Tom Gilson of on gay marriage

Tom Gilson of might be a familiar name around here – he edited the book True Reason, which I read and reviewed chapter by chapter. He recently opined on gay marriage, and had this to say:
It’s impossible to be wrong about feelings: we feel what we feel, and that’s it. It’s also impossible for me to persuade another person that my feelings rightly, truly, and justly rule over his or hers, because of course they don’t. There’s nothing really there even to talk about except as statements about ourselves — which provides no basis for discussion, much less agreement, on common principles or beliefs.
So the basis for agreement is being cast aside; and yet we must come to some agreement in order to make and to practice public policy.

In the comments section, he clarified:

I didn’t say our processes must be guided by “this transcendent truth,” as if we have to agree on what is true before we begin; that would be silly. I said rather that a healthy debate pursues the joint discovery of what is true.
Actually he didn't say that, although I'm fine with him clarifying that that's what he meant to say. Anyway, I left a reply to this clarification, which I'm reprinting here in its entirety:


It's interesting you say this, because this is precisely what frustrates me so greatly about the almost exclusively religious opposition to gay marriage.

Per your particular brand of theology, you are compelled to believe that homosexuality is sinful and destructive. As a non-believer, I'm not bound to any particular position; if the evidence shows that homosexual relationships are contrary to the best interests of individuals, families, and society at large, I would not be easily persuaded to support gay rights.

But in years of research and anecdotal experience (I've had many gay friends and acquaintances over the years), I've never come across any hard evidence that homosexuality is dangerous; on the contrary, the evidence is overwhelming in showing that if there's anything that makes gay people miserable, it's the stigma, discrimination and ostracization they often suffer. But in every other way, gay relationships are just as happy, healthy and emotionally well-adjusted as those of straight people – as are children raised by gay parents. That is why major health science organizations like the AMA and APA  support gay marriage.

American Medical Association (see H-65.973 for gay marriage specifically):

American Psychiatric Association:

The American Psychological Assocation:

The American Academy of Pediatrics:

So the way I see it, all opponents of gay marriage like yourself have to fall back on are religious arguments, because the science is simply not on your side. That's the real trouble for you – the truth is that the evidence indicates that homosexual relationships, marriages and parenting are not detrimental to humanity.  So your option is to either accept the science and alter your theology accordingly (or at least adopt a 'live and let live' ideology) or deny the science, claim these health science organizations are acting on some political agenda – anything you can do to ease yourself of the dissonance between reality and your theology. If your theology won't change, you are left with no choice but to forge your own insular reality.  But if it's really a battle for the truth in which you're engaging, then your theology ought to be the first casualty of war.


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