Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"Gay Moralist" Challenges Arguments Against Homosexuality

By Courtney Westlake



Imagine an activity that takes place between consenting adults, doesn't hurt anyone and results in a great deal of pleasure for the people involved. Also imagine this activity is an avenue of meaning and communication in the people's lives, which is usually something that is celebrated.

But when this activity involves two men or two women, some might not only condemn it but call it a "moral abomination," says Dr. John Corvino.

Philosopher, moralist, and gay rights advocate Corvino, also widely known as the "Gay Moralist," spoke on Wednesday afternoon, December 5, in Brookens Auditorium on the topic of "What's Morally Wrong with Homosexuality?" Corvino holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin and is currently an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Wayne State.

Corvino has traveled the country for more than 15 years speaking on gay rights. He uses humor as he dismantles common arguments against homosexual conduct, including those based on nature, harm and religion.

"Homosexual relationships make some people happy," Corvino emphasized. "And I don't just mean they are pleasurable, but they can be an important avenue of meaning and fulfillment in people's lives. If we're going to deny that to an entire group of people, or say 'that's wrong,' we should have a darn good reason."

One of the primary reasons many argue that homosexuality is immoral is that the Bible condemns it, Corvino said. But the Bible also says that eating shellfish and wearing clothing of mixed fiber are abominations unto God, according to the Book of Leviticus, and that slavery is acceptable, Corvino said.

"What I'm saying is that if you're going to use the Bible as a source of moral revelation, you have to pay attention to context to understand what it's really saying; if you don't do that, you commit yourself to some pretty strange views about slavery, women's roles and a whole host of other things," he said. "If you're going to use the Bible, you need to be consistent about it, and if you're going to take context into consideration, you need to be consistent about that."

Other arguments Corvino has heard is that homosexuality is unnatural or is a threat to the traditional family. Corvino admits he still cannot understand the latter argument.

"Do we think that if we support gay and lesbian relationships, straight people will stop having heterosexual relationships and all go gay?" Corvino said. "Do we think that if we support same-sex marriage, straight people will give up on the institution of marriage? Not only do I think this argument is a whole lot of smoke, I actually think it does more harm to the traditional family than anything it's trying to target."

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