Read the introduction to this series, first.
6) The normalization of all consensual sexual relationships, irrespective of number and degree of blood relatedness. The whole push to normalize homosexual relationships is predicated on the assumption that there are no structural prerequisites to valid sexual relationships; that commitment and fidelity are sufficient criteria, unless society can prove harm to all participants, in all circumstances, and in scientifically measurable ways. Given such premises, there is no logically consistent reason why society should resist various forms of multiple-partner sexual unions, whether traditional polygyny, “threesomes,” or some other arrangement. Since the restriction of the number of sex partners at any one time to two persons is predicated on the existence of two distinct and complementary sexes as necessary and sufficient to produce a sexual whole, the elimination of such a premise must result in the eventual elimination of a number requirement. It is not surprising that the recent Supreme Court decision that found a right to same-sex “sodomy” in the Constitution has sparked a lawsuit to validate polygamy; nor it is surprising that the ACLU has filed a brief on behalf of the polygamist, citing the sodomy ruling and insisting that the burden of proof is on the state to prove that polygamy is always harmful (for the record: It isn’t). Similarly, if consent, commitment, and fidelity are adequate for establishing a sexual union and, further, if the concept of too much structural sameness becomes irrelevant, then there is no reasonable basis for withholding public recognition of man-mother or adult brother-sister unions. One wonders, in the face of such an assault, how long resistance to adult-adolescent unions and, eventually, adult-child unions can be maintained. Note that I am not saying that by approving homosexual unions we may open the door to something worse: polygamy and incest. There are good grounds for arguing that homoerotic unions are worse for society than polygamy and adult consensual incest. Nevertheless, approving homosexual unions will, in the end, have the effect of discounting any concept of inherent structural incongruity as regards sexual unions. See my online discussion in “Why the Disagreement…?” pp. 35-45 here.
The language of hysteria and fear continue right through his final argument which is all predicated on what could happen after cultural acceptance of homosexuality. Nevermind that the varieties of sexual relationships that Gagnon wants to bundle together have not historically been seen as all of a type, Gagnon tells us that one logically leads directly to the other. To refute this one only need point out that there are polygamous societies that do not support incest, incestuous societies that reject polygamy and societies of both kinds that reject homosexuality. There is no necessary connection.
Once again, his argument here relies on the presupposition of the non-secular value of complementarity. He constructs his chain of logic based on the assumption that society is operating according to this value (which it is not) and that a change would necessarily mean abandoning this value. He seems to think even more strongly that society must operate according to the value of complementarity and that choosing not to means moral dissolution and decay, the increase of homosexuality, the removal of civil liberties, the destruction of marriage and the normalization of all consensual sexual relationships, irrespective of number and degree of blood relatedness.
Gagnon’s non-secular value of complementarity doesn’t deserve to be given the central place that it is given by him. Firstly, it is not how the relationship between men and women is viewed in all cultures. In Thailand for example the culture resists a clear and easy binary classification of genders at all. Instead there are a variety of genders, which define one’s role in the society, not strictly based on genitalia, but on other physical and personality characteristics also. See Van Esterik in Genders and Sexualities in Modern Thailand, Silkworm Books 1999, to learn more. Secondly, it is not how the relationship between men and women has always been viewed in our own culture. For much of the history of our western culture women were regarded as little more than the possessions of their husbands or fathers. Not at all a complementary “sexual other”, but an inferior creature. Third, it is not how the relationship between men and women is actually viewed in our present culture. Men and women are largely regarded as individual units, that voluntarily enter into relationships with other individual units. Most secular marriages in this country are a relationship of two separate people, not one flesh reunited.
The fact that complementarity isn’t as central as Gagnon wants it to be should cause no anxiety. The world is not ending. Society is not rapidly decaying into complete moral degeneracy (at least not because of lacking this value). It is not so much that cultural acceptance of homosexuality means a failure to value complementarity as it means lifting up other values. The worth of one’s values is determined by demonstrably ethical actions resulting from those values. A value which requires us to encourage cultural disapproval and social exclusion of any person because of a genetic predisposition outside the norm is unethical. A value which leads us to a way of acting that does incalculable emotional, spiritual and physical harm to another person is unethical. No one should mourn the loss of that value, if it was ever held.