Same-sex marriage bans: just another type of eugenics

August 16, 2006 | By | 10 Replies More

It’s time we acknowledge that conservative (Republican) efforts to ban same-sex marriage are just another type of eugenics.  The history of the 20th-century is full of examples of majorities that tried to deter or prevent “undesirable” minority groups from having families.  The mentally ill, the mentally disabled, the physically deformed, the congenitally diseased, etc., have all been victims of majority efforts to ban them from having families.  Likewise, today, conservatives don’t have public support to sterilize homosexuals or otherwise prevent them from genetically reproducing, so they are trying to do the next closest thing:  ban homosexuals from having families.  It is eugenics, pure and simple.  Eugenics:  the control of mating for the explicit purpose of including or excluding particular types of individuals from the population.

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About the Author ()

Grumpypilgrim is a writer and management consultant living in Madison, WI. He has several scientific degrees, including a recent master’s degree from MIT. He has also held several professional career positions, none of which has been in a field in which he ever took a university course. Grumps is an avid cyclist and, for many years now, has traveled more annual miles by bicycle than by car…and he wishes more people (for the health of both themselves and our planet) would do the same. Grumps is an enthusiastic advocate of life-long learning, healthy living and political awareness. He is single, and provides a loving home for abused and abandoned bicycles. Grumpy’s email: grumpypilgrim(AT)@gmail(DOT).com [Erich’s note: Grumpy asked that his email be encrypted this way to deter spam. If you want to write to him, drop out the parentheticals in the above address].

Comments (10)

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  1. Ricky Koppel says:

    If that is true (for purposes of argument alone, you failed to support your opinion), then what is it that they are attempting to exclude from the gene pool?

    For with your reasoning their goal is not the elimination of homosexuals, it is an elimination of some other thing which they would be passed on were they to reproduce.

    Also, if they are attempting to prevent homosexuals from breeding, then why would the banning of marriage help their cause? If they were to marry and live with another gay, then they would then be not reproducing, therefore supporting the Republican cause of eugenics. Likewise, were gays not allowed to marry other gays, in many circumstances they may instead become bisexual, thereby increasing their procreation rate (only a possibility, admittedly not very probable in most circumstances).

    So, in your short post you attempted to explain why Republicans are supporting a means which will in actuality serve to destroy their cause.

  2. grumpypilgrim says:

    To Ricky's comment: as I said, when conservatives seek to control mating for the explicit purpose of including or excluding particular types of individuals from the population — namely, married homosexuals — it is, by definition, a form of eugenics. Some conservatives go even farther, and oppose things such as same-sex adoption. If conservatives could imprison homosexuals in mental hospitals or simply execute them, some would do that, too, as demonstrated by the fact that conservatives throughout history have done so. Today's effort to ban same-sex marriage is merely the current weapon-of-choice in the long-running conservative eugenics war. It is the weapon-of-choice because it is the most powerful weapon currently available.

  3. Ricky Koppel says:

    I see my mistake now (I had a response to your comment written before I realized), I had assumed that you meant genetic eugenics, which would not make much sense, considering no gene would be passed on. That was the premise of my first comment, due to my own misinterpretation.

    You are rather speaking strictly in terms of making homosexuality an undesirable in society, thereby uprooting and discarding it from the population.

    I see your point very clearly now.

    Perhaps the means should not be in question, but the purpose. For example we focus many efforts on removing other desirables from society, such as theft, murder, and immorality in general. This is, by your interpretation, also a form of eugenics. And so only the only opposition which should be had is that of the target of the eugenicide (I am honestly not sure if that is a word, but I think it's implication is suitable), not it in and of itself. Evil may be used for good, just as good may be used for evil.

  4. grumpypilgrim says:

    Ricky's follow-up comment has helped me clarify my own terminology: I should perhaps have used the phrase "social eugenics" rather than the generic term which includes reproductive eugenics. Good point.

    However, the term "eugenics" or even "social eugenics" would be inapplicable to things such as theft, murder, immorality in general, etc., because removing those undesirable traits from society does not involve the control of mating, except to the extent that being imprisoned for those crimes greatly limits an inmate's reproductive opportunities. The main reason for jailing someone is not to prevent them from mating, but to prevent recidivism.

    Clearly, this is very different from proposing a ban on same-sex marriage, because the sole and specific purpose of the latter is to restrict, even deter, homosexual mating. Ask anyone who supports a ban on same-sex marriage and he or she will almost certainly say they would not ban homosexuals from marrying someone of the *opposite* sex — indeed, most would probably encourage it. They just want to ban homosexuals from marrying someone of the same sex, which is, by definition, eugenics. We can call it social eugenics if that seems clearer, but it is still eugenics: the control of mating for the explicit purpose of including or excluding particular types of individuals from the population; namely, excluding married homosexuals.

  5. Jason Rayl says:

    As an observation to Ricky's point, as far as I know people convicted of robbery, murder, and so forth who serve time in prison and are released are not barred from marriage. Ergo, they could reproduce and raise children who might follow in their footsteps–but we don't talk about banning them from either marriage or reproduction. So the "social eugenics" aspect does not follow. Society–as defined by those who select themselves as arbiters and guardians of What Is Good For Us–has decided that the sexual proclivities of certain adults qualifies as grounds for a variety of censures.

    Note, even pedarests are not barred from marriage and, unless they diddle their own childre, may reproduce and raise those children.

    What's being barred–and what's being defended–is a type of legal arrangement which one group doesn't want another group to share. I personally don't think there is any logic or reason behind it besides deep-rooted fear and revulsion and and in-grained distrust of individual deviation. What we seem, as a society, to be saying here is that we just don't want to approve homosexuality.

    Pretty pathetic, really.

  6. highandmighty says:

    I can see the desire to prevent certain people from having children, as these children stand a greater chance of becoming a burden to society. I am not sure it is societies responsibility to care for the shortsightedness or irresponsibility of another.

    I am also unclear about the origins of a persons right to procreate.

    It has come to my attetnion that many responsible, socially aware, intellignet, insightful adults have opted out of the parenting role, chosing to either adopt or remain childless, while thos that are less responsible etc, are haveing kids. The resulting gene pool is then spiraling downward. To me, those in the first group should be populating the earth, and the latter group should not. If the world can only support a finite ammount of people, should it not be skewed in favor of the kids that have genetic and social-enviromental advantage?

  7. grumpypilgrim says:

    Sounds to me as though highandmighty is advocating real eugenics. Not a pretty picture.

    Nevertheless, the analysis has one potentially valid observation: the downward spiral of the gene pool. It is generally true that college-educated people — roughly the upper quarter of the population in terms of IQ — tend to start their families later in life and tend to have fewer kids, while people who don't attend college tend to start families earlier and have more kids. Let's see what happens over a few generations:

    College: X is married by 30 & has 2 kids; at 60, X's 2 kids are 30 and each have 2 kids, so X has 4 grandchildren at age 60 and 6 total descendants.

    Non-college: Y is married by 20 & has 3 kids; at 40, Y's 3 kids each have 3 kids, so Y has 9 grandchildren at age 40; at 60, Y's 9 grandchildren each have 3 kids, so Y has 27 grandchildren at age 60 and 39 total descendants.

    Obviously, the ratio between college and non-college gets geometrically more imbalanced with every generation. This is likely one reason why "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer": to the extent that the poor and uneducated reproduce faster, the population will inevitably skew in that direction. This is likely one reason why the U.S. — a relatively young country — doesn't have the extremes of rich and poor that we see in much older cultures (China, India, etc.), though we are obviously headed rapidly in that direction (especially with Bush's regressive tax policies). Every generation, more of the wealth gets concentrated among a smaller percentage of the population…until, in all likelihood, the culture reaches a tipping point and the masses of poor people stage a revolt, slaughter the rich elite, and the cycle starts all over.

    Welcome to God's "intelligent design."

  8. Erich Vieth says:

    Genetic eugenics is abhorrent to me too. Not as a gut level bias, but because it simply doesn't work. All of us have kings among our ancestors (see http://dangerousintersection.org/?p=288 ). It is equally true that all of us have slaves and downtrodden people and "social failures" among our ancestors. And from all of those failures rose up more leaders and kings. Trace any family line back and you'll find a great hodgepodge of types of ancestors.

    Politicians should not be trusted with the decision of who should and who should not be allowed to procreate.

  9. Erika Price says:

    Looking at the conservative take on gays as a form of social eugenics makes a great deal of sense; in many ways the conservative method strives to push the minority as far away as possible. My state recently pushed to ban adoption not just by gays, but by any household with a gay person living in it. This seems like an appropriate place to seriously worry about the slippery slope that could easily follow- no gay teachers? Childcare professionals? Doctors? Some cities around the country have effectively banned convicted sex criminals from living there. Could this happen to gays?

    I find the fact that such a drastic course of action sounds possible the most frightening part of all.

  10. grumpypilgrim says:

    I suspect (or, at least, hope) that the Ohio bill to ban adoption by anyone with a gay family member is merely Republican flame-bait for this year's election — like the flag-burning bill that went through the U.S. Congress earlier this year, which had no hope of passing but obviously got a lot of attention. With voters apparently eager to oust many Republican elected officials in November, Republicans desperately need to both distract attention from Iraq (and Katrina, and gas prices, and healthcare, and…) and also energize their supporters to come to the polls for a mid-term vote (something many voters skip doing). Producing outrageous bills just before an election is a bit like negative advetising: it's not intended to do any good for anyone, it's merely intended to incite negative emotions against the opposition.

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