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John Byrne
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 9:53am | IP Logged | 1  

That made it the same as being Black, or White, or Asian, or anything else that was an accident of birth, not a deliberate choice.

++

Thanks for using that as the example. I fear that many people will think, "It's genetic, therefore it's a disease, and we need to find a cure."

••

Took me a longish time to write that sentence! I was thinking Got to make this idiot-proof. . . !

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Jesus Garcia
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 10:03am | IP Logged | 2  

While natural acceptance of difference is certainly a desireable trait in the long term for humanity, historically it's the opposite behavior which has most contributed to its survival to date ... unfortunately.

Spent last week with my in-laws. My two daughters (2 and 4) love playing with their cousin who is eight years old and all a parent could hope to have in a male child.

Nathan enjoys playing with my daughters and -- or course -- joins them in their activities. When the time came for Emma and Paige to get their finders and toes painted, he jumped at the chance to help.

His grandfather and uncle poked fun at him and thouroughly deflated his enthusiasm. Earlier in the day, I heard the same kind of comment when he said that he liked a pink garment.

I told Nathan that it was OK to help paint my kids' toe-nails and it was OK to like to wear whatever color he wanted. Don't know why I intervened, but he's a great kid. Kinda truned my stomach that he's already getting the "You don't want to be a sissy" treatment -- from his family!

From his male family, mind.

As for the common perception that gays are more accepting of difference than straights; my own experience is that there are gays  who like to rag on bisexuals for not "committing to being gay".

I don't know whether gay parents would necessarily be better equipped to handle gay kids. Again, in my experience growing up, I've been ragged on for being an "ethnic", for having a weird name, for wearing glasses, for being overweight, for acting gay (I didn't like sports growing up, so naturally, I was destined to fancy nekkid men), for not speaking the "right" language, etc, etc, etc

Kids are going to be persecuted for tons of other reasons than their sexual orientation. Gay parents might be great at dealing with the gay issues, but not necessarily other equally important issues.

I believe that the trick for a parent is to really fall in love with their children. Once in this state, a parent is going to be very accepting of their children as people. This would facilitate serenely working past the many exhausting sleepness nights, the difficult toilet training, the outrageous meltdowns, the relentless demands.



Edited by Jesus Garcia on 15 July 2010 at 10:05am
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Keith Thomas
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 10:26am | IP Logged | 3  

I have never been under the impression that homosexuality was a learned response, but at the same time I'm not aware of any largely-accepted conclusive evidence that it is entirely genetic either. I personally would have a hard time believing that something as varied and complex as human sexual preference / response / behavior can be entirely determined by genetics, any more than I would believe that something like social skills or common sense would be 100% genetic and not influenced by one's environment and upbringing.

 

From what I have seen I would go more with hormones as opposed to strictly genetic, since there is such a wide variety of exposures possible to a developing fetus. Every baby is exposed to estrogen from the mother, not all mothers have the same levels, a previous male baby can change how the mother's body reacts to the next one, etc, etc. Hormone levels can also be affected by enviromental things, such a wide variety of sexualities, I think, can only be explained by something equally as variable. I think genetics comes into play by affecting how much a person is influenced by hormones, more hormone receptors = more influence for example.

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Victor Manuel Fernandez Patiño
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 10:28am | IP Logged | 4  

I'm gay since I was born, I remember "being in love" and holding hands with another boy at kinder garden -4 years old-. Later I heard my father insulting a man for being a "faggot and a sissy" and I started to feel very afraid. It took me almost 16 years -sexual abuse from a "straight" male relative and three girlfriends- to start accepting my homosexuality. 
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Knut Robert Knutsen
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 10:47am | IP Logged | 5  

From my perspective, I find "being gay" perfectly acceptable on the level of choice, and I'm wary of using the "nature" justification as we all know that there are some types of behaviour that probably are "natural" but still not OK.

I saw one documentary about some klansman one time and he used the argument that saying that being gay was okay because they were born that way was stupid, because pedophiles are probably "born that way", too. And however vile his comment, it does point to a flaw in the argument. It's an argument that doesn't lock itself on to a principle that can be widely applied.

Saying "Consenting adults whose actions don't negatively affect anyone else", that, to me is a solid, defendable principle.

I know that "natural" is in part a response to the religious claim that it is "unnatural" in the sense of  "against God's natural laws". Not against actual natural laws.

To me being gay is like being a Republican (no offense to gays intended) in that it's not a choice I would make myself, not even a choice I fully understand, but I think it's a choice people should be allowed to make. And whether they feel that they chose to be Republican or they know in their hearts they were born Republicans, it's okay.

It's just that to me, the most defendable, most solid principle is the one of choice.

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Mike Benson
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 11:17am | IP Logged | 6  

No need to be snarky, Mike. I'm just asking out of personal interest. While I'm sure that genetic predisposition is a large part of homosexual determinacy, I'm not aware of any clear evidence that it is ALL. The word "entirely" was intentional and important to my earlier post.

***

Sincere apologies.  No snark intended.  I'm all for science and figuring out the genetic components of this.  But I get a bit frustrated when the empirical evidence isn't used as an obvious starting point.  When so many people who are gay insist they were born such, shouldn't we be making an assumption that it's probably so?  Do I know why?  Not a clue.  But do I know absolutely that I have always been gay?  Not a doubt. 

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John Byrne
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 11:20am | IP Logged | 7  

When so many people who are gay insist they were born such, shouldn't we be making an assumption that it's probably so?

••

I've experienced so many instances of telling some fan why I did something in a story, only to have the fan tell me I am WRONG, I would not hold out any real hope of this ever happening!

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Mike Benson
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 11:26am | IP Logged | 8  

It's just that to me, the most defendable, most solid principle is the one of choice.

***

But being defendable doesn't make it true. 

 

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Victor Manuel Fernandez Patiño
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 11:30am | IP Logged | 9  

Most straight men think we "have" a choice. Why? Do they have a choice? Do they have a time when they doubt their sexuality?
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John Byrne
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 11:37am | IP Logged | 10  

Most straight men think we "have" a choice. Why? Do they have a choice? Do they have a time when they doubt their sexuality?

••

It's the ones who have who are most afraid!

I don't know how typical my own story is, but my first flicker of sexual awareness was vaguely homoerotic. I was about 11, and I had no idea what I was feeling. Basically I saw some pictures in a comic book which, while not overtly sexual, brushed against, without pushing, some of my buttons. A while later I saw very similar pictures, but this time with a female subject, and it was very much like a light bulb going on over my head. At that moment I "got it", and, even without having the language to express it, I knew I was heterosexual. Never had even a whisper of doubt since, and thus never felt even remotely "threatened" by homosexuality.

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Knut Robert Knutsen
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 11:59am | IP Logged | 11  

"But being defendable doesn't make it true. "

What are you talking about? I'm talking about defending the legal arguments as to why homosexuals shouldn't be discriminated against.

When I talk about choice , I talk about people having a right (inalienable if you will) to choose to be gay, to have homosexual relationships, and that being gay and in a relationship should be treated no different (in the eyes of the law) than being straight and in a relationship.

Most likely, in most cases being gay is determined by genetics or biology. We could even stipulate, for the sake of argument, that all gay people are gay because of genetics.

That may be an argument that carries some weight with people emotionally or politically, but I fear it is not an argument that gives credibility to the legal side of the case.

I'm not saying that people are gay because they choose to be gay. I'm saying that people have a right to choose to live a life that is consistent with their homosexuality. Which is to say that gay couples have the same right to get married and have kids as straight people.

Not all behaviour that is natural corresponds to a right to choose to act in a manner consistent with that nature. Being born gay and having the right to act in a manner consistent with that nature is a matter of correlation, not causation.

And arguing the issue as if there is causation, weakens the argument and leaves it open to counterpoints based on examples of natural drives that we recognize as needing to be outlawed or suppressed.

Consenting adults and no harm to others, however, is a stronger argument of legal principle.

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Donald Miller
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 12:00pm | IP Logged | 12  

I saw one documentary about some klansman one time and he used the argument that saying that being gay was okay because they were born that way was stupid, because pedophiles are probably "born that way", too. And however vile his comment, it does point to a flaw in the argument. It's an argument that doesn't lock itself on to a principle that can be widely applied.

This may actually be completely true...there may be a pedophile gene trigger, and I am fine with addressing that if research shows it to be true...
The argument as stated however is silly because children cannot give consent...there are issues of power and control in play in these scenarios.


The "choice" a homosexual makes is whether or not to allow themselves to be themselves.

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Donald Miller
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 12:05pm | IP Logged | 13  

Most straight men think we "have" a choice. Why? Do they have a choice? Do they have a time when they doubt their sexuality?

I had this debate with my brother once....

I finally made him understand the position that Homosexuals have been put in by our repressive society...

I made him imagine a scenario in which, because of the wide spread of obesity, it became illegal to marry or have sexual relations with people who outside of a certain body fat %...(he enjoys the company of larger ladies)
I forced him to imagine a world in which he needed to force down his own desires to fall in line with societies norm...he gets it now.
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Donald Miller
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 12:06pm | IP Logged | 14  

Saw you second post Knut...

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Knut Robert Knutsen
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 12:09pm | IP Logged | 15  

"The argument as stated however is silly because children cannot give consent...there are issues of power and control in play in these scenarios."

But then you're presuming that consent is an issue for everyone. In the western world, and in western law, consent issues have had rather limited application until recently, and there are still places in the world where consent is a non-issue.

Which is why I am saying that the real argument is "consenting adults". Even you need to bring up the issue of consent to provide a counterargument to the Klansman I referred to. There is nothing in the "natural" argument itself that sets up a difference. Which is why I say that it's a weak argument that doesn't serve the objective of equal legal rights.  

(Oh. Donald, saw that you found that second post. It's difficult to argue this point, I know, because people often think I'm being anti-gay by saying that the "natural" argument is flawed. But I'm just very concerned that the best, most useful arguments be used to secure equal rights. For anybody. )



Edited by Knut Robert Knutsen on 15 July 2010 at 12:13pm
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Thanos Kollias
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 12:30pm | IP Logged | 16  

Please let me know if you can find some research that shows that heteronormative parents produce healthier children.
++++++++++++
Donald,
That is what you got from my post? Hmmm. Let me give it another shot:
As a fairly recent new father, I have come across and read numerous books and articles on parenting. In all of them it is stated that mother and father figures and role models are extremely important and crucial in the development of a child. must be present and their different approach is both welcome and beneficial.
As same sex parents are more or less a new situation, I am fairly certain the scientific research is in its initial steps as well. In the passages you cited I think this is more than evident.

Knut,
Forgive my earlier attack, but I read you like Don Quixote fighting dragons! Even the phrasing wasn't typical "Knut". And I repsect your opinions, even if I don't always agree, too much to let it go by.
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Jodi Moisan
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 12:33pm | IP Logged | 17  

I would have zero, nada, zip, no problem letting my children be raised by a loving gay couple. I don't see this as a debatable issue, letting children be raised by loving parents, no matter their sexual orientation is a no brainer for me. My kids have zero idea what Chuck and I actually do behind closed doors, as would a child with gay parents.

Hell as old as I am, it still gives me the chills thinking about my parents doing the deed :0P LOL


Edited by Jodi Moisan on 15 July 2010 at 12:37pm
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Donald Miller
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 12:41pm | IP Logged | 18  


Donald,
That is what you got from my post? Hmmm. Let me give it another shot:

The post you are replying to was not aimed specifically at you.
I was more or less providing citation for my stance that homosexual parents are equally effective role models.

I think you and I are on the same page here.
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Donald Miller
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 12:45pm | IP Logged | 19  

Knut I get where you are coming from...

I hold the opinion that it really is nature and not choice, but that it doesn't matter either way, should science (as I believe it will) end up showing that it is a combination of factors, it shouldn't matter.

If people choose to follow their nature fine, if people choose to force their desires down, well, that's fine as well.  But we should all have the right to be who ever we want to be for whatever reason, so long as it does no harm to anyone else.

I think you and i are on the same page...different wording.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 1:09pm | IP Logged | 20  

Pedophiles are almost certainly "born that way". Again, we go to evolutionary conditioning. Seek the youngest, strongest, most healthy, for breeding purposes. A sure (or as sure as it gets) way to guarantee the survival of your genes.

Pedophilia also brings along a big heaping helping of learned responses, however. In a society like ours, where "normal" sex is considered by many to be filthy and disgusting, "abnormal" sex is of course even moreso. "Abnormal" in this case meaning anything -- even simple physical attraction -- that is not "age-appropriate", heterosexual, and strictly for procreation. Preferably missionary position.

Thus, any confused individual who finds himself attracted to young girls is likely to find himself attracted to increasingly younger girls, as part of his pattern of self-loathing. So much emotional torment -- in victims and victimizers -- would surely be set aside if our society was sexually liberated enough to even be able to say "Sure, it's okay to be attracted to eleven year olds. Just don't DO anything about it!"

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Keith Thomas
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 1:41pm | IP Logged | 21  

Most straight men think we "have" a choice. Why? Do they have a choice?

 

Maybe because, in certain situations, straight men do choose to have homosexual sex?

 

My kids have zero idea what Chuck and I actually do behind closed doors, as would a child with gay parents.

 

I often wonder if this plays a part in the attitudes of the past when most families lived in one room homes and privacy wasn't really an option and, as weird as it is to us, children actually did see what there parents did?

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Donald Miller
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 1:44pm | IP Logged | 22  

Thus, any confused individual who finds himself attracted to young girls is likely to find himself attracted to increasingly younger girls, as part of his pattern of self-loathing. So much emotional torment -- in victims and victimizers -- would surely be set aside if our society was sexually liberated enough to even be able to say "Sure, it's okay to be attracted to eleven year olds. Just don't DO anything about it!"

Interesting direction this conversations takes...

I find myself agreeing...it is our societies repressive nature that paints these potential predators into a corner creating a situation that becomes worse as time passes, unable to seek help for their problem, bad things are almost destined to happen. 

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Jodi Moisan
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 3:01pm | IP Logged | 23  

I do not think pedophiles are "born that way", I look at them as I look at thieves or someone that commits murder, were those people that break the law, born that way? Or were they encouraged by outside forces.  Most people that molest, were once molested.


Edited by Jodi Moisan on 15 July 2010 at 3:02pm
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Keith Thomas
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 3:11pm | IP Logged | 24  

Most people that molest, were once molested

 

I would say almost all of them, paying for a lifetime of treatment for their victims should be part of the punishment for any convicted child molester.

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Michael Penn
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Posted: 15 July 2010 at 4:30pm | IP Logged | 25  

Back to JB's original original notion about gay couples adopting gay minors, an article I read today has some cogent thoughts...

>>
Any agency, public or private, that makes adoptive placements must assign the child to a potential adoptive parent. The alignment of parent and child according to the needs and capabilities of each is called “matching.” When making adoptive placements, agencies often try to match certain traits common to the parent and child. Especially in the early days of adoption, when it was a goal to make the adoptive family look to the world as much like a biological family as was possible, physical similarities between child and parent were thought highly desirable. Because of the heritability of physical characteristics, in particular, this reasoning also supported in-racial matching -- and even today transracial adoption is controversial in some quarters. Unlike race, sexual orientation is not an immediately visible difference.

Matching children and parents based on similar traits might also be justified on the basis of increasing the children's understanding of how they will develop biologically, that is, anatomical changes in physical features (a blonde child might be placed with a blonde mother, etc). Gay and lesbian people do not age in a genetically distinct way that would profit gay and lesbian adolescents to observe. Rather, the benefits accrued from observing older gay and lesbian people are in the nature of the benefits reaped from watching role models. Some might argue that teaching coping skills supports adoptive matching in terms of homosexual orientation. If one presumes that in general modern American society is heterosexist and homophobic, in order to flourish, a member of a sexual minority must learn how to cope successfully in such an environment -- and who better to teach that than a gay parent. Still, others might argue that there is no consensus on what constitutes coping. This is true not only for sexual minorities but for other minorities as well. In the context of homosexuality, some could argue that “coping” means overcoming homosexuality and leading a heterosexual life. Others differ markedly with this view, and instead argue that “coping” means leading a positive, productive, fulfilling life in which lesbian or gay male intimacy plays a part. Within this latter group too, there might be many divergent views.

Another view of coping goes further: thriving as a gay person does not mean merely involving oneself in a same-sex, but heterosexual-style, relationship. Rather, it means embracing a rich gay culture that may include outrageous behavior that challenges “traditional” notions of gender-specific behavior. According to this view, “camping,” cross-dressing, and lively public displays are acceptable, even desirable, behavior. What, then, is coping—changing, hiding, conforming, or shocking? Who decides? Does the minority community define how to flourish, or does the greater society? If it is the community, then how does one define it? Within the gay or lesbian communities, there is no consensus on how to thrive, and therefore on how to cope. If an adoption agency wanted to place gay or lesbian youth with gay or lesbian adoptive parents so that they could learn how to cope with homophobia, the agency would be imposing on the children its own view of what constitutes coping.

Gay and lesbian adolescents might be matched with gay and lesbian parents to provide the youth with positive role models to whom they may aspire to be. The children would see that they can flourish in society, that they could serve as parents, and that society could one day choose them to parent. However, children also have role models other than their parents. Nongay parents could expose them to productive, successful gay people, and thereby show the children that they can succeed in society. Furthermore, if gay people were limited to parenting gay adolescents, they would be less effective role models. They would only be able to show their children that they have been found capable of parenting gay children, and not other children. Faced with this image, all adopted children would be taught by society that gay people can only parent gay and lesbian adolescents.

Finally, by matching children and parents within a community, the adoption system reinforces to society at large, as well as to the particular community, the value and worth of that community and of its members. Thus, matching gay children with gay parents may send a message that each “deserves” the other.
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