Homosexuality: Morals and Ethics Catch-All Thread

... Do you live in the US, OG?

Haha. Yeah for a not insignificant part of our population, the entire female side of the Palin family has become a family of prophets. And to some, a family of profits.

Seth wrote:

Haha. Yeah for a not insignificant part of our population, the entire female side of the Palin family has become a family of prophets. And to some, a family of profits.

Step 1: Prophets
Step 2: ?
Step 3: Profits!

I think we actually know what step 2 involves this time: Fox News.

I recently watched the anime [em]Wandering Son[/em] and read up through the manga. It explores a whole gamut of different gender and sexual identities, and because of that I've been thinking every time I pass by this thread about how those things relate to this whole set of issues.

The landscape is really very very complicated when you consider transgender possibilities. And, I think it makes things more clear in some ways (although probably not in the minds of people who are motivated by ickiness.) I think it certainly can expose how big a problem the very idea of "traditional" marriage is. Let's consider a whole set of dimensions, and a few typical points in the space of couples.

Person A1: Presents themselves as male. Dresses in a traditionally male manner. Born with male genitalia. Currently has male genitalia. Attracted to those who present themselves as female. Attracted to those who dress in a traditionally female manner. Enjoys sex with those who have female genitalia.
Person B1: Presents themselves as female. Dresses in a traditionally female manner. Born with female genitalia. Currently has female genitalia. Attracted to those who present themselves as male. Attracted to those who dress in a traditionally male manner. Enjoys sex with those who have male genitalia.

Person A2: Presents themselves as male. Dresses in a traditionally male manner. Born with male genitalia. Currently has male genitalia. Attracted to those who present themselves as female. Attracted to those who dress in a traditionally male manner. Enjoys sex with those who have female genitalia.
Person B2: Presents themselves as female. Dresses in a traditionally male manner. Born with female genitalia. Currently has female genitalia. Attracted to those who present themselves as male. Attracted to those who dress in a traditionally male manner. Enjoys sex with those who have male genitalia.

Person A3: Presents themselves as male. Dresses in a traditionally male manner. Born with male genitalia. Currently has male genitalia. Attracted to those who present themselves as male. Attracted to those who dress in a traditionally male manner. Enjoys sex with those who have female genitalia.
Person B3: Presents themselves as male. Dresses in a traditionally male manner. Born with female genitalia. Currently has female genitalia. Attracted to those who present themselves as male. Attracted to those who dress in a traditionally male manner. Enjoys sex with those who have male genitalia.

Person A4: Presents themselves as male. Dresses in a traditionally male manner. Born with male genitalia. Currently has male genitalia. Attracted to those who present themselves as male. Attracted to those who dress in a traditionally male manner. Enjoys sex with those who have male genitalia.
Person B4: Presents themselves as male. Dresses in a traditionally male manner. Born with female genitalia. Currently has male genitalia. Attracted to those who present themselves as male. Attracted to those who dress in a traditionally male manner. Enjoys sex with those who have male genitalia.

Person A5: Presents themselves as male. Dresses in a traditionally male manner. Born with male genitalia. Currently has male genitalia. Attracted to those who present themselves as male. Attracted to those who dress in a traditionally male manner. Enjoys sex with those who have male genitalia.
Person B5: Presents themselves as male. Dresses in a traditionally male manner. Born with male genitalia. Currently has male genitalia. Attracted to those who present themselves as male. Attracted to those who dress in a traditionally male manner. Enjoys sex with those who have male genitalia.

Person A6: Presents themselves as male. Dresses in a traditionally male manner. Born with male genitalia. Currently has male genitalia. Attracted to those who present themselves as male. Attracted to those who dress in a traditionally [em]female[/em] manner. Enjoys sex with those who have male genitalia.
Person B6: Presents themselves as male. Dresses in a traditionally [em]female[/em] manner. Born with male genitalia. Currently has male genitalia. Attracted to those who present themselves as male. Attracted to those who dress in a traditionally male manner. Enjoys sex with those who have male genitalia.

Person A7: Presents themselves as male. Dresses in a traditionally male manner. Born with male genitalia. Currently has male genitalia. Attracted to those who present themselves as [em]female[/em]. Attracted to those who dress in a traditionally [em]female[/em] manner. Enjoys sex with those who have male genitalia.
Person B7: Presents themselves as [em]female[/em]. Dresses in a traditionally [em]female[/em] manner. Born with male genitalia. Currently has male genitalia. Attracted to those who present themselves as male. Attracted to those who dress in a traditionally male manner. Enjoys sex with those who have male genitalia.

Person A8: Presents themselves as male. Dresses in a traditionally male manner. Born with male genitalia. Currently has male genitalia. Attracted to those who present themselves as [em]female[/em]. Attracted to those who dress in a traditionally [em]female[/em] manner. Enjoys sex with those who have [em]female[/em] genitalia.
Person B8: Presents themselves as [em]female[/em]. Dresses in a traditionally [em]female[/em] manner. Born with male genitalia. Currently has [em]female[/em] genitalia. Attracted to those who present themselves as male. Attracted to those who dress in a traditionally male manner. Enjoys sex with those who have male genitalia.

--

This is only going along one line, comparing these pairings (a bit loosely defined): 1) "straight man and straight woman", 2) "straight man and cross-dressing-as-male straight woman", 3) "straight man and passing-as-male straight woman", 4) "gay man and F2M fully transitioned transgendered person (gay man, born a woman)", 5) "gay man and gay man", 6) "gay man and cross-dressing-as-female gay man", 7) "gay man and passing-as-female gay man", 8) "straight man and M2F fully transitioned transgendered person (straight woman, born a man)".

There's some messiness here: Wearing traditionally male clothing is generally seen in US society as being acceptable for women, while wearing traditionally female clothing is not generally seen as being acceptable for men. Assume that "all the time as a matter of preference" is the case here, so a woman who [em]always[/em] intentionally dresses in traditionally male clothing and avoids traditionally female clothing.

The distinction I make between "cross-dressing-as-X" and "passing-as-X" is significant. It is the difference between seeing a woman who is dressed up as a man but not concealing that she is a woman and seeing a man without knowing it's actually a woman. For the purpose of argument, let us assume that those who are passing (or have transitioned) are doing so well enough that no one has any idea about their current or birth genitalia.

In the short descriptions, I've more or less tied gender identity to "current genitalia". But that's not actually correct. So consider that each of the partners in each of the above scenarios could [em]identify[/em] as being either male or female (or neither, etc.)

And finally note that while I give a sequence here, there's no actual sequence. These are just different situations and I happen to have ordered them to change only one thing between each pair. In some ways the jump between couple 7 and couple 8 is very large.

But anyway, the point should be pretty obvious. Who along this spectrum (which is just one of many) deserves to be able to marry, and who does not? Is it down to what genitalia you were born with? Is it down to what genitalia you have now? What's the real difference between the apparently gay couple (the person born with female genitalia who has kept it and who's passing perfectly as a man, and that person's born-male partner) and the actually gay couple (both born with and keeping male genitalia)?

And that doesn't even raise the question of someone who was born intersex. If your birth genitalia aren't just male or just female, who do you get to marry? Who do you get to fall in love with?

--

I think looking at things this way makes the whole idea of questioning the "morality and ethics" of homosexuality patently ludicrous. There's a lot more out there than that--it's not just a scale between attraction to one gender or the other.

There are real people out there who have all of these different identities and situations, and more.

How can their feelings and actions be classified as moral or immoral simply on the basis of whether they were born with interior or exterior plumbing?

Hypatian, search for The Genderbread Person on GIS. I can't get to it from my phone, but it's pretty much exactly what you just wrote.

And I thought I was enlightened for understanding the difference between sex and gender.

That's a pretty good picture, although it's still a simplification of course—those dimensions aren't really linear scales, either. (And my examples are a simplification too, of course.)

Human beings are so very very not simple.

Serious question. Does the first openly gay general in US history pose a danger to the country, because we have an immoral leader in a position of responsibility? What about openly gay politicians? Business leaders?

If they don't pose a danger to the country and it's citizens in their jobs, why is it so important to protect us from them by law? DOMA, DADT, weren't they protecting us from real dangers? If not, why are we worried? Why do we need those laws, if we can trust gay people at the highest levels of responsibility in daily life?

And given that they were there covertly all along, why hasn't the country fallen apart?

The answer is obvious. They are playing nice, FOR NOW. Their fist step is to penetrate the foundations of every aspect of our life and every institution created by our God-fearing Founding Fathers. THEN, at the moment of our weakness, They will strike. Duh.

Gorilla.800.lbs wrote:

The answer is obvious. They are playing nice, FOR NOW. Their fist step is to penetrate the foundations of every aspect of our life and every institution created by our God-fearing Founding Fathers. THEN, at the moment of our weakness, They will strike. Duh. ;)

Just the tip

Fist step? Ouch.

Bonus_Eruptus wrote:
muttonchop wrote:

Fist step? Ouch.

It's a real place (no pics, just an article about it, but probably NSFW).

I read the first page. I decided to not go onto the second page.

I've been holding off on asking this because I've been thinking of a way to frame it without making it sound lke I'm being morally judgemental. However, it seems like an elephant in the room when it comes to talking about ethics and morality is the extremely high rate of STDs in gay men compared with other populations. According to the CDC, HIV rates are 44 times higher among gay men than heterosexual men, and syphilis rates are 46 times higher.

http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/Newsroom/...

So, my question is what responsibility the gay community as a whole has to addressing this problem?

jdzappa wrote:

I've been holding off on asking this because I've been thinking of a way to frame it without making it sound lke I'm being morally judgemental. However, it seems like an elephant in the room when it comes to talking about ethics and morality is the extremely high rate of STDs in gay men compared with other populations. According to the CDC, HIV rates are 44 times higher among gay men than heterosexual men, and syphilis rates are 46 times higher.

http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/Newsroom/...

So, my question is what responsibility the gay community as a whole has to addressing this problem?

I'm not sure what you're asking exactly, but off the top of my head, I'd say any possible responsibility has been met in that the heterosexual population has benefited from the reaction of the gay community to AIDS with so much education and research. I think that response has had the knock-on effect of making life better for practicing heterosexuals both in terms of harm reduction and, indirectly, family planning. It's possible that if the AIDS crisis had not first arisen among a homosexual population, AIDS would be a far bigger problem than it is now. That community took this public health issue very seriously very early and got out in front of it to a much greater degree than otherwise would have been the case, I think.

jdzappa wrote:

I've been holding off on asking this because I've been thinking of a way to frame it without making it sound lke I'm being morally judgemental. However, it seems like an elephant in the room when it comes to talking about ethics and morality is the extremely high rate of STDs in gay men compared with other populations. According to the CDC, HIV rates are 44 times higher among gay men than heterosexual men, and syphilis rates are 46 times higher.

http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/Newsroom/...

So, my question is what responsibility the gay community as a whole has to addressing this problem?

There are a few factors at work here.

For one, the morals and ethics lie at the feet of the individual, not the sexual orientation. Disclosure is key. Protection is key. Treatment is key. Fail to address any one of these, and you're on shaky ground ethically, homosexual or heterosexual, if you're sexually active.

Two, to be blunt, the nature of homosexual intercourse tends to be far more dangerous for transmitting infections. There are many more blood vessels close to the surface and behind thin skin. Overzealous or overlong intercourse, or even a tough BM, could create an inroad for infection very easily. In fact, neither overlong nor overzealous intercourse is needed, really.

In addition, the homosexual community is far smaller. Some men have the idea that they should take what they can get, and get into really small circles. One untrustworthy individual can bring an STI into that circle fairly easily. Also, some gay men have the mentality that they should just get infected (specifically HIV in this case) and then they don't have to worry about it anymore. It's pure insanity.

This is all second-hand information, but I trust the source (Dan Savage's podcast and his bevy of guests whom are medical professionals).

Those reports are also U.S.-based reports. A quick look at the African AIDS epidemic makes it clear that this isn't a problem confined to specific sexual orientations.

A lot of the higher infection rates in the gay community could also probably be attributed to the negative attitudes around homosexuals and homosexual intercourse, driving homosexuals to less-than-ideal sources for sex. When a population is forced to hide in shame, or out of fear, the safety of the practice is likely to plummet.

jdzappa wrote:

I've been holding off on asking this because I've been thinking of a way to frame it without making it sound lke I'm being morally judgemental. However, it seems like an elephant in the room when it comes to talking about ethics and morality is the extremely high rate of STDs in gay men compared with other populations. According to the CDC, HIV rates are 44 times higher among gay men than heterosexual men, and syphilis rates are 46 times higher.

http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/Newsroom/...

So, my question is what responsibility the gay community as a whole has to addressing this problem?

I guess I'm generally uncomfortable with equating particular diseases with ethics and morality, but I'll give it a stab.

First, is it really an elephant in the room? Do you know how many total cases of primary and secondary syphilis were reported in 2010? 13,774 according to the CDC.

Do you know how many cases were reported in 1946? 94,957.

So was post-war America Sodom and Gomorrah incarnate since there were so many more syphilis cases or does the number of infected have no ethical or moral meaning whatsoever?

Also, we're talking about just a few thousand cases of syphilis for the entire MSM community. If you follow the CDC's estimate--2% of the population being gay or bisexual men--then you have about 6.28 million MSM in America. As you can see from the following CDC chart, only 8,000ish of those 6.28 million MSM were infected with syphilis in 2010.

IMAGE(http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats10/figs/43.gif)

While the rate of infection rate of MSM is much higher than hetero men and women, but it's not like every other gay or bisexual man is infected. Far from it.

As for HIV, the CDC reported that 48,100 people were infected with HIV in 2009, only 58% of which were MSM. Again, that's just 28,200 out of 6.28 million or so. And that number of new infected has been stable for more than a decade.

Those numbers just don't seem elephant in the roomish.

I guess the question I would ask you is what responsibility should the heterosexual community as a whole have to address the issue since the CDC cited homophobia and stigma as being a part of the problem?

Research shows that a range of complex factors contribute to the high rates of HIV and syphilis among gay and bisexual men. These factors include high prevalence of HIV and other STDs among MSM, which increases the risk of disease exposure, and limited access to prevention services. Other factors are complacency about HIV risk, particularly among young gay and bisexual men; difficulty of consistently maintaining safe behaviors with every sexual encounter over the course of a lifetime; and lack of awareness of syphilis symptoms and how it can be transmitted (e.g., oral sex). Additionally, factors such as homophobia and stigma can prevent MSM from seeking prevention, testing, and treatment services.
jdzappa wrote:

I've been holding off on asking this because I've been thinking of a way to frame it without making it sound lke I'm being morally judgemental. However, it seems like an elephant in the room when it comes to talking about ethics and morality is the extremely high rate of STDs in gay men compared with other populations. According to the CDC, HIV rates are 44 times higher among gay men than heterosexual men, and syphilis rates are 46 times higher.

http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/Newsroom/...

So, my question is what responsibility the gay community as a whole has to addressing this problem?

I think the gay community is addressing this problem the best it can. However, in the release you linked, it gives some ideas as to why the disparity in the rates: ignorance, stigma, lack of services, homophobia, etc.

However, I think the question is a bit off the mark, IMO. If the question is about the ethics and morality of homosexuality, then contracting a disease seems to be a bad metric by which to gauge such things.

My PCP has a substantial gay client base, so much so that he works hard to understand "gay medicine." When I go in for any health concern, he asks me questions about my sexual health. He always makes it clear that he is not a judge of what people do sexually because he is a doctor licensed to treat diseases of all types. There are STDs that a person may carry and never know they have them (HPV and Syphilis, for example). Even using condoms may not protect a person from contacting certain STDs even if, during sexual encounters, the activity is fairly vanilla. So, if someone had a fling and contracted HPV and didn't know it but months and months later has another fling and passes it on, does that pass into the realm of ethics and morality? I am not sure it does.

That being said, I sort of cringe when I see STDs for gay or straight people being using as a shaming instrument (note: I am not saying you are doing this, jd; just in general). A few months ago, we had someone show up at work with a high temperature and a raging case of Strep. She ended up taking out her entire team, all seven of whom developed Strep. And yet, we had to beg and plead for Management to establish a policy of allowing HR to send people home who decided to do their best to win an Oscar for their portrayal of Typhoid Mary. There was, quite honestly, no shame, no discussions of morality and ethics, although I admit that there were plenty of people who were rather ticked off that she showed up sick (something that seems to be very common in the workplace). Why the dichotomy?

When I have worn my pastoral counselor hat, I encounter people who run themselves into the ground emotionally if they realize they have some form of STD. They fear the shame, the ostracizing, the feeling that they are failures. A lot of that keeps them from seeking necessary treatment. In two instances, I escorted people to the local free clinic for treatment while wearing my clerical collar to send the message that getting them necessary medical care trumped anything else at that moment. If they wanted a sexual morality lecture, I could give them one (although I am pretty sure they would be disappointed since I don't do the fire-and-brimstone admonitions very well), but that would do little to change the fact that they have a disease that needs to be treated.

I am just not convinced that a sexually transmitted disease is an issue of ethics or morality. But, to be fair, I also don't see sex as sacrosanct.

All excellent points, PR. My entire answer to the question failed to take into account the individual unwillingly and unknowingly infected, despite doing everything else right.

Although, Typhoid Mary was an immune carrier, so she wouldn't have exhibited any symptoms. She just would've infected people.

Ever wonder why you never see the rates of STIs for lesbian couples in these reports? Lesbians are gay as well.

NSMike wrote:

Although, Typhoid Mary was an immune carrier, so she wouldn't have exhibited any symptoms. She just would've infected people. :)

Which is why she wouldn't have won the Oscar.

From a purely public health perspective, the problem isn't homosexual sex, but common multiple partner sex in general. If every person in the population only ever had sexual encounters with one other person, STIs wouldn't be as big of a problem as it is. Speaking specifically to heterosexuals, if heterosexual people only ever had sex with one other person exclusively, then any AIDS in the homosexual population wouldn't really matter would it?

Simply put, an ethical outlook on STIs reflecting the ideal situation of one sexual partner only, ever, would see all STIs as indicators of low ethical adoption in the community at large.

Phoenix Rev wrote:
NSMike wrote:

Although, Typhoid Mary was an immune carrier, so she wouldn't have exhibited any symptoms. She just would've infected people. :)

Which is why she wouldn't have won the Oscar. :)

Oh, I see. Brain fart. You meant people who would go to HR and say, "I'm sick, send me home," but exhibit zero symptoms of said illness. Not that HR departments should EVER be in the business of detecting viable symptoms or diagnosis.

LarryC wrote:

From a purely public health perspective, the problem isn't homosexual sex, but common multiple partner sex in general. If every person in the population only ever had sexual encounters with one other person, STIs wouldn't be as big of a problem as it is. Speaking specifically to heterosexuals, if heterosexual people only ever had sex with one other person exclusively, then any AIDS in the homosexual population wouldn't really matter would it?

Simply put, an ethical outlook on STIs reflecting the ideal situation of one sexual partner only, ever, would see all STIs as indicators of low ethical adoption in the community at large.

Only if you consider multiple partners an ethical problem. Don't get me wrong, having fewer, regular partners would certainly solve the issues, I'm just pointing out that conflating that activity with something as amorphous as 'ethics' is not all that useful. Also, use of protection and regular testing for infection by people who have new/different partners would have a similar effect on the rate of new infections.

Kraint:

No, probably not. Having only one partner, ever, would drastically reduce infection rate. We're not talking about a few, not a handful, not two, just one; for your entire life. Use of protection and testing would not reduce incidence that low, because if that practice is perfectly carried out, the infection rate from intercourse should be just about zero.

Multiple sex partnering can be considered an ethical problem in the sense that it's something the Catholic Church stands behind and preaches. That's one ethical standard we can easily point to and consider. If that's the standard, then it's not homosexual sex activity that's the problem; it's not following that standard that's the problem.

Essentially, jdzappa is asking an ethical question that should, IMO, be leveled at the general public and not gay people.

Assuming that this is not the ethical standard, then the high rate of transmission of STIs involved in anal sex still isn't really a gay people issue; it's an anal sex issue, and it's a public health issue, not an ethical issue.

I suppose it comes of the unspecific nature of his question:

So, my question is what responsibility the gay community as a whole has to addressing this problem?

We could interpret that as less of a general ethical question and more of a gay community question.

Let's assume for a moment that he's talking about the gay community vis a vis its own members and gay people in general. I would say that the gay community, in that instance, has an ethical responsibility as a community to foster an environment where communication and gay expression is free and unhindered so as to monitor and control STI transmission.

Let's assume for a moment that AIDS is a disease you get from having gay sex. I would say then that the gay community has a general ethical responsibility to heterosexuals to make gay sex and being gay socially acceptable, so that gay men wouldn't feel pressured to have sex with women (and lesbians with men) so that the disease is not spread beyond its causes.

Even the latter extreme and unreasonable assumption makes it seem as if making gay people feel accepted, loved, and cared for is an ethical standard that the gay community should champion.

LarryC:
Ethics is defined differently by different people, groups and organizations. No church or society has exclusive claim to defining it. Using one church's definition is inherently problematic, since you must then disregard the ethical beliefs of everyone who does not follow that particular interpretation of that particular deity. This is why I am pointing out that bringing in the ever-changing, vague concept of 'ethics' into this discussion is tangential and does nothing to further the approach. People follow the proposed one-partner (or no partner!) rule for reasons that have nothing to do with the Pope's proposed ethics, or even their own ethics. Love, interest/desire for a unique individual, limited ability to attract/secure other partners, concern over health/disease, etc.

Kraint:

I didn't mean to imply that that was the only ethical consideration worth noting; but it doesn't move the conversation anywhere to just not talk about it, since jdzappa has brought it out. If he wants to narrow the scope, he can provide an ethical perspective himself. You can, too. I was not saying it was the only one worth considering, just offering how it looks like from that angle.

From a practical standpoint, the concept of ethics is not vague at all. It just needs a reference point. You could refer to Wiccan ethics, Jewish law, or your office's employee handbook; all are useful touchpoints, I suppose.

LarryC:

What does the ethical discussion accomplish? Look at it this way: a Christian Scientist says that invasive medical treatment and drugs are unethical. Are you going to stop providing medical care to those that wish to receive it because someone, somewhere has an ethical issue with it, or are you going to continue behaving in a manner consistent with your own ethics?

You can discourage multiple partners by citing the real-world data showing the risks and dangers associated with that free-wheeling approach. Why try and add something into the discussion that will only get the 'unethical' people to disregard and ignore you?

Kraint:

I suppose it's more apparent to me since I've become a policy maker. It's important to discuss specific ethical touchpoints in order to create policies that reflect the needs and real practical issues of your stakeholders. The goal isn't to establish who's right, but to know what the people want to do and how they want to do it; and making sure that your policies are, shall we say, "keeping it real?"

If we had a Christian Scientist here and we valued his POV, his input in a discussion of this nature would be invaluable. This is not the same as saying that we would follow his opinions, but it's important that they're voiced and disseminated and discussed. If nothing else, we could say for certain that we would not give him medical care he considers invasive, because we now know that he considers it unethical.

The point is to have discussion, not to convince everyone that a single POV is the one we'll hammer into everyone and force them to follow at gunpoint. This is the very nature of an ethical question such as jdzappa has proposed.

This:

You can discourage multiple partners by citing the real-world data showing the risks and dangers associated with that free-wheeling approach. Why try and add something into the discussion that will only get the 'unethical' people to disregard and ignore you?

says that the ethical question is irrelevant, and that we ought to push that position from a public health standpoint. I don't generally agree with tactics that push ethical agendas behind selective data mining. If we have an ethical question and an ethical agenda, I think it's best that that sort of thing is disclosed openly.

EDIT: Note also that you're pushing for the pointlessness of ethical discussion in a thread that's centered on ethical discussion. It's just a little bit too meta, maybe.

As far as homosexual men and their incidence of STIs. The US in general accross the board has a STI problem. Alarmingly, per the CDC less than half of Americans will receive a STD test in their lifetime. I wonder what that number looks like adjusted for people admitted for surgery, women who are pregnant, women who are going onto the pill?

Gay men have no more and no less responsibility to get tested and use protection than I do, than anyone else does. Sadly, gay men may pay a higher price because the US does not educate properly on such things, in the same way heterosexual women pay a higher price than heterosexual men for that ignorance. You get to see all of those fun polls from citizens about who believes that you cannot get an STI from unprotected oral sex, or if you withdraw even without using a condom, etc.