Sunday, February 21, 2010

Monogamy ... again.

The monogamy debate is back. I ran into it again over on Titusonenine ... which of course I check in on every once in awhile to see what the folks on "the other side of the aisle" are on about.

Seems on Saturday they were "on about" a NYT piece from a couple of weeks ago entitled "Many Successful Gay Marriages Share an Open Secret" and focused on a forthcoming study that came to the following conclusion:
“With straight people, it’s called affairs or cheating,” said Colleen Hoff, the study’s principal investigator, “but with gay people it does not have such negative connotations.”
Wow. Pretty significant stuff. Pretty definitive difference between "straight people" and "gay people" -- what with it written with such specificity and clarity. And it was -- after all -- in the New York Times so of course it must be true. And so of course the Titusoneniners were off to the "I told you so" races ... this time with a scientific study to back them up.

That would be a scientific study of 556 couples. 556 male couples. 556 male couples in the San Francisco Bay Area. Which led to the conclusion that 50% of them weren't monogamous. Which is pretty much the stats for heterosexual couples ... in the Bay Area or out of it.

Hmmm ...

And so I'm wondering this afternoon how monogamy would stand up to a scientific study of 556 heterosexual couples ... oh, let's just pick some at random. How about members of the PGA Tour? And let's make sure to include Hugh Hefner, David Letterman and Eliot Spitzer ... just to round out the numbers.

I'm actually not a believer in "three strikes laws" but I'm ready to be a convert when it comes to preserving the sanctity of marriage. I'm ready to make the argument that with the moral example lead off hitters like Mark Sanford, John Edwards and Tiger Woods have set, it's time to call "three strikes and you're out" for the heteros and to bring in some homos from the bench and give them and a chance to show what they -- and their relationships -- are made of.

As I noted in my 2007 piece "Speaking of Monogamy"
Here is as non-ambiguous a definition of monogamy as I could find:

Monogamy is the custom or condition of having only one mate in a relationship, thus forming a couple. The word monogamy comes from the Greek word monos, which means one or alone, and the Greek word gamos, which means marriage or union.

One mate. A couple. Two people. Clear? Non-ambiguous? Sounds that way to me. But then so did C051 -- the resolution passed in 2003 at the Episcopal Church General Convention outlining the standards for holiness in relationships that rose to the level of being blessed by the church:

That we reaffirm Resolution D039 of the 73rd General Convention (2000), that "We expect such relationships will be characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God," and that such relationships exist throughout the church ... [and] we recognize that local faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common life as they explore and experience liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex unions.

Hardly the "anything goes" we keep hearing about, is it? Actually, the ONLY thing that "goes" is heterosexist privilege -- and it's about time!

Now, are there those in the LGBT community who are not attracted to these standards: to monogamy, fidelity and all the rest? Of course there are. And here's a news flash: there are straight people who aren't either! And those aren't the relationships we're talking about blessing! How's that for clarity?
So back to the NYTimes article. Here's the part that didn't make it "above the fold" on the Titusonenine site:
Open relationships are not exclusively a gay domain, of course. Deb and Marius are heterosexual, live in the East Bay and have an open marriage. She belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and maintained her virginity until her wedding day at 34. But a few years later, when the relationship sputtered, both she and her husband, who does not belong to the church, began liaisons with others.

“Our relationship got better,” she said. “I slept better at night. My blood pressure went down.”
Hmmm ... (some more!)

Maybe Colleen Hoff (the study's "principal investigator") needs to re-examine her conclusions. And maybe those conclusions might more accurately be revised to read:
“With some people, it’s called affairs or cheating,” said Colleen Hoff, the study’s principal investigator, “but with other people it does not have such negative connotations.”
Because I did a little not-so-scientific study myself. On my Facebook page. And here was my favorite response:

"It sure as heck has 'negative connotations' in MY gay marriage," wrote one colleague. "Should I ever be so foolish as to consider non-monogamy, my wife would call it: "Buried in the back yard!"

(FYI ... comments are closed over at T19 on this one. When you can't stand the heat sometimes the only thing to do is close down the kitchen! :)


SexyClassicist said...

"It sure as heck has 'negative connotations' in MY gay marriage," wrote one colleague. "Should I ever be so foolish as to consider non-monogamy, my wife would call it: "Buried in the back yard!"

Absolutely hilarious!

IT said...

The NY Times story is completely misleading, in fact really almost lying about what this study was about. It was taken apart by the Box Turtle Bulletin here:

To be eligible participants had to have been at least 18 years old, have been in a their current relationship for at least 3 months, have knowledge of their own and their partner’s HIV status, be fluent in English, and be residents of the San Francisco Bay Area.

As the research was not applied separately by relationship structure or length, this study says nothing about gay marriage or even domestic partnerships.
It's not about marriage. It's about dating. by men in gay bars in San Francisco, at risk for HIV. This is in no way representative of stable couples raising kids in the suburbs. In no way representative of marriage, any more than college students sleeping their way around the dorm are about marriage.

The BTB again:
And any use of the results which makes (or even implies) a comparison to straight relationships is bogus and irresponsible....

But in my opinion, Scott James’ statement that “New research at San Francisco State University reveals just how common open relationships are among gay men and lesbians in the Bay Area” may be among the most irresponsible reporting I’ve ever seen. The study says nothing whatsoever about lesbians and it tells us little about “just how common open relationships are” among anyone. It’s pure sensationalism and shoddy journalism.

But the real culprits are those who saw this study and decided that it says something about, for example, gay couples marrying in Iowa or New Hampshire. This was either lazy response or a deliberate attempt to fraudulently demonize gay couples for political gain.

In short, those reporting on this study got it wrong.

My take here.

lizziewriter said...

I'm a fan of monogamy, but an un-fan of commenting on other people's monogamy. And an un-fan of that article in the Times -- how could that have been in the Times, they aren't usually that stupid. The other article that Titus19 liked was about "voodoo" which was also incredibly ignorant, given that there are multiple traditions lumped together in that association (I'm no expert, I just saw an article enumerating them recently so it caught my eye). My comments at Titus were deleted due to their policing of someone who had created multiple identities and so they were trying to catch the rogues. I think it's a horrible place, but they are trying to do what they think is right.

LGMarshall said...

I think what [NYTimes] Colleen Hoff is trying to say is ... Gay Marriage is fundamentally different than Heterosexual Marriage, so much so that it is in a different category altogether. [And it's not just the gender pairing.]

It's important to examine the fundamental differences. Therein lies the majority of American's argument against calling same sex unions... 'Marriage'.

'Committed' homosexual relationships differ radically from heterosexual marriages.... in relationship duration, in monogamy vs promiscuity, in relationship commitment, in number of children being raised, in health risks, and in rates of intimate partner violence.

This push from gay activists includes a political agenda that seeks to change the institution of Marriage itself. Gay activists often point to high divorce rates and claim that married couples fare the same as homosexual couples. However, research shows that homosexual relationships last only a fraction of the length of most marriages. The 2004 Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census showed that 15% describe their relationship as lasting 12 years or longer. While 66% of Heterosexual first marriages last 12 years or longer. [With 57.7% lasting 20 years or longer].

'The Sexual Organization of the City, U. of Chicago' study reports...."typical gay city inhabitants spend most of their adult lives in 'transactional' relationships, or short-term commitments of less than 6 months. 'Western Sexuality: Practice & Precept in Past and Present Times,' researcher Pollak states...."few homosexual relationships last longer than 2 years, with many men reporting hundreds of 'lifetime' partners.

Are you beginning to see why we don't call it Marriage?

'Journal of Sex Research' reports that 77% of heterosexual married men remain faithful to their vow of monogamy, and 88% of women remain monogamous.

A Canadian study of homosexual men in committed relationships lasting longer than 1 year, found that 25% reported being 'monogamous'. ['The Handbook of Family Diversity' reports that 'many self-described homosexual monogamous couples report an average of 3-5 partners in the past year. Blasband and Peplau observed a similar pattern.]

In 'The Male Couple', McWhirter & Mattison studied 150 male couples. Their relationships were from 1 year up to 37 years. All couples after 5 years incorporated outside activity into their 'monogamous' relationships. Fidelity among male couples is extremely low, so low, as to be statistically non-existent.

Next up.... intimate partner violence. Research indicates high levels of violence in homosexual & lesbian relationships. {this may be why God teaches against it?]

See 'Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence'. US Dept. of Justice: office of Justice Programs. 12% Lesbians report rape, 35% report physical assault. {Married hetero-women report 4% rape, and 20% physical assault}.

Seriously, I just have 1 question for all... why are you so bent on bringing this into the Church? Especially, when even on face value, God asks you not to.

MarkBrunson said...

Boring, pointless, ignorant, all in one post LGMarshall!

Shall I have to publicly shame you yet again with a point-by-point detailing of your faithlessness and ignorance.

I'm being nice, Susan! Giving LG a chance to crawl away again, before the public humiliation!

susankay said...

I am so sorry that LGMarshall was apparently unable to read or comprehend your blog post before replying to it.

People who wish to marry plan to adhere to a different standard than those who do not wish to marry. For one individual that can apparently change over time. Warren Beatty comes to mind. People who wish to marry in CHURCH presumably have some sense of what God is calling them to do in their relationship called marriage.

Or at least many if not most GLBT people probably have that sense since for them it is (like so many things God calls us to do) very difficult. For so many of us heterosexuals, I fear that marriage has become a sort of reflexive response to being "in love", or a rite of passage, or being pregnant, or being pressured by parents, or wanting to register at Bloomingdale's.

I would wish that all the hoopla would come to attach to civil unions so that religious ceremonies would be about ones relationship to each other and God and people wouldn't have to fake interest in God in order to have the really spiffy dress and reception. And, yes, I would let anyone who was prepared to stand and commit before God be married in any church that was open to love as a commandment.

susankay said...

Oh -- and another way that some heterosexual marriages are different than LGBT marriages is that they can (sometimes) make a baby together -- in that case my marriage after being widowed to my much beloved husband would fail that test. I was well beyond menopause but not beyond love, passion, commitment and awe.


When one has the capital- A Absolute capital-T Truth one doesn't have to worry about facts. Sad but ... True.

Michele said...

You know, no matter what promises you make to another person, it's possible to break them; cheating is breaking those promises, whether you're monogamous or polyamorous.

I wish people would address the question of civil and Christian marriage within the current boundaries of each, both of which require monogamy. (I haven't yet heard people arguing about non-Christian marital structures.)

Arguing that there are some people of whatever orientation who are polyamorous is pretty much utterly irrelevant to the question of allowing monogamous people to make their unions either legally or religiously binding.

(And of course the question of honesty within a committed relationship is relevant within both monogamous and polyamorous relationships; but that isn't the issue at hand.)

IT said...

let me try to explain this in words sufficient for even the deliberately dim.

You cannot compare relationships between people who are not married with those of people who are.

The correct comparison is between unmarried GLBT couples and unmarried straight couples.

How well do you think straight men would do on the fidelity front without marriage?

uffda51 said...

Perhaps you should have offered yourself to the Prop 8 trial defense team, LG, since you seem to be such an expert these matters, and David Blankenhorn, by his own admission, is not.

Blankenhorn’s master’s degree is in the history of labor relations with particular focus on 19th century Britain. He has never written a peer-reviewed article on the effects of same-sex marriage nor, by his own admission, studied any of the legal cases in which the United States Supreme Court has declared marriage a fundamental right. No college or university has ever employed him to teach.

Pretty much the same qualifications one needs to able to post on a moderated blog.

Padre Mickey said...

I agree with IT; the comparison doesn't work unless we are comparing married couples with married couples and unmarried couples with unmarried couples.

And to LGMarshall, I want to say that my heterosexual marriage has lasted longer than most, but I know gay couples who have been together longer than we have. It has nothing to do with sexuality and everything to do with fidelity.

wv = gingovi And the LORD struck the homophobes with gingovi, giving the Righteous Dentists much work.