero couples are "better than" same-sex couples because some hetero couples can procreate together. They don't understand or care how making this sort of subjective judgment about the value of hetero v. same-sex couples is harmful and stigmatizing (not to mention unprovable, for how does one prove that one relationship is qualitatively better than another? Is ability to procreate the only criteria that matters?). Indeed, they don't see it as a subjective statement of worth at all. To many, the superiority of heterosexual couples is just an objective statement of fact.

Setting aside the reality that it can be observed that many organisms in the world reproduce asexually- that is, not heterosexually- without "dying off," let's watch what On Lawn has done here. He takes an observation from nature- here, a study showing that trees must sexually reproduce or die off- and applies it to humanity, concluding incredibly broadly that "integrating the genders is better than not." He does not qualify this statement in any way or specify under which circumstances this gender integration is "better."

And so, one is led to wonder how far On Lawn and like-minded "marriage defenders," especially those like him who worship within the patriarchal religion of Christianity, are willing to take their oh-so- progressive "integrating the genders is better than not" argument. Is "integrating the genders" the ideal with respect to which "genders" get to be members of the clergy? What about god? Does "he" get to be gender-integrated too? Is "integrating the genders better" in dorm rooms? (On Lawn's blogging buddy Playful Walrus would beg to differ). Does he agree that "integrating the genders is better" with respect to sharing cooking, cleaning, and child care responsibilities in the home? How about the gender composition of Congress? The Supreme Court? The military? Does "integration the genders" make any of these institutions better? How about when a gay man marries a heterosexual women? How is that "better than not"?

I ask these questions because, in all or many of these cases, I would suspect On Lawn would not hold quite so fast to his broad maxim that "integrating the genders is better than not."

Indeed, like many a "marriage defense" man, he only seems interested in gender equality at all when he can use the concept to deny same-sex couples marriage rights. Instead of writing about gender issues in any serious way, he fauxgressively uses the language of equality only to further villanize LGBT people, to suggest LGBT people are sexist and opposed to gender equality, and to claim that same-sex relationships are essentially just like racial segregation.

From what I understand about biology (which is not my area of expertise), population-wise there is an evolutionary scenario where sexual reproduction via integrating male and female genetic material might be considered "better than" reproduction that does not do so, and that is when genetic diversity is required to allow a species to adapt to a changing environment.

It's probably better for everyone if folks like On Lawn just left it at that instead of playing amateur social darwinist, as though the reproductive success of trees should be used to guide complex human romantic relationships.

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