The Eric James Stone Axiom on Homosexuality

The New York Times has a slideshow of same-sex marriage photos here which show a tremendous amount of joy and happiness. But not everyone is happy about this. Hell, my state passed a constitutional amendment stating that, “the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union…”

I don’t get it. I’ve never understood why some people feel that same-sex couples are so dangerous. As I tried yet again to wrap my mind around it, I thought of Lavie Tidhar’s story The School, which includes the following line:

“Homosexuality is a genetic defect. This is known as the Eric James Stone Axiom.”

Stone is a Nebula-winning author and, from what I can tell, a fairly intelligent human being. So I went looking for his own words. I didn’t expect to be persuaded, but I wanted something to help me understand where he and others like him are coming from. I found the following:

Homosexuality is a defect.

That doesn’t mean homosexual people aren’t human, of course. Neither does it mean they should be treated as less human than those who are heterosexual. There are people who are homosexual but who have gone on to do great things … But no matter how much we love and appreciate homosexual people, it doesn’t change the fact that they do not have something that, by design, they are supposed to have.

Stone also has a blog post in which he compares the redefinition of marriage to allow same-sex partners to the redefinition of marriage to allow people to marry barnyard animals. He asks:

Why are you offended? Why should you be upset that a sexual practice you do not care for is included in the definition of something you care about? Isn’t that exactly what you are doing by demanding that the definition of marriage be changed to include homosexual couples?

Arguing for an unchanging definition of marriage is ridiculously ignorant of history and the ways marriage has evolved. Should wives still be property? Should we continue to limit marriage to people of the same race? Should grown men be allowed to marry children?

The only explanation Stone gives for homosexuality being a genetic defect is the reproductive argument. “The reproductive organs weren’t put there just to provide sexual pleasure, after all.”

I know a number of homosexual couples with children, either the biological offspring of one partner, or adopted. But maybe those don’t count?

[ETA: My friend Catherine says Stone is describing homosexuality as a defect, but not necessarily a genetic one. I’m basing my description on his comment, “If a child’s genes showed it was going to be born homosexual, I see nothing morally wrong with changing that.” However, it’s worth reading Stone’s post and deciding for yourself. I might be off-base here.]

Stone’s view of homosexuality as a genetic defect doesn’t come from evidence of chromosomal damage. So does that mean they simply fail to live up to Stone’s personal beliefs about genetic purity? Bad science aside, his idea that we should “fix” people who don’t conform to his standards is, frankly, terrifying: “I don’t think correcting those defects through medical science … is problematic.”

I’m all for modern medicine. If you want to grow me a new pancreas, please do! But the idea that you get to decide which sexual preferences are defective and “fix” them is abhorrent. (Stone explains that this is only okay if you’re making homosexuals straight. The reverse is “morally wrong.”)

I don’t get it. The flaws in these arguments are so glaring to me. You’re upset because you don’t want anyone to change the definition of something you care about. I can follow that much. But you believe your sense of discomfort and offense is important enough to continue systematically denying legal status and protection to an entire class of human beings? That is obscene.

  • If you personally find same-sex relationships distasteful, fine. There are certain sexual activities I find distasteful. Which is why I don’t do them.
  • Your religious beliefs are your business. They are not and should not be the basis for law. If you use them as justification to discriminate against others, don’t be upset when others decide you’re an asshole.
  • Reproduction is not the be-all and end-all of human civilization. If you want kids, great! I’ve got two, and I love ’em dearly. But you don’t get to force your choice on everyone.
  • “Genetic defect” is a phrase with actual meaning. Here’s a hint: the definition isn’t based on your personal/religious beliefs.

My congratulations to the newlyweds in New York. I look forward to the day when same-sex couples throughout the United States are able to share in that joy.