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June 17, 2008

A great day
Posted by Patrick at 11:15 PM *

May equality live long and prosper.

(Photo via Nick Mamatas.)

I was never much of a Star Trek fan, but I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing George Takei last year. Getting up to speed on his life in advance of the interview, I came to realize what a stand-up progressive he is and always has been. And, in person, he lived up to his reputation. Congratulations to him, to Brad, and to everyone else in California now finally able to get as married as anyone else. Justice is slow and unevenly distributed, but we can celebrate it when it happens. And we should.

Comments on A great day:
#1 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2008, 11:44 PM:

Geek footnotes:

(1) Takei's Wikipedia entry states that he and Brad Altman will actually be married on "September 14th, at the Democracy Forum of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles (George is one of the founders). Walter Koenig will be his best man, and Nichelle Nichols will be the matron of honor."

(2) No internet discussion of George Takei is complete without this clip.

#2 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2008, 11:45 PM:

I loved that interview, by the way. You both seemed so excited to be talking to one another about what you were talking about where you were talking about it. Lots of energy crackling.

w00t w00t for George Takei and the rest.

#3 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2008, 11:54 PM:

pnh@1 Wow! Somehow, I had never seen that clip (wiping tears from eyes.)

Congrats to the happy couple.

#4 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2008, 11:57 PM:

It's about time!

#5 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2008, 11:58 PM:

So happy to share my birthday with the numerous anniversaries to come. Much better than sharing it with O.J.'s low-speed chase, I'll tell you that.

George and Brad look so happy. What a wonderful day.

#6 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2008, 11:59 PM:

I love that video. I laughed so hard I was weeping when I finished.


And I'm happy for him and his partner, too.

#7 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 12:11 AM:

I can give a big, big huzzah to that.
Change in our time. Sometimes, it actually does look like things are getting better.

#8 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 12:55 AM:

Oh yeah. I've got two friends: let's call them Flora and Helen. They've been together for 36 years. About 30 years ago -- another life -- we lived on the same street in San Francisco. We hung out. I went to their commitment ceremony. We all moved out of town, but we're still in the Bay Area and still connected... This September I get to attend their wedding.

*big grin*

#9 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 01:29 AM:

Picture me as Kermit, running around the stage yelling "YAY!" It is way past time. I'm incredibly happy for all the couples who now get what they've always deserved: to say they're married and have the state agree.

#10 ::: Alberto ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 01:32 AM:

Paula @ 6: Yeah, I love that video, too. It's a wonderful response to the hate it answers.

And I'm happy for him and his partner, too.

But, no--no more circumlocutions! Fiancé, his husband-to-be. We can say that now. How very glad I am that we can say that now!

(Well, here in California, anyway. And Massachusetts, of course.)

#11 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 02:06 AM:

I guess I should watch Jimmy Kimmel more often. I've never seen that before. Wow, that's funny.

#12 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 02:41 AM:

Two friends of mine got married today in California. They've been together for 10 years or thereabouts. Here's a toast to Griff and Danny!

#13 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 05:42 AM:

I am very very happy for Mr. Takei and his RFL

#14 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 06:57 AM:

Oh, man... that "sweaty" clip is such a pisser! Way to mess with the 'phobes!

#15 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 07:18 AM:

Takei's Wikipedia entry states that he and Brad Altman will actually be married on "September 14th, at the Democracy Forum of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles (George is one of the founders). Walter Koenig will be his best man, and Nichelle Nichols will be the matron of honor."

I no longer remember the source, but somebody on the Internet made the obvious joke that they need to make sure to get married at the same time as a couple of guys in red shirts, who will draw the effects of the inevitable anti-gay backlash, allowing Takei and Altman to escape and remain happily married.

Anyway, congratulations to Takei, Altman, and everybody in California. Here's hoping more states follow suit.

#16 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 07:41 AM:

Mildred Loving would be so pleased.

#17 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 08:06 AM:

Chad #15: "Damnit, Sulu, I'm a doctor, not a justice of the peace."

Congratulations for the happy couple, and the great many other happy couples that will result from this court decision!

#18 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 08:16 AM:

What is that sound, like the sound of a proud and tall tower collapsing?
Oh my God.
It is the Institution of (Heterosexual) Marriage, which couldn't withstand this assault upon its integrity.

#19 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 08:36 AM:

I am so happy for all of us! I've been keeping up with coverage at SFGate. Some heartwarming links:

Photos and profiles of newly married couples. I'm especially fond of the profile and photo of Dave Greenbaum and Mike Silverman, from Lawrence, Kansas.

Lisa Shapiro, left, and Beth Shapiro, both from Cleveland, Ohio, get married by Andrew Minko outside of the county clerk's office in Redwood City, Calif. Is that a canopy those be-suited folks are holding over the Shapiros?

My friend Seth's recollection of serving breakfast to folks in line at SF City Hall four years ago. Quote:

Because of all the interruptions, we were all the way to McAllister and Larkin before Heidi found out that I was straight. We had a few moments to chat before we reached the main entrance again and started our way through the line. By this time we had given out all the food Heidi and I had brought, but the cart was still full. Someone had supplied dozens of onion bagels. I hope newlyweds like onion bagels. How many people, if asked to predict what they would eat on their wedding days, would say "I guess some guy is going to hand me an onion bagel out of a pushcart and his friend is going to apply a little cream cheese?"

And Rivka's "Can't Put The Genie Back In The Bottle" from four years ago (scroll down):

Looking at pictures of the newly married, I feel certain that I'm in the presence of something sacred. I recognize the awed, holy, joyous look on their faces, because I've seen that expression in my own wedding pictures. The state may eventually force annulments, but these people are married. They're not going to go away, cowed and quiet, back to their rightful place as it's defined by the state. You can't put the genie back in the bottle.

#20 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 09:13 AM:

As a resident of Massachusetts, let me warn you Californians about the twisted hell you're about to enter. Stand back, this is pretty shocking and it may make some people uncomfortable and even upset.

Some people who love each other are married.

Now that you know, you can at least prepare yourselves. Good luck.

#21 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 09:58 AM:

Albatross @#17: "Hey guys... military commander and ship's captain, over here!"

#23 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 11:41 AM:

I laughed *far* too loudly for the early hour when I saw the video this morning.

And every picture I see of the two of them together just makes me so happy I can't stand it.

#24 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 12:19 PM:

I cry at gay weddings in a way I never cry at straight weddings. Love triumphant against the world. Can't imagine what a mess I'll be if I actually attend one.

I watched a news clip on YouTube, that featured one couple apparently doing an interview, and when one woman turned to the other and said "Will you marry me?", I totally lost it and started bawling. And the NYT featured an incredibly adorable picture of two brides and their baby daughter that made me cry again. I've never in my life been a Wedding Story kind of person but for this, I am.

I almost said "the world's most adorable picture" but I think the picture in this post has a strong claim for world's most adorable picture. I've rarely seen two people look more totally overjoyed. I want to go back to CA and stand outside various city halls throwing rice and handing flowers.

As I said to my boyfriend last night, "They started doing gay marriages in California today. You will note that the world has not yet ended." And the sun rose this morning, and everything!

#25 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 12:24 PM:

I think it's wonderful. A huge step towards civilisation.

And I want to note the following: "Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State."

#26 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 12:33 PM:

This made me very very happy.

I got to explain to my son what was going on and why it was so wonderful. It is fantastic to think that he may grow up knowing civilization and equality as the norm.

#27 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 02:29 PM:

Fragano, #25: Yes, indeed. Unfortunately, that's going to require somebody with the deep pockets to challenge DOMA on those grounds and push it to the highest levels.

#28 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 02:35 PM:

Lee #27: I suspect there will be quite a few people eager to test DOMA, and, more to to the point the various state laws 'defending' marriage.

What I want to know, and what no one has explained to me (I have, on the contrary been threatened with physical violence, albeit over the internet, for asking), is how same-sex marriage threatens my marriage?

#29 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 02:42 PM:

What I want to know, and what no one has explained to me (I have, on the contrary been threatened with physical violence, albeit over the internet, for asking), is how same-sex marriage threatens my marriage?

It depends, I think, on whether one sees happiness as a limited resource or an unlimited resource. If happiness is limited, someone else being made happy threatens to take away your slice of happiness. Only so much to go around.

Also, if you see marriage as something you should do because you should do it, or if it is something you should do if you want to do it. People, in their minds, are obliged to remain virgins until married, marry someone approved by their parents, and promptly provide their parents with an abundance of grandkids. They'd probably be happy with arranged marriages, if they could get away with it.

#30 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 03:03 PM:

Fragano, #28: In all honesty, I think this is one of those "if you have to ask, you're never going to understand" situations. It just is, and they just know it is, and how can you not understand it, it's so obvious?

Which is not to say that it's not worth asking the question anyhow; it may make someone else who's reading the conversation think about questioning their own internal assumptions, and that's a win.

#31 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 03:31 PM:

Ursula L #29: But if happiness is limited, then other straight people being happy is going to affect my happiness and I should be against anybody else being married.

As for staying virgin until marriage, the number of actual Southern Baptists and Pentecostals who do that is not, I think, very large. However, I am mindful of the woman I saw in a computer lab writing a contract which said 'we shall make one "whoopee" a week' (this was in deepest Kentucky back in the mid-1990s).

#32 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 03:33 PM:

Lee #30: Alas, it isn't obvious to me. I must lack some quality available only to right-wingers and fundies.

#33 ::: Maggie Brinkley ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 03:45 PM:

Fragano@28: As a practising Anglican Christian, I want to know how same-sex marriage threatens my own marriage, too. I do not understand the objections at all.

I am so delighted for George and Brad! I wish them, and everyone else who can now get married in California, many happy years ahead.

#34 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 04:10 PM:

Maggie Brinkley #33: You'll find quite a few people who'll be happy to tell that you're not a real Xtian if you aren't trying to make other people unhappy while telling them that you really love them.

#35 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 04:11 PM:

Fragano #32: I must lack some quality available only to right-wingers and fundies.

And a quality quality it is, too.

#36 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 04:41 PM:

What a wonderful, wonderful day.

#37 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 04:47 PM:


I think it may also have to do with what you conceive of marriage as. If you think marriage is one dominant husband-boss, who:
-makes all the decisions or has final say on all decisions
-brings home a paycheck
-pays the bills
-works on the car
-mows the grass

and a submissive wife-subordinate who:
-raises the children
-does the laundry, cooking, cleaning
-does what she is told,

then a gay marriage may make your brains seize up. The biological sex of the people does not tell you which rigid role they fill! Nevermind that for a lot of people, their man-and-woman marriage does not look like the above either. It's easier to ignore that than it is to ignore 2 men or 2 women together.

#38 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 05:12 PM:

My parents had a slide in their collection of one of the neighbors mowing their lawn.
The woman was mother to ten kids.
(I don't know why she was mowing that week, I think it was normally done by one of the sons. It embarrassed her.)

#39 ::: RP ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 05:17 PM:

Sumana, #19: Thanks for the links - they're lovely! Lisa and Beth Shapiro are under a chuppa, a Jewish wedding canopy.

#40 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 06:14 PM:

Fragano, #32: In addition to what Nancy says @37 (which is a pretty good explanation), I posted this in another thread recently; it includes a link that you might find interesting reading.

#41 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 06:19 PM:

There is one difference, as Rep. Barney Frank explained. "Now you have to buy a wedding present for that nice lesbian couple next door."

#42 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 07:24 PM:

Ah, Lee, that is what I was thinking of when I wrote 37! (I read a lot, and don't always remember where I absorbed the ideas.)

#43 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 08:00 PM:

Nancy C. Mittens #37: But more and more straight marriages don't have rigid sex roles, involve two earners, have males caring for children &c. That would seem to be as much a threat to the old model as Bill and Bob or Ann and Sue marrying each other.

#44 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 08:02 PM:

Lee #40: That's a thought-provoking piece (it doesn't take some things into account -- migration, different ethnic groups, race), but it does provide some explanation for cultural fears.

#45 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 08:43 PM:

Fragano, #43: Ah, but those people could be turned if they would only Accept Jesus! They're doing it wrong, yes, but only because they're misguided, not as a symbol of irretrievable evil. Remember, you should never give up on a sinner; anyone can be redeemed by God's Love if they will just open their hearts to it (AKA accept my personal version of the One True Way). But legitimizing the sin is something that must be fought to the last ditch and beyond.

#46 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 08:43 PM:

Hell, Britney Spears has done way more "damage" to marriage than George and Brad!

This reminds me of Torcon, when at least two gay couples whom I knew slightly got married. I made a point of buying "Wedding Congratulations!" cards for each of them.

#47 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 09:03 PM:

Re that video: Waitaminute! Does Brad know about George and Tim?

#48 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 09:05 PM:

Lee #45: Ah, yes. Unless, of course, one is an atheist.

#49 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 09:25 PM:

Is it really so hard to figure out why gay marriage is so threatening? If gays are getting married, it means that Bible literalists are no longer making the rules. It's the same fear that some white males show when they realize that for more women/minorities to be represented in the echelons of power, there will have to be fewer white men there.

It's not that they think there's a limited supply of happiness: it's that they realize, rightly, that there's a limited supply of power.

#50 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 09:45 PM:

Alex Cohen @ 49: That's a good bit of it, but it's not the only thing that drives them. Anti-Gay folks know with an utter certitude that they are right (with a capital R) and no one else is, and they just can't get over how no one else agrees with them.

I once had a major confrontation with someone on this topic; she kept posting about how she personally was being oppressed by all the gays who wanted to do Bad Things like have equal rights and so on. Every time I replied to her, she ignored me, and then complained to others that I was breaking the rules. She finally deigned to answer me, and claimed that she felt sorry for me. In no post of hers did she explain how I was oppressing her, yet that remained her mantra.

It's all about their worldview, and how no one seems to realize that. ;-)

#51 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 10:33 PM:

Fragano at 43,

Some of it is that a person can pretend that the family is "normal" as defined in 37, if the couple is a man and a woman. If the couple is the same sex, it is very obvious that someone is taking on *shock, horror* the role of the opposite sex - a man is acting like a woman, and doing womanish things! It does not occur to this person that no one has to lead and dominate, that a co-equal marriage can exist, that partners can decide for themselves who will do what, based on who is best or worst at what, who likes and dislikes different things, rather than the equipment in their pants.

#52 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 01:54 AM:

Ginger @ 50

For a lot of fundamentalists I think the problem is not that they know they're right, but that they are terrified that they might not be. There are many people who accept fundamentalist religions to get the certainty that they know what the rules are, so the chaos and uncertainty of the real world can't threaten them. But those rules all have to be right or that certainty is gone. Present them with the possibility that one of the rules is incorrect and their fear will cause them to respond with hostility and denunciation.

#53 ::: hamletta ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 02:46 AM:

Y'know what's funny? Martin Luther, who started the whole Big Bang that resulted in the creation of these (heretic) churches, was famously indifferent to what we think of as "traditional" gender roles.

His wife was the breadwinner, but beyond that, I remember a passage from his work where he talks about changing poopy diapers, and the people who would call him a girly-man for doing it.

He told them to piss off, that raising children was the Lord's work and was not to be diminished, no matter who did it.

How beautiful a cat is George Takei?! What faith his parents taught him—in this country, in its Constitution, in its people—that he could come out of an internment camp with such love and such a desire to work for the community.

And now he's all gay-married to his longtime partner! He's like a living illustration of Martin Luther King's idea: the arc of his history has bent toward justice, in a big, big way.

#54 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 04:12 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 28 What I want to how same-sex marriage threatens my marriage?
Thanks for asking this - I've often wondered about that as well.

Every so often I find myself explaining to Christian fundamentalists that homosexuality cannot properly be described as "unnatural", because it happens in nature - in several species with long-term relationships, studies have shown that some of those relationships are same-sex.

#55 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 04:48 AM:

I think Nancy and Lee have said it already; it's not that same sex marriage threatens Fragano's marriage; Fragano's marriage is already threatening the "traditional" (for lack of a better word) model described in #37. But because it looks like a "traditional" marriage, not only can they pretend that it really is, they can tell young people that this is the only model for marriage.

Fragano, I hope you and your wife are happy destroying this traditional model of marriage (I know I'm happy with you doing so).

#56 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 07:13 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @28: What I want to how same-sex marriage threatens my marriage?

Your wife may fall in love with another woman, and divorce you to marry her :)

Pardon the emoticon; I felt the line needed that extra 'wink'.

#57 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 07:14 AM:

Nancy C. Mittens #51: The assumption that men and women have fixed roles which are threatened by same-sex marriage is so absurd I'm amazed anyone could seriously bring it up. I sometimes wonder if the people who are making the argument really think that gayness is catching.

What worries me is the apparent underlying assumption that sexuality is chosen (I hear this sometimes from my students, they then start hemming and hawing when I ask about the conscious process of choice), and that homosexuality is both more attractive and morally inferior to heterosexuality. So society has to be protected from people who would be attracted to it and make the depraved choice. Letting gay couples marry each other would legitimise their evil choices and attract the unwary to an evil lifestyle, or something on those lines.

#58 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 07:29 AM:

Ginger #50: It sounds to me as if she were protesting a bit too much.

#59 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 07:31 AM:

Neil Willcox #55: Thanks, I think!

During the War, American soldiers in Britain were horrified when they came across interracial couples and forcibly separated them. Since quite a few of these couples were married, they were very shocked.

#60 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 07:34 AM:

Rob Rusick #56: Right!

#61 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 07:47 AM:

What worries me is the apparent underlying assumption that sexuality is chosen (I hear this sometimes from my students, they then start hemming and hawing when I ask about the conscious process of choice), and that homosexuality is both more attractive and morally inferior to heterosexuality. So society has to be protected from people who would be attracted to it and make the depraved choice. Letting gay couples marry each other would legitimise their evil choices and attract the unwary to an evil lifestyle, or something on those lines.

I suspect that these sorts of people don't care whether sexuality and sexual orientation is inborn or chosen. The point, to them, is that people are required to follow the "right" roles, and the issue of happiness, or whether those roles are natural to the individual, is irrelevant to them, since the roles are the "proper" ones.

People may be happy acting according to their inherent sexual orientation, and unhappy when forced to act otherwise. But that only matters if happiness matters. If you frame the desire for personal happiness as selfishness, and a vice, then every sane argument about lifestyle choice disappears.

You may not get to choose to be homosexual, but if you choose to live happily, as what you are, instead of filling the "proper" heterosexual role, that's the problem, to them. Conformity, not happiness or honesty, is the greatest, the only, virtue.

#62 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 08:23 AM:

Ursula L. #61: And those of us who do not want to be ruled by Procrustes, regardless of our sexual orientation, must be evil because 'error has no rights'? Ugh. Double ugh.

#63 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 11:55 AM:

dcb, #54: And do you notice how quickly they then switch from "We shouldn't do it because only sinful men do this, not innocent animals" to "We shouldn't do it because we're more than just animals"? I swear, it's like Weebles -- push down on one side, and the other pops up!

#64 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 12:58 PM:

Fragano @ 58: Well, I think she was a bit surprised to have resistance on her favorite topic ("Us Christians are Being Oppressed!!11!!"), which was in its latest iteration when I decided to jump in. It was one of those topics that would re-appear periodically, and huge discussions would go 'round and 'round. She and another fellow Oppressed!Christian would start it, fight everyone who didn't agree, and die down in mutterings. Except no one else rebutting them was openly gay, so I bit the bullet and made myself say something.

Every once in a while I get that bee in the bonnet and have to go pound my head against an immovable object. In other words, take a bull by the horns and lead it through the china shop.

I'd probably have a lot more success with the bull than with her. ;-)

Wrenching this back on topic, I hope (hope HOPE hope) California doesn't roll back the legal marriages for us. If the referendum is defeated, I think we'll take a trip to CA next year, to visit my aunt.

#65 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 04:08 PM:

Ginger #65: I think it is likely that the referendum in November will fail. We are seeing a cultural shift in which same-sex marriage has become acceptable to most people under forty, and in which a heck of a lot of people are not going to want to bust up Mr Sulu's marriage.

I hope you'll be able to take that trip to California.

#66 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 04:14 PM:

Lee @ 64
Yes. I know what you mean. I'm now trying to recall exactly which topic I was arguing with a fundie about where I couldn't get it through to them that they were arguing from two mutually contradictory positions at once - oh I know, the literality of the creation story - because they talk about how it's literally true (because, of course, everything in the Bible is "God's Word" and is literally true), but then do some handwavium when I point out Genesis contradicts itself - in Genesis 1, 26-28, male and female humans are created together, AFTER all the animals have been created. But in Genesis 2 5-22, man is made first, then the animals, then woman from man. So if every word in the Bible is literally true, which version is "correct" and why is the other version in there?

#67 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 04:24 PM:

dcb @ 67

That was the one thing that was interesting about the 64KB copy-and-paste from 'raphael' the other day: the argument that there was creation, and then there was a reboot/remake of everything following the 'oh, that didn't work out so well' of angels revolting (this was claimed as not a new creation of everything). It was clearly (to me) an attempt to reconcile the two versions and still have literal truth.

#68 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 04:37 PM:

Fragano @ 66: I hope so too. My aunt's been asking us when we're getting married -- for years now -- and my mother has too.

#69 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 04:41 PM:

Ginger @ 69... I hope you two finally get married.

#70 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 04:41 PM:

Ginger #69: Well, one of you has got to make an honest woman of the other obviously. Plus you have to send out invitations.

#71 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 05:03 PM:

When Ontario legalized same-sex marriage a few years ago, several lesbian couples of my acquaintance immediately got formally hitched. It was something they'd wanted to be able to do for years, they didn't want to risk the law being overturned... and they were gloriously happy to have the same formal recognition of their relationships as their married straight friends had.

There were a few others of my acquaintance who got married, just because they could, to make some kind of social/political point. In at least one case, that led to significant messiness later, when they learned about the legal consequences. Especially since, at that time, the laws about divorce didn't yet cover the same-sex cases.

I'm glad that the U.S. seems to be heading in the right direction on this issue. Finally.

#72 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 05:03 PM:

Serge, Fragano @ 70, 71: Thanks! I'm laughing to myself about the "honest woman" part..and then, to be honest, I can't help but think about challenging DOMA. We're both federal employees, and we're barred from identifying each other as "spouses" because of DOMA. The only protection we have is through our son.

I don't know. I think sending out invitations will be hard enough. ;-)

#73 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 05:06 PM:

Ginger @ 73... Just say that we would be invited if we could be invited and that'll be enough for us to feel invited.

#74 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 05:08 PM:

P J Evans @ 68

Where's the bit about the angels revolting? I can't find it. Certainly doesn't occur between Genesis , 28 and Genesis 2,5.

P.S. I wanted "this clip" for the first time this morning. Found myself chuckling about it at inappropriate moments all day.

#75 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 05:10 PM:

"watched" "this clip. "watched".

Why are typos always more visible after you've hit the "post button?

#76 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 05:20 PM:

Fragano #57:

I think the whole "is gayness a choice" question is, for a lot of people, also backfilled from a set of feelings/hopes to an assertion about the universe--in particular, if you don't want to believe that your son is really, honest-to-god gay, then you have a strong reason to believe that it's a choice, that somehow he can pray or meditate or medicate himself into being straight.

Now, I have absolutely no idea whether that's possible. Zero. I can't visualize how I'd make myself change sexual orientation if I wanted do, but maybe that's just lack of imagination.

It's worth pointing out that the "being gay is inborn, not a choice" position doesn't have much inherent connection with gay rights. For folks who are mortally offended by the existence of gays, believing that gays are born that way wouldn't make them less offended--they'd just say "see, just like psychopaths, gays can't help it that they're evil, so we have to lock them up/treat them/whatever." Similarly, I have a hard time seeing many people who are pro-gay-rights changing their minds upon, say, strong evidence that it's possible to change your sexual orientation with therapy or willpower. Why would it matter? With great effort and willpower, I could presumably also change religions, or change fields, or substantially change all kinds of things about my life. What business of anyone else's would that be?

#77 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 05:32 PM:

It was in a comment that got deleted, on the Darwinfish thread, but I also found a copy at 'Millard Fillmore's Bathtub'. It's certainly not in any version of the bible that I've ever read. I think it's exegesis, not theology (where's Terry when you need him?). There was a lot of parsing of Hebrew verbs involved, and reading between lines that the rest of us don't see that way. I have the thing saved - it was one of those that you want to read just to see what they're getting at, because it wasn't crazy on the first glance.

#78 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 05:34 PM:

Fragano #66:

A friend pointed out a fun legal/political question associated with this, a couple days ago. Suppose the state wipes out all those marriages because of the referrendum. Wouldn't that be sorta like a taking? (If someone externally dissolved my marriage, I'd certainly think it so. It's surely more of a taking by the state than some restrictive change in zoning laws!) Could the affected couples sue for compensation from the state?

Ginger: If any conservatives complain about your getting married, you should simply explain that you're trying to decrease the number of unwed mothers in your state by two. (Though I still want to know, when two women get married, whose father holds the shotgun.)

#79 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 05:38 PM:

was that a gay-marriage statute, or a grey-marriage statute? the notable couples rushing to marry seem to be the older ones, the two women who were first to be married, now Mr. Takei and partner. I suppose, since they've been waiting longest, it's only fair.

#80 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 06:22 PM:

Ginger @ 73 // Serge @ 74 : a photo of the happy family would be nice ....

#81 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 08:17 PM:

Ginger #73: DOMA needs to be overturned. It is unjust law, and thus contrary to the basic principles on which law should rest.

One of you, from what I can gather, may or may not need to be vetted.

Serge #74: Hear! Hear!

#82 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 08:25 PM:

albatross #77: True, it doesn't matter to a lot of homophobes whether gayness is a choice or not. I just have a hard time with people who tell me that I chose to be straight, when I know full well that I did no such thing.

I understand your point about the wishful thinking of some people -- my daughter can't be a lesbian, and I can straighten her out (no pun intended); my son is confused, and prayer or medication will fix the problem -- leading them to see homosexuality as a willful, or sinful choice. That's not, however, how it's normally presented to me. The impression I've been getting is that some people seem to believe that sexuality is a kind of buffet and people can pick and choose what they want.

#83 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 08:30 PM:

albatross #79: It is my understanding that when Southern states outlawed interracial marriage in the late 19th/early 20th century they annulled existing marriages. Had Roddenberry's federal constitutional amendment been passed, it would have voided all interracial marriages in the US at the time.

Same-sex marriages contracted in 2004 in San Francisco were voided, as I recall.

#84 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 08:49 PM:

We all know what a radical firebrand I am, right? So you won't be surprised when I say this: if same-sex marriage really does (by some mechanism never explained) threaten or harm The Institution Of Marriage™, then TIOM™ is ipso facto an unjust, unfair, and immoral entity, and must be destroyed!

Yep. Burn it to the ground.

Then replace it with a just, fair, inclusive version. Grandfather in all the people who are married already. And just to put the final nail in the coffin of TIOM™, we'll call this brand-new, upgraded-to-justice version...marriage.

That's it. Not "Marriage 2.0" or anything. Let the old institution find its place on the ash-heap of history...nay, let it be forgotten outside of classrooms and ponderous tomes that any such thing ever existed. Let high school students be astonished to learn that same-sex marriage was once against the law, as some are now that interracial marriage once was.

Death, death, DEATH I say a third time, to The Institution Of Marriage™!

Long live marriage, its just successor.

#85 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 09:27 PM:

Xopher -- sounds like a winner to me! I'm chewing over a post about What Marriage Means To Me, and the answer is not TIOM. It's mostly about declaring someone my legal next of kin for all the purposes that would have. Interestingly enough, that's what has emotional meaning to me -- the idea of having everyone recognize that my partner is my family. Because I think of it that way -- as essentially a way of officially stating that you have chosen a new next of kin -- I see no reason why it shouldn't be extended to partners of any gender combination (and in numbers greater than two). Families can look like lots of things.

#86 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 09:50 PM:

Jon @ 80

Actually, there have been quite a few younger ones also.

#87 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 10:55 PM:

albatross @ 79: After I laughed, I thought that my partner's dad would have loved to be the one holding the shotgun. It would have appealed to his sense of humor. Sadly though, it will fall to my dad to hold it, and he has only an air rifle. I suppose that will do.

Serge @74: A lovely idea! Please consider yourselves invited, in theory if not yet in fact.

Ronit @ 81: Photos can be negotiated. ;-)

#88 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 11:05 PM:

Ginger, we'll throw a shower!

#89 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 11:13 PM:

Marilee @ 89: Oh no! We have plenty of toasters already!

Wait, this is Making Light, so..well, yes, I would like more books, thank you. My partner might grumble about all the space occupied by books, but I have a sekret weapon.


#90 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 11:20 PM:

A shower for Ginger and her partner thrown by readers of Making Light? Ginger, prepare for far more knitted gifts than you can possibly use. :-)

#91 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2008, 11:44 PM:

Allan, accurate now, but at the time the shower will take place it will be Ginger and her fiancée. I know you know this, but I just couldn't deny myself the pleasure of typing it!

#92 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2008, 12:26 AM:

Fragano, #83: Only once have I encountered the argument that being straight was also a choice -- and the person who said it was also trying to tell me, with a perfectly straight face, that a virgin CANNOT be either gay or straight because they haven't made a choice yet. You can imagine the amount of eyeroll I was doing.

The more common argument by far is that being straight is the default setting* for humans, installed by God (presumably at the same time as the installation of the soul), and that therefore anyone who is gay has made the deliberate choice to go against what God intended for him (they always use male pronouns) to be.

This at least makes a twisted sort of sense -- the reasoning itself is sound, it's the base postulate that's flawed. This is also why the "and when did you choose to be straight" counter-argument often doesn't work; straightness being assumed to be the default, no choice needs to be made in that direction.

* They don't generally actually use the phrase "default setting" because few of them are computer-oriented. But the wording they use makes the concept clear enough.

#93 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2008, 12:35 AM:

That first paragraph - dear Ghu, even second hand that statement induces eye-rolling.

#94 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2008, 02:43 AM:

Lee #93: One of the first people I ever came out to objected that, since I'd (at that point) never had a boyfriend or a girlfriend, let alone any sexual activity, how could I really know? I of course asked her (in the same boat) if she knew that she was straight, and she insisted that it was different. Nonsensical as all hell.

#95 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2008, 04:24 AM:

Caroline @86

I like my husband's description: getting married is a public statement of a private committment.

It also happens to have various legal connetations regarding e.g. financial assets and, as you indicated, declaration of a Next of Kin.

#96 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2008, 10:27 AM:

Allan @91, Xopher @92: You guys are making me laugh. My par- er, fiancée would be rolling her eyes, if only she could read ML.


#97 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2008, 10:33 AM:

Ginger @ 97... if only she could read ML.

"My eyes! My eyes!"

#98 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2008, 10:41 AM:

Lee #93: I've found myself being told more or less that -- that heterosexuality is chosen, and then getting evasions, and excuses when I ask why I don't seem to recall choosing to prefer women to men. I haven't heard the 'virgins are neuter' one yet, but it is logically consistent, if humanly impossible.

I have come across the 'heterosexuality as default setting' argument more often. But I find the idea of sexuality as choice so bizarre that I've had to wonder how people could come up with it. Most people I know have either not given much thought to the matter, or have had to spend a lot of time grappling with the fact that their desires and instincts are at variance from the norm. The idea that someone would choose a sexuality that could lead to them being despised and rejected by friends and family is beyond bizarre, it is simply insane.

#99 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2008, 11:47 AM:

"Science Daily" has a very interesting item about male homosexuality and Darwinian evolution. Genetically speaking, it's not any connection one would expect!

#100 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2008, 12:01 PM:

#100 - Faren Miller -

I don't think I understood most of it. I came away with two main thoughts:

1. It looks like the sshls that say boys are gay because of their mothers are sort of, in a twisted and not-what-they-meant way, right. I'm amused by that, though I feel like maybe I shouldn't be.

2. The article has information pre-formatted for you to copy and paste for citations at the bottom! How cool is that?

#101 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2008, 12:07 PM:

Fragano @ 99, and others: I used to debate this a lot on Baen's Bar, and I remember one of the points I used to make: evolution does not favor only the positive adaptations, it simply does not punish anything that isn't maladaptive. In other words, evolution is a double negative. If your mutation isn't immediately lethal, you get to pass it on. Look at the example of Huntington's Chorea or other diseases that show up late in life, ultimately killing the person -- but well after they've passed on their genes.

Look at sickle cell anemia: homozygous people die young, but heterozygous people are relatively protected from malaria, which is the benefit that kept SCA in the human population.

Just because many homosexuals do not have children does not equate to all homosexuals are child-less, so that is not going to be a maladaptation from a population perspective. And human sexuality isn't a discrete clumping of types, but a fluid distribution across a spectrum of possibilities, and further complicated by the fact that we can -- in some cases -- change our minds about what we like or don't like.

But the bottom line is, as long as the mutation (or other change) is not immediately lethal, the population will contain it. If any benefit accrues to having that change, then population pressure will maintain it at a higher level within the population.

Wow..when I took population genetics in college, I never thought I'd use it again.

#102 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2008, 12:13 PM:

Faren @100 -- It's interesting, but it's a model, so essentially it's speculation. Also, I think the researcher's emphasis on female fecundity is missing the point. A trait may persist in a population if it enhances survival for the population that carries it. Fecundity is one thing that might promote survival, but it is only one of many possible factors, and it could also have a negative effect. I like the "extra uncles" model myself. Children may be more likely to survive and prosper if there are extra male relatives contributing to the community but not competing sexually with the children's fathers.

#103 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2008, 02:14 PM:

Faren Miller @ 100
A very interested paper (PLosONE is open access, if anyone wants to read the original paper). I hadn't previously heard about the maternal-line female fecundity link to male homosexuality. Without claiming to have worked through all the maths in the paper, the model does appear to work (i.e. fit the known facts). The fact that they looked at various possibilities and found that one of them worked (rather than looking at only one possibility) is a plus point.

TomB @ 103

"extra uncles". Yes, I've often thought of that as a simple explanation for the continuing presence of homosexuals in humans. Human infants and children need so much care and attention, that having some extra adults around who are less likely to be procreating themselves, and therefore can assist more with other people's children, is beneficial.

#104 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2008, 02:17 PM:

Ginger #102: Plus we get socially pressured to do things we may or may not want to; we may be forced into marriage, whether we want to or not; we may choose not to act on our desires because of fear or shame; our own desires may not always be clear to us; or they may not be one single thing. Sexuality is complex, not simple, after all.

And love is not a simple thing either. Some people want to regulate that, and demand that others love only as they see fit. I've had to endure being told that my father was a traitor, that I must hate myself and must hate all women of colour. That my mother and my wives* are whores, that they are part of a criminal conspiracy against black women, and that I must think myself too good for black women and should be brought down a peg or two. At the same time, the idea that interracial marriage is wrong is not in the same category as the idea that same-sex marriage is wrong, oh no, and how dare I suggest it!

* One at a time, not all at once.

#105 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2008, 03:20 PM:

Fragano @105: Yes, why is it that people feel the need to tell you that you're doing it wrong and then turn around to deny their own errors?

And how can love ever be labeled as "wrong"? I just don't understand that. "That person is no good for you" -- that I can understand, although it can certainly be debatable.

#106 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2008, 07:33 PM:

P J Evans @ 68

"Revolting? They're disgusting!"


We don't need invitations to be delighted you're getting married. Just let us know when the ceremony is and we'll raise a glass at the right time. Though I certainly wouldn't say no to a piece of wedding cake. :-)

dcb @ 104
Most laypeople seem to get stuck on the idea of differential reproduction meaning that the maximum number of offspring win. There are lots of examples of why this is a naive notion, from the tradeoffs between high-R and high-K reproductive strategies to the kin-selection that occurs in eusocial species.

Jumping on one of my favorite hobbyhorses and galloping off in all directions, I'll claim that one of the biggest sources of confusion is the insistence that there be a single "unit" that's selected. Dawkins says it's a single gene, Salthe used to say it was the species (IIRC he got that from Simpson, but then my study of evolution has been an equilibrium for decades punctuated by occasional binges of reading), but changed his mind, a lot of people claim it's the population, and I'm tempted to say it's the gene constellation, but I'm not really convinced. So until someone can convince me otherwise, I'll say that what's selected depends on what part of the elephant you're looking at just then. Unless there's recent work that addresses this issue, I'd prefer to treat it the way most physicists treat the question of the interpretation of quantum theory: "Who cares as long as the models are predictive?"

#107 ::: Joe McMahon ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2008, 08:17 PM:

I heard a radio commercial for a local (SF Bay Area) jeweler a couple days ago - the usual diamond shilling - but, heard a male voice say, "When I proposed to Brad, ...".

That made me so happy.

#108 ::: Leslie in CA ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2008, 09:08 PM:

Congratulations to all the happy couples! I really love that photo of George and Brad. There will be a lot of us in Cali working to defeat the marriage amendment (and the latest iteration of the parental notification law), so I'm hopeful it / they won't pass.

Bruce Cohen @52: Having spent several years in fundamentalist churches, I think there's a great deal of truth in this. There's a verse in Hebrews, much quoted by fundamentalists, that (essentially) equates faith with certainty. Lack of certainty is therefore lack of faith, and a grievous sin to be avoided at all cost. Add in the fact that they think gay sex is icky, and you have a gut-level response that they'll twist themselves into all sorts of rhetorical and logical knots trying to justify, as all y'all have so ably explored upthread.

#109 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2008, 10:44 PM:

Joe, #108: That made me go "Awwwww!" right out loud.

#110 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2008, 08:11 AM:

#108, Joe -

I bounced in my chair. It's like hearing the news all over again. That's *wonderful*.

#111 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2008, 12:42 PM:

Joe @ 108: Aww! That makes me laugh and cry at the same time.

#112 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2008, 12:49 PM:

Joe @ 208... Let's hear it for the Bay Area, sweaty armpit of America the Beautiful. I'll be there the week of July 14 so I should probably get a little something for my buddy André and his hubby. Then again, I think he'd like a hug so a hug he shall receive.

#113 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2008, 01:02 PM:

Serge @ 113: There's a tiny chance I might be there that week as well, toward the end of it. If you're free at the same time I am, I'd love to meet yet another Fluorospherian.

#114 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2008, 01:10 PM:

Jojm A Arkansawyer @ 114... I don't know for sure what plans my relatives have (especially my 6-year-old nephew who thinks his comics-loving uncle is the coolest uncle), but I'll keep your invitation in mind. I'll be working in SF that whole week, but I'll be staying in Concord the first half of the week, and in the Oakland Hills the rest of it. By the way, would you happen to be going to the worldcon?

#115 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2008, 04:34 PM:

Joe, that's EXCELLENT. Thank you for brightening my day!

It made me think: Now the jewelers have even more people to sell wedding, engagement, anniversary gifts to. And the bridal companies! And the bakers, baking wedding cakes! And, and, and... heck, I think if you get together all the wedding industries in California, they could have a powerful effect in the amendment referendum fight coming up. Surely they'd oppose having their suddenly inflated potential consumer base be diminished again?

Corporate lobbying! For good and righteousness! Huzzah!

#116 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2008, 05:05 PM:

There's a small company in Southern California that makes interchangeable figures for wedding cakes. Male, female, black, white, Asian, Old One maybe. Up until this month, they'd been having a hard time convincing wedding-cake builders that this was a Good Thing. Now they're swamped with orders!
(They started because one of the founders wanted figures to match their own wedding (interethnic, I gathered), and the available stuff wasn't doing it.)

#117 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2008, 05:59 PM:

tom #103: I don't think the math works out on that idea, at least if you think in terms of genes. That is, if my genes lead me to not reproduce but spend more time with my nephews and nieces, they will almost certainly leave fewer copies of themselves than if they lead me to both reproduce and take pretty good care of my nephews and nieces. Assuming perfect knowledge of relationships, my nephews share 1/4 of my genes, while my kids share 1/2, so my having a child would have to, in general, kill off two of my nephews for this to work out. (In the sense of my taking less time to help nephews because I'm worried about feeding my own kids.)

You might get this result from group selection, which was probably important for early humans--I don't feel like I have much intuition for how that would work out.

#118 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2008, 06:29 PM:

General thoughts: The maternal-fecundity thing would be a correlation guessing at a proximate cause. The extra-uncles thing would be a guess at possible selection pressures on the population level. Those are operating at different levels, so they're not in conflict. In any case, any attempt at evolutionary explanation needs to account for the nonhuman examples....

One of the most likely, but least "satisfying", explanations would be along the lines of "why men have nipples" -- that is, the "circuits" for both "mate targeting" and social bonding with either gender, are "commonly available" to development. Yes, there's a "usual rule" about which one gets emphasized in the developing brain, but that rule can be overridden not only by some "evolutionary purpose", but by "mere" developmental disruption. Of course, "sports of nature" in general are easily co-opted for whatever purpose, by evolution and/or society. (Q.v. the autistic spectrum and other "diversities".)

#119 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2008, 08:35 PM:

albatross@118 - well, it might not be a drive to specifically spend more time with your nieces and nephews, but instead more generally to help provide for or take care of any children in the vicinity. Remember, in small-clan settings in which these things most likely evolved, most nearby children would be related in some way or other.

In any case, if men were more likely to die off in hunting accidents or war, then having extra males around who weren't specifically attached to one female and one set of children could be very helpful to the survival of the overall group.

#120 ::: Jim Satterfield ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2008, 10:02 PM:

Many years ago when Susan and I lived in Tulsa and were on the committee for OKon a group put on a Trek convention and invited the committee to the pre-con party/press reception. It suddenly occurred to the chair that he was sending the hotel limo to pick up George Takei and he had no one associated with the con to go with him and thought it would be considerate to do so. He knew Susan and I wouldn't be fawning fans and asked us to do it. He was great. Pleasant to talk to and generally interesting. He asked about jogging in the area of the hotel and I told him that there shouldn't be any problem and somehow we got to the subject of his interest in classical architecture and restoration of older buildings. We had the limo driver swing by a couple of projects going on in downtown Tulsa at the time so he could see how close they were to the hotel if he wanted to see more of them when the light was better. I'm really, really happy for him and his partner. They do look so happy. He definitely deserves any happiness he finds, IMO.

#121 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2008, 10:44 PM:

Jim @ 121: I hope you sent him to see the KRJH tower.

#122 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2008, 11:22 PM:

Albatross: What you're not considering is the K-vs.r issue -- that is, investment vs. numbers. Humans are the highest-K species there is -- raising our kids takes many years of care and support, and even then they're pretty vulnerable. In modern times, we've made huge strides in protecting our children from disease and even accidents -- but only in the most developed areas, and that protection is damned fragile! Witness measles returning to Britain within a generation of parents slacking off on vaccinations... and for accidents, the classic cry of such tragedies is "I only looked away for a minute!" Especially before modern medicine, just having the spare adults handy to supervise the kids makes a huge difference.

So under pre-modern conditions, the math is more like: Under hazardous overall conditions (not enough food, dangerous environment, etc.), you could easily 50% or less odds to "replace yourself" (that is, two kids survive to adulthood, bearing 3/4 of your genome). By helping out with the rest of the family "full-time" (because you're not busy looking after your own kids), you might well enable the survival of two to four "quarterlings" who would otherwise have fallen by the wayside. That's breaking even, which is the whole point of the "kin-selection" argument....

#123 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2008, 11:26 PM:

Whoops, and I just highballed my own example... with 50% odds of two surviving kids, you only need to "rescue" two nephews/nieces to break even.

#124 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2008, 02:48 PM:

tom #103: I don't think the math works out on that idea, at least if you think in terms of genes. That is, if my genes lead me to not reproduce but spend more time with my nephews and nieces, they will almost certainly leave fewer copies of themselves than if they lead me to both reproduce and take pretty good care of my nephews and nieces. Assuming perfect knowledge of relationships, my nephews share 1/4 of my genes, while my kids share 1/2, so my having a child would have to, in general, kill off two of my nephews for this to work out. (In the sense of my taking less time to help nephews because I'm worried about feeding my own kids.)

You're assuming that you have an unlimited amount of time, so that you'd be able to do a top-notch job for both your children and your nieces and nephews. But time and energy are limited, so you're apt to give less attention to your sibling's offspring while focusing on your own.

Say there is a recessive gene that leads to homosexuality, and being a "good aunt or uncle." Their heterosexual siblings are likely to be carriers for that gene. And those sibling's children would have the benefit of having a caring aunt or uncle, more likely to survive, and more likely to pass that recessive trait on.

The occasional double-recessive, who is homosexual, is less like to reproduce, but more likely to help preserve that gene through carrier-siblings.

Plus, at least for men, you could not, traditionally, be certain of your own offspring. (And trying to be sure led to a lot of oppression of women in the process.) But you can be certain of the offspring of your sister being related to you. Without restricting the activities of their mother (and her ability to care for them) in order to ensure certainty.

For women, you can't be sure you, or your children, will survive childbirth. And if you die, your children are less likely to be well cared for, and are more likely to die. But you can be sure you are related to your sister's children, you know you'll survive the pregnancy, and if your sister doesn't survive, you know you'll care for children who are related to you.

In either case, you're more likely to be alive and caring for children who are related to you genetically if you are caring for your sibling's children, than if you have your own. A lower return on investment, but a greater chance of success (with three adults focused on the survival of one woman's children, instead of two), and less chance of personally loosing all.

#125 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2008, 05:50 PM:


I think you need to apply that 50% mortality rate to my nieces and nephews, too.

The math here isn't too complicated. Ignoring sex chromosomes, any gene I have has a 1/2 probability of being in each of my kids, and a 1/4 probability of being in each of my nephews. The only situation in which the no-kids gene should win in kin-selection terms is when the cost of getting one of my kids to adulthood is that two of my nephews don't make it to adulthood. That is, I have to be about twice as effective at taking care of my nephews as I'd have been taking care of my own kids. This could happen in some lifeboaty situations, but it's hard to imagine it being at all common.

If homosexuality evolved partly as a way to get more adults watching related kids, I think it must have happened at the group level. Tribes which had more adults not making kids (maybe using gay romance/sex as a way to establish alliances within or between tribes) did better, and since those tribes tended to share a lot of genetic material and to survive or fail as a group, the tribes that succeeded tended to be ones in which a certain fraction of people were gay, or could turn gay in certain environmental conditions. (A natural question is what these would be. Is being raised in overcrowded conditions, or being short on food as a baby/child/preteen, correlated to being gay? Being a later-born male is correlated with homosexuality, which kind-of supports this idea.)

I rather suspect that there's something else going on. The human mind is complicated as hell, and all kinds of our insticts are twisted and turned in odd ways that may be functional or just random. And evolution isn't a human engineer, designing with a plan in mind--in practice, if a gene for homosexuality exists, that's not "for" some reason, but rather because that's the way the gene frequencies worked out, under the influence of various levels of selection and a nice dolop of randomness.

#126 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2008, 09:09 PM:

albatross @ 126" in practice, if a gene for homosexuality exists, that's not "for" some reason, but rather because that's the way the gene frequencies worked out, under the influence of various levels of selection and a nice dolop of randomness.

That's exactly what I was saying, earlier. The existence of a gene in a population tells us nothing about the "meaning" of such a gene. It tells us only that the gene is not lethal to enough members of that population. No gene has to be obviously beneficial. It's good enough as long as it isn't the opposite of beneficial in some very small way (i.e., SCA versus malaria).

#127 ::: coffeedryad ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2008, 12:24 PM:

Albatross@126: I'm trying to find the study without much success right now, but I seem to recall that increasing stress levels in rats leads to higher incidence of same-sex mating behaviour, and that overpopulation and food shortages are the most effective stressors at so doing.

#128 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2008, 01:14 PM:

In regards to the math working out, I agree with the comments that it's more complicated than that. From what little I know of biology, adaptive systems are inherently complex. Systems include diverse elements that can activate or take different roles as needed. These systems are amazingly efficient and responsive. It just seems like common sense and part of the pattern that our sexuality would be complex too.

But the main thing is I'm really happy because some friends of mine are getting married tonight, officially.

#129 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2008, 09:44 PM:

A new study shows brain differences between gays and straights. Doesn't say anything about bis.

#130 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2008, 09:57 PM:

Marilee, I'd be surprised if they didn't see stuff like that.
It's been known for years that hormones affect brain development in interesting ways: they've studied DES kids (kids, not: most are middle-aged now), and that stuff does things to the internal wiring. I'm surprised they aren't putting the different studies together, though, to see the larger picture.

#131 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2008, 03:34 PM:

I'm curious if the gene frequencies aren't skewed by the small size of tribal gene pools. So there's a greater chance of the uncle's genes being present in the nephew because they're inherited down more than one path from the previous generations.

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