James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association, a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media, and a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University.

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‘Unbearable’ Japanese gay marriage experiment fails

Posted by James McPherson on November 26, 2008

Japanese experts have encountered a sex problem that can’t be cured by Viagra or Cialis, nor is it caused by repeated watching of commercials for those products. It can’t even be blamed on the “arranged marriage,” which is common for these types of relationships.

The funniest story on CNN today states that Japanese zookeepers have finally figured out they keep failing in their attempts to mate a couple of polar bears: Both bears (along with the “brother” of one) are female.

Aside from the fact that the zookeepers apparently were chosen by the same method George W. Bush used in naming key members of his administration, the failed experiment might provide a valuable reminder to politicians, religious leaders and voters who base their arguments against gay marriage on their own religious principles or on the the belief that homosexuality is a “choice.”

I have no idea what makes someone gay, any more than I know what makes a Japanese polar bear straight. Nor do I care. I do notice that the key figures involved in both relationships apparently pay more attention to a multitude of issues other than their sexuality, even if outsiders keep trying to interfere with their sex lives. Nonetheless, as bears and even Utah legislators might point out, the tide is moving against the anti-gay forces. The military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy may be on the way out (and not just because we’re running out of “straight” soldiers). Many Americans, including politicians, now favor non-discriminatory civil unions.

Some also argue that churches should not be quasi-governmental agencies that “legalize” any marriage, gay or straight. Those critics point out that modern marriage laws violate the separation between church and state favored by early Americans. If legal marriage becomes simply a civil requirement (with churches allowed to add or withhold any religious blessing they choose), some of the arguments against gay marriage probably will fade.

Thanksgiving Day will mark 30 years since gay activist (and Korean War veteran) Harvey Milk (the topic of Sean Penn’s new film) was assassinated. Thirty years from now, I predict that my committed gay friends will be able to marry, and that very more Americans will consider such unions to be more a sign of “family values” than they are “unbearable.”

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3 Responses to “‘Unbearable’ Japanese gay marriage experiment fails”

  1. A little insight from biology might be helpful. Sexuality is strongly correlated with brain morphology. Last time I checked, it was illegal to discriminate on the basis of another morphological feature, at least in this country: skin color. Yet here we are, 34 years after the American Psychiatric Society and the American Psychological Society declassified homosexuality as a medical/psychiatric/psychological condition, still discriminating on the basis of ignorance. Check this blog entry for more information: http://toddshammer.blogspot.com/2006/06/biology-and-homosexuality.html

  2. keltic said

    I share your optimism about gay marriage becoming accepted, but I suspect that it is closer than the 30 years you predict.
    Gandhi said: First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

    I believe we are at the point where “they fight you.” I have faith that the death of such strident anti-gay sentiments as we’ve seen in the past few weeks is imminent. Equality is coming.

    Thanks for your post!

  3. James McPherson said

    There you go again, Guy, bringing science into an argument. Hasn’t the Bush administration outlawed that, yet?

    And Keltic, I agree (and hope) that things are progressing more quickly; I was simply using that figure as a parallel with the Harvey Milk case (and by the way, congrats on your own marriage). Thanks for the comments.

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