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Gay Marriage in 1953
June 7, 2008 10:30 AM   Subscribe

"Imagine the year is 2053 and homosexuality were accepted to the point of being of no importance. Now, is the deviate allowed to continue his pursuit of physical happiness without restraint as he attempts to do today? Or is he, in this Utopia, subject to marriage laws?" The same-sex marriage debate in ONE magazine in 1953. [via]
posted by Pater Aletheias (40 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Interesting that apparently "pursuit of physical happiness" is assumed to be a bad thing, even by the pro-homosexual movement back then.

I've always maintained that with the anti-choice crowd, and the anti-gay rights crowd, its more about control, about limiting the ability of people to enjoy sex, than it is about either "saving babies" or "saving marriage".
posted by sotonohito at 10:34 AM on June 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


Fascinating find.
posted by everichon at 10:55 AM on June 7, 2008


Great post. "The question of marriage" as a concept (straight or gay) -- Western society has been struggling with this one for generations.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:06 AM on June 7, 2008


Imagine the year is 2053 and the deviate gayz have jet packs. Will this enable cruising at high altitudes?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:22 AM on June 7, 2008 [26 favorites]


Will this enable cruising at high altitudes?

Mile-high cub joins Mile High Club.
posted by hangashore at 11:41 AM on June 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


By the letters to the editor at the end of the article, it sounds like the readership also thought the premise of the article was pretty far off the mark.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:47 AM on June 7, 2008


What is creepy is that so many people still look at it in terms of what gays should be "allowed" to do.
posted by troybob at 11:48 AM on June 7, 2008 [7 favorites]


They have missed one of their most essential points and committed a basic and staggering error.
For why should he be permitted permiscuity (sic) when those heterosexuals who people the earth must be married to enjoy sexual intercourse?


Or enjoy their own heterosexual basic and staggering errors, for that matter.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:48 AM on June 7, 2008


fascinating. It really makes clear how much social norms affect the way populations think, even when everyone's sure that it's their purely individual internal opinions they're expressing...
posted by mdn at 11:55 AM on June 7, 2008


It's a little bit depressing that in certain parts of the world 2053 might be an accurate timescale.
posted by djgh at 12:00 PM on June 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Or is he, in this Utopia, subject to marriage laws?"

Those who choose to get married would be, and those who do not, would not.
posted by three blind mice at 12:08 PM on June 7, 2008


interesting as an artifact. certainly, the author seems to bring up many of the misgivings that opponents of gay marriage do today.

however, we have the benefit over this writer of living at a time when many of these arguments have been tested and the evidence now supports the prospective success of gay marriage.
posted by es_de_bah at 12:30 PM on June 7, 2008


"Deviate" is a verb; "deviant" is a noun.
This was so in 1953, and will most likely be true in 2053.
Sloppy usage is the bastard of sloppy thought.

(Note: the part of languagehat will be played by Dizzy for this evening's performance...)
posted by Dizzy at 12:34 PM on June 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


There's already a jet pack lane on the Golden Gate bridge.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:42 PM on June 7, 2008


Fascinating find indeed—thanks, Pater Aletheias. This was particularly striking: "Heterosexual marriage must be protected. The acceptance of homosexuality without homosexual marriage ties would be an attack upon it." Now, of course, it's homosexual marriage ties that are supposed to be an attack upon heterosexual marriage!

"Deviate" is a verb; "deviant" is a noun.
This was so in 1953, and will most likely be true in 2053.


Note: the part of languagehat will be played by the OED:

deviate, n.

1. A person who, or thing which, deviates; esp. one who deviates from normal social, etc., standards or behaviour; spec. a sexual pervert.
1912 Pedagogical Seminary XIX. 186 To analyze and diagnose mental deviates whose deviation has caused social maladjustment. 1940 School & Society 20 Apr. 503 (title) Contribution to the IQ controversy from the study of superior deviates. 1947 OGBURN & NIMKOFF Handbk. Sociol. ix. 180 Group pressure tends to cut off extreme deviates. 1952 W. J. H. SPROTT Social Psychol. i. 8 He was a ‘social deviate’. Ibid. vi. 92 We do not expect uniformity, of course; there are plenty of eccentrics or ‘deviates’.

2. Statistics. The value of a variate measured from some standard point of a distribution, usu. the mean, and usu. expressed in terms of the standard deviation of the distribution.
1925 R. A. FISHER Statistical Methods iii. 47 Table I. shows that the normal deviate falls outside the range ±1·598193 in 10 per cent of cases. [...]
posted by languagehat at 12:53 PM on June 7, 2008 [6 favorites]


(...the minute I hit "post comment" I had this strange, sinking feeling, l-hat.
But I did fit into your costume pretty well.)
posted by Dizzy at 12:57 PM on June 7, 2008


For why should he be permitted permiscuity[sic] when those heterosexuals who people the earth must be married to enjoy sexual intercourse?

Personally I'm glad we all found a different solution to this particular part of the dilemma.
posted by tkolar at 12:59 PM on June 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


I had this strange, sinking feeling, l-hat. But I did fit into your costume pretty well.)

Personally I've always imagined languagehat as wearing Riddler style green tights with parts of speech printed all over them, and a giant embossed "L" on the codpiece.
posted by tkolar at 1:01 PM on June 7, 2008 [5 favorites]


That people assume now, like in 1953, that marriage is desirable for anyone continues to astound me.
posted by QIbHom at 1:04 PM on June 7, 2008


Bingo.
And the codpiece was still warm.
posted by Dizzy at 1:04 PM on June 7, 2008


Read: Pedantiphobic
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:08 PM on June 7, 2008


Who's the deviate now? Warm codpiece indeed. There's your slippery slope friends, first we allow gay people to marry each other and before you know it Dizzy is furiously conjugating with Languagehat's unmentionables.
posted by Divine_Wino at 1:10 PM on June 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Interesting that apparently "pursuit of physical happiness" is assumed to be a bad thing, even by the pro-homosexual movement back then.

In reading Wikipedia about a subject totally unrelated to this thread, I find William F. Buckley's comment about Gore Vidal on Wikipedia this morning eerily relevant:

In a key passage [of "On Experiencing Gore Vidal"] attacking Vidal as an apologist for homosexuality, Buckley wrote, "The man who in his essays proclaims the normalcy of his affliction [i.e., homosexuality], and in his art the desirability of it, is not to be confused with the man who bears his sorrow quietly. The addict is to be pitied and even respected, not the pusher."

It's fascinating and heartening to see this much social change in so little time, where being gay is not automatically a tragedy or a death sentence, at least in the United States.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:16 PM on June 7, 2008


The strangest thing in the article is the concept of forced marriage. That the only way to have heterosexual sex is to get married. Was that even true in 1953? How would that even be enforced?
posted by kcalder at 2:54 PM on June 7, 2008


R.H. Karcher, the author of the last letter, sounds like a remarkably forward thinker. I wonder what became of him and his wife? (A Google search turns up some scientific results for the name, including a reference to this magazine in a treatise on Google Books, but I'm guessing the name used here was a pseudonym, and the actual persons are not this writer.) He reminds me of Alison Bechdel's father in Fun Home.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:55 PM on June 7, 2008


Is it so wrong to love language(hat)?
Then I don't wanna be right.
posted by Dizzy at 3:13 PM on June 7, 2008


And now, thanks to tkolar - I'll never think of languagehat any other way.
posted by Space Kitty at 6:28 PM on June 7, 2008


kcalder It was never particularly easy to enforce, but there were several laws prohibiting sex outside marriage, and social practices helped with enforcement. For example many respectable hotels actually hired private investigators who, among other duties, were there to ensure that unmarried couples and homosexuals did not use the hotel for sex. If a single woman was checked into a room he'd keep an eye on things to ensure that no men were allowed in her room, etc. Naturally less respectable hotels didn't bother.

Similarly the bans on contraception make a large amount of sense when seen through the lens of the attempt to prevent extra-marital sex.

And, for that matter, many states still have laws regulating what kind of sex even married couples can have and they are still enforced. You may recall a case from around 15 years ago when, during a messy divorce, a woman had her husband imprisoned because he performed oral sex on her. Naturally she had consented at the time, but when the divorce came she realized it presented her with a powerful legal weapon. He was sentenced to ten years in prison and served most of them.
posted by sotonohito at 6:55 PM on June 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


You may recall a case from around 15 years ago when, during a messy divorce, a woman had her husband imprisoned because he performed oral sex on her.

Citation please!
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:58 AM on June 8, 2008


Well, thank goodness I now know that it's "nature" that's forcing me to punch a clock ;)

Great find, Peter
posted by Lukenlogs at 10:47 AM on June 8, 2008


anotherpanacea I'm having a difficult time finding one, sorry. I read about it in Playboy way back when and I can't find anything on google. Given the age of the story I'm not really surprised that the net hasn't archived it. Someone with access to a good newspaper archive may be able to find it.
posted by sotonohito at 5:53 PM on June 8, 2008


Come on, something like that would be online. Are you sure it wasn't a story alluded to in Playboy, rather than a specific documented case?
posted by ®@ at 6:18 PM on June 8, 2008


sotonohito, although I can't cite, I have also heard the story. Furthermore, I read an article in the Oxford American about ten years ago about Southern women who had murdered their spouses and gotten off lightly or entirely. One of those ladies presented the fact, among her evidence of her husband's cruelty, that he had forced her to submit to oral sex. She walked.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:37 PM on June 8, 2008


All this smacks very much of urban legend. I'm not finding references anywhere.
posted by tkolar at 7:00 PM on June 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here's a case with some similar elements, though.

The Nightmarish Crime of Oral Sex

Hard to figure out what the actual facts are in that one. A lot more seems to hang on whether it was consensual than on whether sodomy was comitted.
posted by tkolar at 8:50 PM on June 8, 2008


After further research ... he served 19 months before the conviction was overturned.

There are a number of interesting questions around the case, the biggest of which is why the wife was not charged.
posted by tkolar at 8:58 PM on June 8, 2008


®@ Nope, it was in their news section, and I'm pretty sure I recall a followup in which it was reported that the guy's appeals had failed.
posted by sotonohito at 4:26 AM on June 9, 2008


I would like to just take a moment to state that I was one of the brides in a homosexual marriage yesterday. I could see the marriages of all my friends crumbling even as we exchanged rings.
posted by pomegranate at 4:42 AM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I would like to just take a moment to state that I was one of the brides in a homosexual marriage yesterday.

Woot! Mazel Tov! Congrats! That's really, really awesome. I wish you all the best.

I could see the marriages of all my friends crumbling even as we exchanged rings.


Pics or it didn't happen. :-)
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:29 AM on June 9, 2008


Congrats pomegranate. My wife and I are celebrating nine years together (five years of marriage) next month. In that time two heterosexual marriages of friends/family have fallen apart. I take complete credit for those.
posted by arcticwoman at 10:34 AM on June 9, 2008


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