Homosexuality has been a widely debated topic during the last decade. Based on John Corvino’s essay “Why Shouldn’t Tommy and Jim Have Sex? A Defense of Homosexuality” we will rationally study any argument that could prove homosexual sex wrong and we will discuss whether homosexual couples should be allowed to marry. The first and most discussed reason that Corvino explores, states that homosexuality is unnatural and therefore wrong. As the term unnatural seems too ambiguous, Corvino shows us five different definitions that could show the immorality behind homosexuality. I will exemplify how these definitions do not show how homosexuality is wrong. The first one defines unnatural as what is unusual, however, this arguments fails in that the lack of frequency of an act cannot affect its moral standing. In a society where there are mainly white people, black people would be unusual, but it does not mean they are immoral. Second, Corvino argues the point of view that what animals do not do is immoral. However, a 1999 research by Bruce Begamhil shows that in fact there are more than 500 animals that engage in homosexual behavior.1 Furthermore, moral behavior is not dictated by animals, as they do not perform many activities that are not immoral; like taking a shower. Third, Corvino studies the definition that unnatural, and therefore immoral, is what is not an innate desire. Some people believe that homosexuality is innate and therefore moral, but as some innate desires tend to deal with immoral issues like violence, this does not mean it is moral. In the case that homosexuality was not innate, we argue that just because your desire is not innate, it does not mean it is immoral; like the desire of a right-footed soccer player to shoot with his left foot. The fourth definition is about the violation of the organ’s main function: the inability to reproduce with homosexual behavior; however our organs could also be used for pleasure and not only for their main function like when we use our mouth to smoke and not to eat or talk. Finally, Corvino defines unnatural as what is disgusting. But, with this definition, the argument fails on that there are activities some people believe to be disgusting and are not immoral like a colonoscopy. With these five definitions of the adjective “unnatural” set by Corvino, my examples have shown us how they fail to categorize homosexuality as immoral. The next reason by Corvino that could define homosexuality as immoral is that it harms others. These claims talk about how homosexuality promotes depression, sickness and harms children and society. There is some statistical information about this; however, we have to keep in mind that correlation does not equal cause. So, if there is a majority of homosexuals suffering depression, their sexuality does not necessarily explain their suffering; it could be society’s rejection for example. Furthermore, heterosexual sex is as risky as homosexual sex under such conditions that allow the contraction of diseases; therefore, homosexuality cannot be labeled as immoral because of this risk. One last argument is that homosexuality threatens children and society as a whole. Some people believe that homosexuality fosters child-abuse, but as there are homosexual child-molesters, there are also heterosexual child-molesters, so we can conclude that sexuality does not have anything to do with this issue. Second, some people argue that homosexuality is bad because it promotes homosexuality in children. This is false, because you cannot simply state that something is bad because it will make people want to do it and, in addition, there is no proof that exposure to homosexuality leads children to become homosexual. Finally, there is the argument that homosexuality is wrong because it threatens society due to lack of reproduction, but, as celibacy is not immoral, homosexuality should not be considered immoral for this reason. With this logic, we see how homosexuality actually does not harm anyone. One of the most quoted arguments against homosexuality is the religious one. Corvino basically states that the biblical interpretations could be accommodated so that there would not be anything wrong with homosexuality. One more reason Corvino does not talk about is that religion premises should not be considered for moral conclusions. Similar to cultural relativism, religious moral rules are based on autocratic statements that do not allow the criticism of other or our own acts and moral progress would be impossible. Therefore we can say that religion fails to prove homosexuality immoral. The last argument that Corvino discusses cites the slippery-slope logic: if we accept homosexuality, why would not we accept bestiality, incest, etc.? This idea fails on that there is no logical connection between homosexuality and the other behaviors. Decades ago, when debating interracial marriage, people used to quote this same argument, but, as we have seen, there is no logical connection between these issues. One last reason that people tend to quote, however Corvine fails to include in his essay, is that homosexuality goes against the social conventions and the stability of society and therefore it is wrong. It might be true that homosexuality goes against our social “rules”, but society’s conventions are not always moral or stagnant. Social paradigms are constantly changing. For example, in 1930 interracial sexual relationships used to go against the social rules, but as we know now, this behavior is not immoral. So the fact that homosexuality does not follow our typical societal behavior does not make it wrong. As we have seen there are not good reasons to think that homosexual sex is wrong, but, based on this premise, should homosexual couples be legally permitted to marry? Yes. If their behavior is not immoral, a marriage would only bring benefits to them and to the society. The private benefits would be self-realization for the couples, happiness and economical benefits that married couples get. The benefits for society are the same as the benefits of any heterosexual couples: stability, equality and much more. Therefore if homosexual sex is morally acceptable, homosexual marriage should also be accepted. Based on the arguments we have here discussed, we conclude that there are no good reasons to think homosexual sex is wrong. And, finally, based on this premise, homosexual couples should also be allowed to marry due to the benefits it union might bring to them and to society.
Bruce Bagemhl, Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity, St. Martin’s Press, 1999. John Corvino, “Why Shouldn’t Tommy and Jim Have Sex?”, in Russ Shafer-Landau, The Ethical Life, 2nd Edition, OUP, 2012, 237-50.