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The End of Gays: Gay Marriage and the Decline of the Homosexual Population

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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It is admittedly odd to think that a progressive, humanitarian shift in attitudes toward gays and lesbians might lead, ironically, to a noticeable decline in the homosexual population. Yet this is precisely what I predict will happen over the very long course of natural selection should the societal-level normalization of adult homosexual relationships, such as is happening currently with the triumphant legalization of gay marriage in my new home state of New York, continues happily on its way. (I add these emotive terms, “triumphant” and “happily,” to highlight the obvious and inherent goodness of a legal acknowledgment of human sexual diversity, and to make it clear that what I’m exploring in this brief, speculative essay are only the non-politic, genetic consequences of these accomplishments, and nothing more.)  

Not so very long ago, the concept of “gay marriage” was so far from being a legal possibility in its literal sense that most listeners would have probably interpreted this phrase to mean a closeted gay man married to a woman, or a lesbian to a man. From all accounts, such “mixed-orientation marriages” have been around since the very institutionalization of marriage itself and are so common as to be banal. In one extensive study in 1978, for example, researchers Alan Bell and Martin Weinberg, factoring in ethnic differences, found that 35 percent of gay white males, and 13 percent of gay black males, reported having been married to a woman. By contrast, 47 percent of black lesbians and 20 percent of white lesbians had been married to a man.  

And Bell and Weinberg’s figures almost certainly underreport the actual frequency of such relationships, too, since their data come from surveys of sexual orientation collected during an unapologetically homophobic era. In other words, these statistics only take into account those individuals previously or currently in a mixed-orientation marriage willing to acknowledge their primary homosexual leanings. Those gay respondents still in the closet of conventional suburban matrimony would have been rather difficult to get an empirical grip on. (Just think of the tortured character of Colonel Frank Fitts in the film American Beauty.)  

Still, many studies have since examined the psychological experiences of those who acknowledge being in mixed-orientation marriages—including motivations to enter into such a marriage to begin with, internalized homophobia, self-awareness and acceptance, religious ideology, experimenting with open relationships, and so on—from the perspective of the homosexual as well as from that of the heterosexual spouse. The particular dynamics between such couples vary dramatically, of course, but the data reveal unequivocally that mixed-orientation marriages have an extraordinarily low rate of success, with one or both partners inevitably leaving due to sexual incompatibility. One interesting sex difference , reported in 1985 by University of Minnesota psychologist Eli Coleman, is that lesbians tended to marry men at younger ages (mean age of 21) than did gay men marrying women (mean age of 24). Lesbians also reported being less aware than gay men of their own homosexual orientation upon entering such ill-fitting marriages and a slower realization of their same-sex attractions. Personally, I don’t think I would ever have signed on to deceiving a marital partner as a cover. But I do remember scheming briefly, at the very closeted age of 17, about finding myself a nice, repressed lesbian who would be game for a lifelong sham marriage; alas, I’d no idea where such pitiable creatures congregated. (The Chinese seized on this ridiculous idea years later, however.)  

Yet mixed-orientation marriages, which, in the mid-1980s when the most recent data were collected, lasted on average 8.5 years for lesbians and 13.1 years for gay men, are often fruitful, even if they do involve undesirable sexual activity for at least one of the individuals in the relationship. And for our purposes, the most relevant findings for the question we started off with—which is whether the increasing public support for gay marriage will lead, ironically, to the eventual decline of the homosexual population—is the fact that most homosexuals in mixed-orientation marriages have had at least one child with their spouse. In fact, Coleman found that gay men married to women sired an average of 2 children with their wives, whereas lesbians bore an average of 1.2 children with their husbands.  

Perhaps you’re beginning to see where I’m heading with all of this. Although the precise genetic mechanisms underlying homosexuality are still relatively unknown, we do know that, however these mechanisms actually work, there are indeed clear, contributing genetic factors underlying homosexual orientation. The best evidence that homosexuality runs in families as a heritable biological trait comes from 1990s-era twin studies, which revealed that the concordance rate (the rate by which twin members overlap on anything from schizophrenia to creativity to sexual orientation) for homosexuality is significantly greater in monozygotic twins (identical) than in dizygotic twins (who share only half of their genes, just like non-twin siblings). The more rigorously controlled twin studies adjust for possible shared environmental influences by taking into account, for instance, the sexual orientation of non-twin siblings or twins separated at birth, and yet all reveal that homosexuality is at least partially heritable.  

Homosexuality is often presented as an evolutionary “mystery” because of the obvious reproductive disadvantages, and thus for decades researchers have sought some adaptive function for the culturally recurrent percentage (anywhere from 1 to 10 percent of the population, depending on the measures used) of the human population that is aroused more by the same than it is by the opposite sex. Yet if we consider the historical, and perhaps even the ancestral, percentage of the homosexual population that did in fact reproduce because of societal proscriptions against adult relations with the same sex, the mystery becomes considerably less profound.  

Even in societies where homosexuality was tolerated , such as in Ancient Greece, men tended to engage in pederasty with adolescent boys while maintaining wives and families at home—romantic relationships with fellow adults were by contrast considered reprehensible. Offspring resulting from such forced adult heterosexuality would require no effort on the part of lesbians, since sexual arousal is not a prerequisite for conception. For gay men, a healthy imagination ( what I’ve discussed before in this column in terms of erotic mental representation) would be all that is needed to transform in one’s mind a female vagina into one’s favorite male anus or mouth. If zoophiles can ejaculate into their wives only by imagining that their spouse’s vagina is actually a horse’s vulva, a man’s anus must certainly be within mind’s reach of the average married homosexual.  

Whatever alleles are associated with homosexual orientation are transmitted by these faux heterosexual means, and this is an age-old reproductive cycle that has been occurring for as long as adult homosexuality has been proscribed by human societies—and by all accounts, such proscription has been the species’ norm. But now, through our collective intelligence and our common sense, we’re breaking from that norm, and exclusive homosexual relationships are becoming not only tolerated, but legalized. These cultural developments are significant for the homosexual population, not only for the obvious sake of gaining equality and protection against persecution for an unalterable phenotypic trait, but because it means that the age-old reproductive cycle that has been so central to mixed-orientation marriages is slowly but surely breaking. This is not to say that lesbians and gay men who are now free to marry the same sex will no longer reproduce—many do, and this trend will continue with the advent of new reproductive technologies and increasing societal support (such as surrogacy) for those who desire their own biological children. But with the societal expectation for men and women to bear children under the roofs of traditional opposite-sex relationships obviously lessening, combined with the hefty financial costs of reproductive technologies, as well as the costly interpersonal complexities of arrangements such as surrogacy, not to mention the fact that homosexual activity among same-sex married couples cannot possibly lead to unplanned pregnancies, homosexual reproduction will clearly decline as same-sex marriages continue to rise.  

In an evolving culture of tolerance and with the available option of gay marriage, “coming out the closet” will occur at younger and younger ages, and fewer young people will therefore feel strong-armed by shame and obligation to enter into mixed-orientation marriages to begin with. As the direct result of an increasing understanding and acceptance of sexual diversity in human societies, fewer children in subsequent generations will be born in the wedlock of sexual-identity confusion. Even those who score more along the “bisexual” scale, but with a stronger arousal pattern for the same sex, will opt for their primary erotic target as a marriage partner rather than conform to cruelly imposed social scripts. And—if you’ll follow this through—over an exhaustive span of time, fewer heritable components associated with homosexuality will come to penetrate our species’ genome. Additionally, with this increasing societal acceptance of homosexuality, and as a way to circumvent the often insurmountable costs associated with alternative reproductive technologies (at least for gay men) I suspect that gay married couples will begin adopting children with increasing frequency through the support of state-sponsored equality initiatives , effectively putting a full stop to the transmission of their genes.  

In fact, these prosocial cultural developments may have consequences not only for the reproductive rates of homosexuals, but also for their heterosexual relatives who carry homosexual alleles. For example, findings from a 2008 study by Brendan Zietsch and his colleagues of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research revealed that the biological relatives of homosexuals (and therefore those that possess alleles linked to homosexuality, but who are themselves heterosexual) are at a reproductive advantage over those without homosexual relatives . According to the authors:  

    The genes influencing homosexuality have two effects. First, and most obviously, these genes increase the risk for homosexuality, which ostensibly has decreased Darwinian fitness. Countervailing this, however, these same genes appear to increase sex-atypical gender identity, which … increase(s) mating success in heterosexuals.  

Zietsch and his colleagues argue, essentially, that while too many or too potent homosexual alleles may result in full-blown homosexuality—which, all else being equal—is disadvantageous to reproductive success, these same alleles in a heterosexual relative tend to lead to that person having more lifetime sexual partners and thus greater reproductive success. The logic here is that sex-atypical traits (for example, men who score more like females in kindness, empathy, and sensitivity, or women who, like men, are more willing to engage in uncommitted sexual relations) are good but not perfect indices of homosexual orientation , and when they do occur in heterosexual individuals, they make these people more attractive and or interpersonally appealing to the opposite sex. What I’d wager is that even this effect—which the authors believe is evidence of antagonistic pleitropy, a sort of cost-benefit heuristic in which the maladaptiveness of certain genetic expressions in one phenotype is offset by these same genes’ adaptiveness in another—will be compromised by same-sex marriage trends. After all, if nothing else, alleles linked to sex-atypicality will decrease in frequency as fewer homosexuals reproduce.  

Again, these are just my, admittedly, entirely speculative predictions for the decline of homosexuality as a direct result of the increasing legalization of gay marriage and the domestication of exclusively same-sex relationships. If only religious fundamentalists were brighter—which, by contrast, I see absolutely no sign of change—they might begin to see gay marriage as an answer to their homophobic prayers after all.  

Biology is infinite irony.

 

About The Author: Want more Bering in Mind? Follow Jesse on Twitter @JesseBering, visit www.jessebering.com, or friend Jesse on Facebook. Jesse is the author of newly released book, The Belief Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny and the Meaning of Life (W. W. Norton).

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  1. 1. AdrianaH 3:14 pm 08/1/2011

    Jesse, I’m not going to comment too much on the fact that we still have no idea what alleles (if any) are involved in determining sexual orientation. My humble opinion as a genomics person is that we keep forgetting about epigenetics, for example.
    But most importantly, I do not understand why you assume that gay couples will have less children than gay people in a mixed orientation marriage. For lesbians, for example, it is very easy to have biological children: just have a friend donate some sperm or buy it from the sperm bank. Lesbians married to lesbians may well decide their marriage will be more solid that a mixed orientation marriage and go on to have more biological children. The same may go for gay men married to men: they may feel better about fathering kids and although it is a bit more complicated than buying sperm, they can still have kids through surrogate moms, egg donors, or even donating their sperm to women, lesbians or not, who wish to have children.
    I know this is a blog and not a research paper, but in my opinion it is way too speculative.

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  2. 2. kristi276 5:13 pm 08/1/2011

    In this very narrow speculative view of the "Gay" community just looks at the relations of White and Black and disregards Latino, Native, Asian, Africans, and people from the Caribbean. How does the demographics deal with bisexuals and transsexuals in the "Gay" community? Are we too a dwindling community and what of the closeted trans and bisexuals is heterosexual marriages? Flamboyantly gay or just flamboyantly trans? The history of the trans community dates back as long as the issue of homosexuality. A persons gender identity is not the same as a persons sexual preference. How I am in my own skin is not the same as who I choose to sleep with. Is love only expressed in pairs, or can it be expressed in triplets? If expressed in triplets is it still gay? What would happen if one of the three is transitioning into a other gender, would it make it oddly gay or just plain gay?

    Male + female + Male + Trans female
    Female + Trans Male + Trans Female
    Male + Male + Female + Female
    Male + Female

    Are we gay or just part of the human experience?

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  3. 3. adamsunny 7:21 pm 08/1/2011

    We have little scientific understanding of the underlying biological causes of sexuality. Statistics do suggest a genetic cause, but even if this is true, a genetic trait does not mean it is necessarily hereditary. While there is probably a positive correlation among sibling sexuality, there is no evidence to suggest that gay parents are more likely to have gay children, or the same for heterosexual parents. Again, our knowledge is extremely lacking – for all we know, there could be some factor that increases the chance of heterosexual parents giving birth to gay children and vice versa for gay parents. Sexuality cannot be simplified to the realm of Mendelian genetics.

    This article is shortsighted and fails to recognize a long history (much longer than the existence of the US) of social acceptance of gays and lesbians. Our nation and our laws represent a mere blip in world history, let alone the history of our species, and is therefore hardly predictive of our biological future. Many societies accepted and even heralded homosexual relationships long before the US even considered decriminalizing homosexual acts (sodomy laws) as recently as 2003. We often think we are incredibly important here in the US, but biologically speaking, particularly in terms of our influence on the evolution of the human species, among other things, we are trivial as we make up only about 5% of the world population. And it is even lesser when you limit it to a small handful of states.

    Many Native American tribes, Greeks, and ancient Chinese society all viewed homosexuality positively, just to name a few (although the definition of homosexuality is varied historically), and there would not have been any need for men or women to force themselves into heterosexual relationships or procreating. Surely these cultures had a much greater impact on the genetic profile of our species.

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  4. 4. ldfrmc 8:21 pm 08/1/2011

    "A research psychologist’s curious look at human behavior."

    After wading through several paragraphs, you look to be out of your field and out of your league.

    "Perhaps you’re beginning to see where I’m heading with all of this."…"Mixed-orientation marriages." (?)

    Reproduction alone, in number or frequency, is not the ultimate arbiter of survival of a species or a characteristic. Adaptation plays a big role, not in behavior, but form and function – biological function, not psychological behavior.

    7 billion humans on a planet, heading to 9 billion and you see no component of species survival in non-reproductive behavior?

    Out of your field and out of your league.

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  5. 5. Bialogue 9:13 pm 08/1/2011

    No frankly I don’t "see where I’m heading with all of this", especially when poll after poll (after poll, after poll) keeps pointing out the LARGEST component (by +50%) of the LGBTQ+ Community is BISEXUAL.

    And NO now that societal appropriation in some westernized societies has lessened it doesn’t mean that "Even those who score more along the ‘bisexual’ scale, but with a stronger arousal pattern for the same sex, will opt for their primary erotic target as a marriage partner rather than conform to cruelly imposed social scripts" since you obviously are not at all clear about what it means to BE Bisexual. Please note that it isn’t at all some inferior brand of gay man or lesbian woman.

    Perhaps the current most commonly accepted definition of Bisexuality will assist you in untangling yourself and removing your foot from your mouth:
    ————-
    Bisexuals are people with the inborn capacity to form enduring physical, romantic, (some include spiritual) and/or emotional attractions to

    (1) those of the same gender as themselves
    (2) those of some other genders/gender presentations.

    There may be an individual attraction for one gender/ gender presentation which can also be fluid and changeable over time.

    Bisexuality is not synonymous with being polyamorous, (some include "or promiscuous"). Individual bisexual people may be celibate, monogamous or non-monogamous just as individual straight, lesbian or gay people can be.

    No matter what the gender/gender presentation of the person they are partnered with, bisexual people remain bisexual. They do not suddenly switch orientation as if by magic when they enter into a relationship.

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  6. 6. Old Frothingslosh 12:41 am 08/2/2011

    The prophecy of this article seems doomed to fail, since another trend is the renting out of women’s bodies as gestation farms for gays. The numbers may even rise. But I’m amazed that in any discussion of Gay "marriage" and "previous" trends of homosexuals marrying someone of the opposite sex that no one bothers to mention that homosexuals are clearly less concerned about others than than the average normal person is. After all, this article talks about it as if it were routine and to be expected, to ruin someone else’s life by entering into a heterosexual marriage with them when secretly gay (with percentages for black lesbians as high as 47% entering into a marriage with a straight person). Yet you never hear about a normal health straight person secretly entering into a homosexual union with a homosexual and then later announcing that they were really straight all along. And no, I don’t buy the "Gay marriage has only recently been legalized" argument; don’t make it unless you are prepared to claim you expect the see straight people enter into homosexual marriages and then later announce that they were really straight all along and get a divorce.

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  7. 7. ttheobald 3:49 am 08/2/2011

    Mr. Bering – I see where you are going with this, but there’s an assumption in there which I have to point out: that whatever genetics are involved in determining orientation, that they are necessarily *only* a heritable trait. I would submit that it is entirely possible that whatever combination of genes required (even if only to create a "predisposition" of whatever strength necessary for developmental and later societal effects to achieve the outcome) can occur spontaneously in a population in such numbers as to keep that side of that bell curve stretching across the line generally termed to be homosexual.

    What is also possible (though admittedly unfounded), is that perhaps even chemical or hormonal stimuli at some stage of life may be found to be causal in such a way as to move that ‘boundary’ line. Perhaps large populations inherently – through exposure to one another’s hormonal emissions – evolved to "curb" their own growth in this way. Of course, the industrial age was unanticipated by such long-term development, so whatever curbing effect might or might not exist has doubtless been overpowered by our capacity to support the large numbers of people we have since bred into the world.

    In short, my point boils down to "who knows?" That isn’t to dismiss your point above – which was quite an interesting read, I would add. It would be more to augment it, to suppose that this is a fantastically complicated issue…which would, of course, make it all the more rewarding for the person or people who were able to tease the answers out.

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  8. 8. oldvic 4:55 am 08/2/2011

    If your premises are correct, then I see no problem in agreeing with your conclusion. Time and science will tell, I hope.

    What is also clear from many comments here is that there is altogether too much emotion and insuficient reasoning associated with these topics.

    The quantity of "straw men" around here presents a fire hazard…

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  9. 9. E-boy 5:00 am 08/2/2011

    It’s an interesting thought, but I think it misses the whole point. Did it ever occur to you that homosexuality is as heritable as it is because humans are as social as we are? Homosexual behavior is commonly found in social animals. Social animals tend to put sex to use for more than just reproduction. It can cement social ties, as well as smooth over the rough spots in social interaction. It’s also worth noting that in many social species where sex plays a bonding role fertility rates drop (when one actively uses sex as a social tool as well as a reproductive one it’s a good idea to cut down on fertility so you don’t end up with more offspring than you can handle. The human fertility rate is quite low for a mammal at about 24%). While there are no known social animals outside of humans who engage in regular exclusive homosexuality (most animals that engage in homosexual bonding will still mate with a member of the opposite sex during mating season) this isn’t all that troubling a difference. Many of the things we have traditionally viewed as making us humans unique turn out to be present to a lesser degree in other animals. So, why should homosexuality be any different? If that is, in fact, the case and humans are, arguably, presently under more selective pressure than ever to become even more social; If the traits that make us social also make us enormously sexually flexible because sex is a great bonding tool, then I very much doubt homosexuality is in any danger of extinction.

    Viva diversity and all that.

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  10. 10. laughinkitty 5:50 am 08/2/2011

    WHAT!Plenty of women hating heterosexual men marry women for the purpose of ruining their lives. And how about all the Thomas Jefferson types, refusing to free his own off spring? I could go on giving example after example. Why did you even read this article let alone comment?

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  11. 11. davidhill222 7:25 am 08/2/2011

    What if homosexuality is a genetic problem? What if homosexuality is not a normal condition? what if homosexuality is indeed a personality disorder?
    Why, from a scientific point of view one has to accept the mantra of "modern" psychologists that homosexuality is a "normal" behavior?
    Why does people say that homosexuality is normal because it is observed in other animals? Is cannibalism normal? Many animal species resort to cannibalism every now and then…

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  12. 12. erbarker 8:01 am 08/2/2011

    Who would thought it! Heterosexuals out breeding homosexuals!

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  13. 13. erbarker 8:11 am 08/2/2011

    Who would thought it! Heterosexuals out breeding homosexuals!

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  14. 14. sjd0218 8:33 am 08/2/2011

    I’m amazed at the number of people who take offense at a quite legitimate thought process. It may be wrong, who knows, but its a perfectly sound logical process. Also, Mr Bering doesn’t predict extinction, he predicts a decline in numbers.

    I do wonder if in the future, cheaper, more innovative reproductive options will make that decline less significant? But, still any non-sexual reproduction is going to cost, and this will eliminate any cash poor families.

    I also wonder why homosexuality didn’t die out before we became "civilized" enough to ostracize people who were different.

    In the caves, why would a homosexual male choose to mate with a female? (females can be assumed to be forced into mating) In which case, why didn’t the genetic pre-disposition die out? Of course, this assumes that there was no cultural bias within "cave men" against homosexuality. I assume that it arose with civilization, but I could be wrong.
    Homosexuality could also have developed after this era, but that seems fairly unlikely.

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  15. 15. NickMat 8:34 am 08/2/2011

    Absolute Poppy-Cock! Homosexuality has existed from the beginning of time with no bearing on birthrates and child rearing! All one has to do is examine Ancient Greece and its attitudes toward "Homosexuality" and child its birth rates! If anything, I see the opposite happening! More people will become more predisposed to "become homosexual" do to the pressures of population growth and scarce natural resources! This writer is anti-gay! don;t let him fool you!

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  16. 16. Sabadim 1:49 pm 08/2/2011

    I really think you have no idea what you are talking about.
    In a breif paragraph: let’s suppose that alleles are responsible for homossexuality (and there is no proof of it at all, so your argument has already failed, without any doubt). Then one day, in the very remote past, there has been a mutation. It is the same thing that happened when men started not having 32 teeth, but 28, for example. It is evolution. Are you saying that homossexuality is evolution?
    Be careful when you say anything in public, Mister.
    If you do not want to be ashamed later on, when this hypothesis of yours is proven to be unsolid, keep your mouth shut and talk about what you especialized in. We all thank you.

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  17. 17. Sabadim 2:04 pm 08/2/2011

    Dear I really agree with you when you say he is homophobic. Yet, this makes his idea paradoxal: if he says that alleles are responsible for homossexuality, then one day it arose spontaneourly – just like evolutional process. Have you ever seen evolutional process lose any game? I have not.
    See, I do not say homossexuality is evolution – he says.

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  18. 18. pdxuser 9:26 pm 08/2/2011

    There is a lot to suggest that prenatal hormones are the primary determining factor in sexual orientation:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prenatal_hormones_and_sexual_orientation

    That would break any theory assuming genetic determination.

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  19. 19. jant1 5:21 am 08/3/2011

    Sorry Jesse, but your predictions are wrong and so is your derivation. I wish you had spend some time reading latest publications on this aspect. Read about Sexual Antagonism on http://www.slate.com/id/2194232/
    Evolution is more than direct reasoning about fitness.
    I hope you take the time to correct this article as it is scientific wrong and the topic too sensitive to do some rough guesswork.

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  20. 20. shadow_man 8:34 pm 08/3/2011

    The article makes a few good points, but when we look outside the scope, we will see that gay marriage will not negatively affect or cause the decline of homosexuals. For this, we have to look in the animal kingdom. Over thousands of species have homosexuality within them, which makes it natural. All of these animals do not have to put up with politics, hate, discrimination, etc based on sexual orientation. It’s a normal thing for them, and should be a normal thing for humans. This means, since it’s accepted and normal within the animal kingdom, that they form relationships without the stigmas humans face. They form these relationships and bonds without worrying about hate, discrimination, etc, similar to humans getting married and forming those same relationships and bonds. However, we haven’t seen a decline in homosexuality in the animal kingdom at all. This shows that homosexuality remains at the same rates even if more gay couples get together. Therefore, although there might be a small concern according to the article, the animal kingdom itself proves that homosexuality is never in danger. In fact, genetically and on an evolutionary scale, we can see how it benefits humans as a species and why mother nature keeps it:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080617204459.htm

    Other factors to ponder are: the rate of bi-sexuals. While homosexuality exists within the range of 5-15% (many people do not disclose their sexual orientation due to bigotry), bi-sexuality may be even far higher, i would guess around another 10-25%. Bi-sexuals can easily pass off any genetic material that would result in more homosexuals, and in a world where gay marriage becomes legal and homosexuality/bi-sexuality becomes accepted, this will actually lead to higher numbers of homosexuality, which is a good thing. Also take into account of artificial insemination/surrogency, and you have more and more people doing it as it becomes accepted.

    And that’s why homosexuality/gay marriage should and will be accepted as human society advances. It is a natural, biological, and possibly genetic variation of human life, and with further studies we can learn what purpose it serves. The article above shows some proof of how it benefits the human species. We will find out more in the future. Another good effect is alleviating overpopulation, and starvation, and the lack of resources.

    Gay marriage is seen to be a good thing.

    Link to this
  21. 21. shadow_man 8:35 pm 08/3/2011

    The article makes a few good points, but when we look outside the scope, we will see that gay marriage will not negatively affect or cause the decline of homosexuals. For this, we have to look in the animal kingdom. Over thousands of species have homosexuality within them, which makes it natural. All of these animals do not have to put up with politics, hate, discrimination, etc based on sexual orientation. It’s a normal thing for them, and should be a normal thing for humans. This means, since it’s accepted and normal within the animal kingdom, that they form relationships without the stigmas humans face. They form these relationships and bonds without worrying about hate, discrimination, etc, similar to humans getting married and forming those same relationships and bonds. However, we haven’t seen a decline in homosexuality in the animal kingdom at all. This shows that homosexuality remains at the same rates even if more gay couples get together. Therefore, although there might be a small concern according to the article, the animal kingdom itself proves that homosexuality is never in danger. In fact, genetically and on an evolutionary scale, we can see how it benefits humans as a species and why mother nature keeps it:

    (Replace *** with www)
    ***.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080617204459.htm

    Other factors to ponder are: the rate of bi-sexuals. While homosexuality exists within the range of 5-15% (many people do not disclose their sexual orientation due to bigotry), bi-sexuality may be even far higher, i would guess around another 10-25%. Bi-sexuals can easily pass off any genetic material that would result in more homosexuals, and in a world where gay marriage becomes legal and homosexuality/bi-sexuality becomes accepted, this will actually lead to higher numbers of homosexuality, which is a good thing. Also take into account of artificial insemination/surrogency, and you have more and more people doing it as it becomes accepted.

    And that’s why homosexuality/gay marriage should and will be accepted as human society advances. It is a natural, biological, and possibly genetic variation of human life, and with further studies we can learn what purpose it serves. The article above shows some proof of how it benefits the human species. We will find out more in the future. Another good effect is alleviating overpopulation, and starvation, and the lack of resources.

    Gay marriage is seen to be a good thing.

    Link to this
  22. 22. E-boy 2:10 am 08/4/2011

    Do you not think these aren’t questions that have already been asked? It’s much harder the change a paradigm than you appear to think.

    One rather interesting fact does a good job hinting that the answers to your questions aren’t what you appear to want them to be. Homosexual behavior is found in nearly every social species scientists have bothered to look for it in. Something that occurs that frequently across species world wide is probably not pathological. Just saying.

    Let me ask you a question though. If a behavior makes people happy and hurts NO ONE what is the rationale for treating it like a threat or a disease exactly? It really doesn’t matter why homosexuality exists in people. It doesn’t matter if it’s a choice or how they are born. What really matters, when it comes right down to it is if their preferences are anyone’s business but their own and unless you can somehow support an argument that they hurt others? Then it is no one’s business but their own. There are no shortage of people suggesting that it hurts society, but it’s worth noting that not one of these people has provided a single shred of evidence of any kind to support their claims.

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  23. 23. ProfSLW 4:38 pm 08/6/2011

    Jesse’s analysis seems to be logical, if a bit overly speculative in parts. However, his conclusion is most probably wrong.
    The problem is that he does not take his own “advice”. He starts the essay talking about how we have moved from the unthinkable to the real in just a few decades — regarding the idea and actuality of officially recognized homosexual marriage. Taking the long view regarding value change is correct. But he doesn’t do the same regarding procreative technologies. I am completely sure that within a few decades the idea and act of CLONING humans will become “standard practice” for anyone who wishes to do so — at a nominal cost. Thus, many (perhaps most) male homosexuals in the future will take this road, as preferable to having a child with the ovum of someone who he does not know and/or in the womb of a woman with whom he has no connection. If this is the case, then homosexuality might even INCREASE in the future (assuming there is a real genetic component).
    On the other hand, where Jesse might be right is in the future of lesbians, as a greater number of them probably will choose to go the artificial insemination route — as they don’t have to worry about “surrogate wombs”.
    Bottom line: in predicting the future, take into account changed values regarding technological solutions. Cloning would significantly affect Jesse’s prognosis.

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  24. 24. pet142 4:04 am 08/7/2011

    I am not an expert but from what I understand Jesse Bering is refering to natural selection through which the proportion of gays will be reduced if they are not going to reproduce in the future. But the route to reproduction involves an attraction to the opposite sex which is built in the DNA. A proportion of this attraction by some means we don’t yet understant, “goes wrong” and produces an attraction to the same sex. This proportion of DNA “deviation” comes I believe from the reproduction of the general population and not only from the gay population. So the proportion of gays will remain the same whether they reproduce or not.

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  25. 25. amanzed 4:48 pm 09/18/2011

    I appreciated the piece (as I do most of Jesse Bering’s work). But my first impression was reflected in a few of the comments: What if homosexuality is just a confluence of heritable characteristics which usually yield heterosexual desire and reproduction (including bisexuality), but which combine in such a way as to yield homosexual-only desire only occasionally? These characteristics may correspond with alleles or genetic-plus-epigenetic factors which convey a reproductive advantage (as the article states)… or they may be at worst reproductively neutral… still they can persist forever in the reproducing population.

    Since mushrooms are in season, here’s an analogy. Maybe the traits which contribute to homosexuality live apparently latent in the soil of heterosexual society… and only when conditions are just right do individuals emerge with the convergence of factors which make up LGBT folk. Maybe we’re the “fruiting bodies” of alleles which permeate the human race, and which are transmitted primarily by our heterosexual brothers and sisters. (Admittedly the metaphor breaks down quickly, since mycelium’s fruiting bodies are for sporulation.)

    Turning to icebergs instead of mushrooms, if you chop off the entire visible portion of an iceberg, the submerged portion will push upwards and you’ll have a new visible portion — just 5/6 the size.

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  26. 26. najami 3:49 pm 11/21/2011

    Look everyone, it is more neuroplasticity that makes one gay than genes or lack of testosterone (or testorone surges) in the womeb. Google “Early organisational-activation theory” and see how this is accurate.

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  27. 27. najami 3:50 pm 11/21/2011

    Pardon me. I misspelled “womb”!

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  28. 28. HollyL13 7:38 am 11/29/2011

    Marriage refers to a union between “people” rather than between “a man and a woman” The goal of most people in life is to be happy. There are two major fronts to their happiness, their jobs and their love lives. While education may be the key to securing that perfect job, there is no formula for finding the perfect mate, especially for gays. Furthermore, once gays find their partners for life, the law does not recognize their marriage, denying homosexual spouses the benefits that heterosexual spouses have enjoyed for centuries. The roots of this debate lie in the soil of discrimination. Gays have long been discriminated against, even though there is little difference between sexual orientation-based discrimination and that based upon race. Also, many states and the federal government still have laws that discriminate on gays. I believe the next step we need to take to make this issue better is by changing these laws and making room for new laws. Same-sex marriage should be legalized on the basis that discrimination is wrong, and current laws discriminate.

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  29. 29. ckstewar 8:52 pm 12/5/2011

    Interesting article but completely wrong. The logic seems direct but it is based on many false assumptions. People who engage in same-sex relations is not a small percentage. There are cultures where everyone, I repeat, everyone are in same-sex relationships for a majority of their lives. Human sexuality is extremely fluid and influenced by cultural forces. Jesse Bering is basing his entire argument on Western cultures that are extremely anti-gay. I predict that with the advent of the Internet and the freeing of pro-gay evidence and contacts, the percentage of people engaging in homosexual behaviors will increase dramatically. As religion loses it tight grip on family structures and information, more people will stay single for a greater portion of their lives and have more same-sex relations.

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  30. 30. fillmeinnikki 1:29 am 06/1/2012

    I agree with your theory! I just read this article but had the exact same conversation with my class today. We were talking about species diversity, variations, and random mutations, etc. Meiosis, and recombination was being reviewed and also Natural Selection was being discussed, as was how environmental factors can influence gene expression. Being a New Yorker, you understand that our tests are skewed toward the left when discussing policy and law. One question on a state exam asked:
    Living Environment Examination August 2010

    30) Which action would be least likely to harm
    endangered species?
    (1) releasing more carbon dioxide into the
    atmosphere
    (2) reducing the human population
    (3) decreasing the amount of dissolved oxygen in
    the oceans
    (4) reducing the thickness of the ozone layer

    REDUCING THE HUMAN POPULATION????? HUH???? Yes that is the answer, but on a state test? Yes it is true that less humans=less waste. blah blah blah But how did they think this was going to happen? Were they just preparing us for something??? Now the whole gay marriage makes so much sense if you look at if from a non-judgement, wow somethings are so messed up. Perspective Ultimately you said it best. Gays are probably less likely to go out there and get that surrogate. Or perhaps a lesbian couple doesnt want to be pregnant. Maybe that is something that she really liked as part of the package lesbian deal! No chance of pregnancy with someone with ovaries and eggs as sex cells. Will other same sex couples seek to have children, yes, but will the trait begin to lessen with the fact that fewer Mixed sex marriages are occurring? Its so interesting to see how this phenomenon plays out. But what really stinks is that we probably wont be alive to see it since evolution of the human takes so much time.
    To those that do not agree… Ok, God Bless America that is your right to disagree, but this makes total sense to me. I agree with your theory and Im excited that someone else thinks the same way. But I also see other perspectives here, some also controversial….is passing laws like this and the social acceptance of gay marriage an end to gays in general or the rapid decline. Was this the evil underlying plan? Or is homosexuality something on multiple alleles and continues to exist to heterosexual couples in healthy sexual relationships? Does same sex marriage also allow for natural selection to work and end a portion of our human race. Since gays can’t physically reproduce through sexual contact, few humans exist as do fewer and fewer gays . An end to the human race? A way to “reduce” the human population for a 100 years or so? So interesting. Also sad…because then it wasnt about preserving love, but to destroy human life.

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  31. 31. grags 11:57 am 08/20/2012

    Anyone can see that gays come from the Catholic Church. A religion that separates the sexes, then elevates social status within the gender specific roles while demanding the absence of procreation will continue to attract young people who have a desire to live and work primarily with their own gender (gay kids) in the procreation-free environment. Plus you get to dress up.

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  32. 32. verytrue 11:55 pm 10/16/2012

    in my opinion there are much more lesbians out there now than ever before, and there are so many of us straight guys that really want to find a good straight woman today and share a life together. much more women into other women is certainly the problem now, and going out is no fun at all trying to connect with the right one. even the straight women have become so very difficult to talk too, with their attitude problem.

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  33. 33. Lay_MC 9:57 am 10/24/2012

    It is only logical… evolution takes place with the mix of genes. Gays/lesbians can’t mix much. Was it a plan to lower population so the wild rich owners of the world can enjoy more their power? I tend to think YES, the Gay agenda makes sense in the Malthusian way of thinking.
    And Grags, before making those “bigot” comments do some research, as for us Catholics MAN AND WOMEN make ONE FLESH. Some Theology of the Body could help you open your mind.

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  34. 34. reverb256 11:06 am 07/13/2013

    There is nothing wrong with encouraging the acceptance homosexuality and bisexuality in society. It certainly won’t hurt anyone. It should be seen as normal and equal to heterosexuality, because it is! A huge benefit to society is that same-sex couples can adopt babies to give them a loving home and family.

    Link to this
  35. 35. themodeofmonkey 7:15 am 06/24/2014

    Uhh surely you guys know that if there is a cluster of alleles that produce sexual orientation, and if that cluster is linked to something like female sexual fecundity it doesn’t matter if gays or lesbians don’t reproduce directly because it can persist through their siblings.
    Or put it another way, people share what 25% of their DNA with their siblings? So even if that DNA doesn’t give the reproducing siblings a reproductive advantage there’s a good chance it can still be passed on.
    So ahh I’d have to disagree entirely with the idea that gay/homosexuals need to enter mixed orientation relationships to keep homosexuality in the population.

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  36. 36. weewiiwaa 12:38 pm 09/4/2014

    homosexual or no-sexual like monk might have higher percentage in ancient because it create better survival, harmony and effective hunting group during hunter-gatherer lifestyle in harsh environment or low-tech,communication cant support large community, I saw in some article. these cultural continue until farming prosper, like roman empire fighting gay barbarian. haha, and the fight continue until today..the nomad fighting village …village fight city … poor fight rich. endless idiot story

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  37. 37. weewiiwaa 9:06 pm 09/4/2014

    death risk of hunting or hunger is probably great concern than disease or other matter during that time.

    Link to this
  38. 38. moricerianna 11:57 pm 11/13/2014

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