Here is the basic problem with the law. The state of Florida does not want homosexuals to adopt kids because, well, just because they're homosexuals. They can be foster parents, just not adoptive parents.
If I could sum up the court's lengthy ruling in one word, it would be, "Huh?''
That's not surprising given the origin of the ban. It did not come from need or compelling evidence. It came from singer Anita Bryant, who in 1977 convinced lawmakers with this argument: "Since homosexuals cannot reproduce, they must recruit and freshen their ranks."
Monday, 27 September 2010
Wednesday, 22 September 2010
|Frank Martin Gill & Partner: Approved Gay Parents|
An appeals court in Miami-Dade County has ruled that Florida's ban on gay adoption unconstitutional.
The Third District Court of Appeal in west Miami-Dade issued the unanimous 3-0 opinion Wednesday morning.
The ruling stems from a case involving a North Miami gay man, Frank Martin Gill, and his partner, who sued to adopt two boys whom they took in as foster children in 2004.
Last year, a trial court judge sided with Gill and his partner, saying the law was unconstitutional. The state challenged the ruling, but now the appeals court has sided with the lower court's decision, saying the law was unconstitutional.
If the state challenges the ruling, the case could end up before the state Supreme Court.
Related articles by Zemanta
- Court affirms overturning Fla. gay adoption ban (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Appeals Court Upholds Ruling Declaring Florida's Ban on Gay Adoption Unconstitutional (towleroad.com)
- Florida Court Strikes Down State Ban on Gay Adoptions (blogs.wsj.com)
- Gay Adoption Advances in Florida, Victoria (rooting-for-gay-marriage.blogspot.com)
- Yet Another Court Victory for Gay Marriage, Family Equality: (itsaqueerworld.blogspot.com)
- A 'Less Judgmental' Crist Reviewing Fla. Gay-Adoption Ban (blogs.wsj.com)
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="Sarah Palin, With Bear"][/caption]
The problem with the conservative view of the "traditional" family and its values is that has little relation to history, and is in fact a relatively modern invention. The problem with her adoption of mamma grizzlies as her model is that they too scarcely embody the "family values" she claims to support. Real life mamma grizzlies do not live or mate in the nuclear families she so admires. Rather, they mate in promiscuous, polygamous groups, then raise their young as single mothers - or in collaboration with other females, as family units headed by two women. The closest human counterparts to real-life "mamma grizzlies" are lesbian couples, with kids - not exactly Christian O'Donnell.
Tuesday, 21 September 2010
A majority of Americans now say their definition of family includes same-sex couples with children, as well as married gay and lesbian couples.
At the same time, most Americans do not consider unmarried cohabiting couples, either heterosexual or same-sex, to be a family — unless they have children.
The findings — part of a survey conducted this year as well as in 2003 and 2006 by Brian Powell, a sociology professor at Indiana University, Bloomington — are reported in a new book, “Counted Out: Same-Sex Relations and Americans’ Definitions of Family,” to be published on Wednesday by the Russell Sage Foundation. Since the surveys began, the proportion of people who reported having a gay friend or relative rose 10 percentage points, said Professor Powell, the book’s lead author.
“This is not because more people are gay now than in 2003,” he said. “This indicates a more open social environment in which individuals now feel more comfortable discussing and acknowledging sexuality. Ironically with all the antigay initiatives, all of a sudden people were saying the word ‘gay’ out loud. Just the discussion about it made people more comfortable.”
The book concludes that framing the equality of same-sex couples in terms of “the best interests of the child” might prove to be a more successful political argument than others.
Related articles at Queering the Church
- The Gospels' Queer Values
- Traditional "Family Values"; "Traditional Family" Values.
- Church Marriage: Required Only For Priests?
- LGBT community: The Real Defenders of Traditional Marriage.
- "Traditional Marriage Is Between Men": US Bishop.
- An Ignorant Mexican Cardinal, vs Authentic History of Marriage
- Natural Law, Natural Sex, Natural Families.
Related articles by Zemanta
- Now I Know Who All These People Running Around My House Are (bilerico.com)
- Who's a family? New study tracks shifting US views (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
against, with only 2% "don't know").
Monday, 20 September 2010
The fundamental principle of "the best interests of the child" in adoption procedures demands that the child be placed with the best possible parents available. Israel is yet another country now recognising that the best available parents just might be a same-sex couple. Adoption regulations have already been modified to allow women to adopt the biological children of their female partners, so becoming recognized as co-parents. The regulations will now be modified further, to allow men likewise to adopt the children of their male partners born to surrogate mothers.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Israeli Dads, with twins"][/caption]
Saturday, 18 September 2010
Gay adoption has achieved three notable gains recently in Argentina and New South Wales (advancing in both by legislative action, both in the face of strong opposition by the Catholic Church), and in Mexico City, where the Constitutional Court ruled that the city’s law on gay marriage also permitted adoption by same sex couples. Less high profile cases which you may ahve missed also illustrate how queer families are gaining legal acceptance in many parts of the world – even in states like Florida, which has a constitutional ban on gay adoption.
Vanessa Alenier and Melanie Leon : Taking on the Florida Ban in Court
Whereas a few years ago, opposition to gay equality as demonstrated in the ban was exploited by some conservatives as a vote catcher, it is becoming obvious that this has now become something of an electoral liability. Bill McCollum, the AG who has been responsible for fiercely defending it, became a laughing stock and saw his political career nosedive after reports that George Rekers, his extravagantly paid “expert adviser” had taken a rent boy on a European trip. McCollum lost his bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Now, the current governor Charlie Crist says he is unlikely to defend the law in court. It is entirely plausible that after November, neither the new governor nor AG will support it. For that, we will have to wait and see.
Until the state supreme court rules, it is in any case a dead letter. Lower courts have now approved four gay adoptions in specific cases, regularly finding that the ban is unconstitutional. As these appeals wind their way up the appeals process, other courts will approve adoptions for still more gay and lesbian parents. Then, if the state Supreme Court does in fact rule in favour of the ban, it will no doubt head to the federal courts. Given recent judgements on DOMA, DADT and Prop 8, I cannot see the ban surviving federal judicial scrutiny.
From the Miami Times:
Vanessa Alenier and Melanie Leon faced the Florida third district court of appeal Wednesday in an attempt to keep their adopted son, a relative of Alenier's.
"Wholesome environments is not a synonym for straight," attorney Alan Mishael said.
And From Proud Parenting:
Robert Lamarche became the fourth Floridian who is gay to publicly emerge as an adoptive parent. He is the first gay Floridian from north of Miami-Dade to publicly disclose an adoption. A judge approved the adoption last month, in a Broward County juvenile courtroom. In her decision, Judge Hope T. Bristol wrote that the adoption, "is in the minor's best interest." The state law, Bristol wrote, is unconstitutional - and the state is not objecting to the adoption. Lamarche is adopting a teenage boy he has fostered for about two years.
New South Wales last month became the third Australian territory to legislate for gay adoption, following Western Australia and ACT. But in a move paralleling the process in Florida, a Victoria court has approved a gay adoption even in the absence of legislative sanction.
In an elaborate legal manoeuvre also used elsewhere, a male couple wanting to adopt a child they had already been fostering for several years designated one of them as a sole parent to get around a provision that gay couples may not adopt. The adoption was approved.
The boy's adoptive father said it had felt like they were going on trial for their sexuality, and the possibility of losing their son had been ''hell''.
''It's been a nightmare … in this limbo state.''
He said it had been a strain on him and his partner to decide who would be the one to adopt, but the outcome was just: ''We feel as though we've done our bit to help pave the path for others.''
Opponents (such as the Catholic Church) regularly claim that they base their stance on “the best interests of the child”. What is important here is that courts, as in Florida, are finding that when it comes down to specific children not abstract principles, “the best interests of the child” frequently demand approval for adoption by gay parents.
The man's partner said he could understand why some people thought every child should have a mother and a father but many children had neither.
He said when they first fostered their son, they had thought he had a speech impediment but then realised he had trouble speaking only because he had been so neglected. He is now confident and articulate, and his dads say he is thriving.
Even if one concedes the debatable claim that children are somehow better off with one mother and one father (and I don’t), quite often this is just not an option.
Karen Field, chief executive of Drummond Street Relationship Centre, said many foster-care agencies actively marketed themselves to gay couples and the state was heavily reliant on the assistance of gay foster carers.
She said the double standard that did not allow gay couples to adopt was ridiculous.
''In worst-case scenarios, you could have someone who could end up not being able to access a child that they've raised for a number of years.''
In the UK, the principle of gay adoption is established, enshrined in law, and well accepted. The challenge here has been to resist the claims of the Church for special treatment and dispensation from the equality provisions in the law.Earlier this year they appeared to have won their case when amendments to the legislation made provision for the possibility of such exemptions - but the only Catholic charity which has not adapted to equality for gay couples lost its application to the charity commission for such an exemption.
Irrespective of the provisions of national legislation, EU human rights provisions are increasingly holding member states to a union –wide standard of equality. In France, just such a referral to the EU could change the rules for adoption right across Europe.
A French gay couple who were denied the right to adopt a child will have their case heard by Europe's top rights court, in a case that has won support from rights and gay groups.
In 2006, Valerie Gas applied for an adoption order for the daughter of her long-term partner Nathalie Dubois.
Gas and Dubois had lived together since 1989, and Dubois had a daughter in 2000 from an anonymous donor.
French courts rejected the adoption request, saying it was not in the interests of the child and could deprive Dubois of her rights in respect of the child.
The couple complained to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 2007 that the ruling was discriminatory, amd infringed their right to respect for their private life.
In its admissibility decision published on Wednesday, the court found that the case "raised serious issues of fact and law" that required examination.
Friday, 17 September 2010
In Tuesday’s primary elections (just as in earlier primaries), some clear advances were recorded towards LGBT equality – notably in New York and Maryland, but also elsewhere. Why does this matter to me? I am not a New Yorker, or even American, but a South African now living in Europe. These successes area important to the queer community everywhere, as part of a much broader pattern that will transform our political landscapes everywhere – the advancing global acceptance of a new understanding of family. This is a theme I will be expanding on for a broader post later today, but first I need to present the evidence – which I do by starting with the primaries in New York and Maryland
Monday, 13 September 2010
Gay rights movement celebrates decade in Nepal
By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, Sep 12 (IANS) The only country in South Asia to recognise same sex marriages, Nepal Sunday celebrates a decade of the gay rights movement pioneered by a single group amid widespread persecution.
The Blue Diamond Society (BDS), Nepal’s first gay rights organisation founded in 2001 by the country’s first openly homosexual MP Sunil Babu Pant, has been at the forefront of the sexual minorities’ right movement with such innovative campaigns as a tourism agency promising gay weddings and honeymoons in the lap of Mt Everest and an annual gay pride march in the capital.
On Sunday it celebrates its 10th birthday by holding, for the first time in the entire South Asia, the Mr Lesbian pageant as another remarkable way of spreading awareness about the diversity among the sexual minorities.
“People have this perception of homosexuals as effeminate men wearing women’s clothes,” says Pant, the recipient of several international gay rights awards. “We thought it is time to educate society about the diversity in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.”
Every year, Nepal hosts dozens of beauty pageants for women and now, there is a growing number of contests for men as well. About three years ago, BDS started the Miss Pink contest for transgenders - men who say they are women trapped in a male body - and the winner goes to the final leg of the contest in Thailand to represent Nepal.
“But there are also transgenders who were born female but consider themselves male,” says Pant.
“Male” transgenders started hitting the headlines from 2007 after a trainer in the Nepal Army, Bhakti Shah, was dismissed along with another woman recruit, for an alleged lesbian relationship.
BDS is helping Shah to fight her dismissal in court and get reinstated.
Like the Nepal Army, their arch foe, the opposition Maoist party has also been homophobic. Its People’s Liberation Army dismissed a combatant - now calling herself Manish - for the same reason.
This year, Ramina Hussain, a traffic constable, was suspended after her partner’s family brought a charge of kidnapping in a bid to separate the couple.However, after intervention by BDS and the media, Hussain has been reinstated.-(Read The Full article)
- Nepal Holds 'International' Gay Pride Parade (towleroad.com)
- Gay Marriage, Nepal
- Gay Marriage: Where Next?
In barely a week, there have been four important court judgements in three American countries that represent important victories for gay marriage and family equality. Immediately after the celebrated judgement in California striking down Proposition 8, the Mexican court ruled that the legal provision for gay marriage in Mexico City was fully constitutional. Yesterday, that same court ruled that marriages in Mexico City must be recognized, and the associated benefits granted, right across all Mexican states. Also yesterday, the court in Costa Rica ruled that a proposed national referendum on civil unions, may not go ahead. There may well be another important advance coming within days: the Mexican court is due to pass judgement on a matter concerning gay adoptions, possibly as soon as tomorrow.
Superficially, the Costa Rican decision may appear the least significant of all three decisions, but I disagree. Although it concerns only civil unions, not full marriage, and the population numbers affected are relatively low, this decision was explicitly based on a fundamentally important matter of principle: the rights of a minority cannot be decided by a majority vote.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="269" caption="A Rainbow Future for Costa Rica"][/caption]
The Constitutional Court's 5-2 decision released Tuesday says such a referendum would put a minority at a disadvantage in a largely Roman Catholic country. It also says gay civil unions is a legislative issue and not an electoral one. The court says it considers homosexuals a group that is at a disadvantage and the target for discrimination, requiring government authorities to protect their rights.
It is still too early to say what is the future for gay marriage in Costa Rica. There may be no progress in the short term, or the legislature may feel emboldened by the progress in Argentina, coupled with this decision, to move ahead.
Whatever the Costa Rican politicians decide for now, one thing is clear: across Latin America, the momentum is now on the side of family equality. Sooner rather than later, same sex marriage and gay adoption will spread right across the continent - and the Catholic church will be no more able to prevent it than they were in Argentina. Then, faced with a fait accompli, the bishops in the region with more Catholics than any other, will have to work with the reality all around them.
Saturday, 11 September 2010
Just as “gay marriage” is receding as an electoral issue on the US right, it is becoming an issue on the left. Two stated where this of current importance are New York and Maryland.
In Maryland, two recent news reports suggest the signs are promising for a successful attempt at gay marriage legislation next year. Governor O’Malley appears to have read the tea leaves which show steadily increasing public support for marriage equality. He has stated that if re-elected, even though he would personally prefer to see civil unions, he will sign a gay marriage bill if the legislature presents one. In a tough year for Democrats, he is not exactly a shoo-in for re-election, but the authoritative Cook Political Report says the race is “leaning” that way. So, the next question is, will the legislature play ball?
Hovernor O’Malley – Gay Ally?
Here too the signs are promising. Attempts at marriage legislation have regularly been launched, and as regularly have stalled. The prospects for next year though, may be brighter. There are more out LGBT candidates than ever before standing for election, and several have an excellent chance of electoral success. It is entirely possible that the new state legislature could have a stronger caucus of LGBT and gay –friendly legislators. Their success could also send a message to those previously neutral or mildly opposed. Expect a strong push for either full marriage equality, or for civil unions as a compromise, in Maryland next year.
Meanwhile in New York, where the legislative paralysis in the state senate last year was largely precipitated by the fierce opposition of some Democrat senators to the proposals for gay marriage, the backlash has been fierce. Several initiatives to “take back New York” have seen strong primary challenges against the Democrat senators who opposed equality, and especially against two of the ringleaders, Senators Espada and Ruben Diaz Snr, in SD’s 32 and 33. The outcome of next week’s primaries should be watched closely. If at least one of these, and some other opponents, are booted out, expect a dramatic shift in the political mood, and a much more realistic legislative attempt to achieve marriage equality next year. If both survive, equality will not come to NY state by legislative means for a long while yet.
Thursday, 9 September 2010
A BILL giving same-sex couples the right to adopt has been passed by the NSW parliament, after the Legislative Council voted in support of a last-minute amendment to the legislation.The bill passed its final hurdle in the upper house just after 6.30pm (AEST) today, after MPs backed the lower house amendment.The amendment, made by Planning Minister Frank Sartor, frees up adoption agencies to act on the wishes of parents regarding where their children are adopted. It was made to temper changes made in the upper house on Wednesday night, which narrowed an exemption from the Anti-Discrimination Act for faith-based adoption agencies. MPs have been allowed a conscience vote on the historic legislation, leading to heated debate in both houses of the NSW parliament. NSW is now the third state or territory to allow same-sex adoption, after the ACT and Western Australia.
Wednesday, 8 September 2010
Although social conservatives in the 2010 election campaign depict gay marriage as a threat to married life as we know it, Iowa's 18-month experience with the newly legalized institution has revealed striking similarities to traditional marriage and no discernible harm to it, according to an IowaWatch study.
Thousands of same sex couples married during that period, and despite the controversy that has swirled around them, their marriages have endured.
The IowaWatch study found that similarities range from the way men and women often view marriage to the more mundane tasks of married life, such as doing yard work. Like people in traditional marriages, same-sex couples also talk about raising children and shielding them from the verbal slings of peers, the stability and unit-strength of a family and the value of loving relationships among parents and children, as well as legal necessities and financial security.
The Iowa Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay marriage was unanimous, but the opposition has persisted because it is fueled by fears that that the family, the bedrock of American society, is at stake.
"They shouldn't be allowed to marry," Maggie Gallagher, chairman for the National Organization for Marriage, said in an e-mail. "They shouldn't be allowed to redefine marriage to mean whatever relationship (they) choose."
In sharp contrast, married gays often depict a lifestyle and relationship that seems suburban stable, only now they have a marriage license like other couples."Not much has changed," said Ledon Sweeney of Iowa City, who married his partner of 12 years. "We live pretty boring lives. We go to work; we mow our lawn, we pay our mortgage, and we go on vacation if we can save enough money."
Read the full report at Press Citizen
Sunday, 5 September 2010
The fatal flaw in the argument against gay marriage and gay adoption is that since children “need” a mom and a pop (a dubious proposition in itself), then all mixed -sex couples make better parents than any same-sex couples. This flaw is tragically highlighted in an open letter to Pastor Joshua Beckley, posted by Derrick Matthis at RENWL.
There is much in this articulate and thoughtful piece to applaud. The scandalous part is the professional footballer he cites, Antonio Cromartie, who has eight children from six different mothers – but struggles to even name them all. On the other hand, Matthis writes movingly though from deep personal experience, describing his own family, in a graphic image, as a “village” – but also rejoices in the successes within his family, which patently means the world to him.
It is obvious that there are some irresponsible gay men who would make appalling parents – just as there are some straight men who fit the same description. There are many superb mixed couples who raise great families – just as my own parents did. And there are gay and lesbian couples who make excellent parents. Matthis does not make clear whether he is himself either partnered, a parent, or aspires to be either – but just consider the immense pride with which he writes of his siblings and their offspring: of one niece, he writes:
My baby sister's little girl. Thuglette, Bad Stuff, Little Monster, BeBe's kid, Rug Rat...the various nicknames I call her when we're together. Her name is Mya. And she is every beat of my heart.
This is a world away from Comartie , who is unable to name his own kids – yet in the argument against family equality, Comartie is presented as the model, and Matthis as inherently unsuitable to be a father (unless he denies his identity and marries a woman).
I can quote only extracts – so cross to the original, and read the full post, too.
From RENWL (Restore Equality Now~ West Adams/LA South Marriage Equality And Community Activists):
Senior Pastor Joshua Beckely
Ecclesia Christian Fellowship
1314 Date Street
San Bernardino, CA 92404
Dear Pastor Beckley:
Based on your commitment to the continued and unchanged definition of marriage I thought since this latest effort didn’t quite work out, that perhaps I could interest you in some other very pressing issues that could use the input of a committed man of the cloth in the African American community. In doing a little background research you seem to be a man who cares deeply and takes every opportunity to give back.
You’re a father, a devoted husband, man of the cloth and community leader. We so need many more like you to help shape the direction of the black community . You must be aware of this already.
There’s a specific issue that hit me HARD in recent days. It came to me in the form of video in a news article. I’d like to share it with you. And please do not be concerned. There’s nothing offensive or unsavory about the contents. But it is very saddening. And its effects continue to rip through our community almost completely unchecked.
You may be aware of NY Jets player Antonio Cromartie. A week or so ago he he was asked about his family, specifically to name all of his children on camera. In the video, Cromartie is seen discussing being a father and when finally asked to name all EIGHT of his children—this is eight children from six different mothers spanned across several states. Cromartie could barely name all of his children.
A sportswriter called this one of the most shameful moments in NFL history. I beg to differ. I find it one of the most shameful recent moments in black American history. The fact that an issue hasn’t previously been made of this gives you an idea of how poorly the idea of the “Family” unit is regarded to a lot of people.
My baby sister, 22 years old. Workin' on that hair last Thanksgiving morning. She is also a single mother raising a child among the village called my family.
…….children born out of wedlock in the United States tend to have poorer health and educational outcomes than those born to married women, but that may be because unmarried mothers tend to share those problems.
Pastor Beckley I’m almost certain that you’re well aware of all of the above and please forgive me if I’m being redundant by reintroducing these statistics and facts to you. But the whole point behind my sharing this with you is that there is an obvious breakdown in terms of the family unit in the black community. The problem is so paramount that I have to be honest, when I see our black church leaders making themselves so visible in matters such as same-sex marriage, I sincerely wonder with deep frustration and sometimes a sense of hopelessness if their priorities are in tandem with the realities impacting the greater black community of this nation.
Pastor Beckley, I write this letter to you not to discourage you from your beliefs or your commitment to your beliefs. I write this letter to you asking you to re-examine all the wonderful truly abundant possibilities for the black community if we decided to focus on our community in a way that serves to strengthen it in every imaginable capacity.
That focus would be on the black family.
And what are the factors that lend to destroying the black family—TODAY. RIGHT NOW. Those things that are serving RIGHT NOW to deteriorate our families: joblessness, poverty, poor education, fatherlessness, high incarceration of our young men—HIV/AIDS infection exploding through the roof in our women and same gender loving men and no prevention funding from the government or state—-so many issues on the menu right now.
Can’t we all work together? Can’t we work to build an inclusive world for our children, all God’s children, to receive the love and nurturing all of them so righteously deserve, today? Can’t we work to create a unified vision as black people that serves to empower all of us?
Family means everything to me. I love my family so much—my siblings, nieces and nephews, my mother, my belated father, that deceased grandmother who worked in the cotton fields of Texas as a child—couldn’t go to school cause she had to help put food on the table. I miss that old lady. I miss her love for the Lord and her strength, and her vast all encompassing love for her children and grandchildren. Most of all I miss her abundant and bottomless love for me. When I told her at 19 years of age that I was gay, she told me, “you are my child. I will love you no matter what.”
I believe that was the day that I finally decided to believe in God, to truly accept God. Before that day I couldn’t. God seemed to belong to someone else. I was afraid and ashamed of who and what I was, the feelings I had. There was no place in God’s heart for me. But finally one day I broke down. And through tears told my NaNa everything. I did this because I trusted her and loved her so much. Throughout all my childhood she never made me feel bad about being me. I knew she wouldn’t turn her back on me if I told her my truth. So I shared with her the things I felt and my fear and shame. And then she said what she said. It was like a great weight was lifted from me. The way I saw it, if Nana loved me no matter what, then God had to feel the same.
And that’s because I learned everything I knew about about God through her. NaNa’s love was unquestionably God’s love as far as I was concerned. Nobody loves the way she did, live with such abundance, gratitude for life and not be a true child of the Lord. Now I’m not the churchy type. I’m not gonna lie. And yes Pastor Beckley, I do believe in the Lord. And his merciful love for all his children.
Again I hope this letter finds you well, Pastor Beckley. I look forward to receiving your thoughts.
Thursday, 2 September 2010
Kristina Kenneally, Catholic and Advocate for Adoption Equality
Wednesday, 1 September 2010
The evidence from history, anthropology and the animal kingdom seems clear - it is not "homosexuality" that is unnatural, but exclusive heterosexuality. The trouble lies in that little qualifier "exclusive": if we apply it impartially, then the corollary also holds. Exclusive homosexuality is also "unnatural" - at least in the purely statistical sense, of being rare.
When we speak glibly of the acronym LGBT, we tend to think of the first two, and (sometimes) of the "G" - and overlook almost entirely the "B". This is odd, as the evidence, from human societies across history and from Kinsey's research, is that most people fit naturally along a scale of bisexuality, with relatively few people "naturally" places at either extreme. Yet in the modern (Western) world, the assumption too commonly is the reverse- that either we are "straight", or we are gay or lesbian. Why should this be? The interpretation I that has been making sense to me, is that the medicalisation of "homosexuality" in the twentieth century led those who are are primarily heterosexual, developing a positive aversion to admitting (let alone expressing) any degree of same sex attraction at all. In reaction and as self- defence, those who are primarily "homosexual" then began to embrace the evidence, from science and from personal experience, that their same-sex attraction is inborn, not a mere lifestyle choice - and in embracing this, embrace also a gay "identity". Yet in earlier centuries, most people would have been puzzled by the very idea of a fixed, exclusive sexual "orientation".This is a theme I have been wanting to explore and write about for some time, but do not yet have sufficient knowledge to present a reliable exposition. The following passage, which I came across in a review of the play "Abraham Lincoln's Big Gay Dance Party ", provides a useful description of the historical facts - if not yet the historical explanation for the anomaly:
American culture has always had deep divisions regarding any open display of sexuality. For many right-wingers, the concept of gay equality sticks in the craw because it means admitting that gay people have a right to exist openly. Christians and Jews can find Biblical arguments against homosexuality, but they can't find any in the Constitution. A historical disparity is involved: Homosexual practices, found throughout nature, have probably been part of human life since it first evolved, but homosexuality, as we understand it, has existed for barely more than a century. Oscar Wilde, a married man with two children, who saw his attraction to younger men in part as continuing an ancient Platonic tradition of ideal love, probably did not think of himself as a homosexual—not, at least, until after his imprisonment. He may never even have heard the word, which only came into use in later decades. (And "gay," in Wilde's time, merely meant "loose" or "promiscuous.")
Homosexual identity, often viewed today as a central and absolute character trait, was seen through most of history as a quirk affecting very few. Men—like Lincoln and Joshua Speed—embraced each other, and slept together for warmth; men took sexual advantage of slaves they owned, boys they mentored, servants they employed; prisoners, soldiers, and sailors, apart from women, engaged in clandestine mutual pleasuring. But most of them assumed that, when conditions altered, they would engage with women and presumably produce children. Few, no matter which role they played in the act, would have assumed an exclusively homosexual preference; a great many might have been startled to know that people who thought themselves exclusively homosexual even existed.
Today life's different. Gay is an identity, and a highly politicized, assertive one at that—an inevitable reaction to the millennia during which homosexual acts were stigmatized, outlawed, and persecuted, often violently. Every concern that gays might confront, from coming out to one's parents to becoming parents, has taken on an absolutist mentality, apparently subscribed to by both its adherents and those who wish they would disappear. The secondary cultural traits through which gays in the clandestine era once signaled their shared interest have become a kind of instant public shorthand. Quarterbacks who enjoy showtunes are instantly suspect; 10-year-olds with a gift for classical music conceal their interest for fear of being bullied at school. Future generations may come to regard our time's extreme emphasis on sexual identity as nearly equal in absurdity to the frantic hostility and repugnance that kept same-sex attraction clandestine in preceding centuries.
- Full review at Village Voice