Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Was parental lineage a "fundamental right" before Lawrence v. Texas?


One of the processes that explains “homophobia” is, I think, the “idea” that married and committed parents are entitled to a biological lineage as a reward for their commitment (and “opportunity cost”). If the world has finite resources, then at least one should have children or at least raise children or take care of other people somehow to “justify” his full-portion slice of the resource pie.

As I indicated on my main blog (Nov. 12) I was led to feel, because of bullying, that I was less “worthy” of having children than other male competitors. That gave me a psychological incentive to “enjoy” the idea that others could be shown less worthy. None of this is nice or pretty to admit, but it is nevertheless true, and one of the reasons why bullying (and hate crimes) are so particularly repugnant in a society that has embraced human rights. "Right wing" author George Gilder ("Sexual Suicide" [1973] and "Men and Marriage" [1986]) picked up on this idea by claiming that gay men want to capitalize on their own sense of (competitive) "abasement".

It sounds like this says, I’ve admitted that I’m not “worthy” and relish the belief that many others are not. Is this how I “became gay” as a teen? It would seem to suggest I resources that would ordinarily be my property could be expropriated and given to those more “worthy” if I’ve made such an admission. That is a premise of many totalitarian or authoritarian societies in their treatment of homosexuality.

But that’s not quite what happened, at least in my case. I imagined a progeny based on “work”: cultural creativity. In my case, music was to be part of this. There were simply too many other expressions to explore. The idea of an “obligation” to reproduce seemed, say during high school, to be infinitely far away into the future. It was a problem that, if necessary, could be resolved “later.” In the meantime, I became determined and fixed on what I had chosen to be my own goals, and would not tolerate the interference from others in this choice. But relative to this cultural “choice”, sexual orientation came to seem fixed and immutable.

While someone like me defends my “right” to pursue my own chosen goals, a typical married couple may feel the same way, but about their “biological” goals to express their marriage. If neither partner has any special cultural “talents” both may feel cheated or violated if their offspring do not continue the family (particularly if there is only one male heir). Their sense of “loss” or even “family death” is just as great. That’s why openness to procreation (and all its uncertainties as well as responsibilities) used to be viewed as a moral prerequisite for any experience of sexuality at all.

Of course, the law does not support this idea of a parental birthright (except in a few areas like the military’s “sole survivor”). However, in the past, the presence of “sodomy laws” and a prohibitionistic view of homosexuality may have constituted an indirect attempt to protect such a “fundamental right” as bizarre as the concept would sound today, especially after Lawrence v. Texas.

Also, I suppose that the modern possibility of surrogate parenthood (for potential fathers who can afford it) throws a new wrinkle into this chain of old thinking.

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