Bisexuality – Here’s What It Isn’t

Warren and Obama should be pretty worried about the tide of hostility that’s been rushing their way lately, mainly because they’ve got people like Mona Charen trying to defend them. I’ve said some fairly disparaging things about the Religious Right in the past, but her latest Townhill article contains some mind-bogglingly stupid arguments that go far beyond the usual ‘traditional values’ nonsense. Spreading misinformation is always dangerous, particularly when your subject is one as volatile as same-sex marriage, yet Charen seems content to do it with reckless abandon.

She begins by giving the usual spiel about same-sex marriage eventually opening the doors for polygamy and paedophilic marriage (and more on that in a minute), but backs it up with what appears to be a profound misunderstanding of what bisexuality is; apparently, the B in ‘GLBT’ sunders all attempts at justifying gay marriage.

But consider the name that many gay activists have adopted. You no longer see gay and lesbian alone. Instead, the new terminology is LGBT — lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. Lesbians and gays say that without gay marriage, they cannot fully express themselves as they really are. But what about bisexuals? I ask this not to poke fun or to hurt anyone’s feelings, but in all seriousness. How does gay marriage help a bisexual? I assume that if you are bisexual, you believe that you need to have sexual relationships with both men and women. If you are a bisexual man married to a woman, don’t you need to break the marriage bond to express your bisexuality? If you choose to express just the homosexual side of your bisexuality, then aren’t you gay? Likewise, if you choose to express only the heterosexual side, how are you a bisexual? Why is bisexuality not a recipe for infidelity?

I shouldn’t have to point out that the most erroneous part of this near-incoherent paragraph is ‘I assume that if you are bisexual, you believe that you need to have sexual relationships with both men and women’, a sentence to which I would reply ‘You assume wrong’. Bisexuals are people who either have sex with males and females or are attracted to both males and females. A bisexual man married to a woman is probably not going to wake up one morning with a pressing need to immediately have sex with another man lest he spontaneously become heterosexual – if he’s attracted to people of both sexes, he’s bisexual.

Why is it that bisexuality is so frequently misunderstood? And this goes double for homosexuals, who really should know better than to judge someone prematurely based on a scant knowledge (at best) of what their sexual orientation is.

Regardless, bisexuality is only an issue for same-sex marriage proponents in whatever fantasy land Mona Charen resides in, but she does raise some other, potentially more troubling issues. It’s the usual ‘slipper slope’ argument, but it’s something that I haven’t addressed in much detail here.

Where do you draw a line? Once traditional marriage — supported by centuries of civilization and the major Western religions — is undermined in the name of love, there is no logical or principled reason to forbid polygamy, polyandry, or even incest. Gay activists recoil from incest. But on what grounds exactly? Suppose, after we formalize gay marriage, two 25-year-old sterile (to remove the health of offspring argument) twins wish to marry? Let’s suppose they are loving and committed. What is the objection? That it offends custom and tradition? That it offends God? Isn’t that just bigotry?

I have absolutely no problem with polygamous marriages, provided that all involved consent to the union and that there is total equality in how the marriage is arranged – in other words, provided that any number of men and women can be married, as opposed to a single man being allowed to marry multiple women but not the other way around. I’ve seen it pointed out that there are some potential difficulties in extending the legal benefits of two-person marriage to multiple partners, but I don’t see anything insurmountable about that.

I also have no problem with incestuous relationships or marriages in which there is no possibility of childbirth (for example, where one or both partners are sterile or where the couple is homosexual). Things become slightly more complicated when there is a possibility of childbirth, of course, but consider the following: people with a very high chance of passing on genetic disorders are generally not prevented from marrying or having children. (As far as I’m aware, people who are knowingly infected with HIV are also allowed to marry.) On top of that, an incestuous couple that was determined to have children could simply do so without being married; as I’ve pointed out time and time again, there is a complete disconnect between the ability to procreate and the willingness of the state to grant a marriage license. With that in mind ask, yourself this: do we prevent incestuous couples from marrying because of the risk of inbreeding, or do we prevent them from marrying (and shun their relationships) due to knee-jerk disgust? And does that disgust have any sort of rational basis?

Charen does not bring up paedophillic relationships again, but I’ll state the obvious and point out that they’re generally viewed as abhorrent in most societies for good reason. (Note that I’m talking about relationships with prepubescent children or young teenagers; there are of course places where marriage between adults and fifteen or sixteen year olds is acceptable, but I’ll leave that topic for another day.) Young children are simply not mature enough to be in romantic, committed, sexual relationships with anyone, let alone with adults who may be several times older than they are. Curiously, I have yet to see anyone on the Religious Right argue that such marriages should be illegal based on a child’s inability to become pregnant (or to impregnate someone). Given that marriage exists for the purpose of facilitating procreation, shouldn’t this be their number one argument against paedophillic marriage?

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2 Responses to “Bisexuality – Here’s What It Isn’t”


  1. 1 kip December 27, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    I have only one thing to say to Charen and her ilk. She poses the question, “Where do you draw the line?”
    My response, Who died and left you in charge of DRAWING the line?

  2. 2 augustine December 27, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    They’ve got the popular vote, so I guess it’s up to them ;)


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