Opinion

IN DEFENSE OF DOMA :

This week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case seeking to force states to permit gay marriage. Many expect the Court to force nationwide gay marriage, and in most of the US, gay marriage is indeed popularly supported. While many laud gay marriage as the natural consequence of homosexuality being normal, and many college students have a homosexual experience at some point, homosexual behavior and homosexual commitment are very different. Before encouraging gay marriage, we should examine the effects of homosexual commitments: even pro-gay-marriage scientific studies show that long-term homosexual commitment is very unusual, and strongly correlated with depression and suicidal tendencies, even with societal support.

First, long-term homosexual relationships are rare in most animals, including humans. In other species, while homosexuality has been frequently observed, long-term homosexuality is very rare, indicating that it constitutes a deviant, rather than normative, sexual behavior in general. Homosexual relationships are also less stable than heterosexual marriages. Data from Vermont (Solomon and Rathblum 2004, in favor of gay marriage) showed that homosexual couples in civil unions had considered or discussed ending their relationships just as frequently as married heterosexual relatives had. At the same time, homosexual relationships lasted on average just two thirds as long as heterosexual relationships. Even though these long-term relationships were validated by society, they showed higher instability than similar heterosexual marriages, which leads to lower family success rates and likely psychological damage to the next generation.

Furthermore, human homosexuality has been correlated with an increased risk for mental health problems, including suicide and depression (for instance, see Remafedi et al. 1998, in favor of gay marriage). While this may be caused by societal pressures, data from the Netherlands (Sandfort et al., 2006), where homosexuality is much more socially acceptable than it is here, shows a statistically significant difference in acute mental health problems between homosexuals, bisexuals, and heterosexuals. The correlation seems inescapable — the encouragement of homosexuality should only come with increased availability of mental health resources and an understanding that homosexual behavior often correlates with poor mental health.

I support individuals’ sexual freedom; I am libertarian and bisexual. However, given the apparent deviance of homosexuality, it seems that encouraging homosexual exclusivity is against society’s obligation to safe, healthy social behaviors, at least without additional local data contradicting our current experiences. Homosexuality should be coupled with increased mental health support, not with encouragement to commit to long-term dangerous behaviors, and this can only be done together at a local level, not by requiring states to conduct gay marriages despite majority opposition. I hope the Court upholds the ability of states to choose to not recognize gay marriage, and I encourage the reader to research the psychological effects of gay marriage before making a conclusion for one’s self.

Tea Dorminy ’13

35 Comments
1
Anonymous about 5 years ago

Your argument seems hinged on the idea that homosexuality is tied with mental illness, so encouraging same-sex marriage with encourage mental illness. Where's the proof of this argument? The Netherlands may still show a correlation to mental health issues, but are they worse in the Netherlands than here? I somehow doubt it, which makes your argument make zero sense.

The fact that you call yourself a libertarian is astonishingly confusing. When you start arguing that marriage shouldn't be a government institute at all, I'll believe you.

2
Richard T. Nolan about 5 years ago

Both 75, we (two men) have been a couple since we were college freshman in 1955. We were married legally in CT during our 50th class reunion in 2009. Our family-friendly website is at www.nolan-pingpank.com/. Some psychological test results are posted with my CV. You might want to revise your article considerably after examining carefully our actual history/evidence.

3
Anonymous about 5 years ago

Sounds like social engineering. Firstly, freedom means the right to choices that may be dangerous (regardless if this whole psychological damage idea is right). I could accidentally crash my car into a small child later today, but that doesn't mean we should forbid me from driving. If you want to talk about psychological damage, ask me about my adventures I've been having with taxes. Though I'd favor outlawing many of those.

Secondly, Gov't can't provide unique benefits to heterosexual couples without doing the same for homosexual couples. Civil Unions might be a good out for some, but many think that isn't good enough. From one Libertarian to (supposedly) another, get Gov't out of religious marriage altogether, allow the same benefits (i.e. hospital visitation) to all couples, and this problem is in the books. SOLVED! You're welcome, America!

4
Av Shrikumar about 5 years ago

"Homosexuality should be coupled with increased mental health support, not with encouragement to commit to long-term dangerous behaviors"

Even if it were true that many homosexuals get depressed for reasons that are completely independent of societal stigmatization, how did you conclude that this justifies banning all long-term homosexual relationships? What are you going to say to the happily married gay couples that do exist? "Sorry, most gay marriages aren't as happy as yours, so clearly you're deluding yourself and you're actually miserable and we're doing you a favour by not letting you get married"? We cannot go around stripping couples of something as important as marriage based on statistical trends that they may be an exception to.

5
Av Shrikumar about 5 years ago

Also, commenter 1: in defence of Sweet Tea, I recall he actually does believe marriage shouldn't be a government institute. He was merely providing an argument on behalf of the states that don't want to recognize gay marriage. He is not arguing that it is an ideal scenario, merely that it is better than the current alternative. (Sweet Tea, correct me if I misunderstood your view)

6
Anonymous about 5 years ago

It is extremely unfortunate that Tea does not address the fundamental issue here, that of equal protection under the law. This is an issue of discrimination against a minority group, not an issue of mental stability or whether or not long term relationships will last.

In fact, nearly if not more than half of heterosexual marriages end in divorce, fracturing families by quite literally splitting them in half. Perhaps the psychological trauma induced as a result of these heterosexual relationship failures should be pumishible by the federal government; I think based on this article, Tea (a self-proclaimed libertarian) would agree. After all, who knows what untold damage is done to the next generation.

7
Xan Belzley about 5 years ago

Seriously? Even if we accept her claim that gay/otherwise not-straight-identifying people have a higher rate of mental illness, she then makes a totally crappy logical jump to suggesting that the "psychological effects of gay marriage" are somehow negative. Which basically means that when she says, "an understanding that homosexual behavior often correlates with poor mental health" she actually MEANS "an understanding that homosexual behavior often CAUSES poor mental health." Which is a problem because, as we all know because I had it tattoed on my butt so I could moon stupid people, CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION. Also, obviously if we're concerned about the mental health of a group of people, stigmatizing them, denying them basic civil rights and refusing them the ability to legitimize a life partner on their own terms IS A GREAT IDEA.

8
Tea about 5 years ago

5: indeed, I agree with Cory's article in favor of the government getting out of marriage.

My net goal was to argue gay marriage should be legalized via statewide ballot box, not by judicial fiat; the first has an implicit element of societal support if it happens, while the second can occur when the majority of society disapproves, leading quite possibly to a much harder and longer road for gay marriage to be fully accepted.

9
roseanne about 5 years ago

8: That sounds a lot like backpedaling. If that was your goal for this article, what you actually did is argue that homosexuality causes mental illness. Are you not aware of the long history of homosexuality being pathologized and how much that DIDN'T help? It's a great thing to advocate the increased availability of mental health resources. It's awful to say we need it because we're sick and deviant. Seriously??

Yes, people who take their queer relationships public have chosen a hard road. That is something that helps make non-heterosexuality socially acceptable in the long run. And that is their decision. Maybe it's just me, but I don't hear about people being forced to be gay all that often. It's pretty ridiculous to argue against their rights and promise that it's for their own sanity.

I hope the Court eventually steps away from the institution of marriage completely, and I encourage the author to research the psychological effects of internalized homophobia.

10
Ashley Davis about 5 years ago

Uh, Tea, even if your supposed goal was to argue why marriages should be legalized, not by the government, but by the states (despite focusing not on political reasons for such a maneuver, but by focusing on the horrible, terrible "deviance of homosexuality" and all the bad things it does to society by not being a "safe, healthy social behavior" and because "homosexual behavior often correlates with poor mental health" without offering any reasons as to why beyond implying that homosexuality is inherently harmful to your mental health...), until we remove DOMA, gay marriages will not be recognized on the federal level meaning that those marriages will STILL not be equal under FEDERAL law and will STILL continue to be denied many of the same rights and privileges given to heterosexual married couples. So, you're essentially arguing that you wish gay marriage to remain illegal.

11
Anonymous about 5 years ago

This is a wholly non-cogent argument. Tea is not accounting for or considering the actual scientific literature regarding the most likely triggers and sources of mental illness, etc. in the gay community, which has proven to be oppression and discrimination against gays. Using this same argument as the "opinion" writer's, we could just as easily say that black's shouldn't be entitled to civil rights because blacks make up the largest portion of America's prison system. The attitude and perspective is specious and ultimately incoherent when applied in either case.

12
Ernesto about 5 years ago

Anyone, especially MIT students, who finds anything disagreeable with this argument should contact leaders of the LGBT orgs at MIT to challenge Tea Dorminy to a civilized, fair debate, as I'm sure MIT can. As a person who finds himself disagreeing with Tea, I do wish him the benefit of defending his ideas, but also the opportunity for LGBT leaders to correct him where he may be mistaken. As a non-MIT student, I ask all of you who read this, to please, ask your leaders to treat this person with respect, but to also ask him for accounts, and to engage in a civil debate.

13
Anonymous about 5 years ago

I am of the belief that L/G marriage should be legalized; I am also of the belief that this should be treated as a state issue.

I am a libertarian, and I believe your argument isn't a very libertarian one. Saying that the government should babysit the populous is not a very libertarian thing to say. A true libertarian believes in allowing citizens to use drugs if they so wish--you're essentially examining gay marriage as if it were a drug and saying it should be illegal due to some perceived side effects and long term health issues. That's like saying we shouldn't legalize marijuana or keep alcohol legal because of its side effects. That's not a very libertarian thing to say.

14
Anonymous about 5 years ago

Tea, do you realize how much of a flip-flop you're being?

15
Anonymous about 5 years ago

This is a historic reprint right? Tea graduated in 1913 I assume. There is no way a stringent examination of current scientific studies adds up to this hogwash. MIT should be ashamed if this is indeed a current student and she has such a flawed understanding of scientific method.

16
Anonymous about 5 years ago

This article is so poorly written and reasoned that it has me genuinely concerned for Tea's own mental health.

17
Rodrigo about 5 years ago

8: I disagree that the rights of a minority should be in the hands of the majority that is precisely what our court system is meant to handle. The courts are there to protect the minorities, to give them the rights that society has stripped from them.

Had the courts left the issue of interracial marriage up to the popular vote, who knows when that issue would have been made legal. When the Supreme Court issued its decision in Loving v Virginia, only 20 of general public approved of interracial marriage, while 73 disapproved (http://www.gallup.com/poll/28417/most-americans-approve-interracial-marriages.aspx). In contrast, a poll this year showed that 53 of Americans support same-sex marriage, while 46 disapprove. The time has clearly come for the court to take up this issue.

With respect to whether or not same-sex relationships are harmful to the individuals involved, I think you should brush up on your facts.

18
Tree about 5 years ago

I think Tea has a point here. He just articulated it poorly. Reading most comments reveals that people are only replying out of emotional attachments to the issues at hand and ignoring the essence of the problem. Richard Nolan, your evidence cannot change the argument alone. It could be dismissed as an exception.

People can do whatever they want. God has given all that freedom. We should, however, detach emotions or any reason raised in this respect when dealing with what is best.

Everyone agrees that most 'scientific' evidence about this issue today is greatly biased [in both ways]. Tea's call is actually justified. In matters of uncertainty, it is prudent to search more and seek greater knowledge before acting. We should not act just because we want to make our friends happy or ...

19
Anonymous about 5 years ago

Let's say that I buy your point, for the sake of a thought experiment, that homosexuality is linked with mental health disorders, and therefore gay marriage is wrong. You're effectively saying that populations at higher risk for mental health disorders shouldn't get married. Let's take a look at what the implications of that statement are.

People who come from abusive households have a high rate of a wide variety of mental health problems. We shouldn't let them get married either.

Combat veterans? Wow, huge prevalence of PTSD and related disorders. Their marriages are certainly doomed to failure, let's not let veterans get married.

Rape survivors? Again with the PTSD. Statistically, since a higher portion of them than those who have never been assaulted have a high risk of mental health problems, especially those related to interpersonal relationships and intimacy, we shouldn't allow them to get married because a higher percentage of them have trouble forming relationships.

Every single example I gave follows the exact same logic you used to justify denying equal marriage rights to the LGBT population of America.

Let's simplify things even further. You talk about one of the deciding factors being the length of time a relationship lasts.

People who graduate high school are less likely to get a divorce than those with no higher education. People with GEDs shouldn't be able to get married.

People who marry young are at much higher risk of divorce. Nobody should be allowed to marry before they are 25.

I can go on all day, here, but I think my point is pretty clear. Your logic is simply unsound, even if the shoddy science behind your assertion is true.

20
Anonymous about 5 years ago

poster 18 We understand the issue at hand. The issue at hand is freedom, which is what our Constitution is designed to protect. We should move so that our gay friends can be free to be treated the same way our straight friends are treated, and what they do with their freedom is their own choice; that is the point of freedom. Freedom does not mean we give you rights if we like what we think the outcome will be. It means you get rights and you pursue the best outcome for yourself. If you do not understand that, then maybe you should read the Constitution, learn what it means, and then come back to the big boys table.

This writer's argument is terrible for several reasons. One, the writer got wrong the challenged provision in this lawsuit. This lawsuit is not about states not allowing gay marriage. This lawsuit is about couples who already got married not being able to apply for marriage benefits from the federal government. How does denying gay people a tax break save their mental health and how does putting their children at a disadvantage when applying for financial aid help society?

the writer

None of the "research" in this article corresponds to the issue at hand, which tells me that the writer had a conclusion and would do anything to get there, including taking a path that leads to nowhere.

Before writing another article, maybe learning what the dispute is

actually about and getting it right might be helpful. Then when you cherry pick data to try and prove your point, you could at least cherry pick relevant data.

21
Christopher Flournoy about 5 years ago

Another NOM operative strikes again...

22
Anonymous about 5 years ago

Freedom of speech only applies to the government. It

protects you from government punishment or unfair mistreatment because of your opinions. It does not protect you from public scrutiny. Tea's article is ridiculous.His opinions lack any constitutional basis, which is the whole point of the lawsuit and is devoid of any logic whatsoever. He did not even bother to research what in DOMA was being challenged, what would be the consequences if the challenged provision was overturned.

Overturning section 3 of DOMA will not nationalize gay marriage. Overturning section 3 will allow gay married couples to apply for the same federal tax benefits that straight couples can apply for. The whole argument is that it is a violation of federalism for the federal government to be able to refuse to recognize marriages that have been approved by states. It has nothing to do with states that do not currently recognize gay marriage.

Logic problems: It's not like people will stop being gay or avoid being in long term relationships if DOMA isn't overturned or they will be more mentally stable if they don't get married. Will having more money make gay couples more unstable? Also, as a libertarian, why would he want the federal government to be getting involved in marriage, which is traditionally a states issue, especially in a fashion that limits rights that 12 states have given to its people. He might want to reconsider his political persuasion because DOMA is not libertarian at all.

His argument is in fact quite dumb, his article is riddled with

inaccurate statements because he did not do his research adequately (cherry picking articles to go in your favor doesn't constitute real research, especially when your argument does not logically flow from the research that you picked), and if he doesn't like people saying that, then he should not write for a public paper.

I have no obligation to try and understand dumb, and I don't try to because that might make me dumb.

23
Andrew Jones \'10 about 5 years ago

So before you start repeating retired arguments (both the UN and the APA have removed homosexuality from their respective lists of mental illness), before you retire your own libertarian beliefs (people should be free to do whatever the hell they feel like within the grounds of causing legit harm to someone else (even a "state" gov't is too much control)), before you drag up the same arguments that people used to prevent black and white people from marrying (same twisted psycho-bable, harm the kids, and fabric of society) you should do some more research: http://anthro.palomar.edu/marriage/marriage_6.htm

24
Scott Amundsen about 5 years ago

"First, long-term homosexual relationships are rare in most animals, including humans. In other species, while homosexuality has been frequently observed, long-term homosexuality is very rare, indicating that it constitutes a deviant, rather than normative, sexual behavior in general."

Prove it. There isn't a single reputable psychological or psychiatric association that would agree with that statement. Homosexuality has not been considered a mental problem for nearly forty years.

"Homosexual relationships are also less stable than heterosexual marriages. Data from Vermont (Solomon and Rathblum 2004, in favor of gay marriage) showed that homosexual couples in civil unions had considered or discussed ending their relationships just as frequently as married heterosexual relatives had."

You should read what you write before you post it; the data you cite indicates, in fact, that Gay relationships and Straight ones are about the same where stability is concerned.

"At the same time, homosexual relationships lasted on average just two thirds as long as heterosexual relationships."

Well I can only speak for myself, of course, but my first marriage lasted fifteen years; none of my straight friends from high school or college managed more than five in their first marriages. And I am about to celebrate ten years with my husband.

Also unless you have turned a blind eye to what's been happening since San Francisco 2004, every time marriage equality opens up there are people waiting in line who have been together twenty, thirty, forty, even fifty years or more. You might want to do your homework more thoroughly because it is clear that you went looking for data to bolster a claim that you had already decided upon in your bigoted head. And that is not worthy of a student at a school so renowned as an "Institute of Technology."

25
Tea about 5 years ago

23: Your link argues homosexuality is found around the world. I'm not denying that. I'm specifically arguing that long-term and exclusive homosexual relationships are rare in other animals, and that long-term exclusive homosexual human relationships seem to have a weak correlation with same level of instability as heterosexual relationships, but on a much shorter timeframe. Thus, using relationship length vs stability as a proxy for long-term stability, and arguing stability as a proxy for divorce rates / marriage success, I'm saying homosexual marriages seem to have a higher failure rate. I also cite data from the Netherlands about mental health to show that mental health correlation doesn't seem to be dependent on societal disapproval.

25: You're arguing on the base of anecdote. I'll grant my citation says roughly equal stability, but I say that in the article also. The key part is that they're equally stable --- but one's been that stable for 18 years on average, while the other has been for 12 years on average.

26
Anonymous about 5 years ago

19: 1

Tea: Stop trying. In the same post (25), you dismiss an argument because it's based on anecdotal evidence, yet all the data you're citing is based on mere correlation (which does NOT mean causation) and anecdotal evidence...

27
Josh Kastorf about 5 years ago

Tea I appreciate that you are trying to base your position on research instead of on your personal experience. But as the other commenters have pointed out, your logic in interpreting the research is extremely shoddy. You know personally at least two happily married gay people-- why not ask us how our marriages have affected our mental health? If you are bi then you need to understand same-sex relationships better before you miss out on a chance at happiness.

28
Elizabeth Santorella about 5 years ago

By and large, people don't choose whether to be gay or not. They do choose

whether to make long-term commitments to their partner or not. Even if gay

relationships are, on average, short-lived, allowing marriage encourages

people to make long-term commitments; it doesn't encourage them to be

homosexual.

I have a male friend who will be marrying another man soon. One of them, as it turns out, has a history of depression. Does legal marriage mean that

A) They are encouraged to be gay, and otherwise might have married women and not been depressed, or,

B) They are encouraged to marry each other and support each other through issues like depression for the rest of their lives?

Even if being gay were a choice, I don't think the argument that "X group of people has Y bad characteristics and we shouldn't encourage Y by giving X marriage rights" holds water. Do you believe criminals shouldn't be allowed to marry?

29
Sarah Ramirez about 5 years ago

You are a brave man Tea. You knew the response that you would get and you still wrote what you believed in. It is good to know social pressures have not suppressed everyone's ability for free speech. Great job!

30
Anonymous about 5 years ago

29

Both Institvtional and social pressures have suppressed the free speech of many of the people I know well.

I you want proof, just go look somewhere like I Saw You.

31
Ashley Davis about 5 years ago

No one's suppressing Tea (or anyone else's) free speech. He's free to spout this garbage without going to jail for it, which is more than can be said for many homosexual people around the world.

32
Abigail Francis about 5 years ago

Hello Tea,

I wanted to share a recent study from the American Journal of Public Health that may help shed some light on this discussion. It suggests that people in same-sex married partnerships receive mental health benefits when they marry.

http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2012.301113

I appreciate you raising this issue, and while I disagree with your opinion, I am glad to see the ongoing discussion. I request that we ALL keep this debate a respectful one. I would also like to remind folks that luckily here at MIT we have a very clear policy about nondiscrimination that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. So while is is ok to disagree about federal marriage laws, we still need to find a way to live, learn, and work together as one community of equals.

33
Anonymous about 5 years ago

Correlation does not equal causation.

Jesus Christ on a stick, how did you get admitted to this place?

34
The debate is over about 5 years ago

The debate on equal rights for LGBT folks is done. It's over. Tired and hackeneyed arguments such as this point to nothing more than a profound lack of basic empathy or respect of human dignity. Such people are never happy in life. It takes a triumphant spirit and a basic sense of inner peace to afford equal rights to all.

As for the arguments on homosexuality - they would deserve a response if they were not so utterly laughable. The writer might benefit from having more friends or visiting MIT Mental Health.

35
Anonymous about 5 years ago

I'm assuming that the Remafedi study you quote is this one:

http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdf/10.2105/AJPH.88.1.57

You misrepresent the data and conclusions of this article -- it says nothing about homosexuality in the context of adult, committed relationships. It was a survey study done of high school students, and is only tangentially relevant to the question of marriage.