Libertarians and Gays


by Richard “Chip” Peterson, PhD Sept.13,2010


            Libertarians believe that people should be treated as individuals and not be discriminated against. They believe that crimes that require government intervention occur when a person harms others, defrauds others, or steals from others. They do not believe that voluntary interactions among consenting adults constitute crimes that should be addressed by government. That includes private homosexual relationships between consenting adults.

            Libertarians also believe that individual adults should be able to enter into contractual relationships with each other. In particular, homosexual couples may wish to enter into arrangements that specify inheritance rights, or the right to make critical health decisions for one another in the event of a health crisis. Such civil union contracts should be accepted by others and enforceable under state laws. It also would be helpful if such civil union contracts were standardized in a state since that way others would be more likely to understand and honor their provisions. Personally, I believe that states should try to allow gay couples to enter into standardized civil union agreements with each other.

            My personal views on gays, gay unions, and gay rights are importantly influenced by my knowledge of a gay inlaw whom I have known since he was a small child. This person is an extremely nice person. He also has been involved in a stable gay relationship for a number of years. That relationship has survived hardships such as serious injury, disability, and loss of jobs, that probably would have torn asunder many a marriage. Yet that couple has lived together and been dedicated  to each other through all their travails.

            When he was  a very young child, my relative  evidenced abnormal interest in what his mother was doing, in shopping, and in less masculine activities. His father tried to get him interested in more masculine activities, even buying him a GI Joe doll. I sometimes used to play with him and his brother and engage in active play. His little brother loved active play such as being spun around to the point of getting dizzy, at which point he would stagger off, then come back for another ride—but the older brother didn't like to play hard or vigorously. In retrospect, he evidenced his gay tendencies very early in his life. While he later chose to live a gay lifestyle, it was not a surprise since, in retrospect, he seemingly was born with those tendencies.

            Thus, I totally disagree with people who believe that people choose to be gay because of some moral flaw. Morality, as defined by various religions, has nothing to do with it. I believe that many people are born with gay tendencies and can do little about it. Not only have I observed such tendencies in my male relative, but also, my daughter talked to a lesbian whom she met when she was in graduate school who told my daughter that she had asked her father when she was six if it was alright to “like” girls. Her father responded that sure, people could be friends. However, she recalled that he really didn't understand that by “like” she meant more then friendship. Thus, she felt that her lesbian tendencies had started very early in her life and had not been appreciated as such until she was older.

            Scientifically, there is some evidence that people may be influenced to become gay because of experiences of their mother when they are developing in their mother's womb. Scientists have  observed that in one German city that experienced a horrific bombing during World War II, a disproportionately large number of homosexual males were born whose mothers were 3 or 4 months pregnant at the time of the bombing. Scientists hypothesized that the mothers' stress hormones at a critical time during fetal development had influenced a large number of males born at that time to become gay after they were born. In my in-law's case, while I didn't know him until shortly after he was born, I do know that his mother was extremely stressed during her pregnancy with him. Her husband was in the army and she was living far from home and had to have an appendectomy while she was pregnant.

            Another study that I have read that suggests that stress hormones generated by a mother may influence offspring to become gay is indirectly supported by an article I read in Scientific American magazine many years ago. That study studied the effect of overcrowding on the development of rat colonies. It found that when rat colonies were seriously overcrowded, various abnormal activities occurred with increasing frequency. In particular, incidences of infanticide increased, and so did the incidence of homosexual behavior. It is interesting that both types of activity would tend to repress further population growth. Thus, both increased infanticide and increased homosexual activity may tend to result when a population is highly stressed as a result of overcrowding. Anecdotally, it appears that homosexual activity and abortion (a form of infanticide) are more likely to occur and be favored in large cities in the U.S., such as New York or San Francisco-- possibly because such activities tend to ameliorate some of the tendency for those large cities to become overcrowded.

            Because I believe that gays are often born that way, I believe that they should not be treated differently than other people by the law or civil society. I also feel that they should be allowed to enter into civil union contracts, recognized under state laws, so they can cement committed relationships with each other.

            However, I do not believe that gays should be allowed to enter into standard marriage contracts. The standard marriage contract in our economy has evolved over many years beginning with its common law roots to stabilize relationships between a man and a woman who will presumably engage in child-bearing and child-rearing activities. There may be various government subsidies involved in the standard marriage contract, such as tax breaks, that have developed over time to ensure that the next generation will be produced and adequately cared for in a stable environment. As a Libertarian, I generally do not favor subsidies and, thus, do not believe conventional marriage related subsidies should be extended to couples who do not wish to have and raise children. However, I make an exception to my general distaste for subsidies for subsidies that will help insure that a good next generation of people will be produced and raised—as every society needs to ensure that a good next generation will be produced if it wishes to ensure its own survival. Thus, I believe that marriage subsidies for a man and a woman who wish to have and raise children are justified, but I don't think that they same subsidies should be granted automatically to gay relationships that ordinarily will not produce and raise any offspring. Consequently, I support civil union contracts but not the right of gays to automatically enter into standard marriage contracts—which have traditionally been restricted by common law to apply only to mixed gender couples.

            In addition to qualms as to whether gays are deserving of marriage-related subsidies if they do not intend to have and raise children, I  have some other reservations regarding gays because  I am not sure that all gays are born that way--even though it is clear that some people are predisposed to become gay due to their fetal exposure to their mother's hormones.  However, I also know that a baby duckling may think that its mother is a human if that is the first thing it sees when it hatches. Similarly, I fear that a young person might become attached to whatever sex provides their first sexual experience if they are not of a mature age when they experience that sex. I know that some banned drugs stimulate the release of  brain chemicals that are similar to those that are released during sex, and that some people can become addicted to drugs that release those chemicals. Thus, I am opposed to the premature exposure of young people to sexual activity. In particular, I am opposed to man-boy sexual contacts and believe that the same statutory rape statutes that apply to young females should also be applied to young males. While young females are often protected from premature sexual activity by statutory rape laws, males may not be, even if they should. Overall, I believe that young people should not be imposed upon or seduced either heterosexually or homosexually until they have reached the age of reason and can make mature decisions for themselves.



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