This post is number six of twelve for the Secular Student Alliance Blogathon. I’m responding to comments in the “Go Ahead, Tell Me What’s Wrong with Homosexuality” thread all day. You can read an explanation of the Blogathon and a pitch for donations (even if you’re religious) here.
Ah, but in my pleasure in quoting Waugh to make a mathematical point in the last Blogathon post, I skipped answering the actual question the commenters had asked. “If the marginal impact of gay marriage on gay people was negative, would I change my position?”The answer is, that it would depend on the data. I’m always opposed to restricting the liberty of a few exceptional people if everyone else is suffering from it (mandatory vaccines, soda taxes, the list goes on and on). But this is a weird case.
It reminds me of the studies that claimed that parents are less happy on net than they would be if they remained childless. When I saw those results, I didn’t think we should discourage parenting. I suspected that happiness was a poor outcome variable to choose to track. I’m not sure what the right one would be (‘flourishing‘ is hard to quantify).
If I saw convincing numbers that gay marriage was harmful, I’d be much more likely to assume we were preparing people for marriage badly than that the institution should be scrapped for that group.