Gay marriage and HIV

This thread Another Anti-Vax Nuttery Question: Gardasil - Factual Questions - Straight Dope Message Board reminds me of something I’ve been meaning to ask. I know that much of the opposition to gardasil is based on the supposition (for which there can’t be much, if any, evidence) that teen-age girls will screw less if they might get cervical cancer 40 years later, but appears to really be based on the idea that if you do it, you deserve the punishment. Same with the opposition to letting teen-age girls buy birth control or morning after pills without their parents’ consent.

But to get to the real subject of this thread I have been wondering for a while if the whole gay marriage thing has come up because of HIV. Because of HIV, more and more gays are interested in stable relationships where once gays tended to be quite promiscuous (I would certainly not deny that plenty of straights are promiscuous). And perhaps the opposition to gay marriage is also partly based on the same idea as in the first paragraph: You must be punished for your “transgressions”. If there is any evidence, I would like to know of it, but otherwise I solicit (suitably humble) opinions.


I don’t think gay men have become more likely to want long-term relationships and love. Gay marriage also applies to women (why do people always seem to forget this?); lesbians are in an extremely low-risk group for AIDS.

I doubt it, however, HIV created an activism movement (well, there was one before - it exploded with AIDS), encouraged (and in some cases) forced people to come out of the closet, and from that aspect, drove the concept forward

It seems to me that the spectre of an HIV diagnosis as a death sentence has decreased dramatically in the last 20 years. That would seem to work against the idea that HIV has motivated the more recent push to recognize gay marriage.

I also doubt that the hard-core opponents that view gays as deviants that must be punished think that marriage would actually reduce promiscuity.

Occam’s razor is not happy.

Indeed, we are The Chosen Ones :smiley:

On the various right-wing fora, whenever the subject of gay marriage comes up you can expect this argument to pop up pretty quickly. The largest group affected by HIV are gay men, so therefore we shouldn’t allow them to marry.

Um, what? In what world does that make any sense? You’d think we’d want to encourage them to marry if only to cut down on promiscuity. The promiscuous ones aren’t going to want to marry, anyway.

Hell, in my experience, marriage means less sex, so therefore we’d actually be fighting AIDS by letting gays marry.

Of course, as soon as anyone argues that HIV rates should be an argument against gay marriage, someone will bring up lesbians and the fact that they enjoy the lowest rates of HIV infection. Invariably, this argument is completely ignored.

As long as we’re speculating, I suspect that the opposition to such things is far more psychological than logical: “I don’t want to think of my little girl (or anyone else’s) being sexually active, and those things make it much harder for me to maintain my state of denial.”
When it comes to opposition to gay marriage, a similar phenomenon may be at work. If you don’t want to have to think about people of the same sex being in bed together (either because the idea thoroughly squicks you out, or because you’re trying to deny to yourself that you find the idea compelling), gay marriage will make it more likely that they will be, or at least that you’ll be confronted with the idea.

(Actually, I’m not sure if, or to what extent, this is actually a factor in people’s opposition to gay marriage, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the only factor.)

“Now we all are chosen ones.”
—Indigo Girls

Yeah, it also revealed cases of long-standing drug use; a lot of people found themselves having to revisit their notions of “the gay”, “drug addicts”, and eventually “people with AIDS” from “alien” to “my son / daughter / grandkid”.

I do know one couple who got married after one of them got diagnosed with AIDS (back when that was a death sentence), but theirs was a case of getting the paperwork done for a LTR which already existed, and it’s a hetero couple. They had gone from being very promiscuous (well, to be exact, addict streetwalkers) to jumping on the wagon and monogamous when she became pregnant, years before she got the diagnosis.

Thinking that “the knowledge that it may lead to cervical cancer will deter girls from unprotected sex” is such a huge bucketful of wishful thinking, you could float the Fifth Fleet in it: pregnancy is a much more visible consequence and it doesn’t seem to be working very well as a deterrent. The possibility of AIDS doesn’t deter people from being promiscuous any more than siphilis or gonorrhea ever did, either, but as Dangerosa said, the upcome of AIDS and the way it forced us to face realities we had been industriously avoiding did change our society.

Back in the '80s, when AIDS was indeed a death sentence, and the topic of same-sex marriage quite remote . . . I remember saying that the homophobic community would not want an AIDS vaccine, which would permit us to resume our former behavior. But that was back in the heyday of people like Jerry Falwell, who had a substantial following. There are obviously some people who still think that way (e.g. Phelps) but fortunately they are now in the lunatic fringe. Everyone now realizes that AIDS is not a gay disease, so very few people would stand in the way of same-sex marriage or a vaccine . . . at least for that reason.

It seems to me that about the same proportion of us gays are promiscuous as we ever were and about the same percentage are in or want a long term relationship. (Not that having or wanting one precludes being the other)

I haven’t seen any thing that makes me believe that most gays have ever thought “I don’t want to get HIV so I’d better get in a relationship”. Although, like anything, there probably are a few.

I’d be more likely to say that the marriage issue has come up because it is one of last remaining legal differences in the way gay people are treated.

That has always been part of the opposition, IMHO. Even if some gays enjoy open marriages, that they are getting married at all means it’s harder to portray them all as deviant sluts (who, yes, deserve what they get, including HIV). In the words of Pat Buchanan, '‘The poor homosexuals – they have declared war upon nature, and now nature is extracting an awful retribution (AIDS).’ I’m sure he is not alone in thinking this, and that marriage is the ‘natural’ state of affairs.