I spent a week with my dad over Thanksgiving and while doing so we conflicted over moral issues in a way that we haven’t in quite a while.
Right before the last election he went on a bus tour around Tennessee as the author of the gay-marriage ban that passed almost ten years ago. He spoke about his previous work as a child psychologist and how he helped to cure abused children of their homosexuality. All in all his stumping wasn’t really necessary since amending Tennessee’s constitution to disallow homosexual unions passed with the strongest support of any state in the union: four out of five Tennesseans voted for it.
I talked to him some and told him essentially that I thought he was a hateful bigot. I drew frequent parallels to censures taken against the black population fifty years ago, but I was working at a disadvantage. This is a big issue for him, and he might be bigoted but he’s not dumb. He knows more about the studies than I do and I really like having the majority of the facts before attempting to discuss something.
Part of the issue is that this is a matter of faith for me. Not faith in God, but faith in myself and the clarity of my perceptions. I know some pretty neurotic and emotionally damaged people, and I have gay friends who seem mentally sound to me. Either I’m correct and they’re of sound mind or I’m wrong and homosexuality is a purely psychological issue with no biological component. I trust my perceptions.
Today I got an email from my dad with a link to the San Francisco Aids Foundation on transmission rates. It shows from 1981 to the present 89% of HIV transmission in San Francisco has been from male homosexual contact. 1% has been from heterosexual contact. It included a little note saying, “Let your friend know that his sexual life style is a dangerous one.”
His premise is a bit flawed since the heavy infection rates among homosexual men in the early years of the epidemic skews the numbers. According to the CDC about 60% of sexual transmission cases in 2004 involved male homosexual contact.
Something I was wondering about in responding to him though was good counter examples. Ideally, I’d like one where a lifestyle choice my father would think is positive put a person for a natural environmental risk. Christianity and Judaism would be good examples except Romans and Nazis aren’t really natural environmental features. Buddhist or Hindu vegetarians and malnutrition are also a possibility, but I think he’d respond better to an example with more white people. Any ideas?