I Always Knew Flamingos Were Gay

And now a scientist says so, so that proves it.

According to University of Oslo zoologist Petter Backman, about 1,500 animal species are known to practice same-sex coupling, including bears, gorillas, flamingos, owls, salmon and many others.

If homosexuality is natural in the animal kingdom, then there is the question of why evolution hasn’t eliminated this trait from the gene pool, since it doesn’t lead to reproduction. It may simply be for pleasure.

“Not every sexual act has a reproductive function,” said Janet Mann, a biologist at Georgetown University who studies dolphins (homosexual behavior is very common in these marine mammals). “That’s true of humans and non-humans.”

One thing that does seem to be exclusive to humans is homophobia.

“It’s a very interesting question as to why anybody ever cares,” Mann said. “There are different theories about why people find it threatening. Some think it disrupts male bonds, like you’re not playing for the right team. The funny thing is that people say homosexuality is unnatural, that non-humans don’t engage in homosexual behavior, but that’s not true. Then they’ll say it’s base and animalistic.”

Well, as we progressives know, there are some arguments you can’t win. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

I’m going to get away from this computer and enjoy the day. The squirrels are bustling in the trees, the birds are singing. Who knows what they’re up to?

12 thoughts on “I Always Knew Flamingos Were Gay

  1. One of the difficulties with framing scientific answers based on scientific method of hypothesis and observation and/or experiment is that scientists, no less than those who interpret what they say, introduce non-scientific parameters/conclusions once they go beyond the data. Introducing value judgements about homosexuality in human contexts is a path with many twists and turns.

    Of course homosexuality as a behavior can be objectively observed and as such is neither good or bad. It is not Darwinian unless it impacts differential reproduction: those best adapted tend to have more offspring than those less well adapted in the non-human world. If homosexual behavior in the non-human world occurs in younger segments of the population or older, it has no impact on breeding populations, those that will pass along genes and be exposed to Darwinian selection. If homosexual behavior has no impact on reproducing segments of the population it has no Darwinian value. If the behavior had value, and was gemetic, its frequency would increase in the population. If it has no value or is negative, it would be reduced in frequency. If the behavior is genetic, and was reudced it would NOT necessarily go to zero frequency, simply because it would re-emerge by chance at some low level.

    Interjection of societal values and behavior regarding homosexuality, or for that matter aspects of heterosexuality, takes the behavior out of the “natural” realm and makes things very complicated. Whole new sets of interpretation are introduced. One can debate whether there is a homosexual genetic basis or if it is learned behavior. But a Darwinian case against homosexuality in human populations can be made if it can be shown that homosexuals do not produce larger numbers of viable offpring than heterosexuals, or ther or not the basis of homosexuality is genetic. A similar negative case can be made because of associated diseases such as HIV, much
    more frequent in homosexual populations. In this instance, the HIV individual or group potentially impacts the greater non-HIV population, by introducing the disease to that group, perhaps leading to earlier death before reproduction. Of course the HIV casebook is more complex than this.

    Similarly, the behavior and its rejection or acceptence has a societal history. There were cultures or cultural subsets where the behavior was accepted without stigma or favored and periods of rejection. This again complicates the observation of cow or porpoise behavior and its importance to humans and society.

    Scientists are best when they avoid “knowing” what is good or “true” for the rest of the world. For every useful example of scientism in the public sector, there is a comparable absurdity.

  2. i’ve been listening to the ‘concerned women for america’ arguments against gay marriage. it seems like an attempt to impose religion on civic law. i think the concerned women should focus on lobbying their churches to make marriage as restrictive as they want, and let city hall be the secular place it should be.

  3. Excellent points and if I am nor mistaken, laws regarding marriage are one of those state responsibilities. Organized religion can and does impose rules of membership that should be seaparate from anything that smacks violating the separation of church and state. The legal definitions of “marriage” then take on a complexity all their own but taking their lead from the secular law.

  4. If the union of a man and a woman constituting marriage was an attempt to impose religion upon civic laws, why would not this argument been made at the founding of our nation. Many issues of the day were discussed and ruled upon – one way or another.

    The issue of gay marriage was not. Marriage has never been defined as the union of two same sex people historically, religiously, or amongst any non-religion moral codes.

    Such an argument tries to set up a false straw man and instead ignores the real argument against gay marriage – that it is not really a marriage at all and that most people, religious affiliation notwithstanding, believe that changing the definition of marriage is not a good thing.

    That a few judges think so, does not prove religion’s imposition upon civic law any more than these words prove that a Brown Edgamacation leads to conservative thought.

  5. speaking as a CCRI grad, i think we’ve improved our understanding of human rights since the founding of our nation, when slavery was legal and only property-owning white males could vote.
    but we do have a constitution that guarantees liberty and the pursuit of happiness. so we have to respect our fellow-citizen’s personal choices unless it can be demostrated that those choices are an intolerable infringement on the rights of the rest of us.
    personally, i don’t give a darn if two guys want to get married. when me and my husband fight it’s not their fault. we have much more personal issues.
    if gay couples are causing more marital stress than the habit of one person (not to say it’s the husband, but that’s a good guess) turning up the TV to high volume, then maybe the concerned women have an argument.

  6. Excellent discussion; it is a shame that rational discussions escape public attention, and everything becomes a gotcha game. Reading the history of the Founders, one has the impression that gay marriage was not a topic of the day. America was a very off the track place in the 18th Century and sophisticates were few. One assumes that those who had made the journey to France or Britain encountered more esoteric human experiences, Franklin, Jefferson or Adams for example. No doubt Franklin had a very different perspective than Adams and one assumes Jefferson was somewhere in between (in a figurative sense!). But given the sense of the time, the topic would not have surfaced in any legalistic sense.

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  8. The word “natural” has many meanings and implications: the Mosquito fish, Gambusia affinis and the populr Guppy, eat their young–a “natural” behavior. The female black widdow kills and devours her mate, soon after mating (now, I will not touch this one!); some of our ancestors seem to have enjoed sucking brains from captured folks–perfectly “natural” behavior in its context. And Shakespeare said we should first kill all the lawyers–“natural”?

    From a biological perspective selection does not really care who pairs with whom, or whether a mate is devoured, as long as favorable genes are passed along. The potential egative of homosexuality in a Darwinian sense is that it is more unlikely than likely that genes will be passed along to a later generation.

  9. with six billion of us, we have a large margin of safety against extinction. unless we overpopulate ourselves to death. unfortunately, we can’t count on gay people not to reproduce, many of them are parents and grandparents.

  10. Ah, but numbers may give an illusion of a security that may be false. The average “lifespand” of a species is about 1 million years. About 1.2 million species of organisms have been identified. Of hundreds of millions of species that have existed, in the 4.5 billion year history of the world, 99.99% are extinct. Extinction is the rule, not eternal survival.

    The larger a population and increased ease of communication between subgroups of that population, has negative connotations. With a doubling time of 40 years or so, our children and grandchildren will live in a world with 12 billion in 2052, and their children in a world of 24 billion by the next century! Most pandemics have a point of origin; dispersal reults from ease of passage and interpersonal communication. Major population growth requires increased resource utilization. The Roman world of perhaps 250 million had a far smaller envrionmental footprint than the modern world and abundant resource potential with a minimum of competition-Pax Romana meant something. The prsent population of earth is 6 billion or 6,000 million soon to be 12,000 million and then 24,000 million!

  11. in the developed world, where women have better access to education and more freedom to choose their work, where parents have confidence that their children will survive to adulthood, where there are pensions for old age–they have a problem. women are not having enough children to keep up the population.
    in the u.s. it’s more respectable to preach against birth control than for, and it’s countercultural to say that you don’t want to have children.
    but i think that some of us having small families makes space for others who want large families.
    i do respect people’s personal freedom. and i think that it’s less of a drain on society to raise ten children well than to raise one badly.

  12. Excellent points. A baby girl born in japan today has a life expectency of 88 years. At the same time the declining Japanese birth rate apparently is so severe that a major population demographic shift is taking place and in a generation, Japan will be a nation of many fewer people and those alive will be disproportionately very, very old. This may well continue to the obvious conlclusion and is serious enough that a growing debate in Japan is seeking a remedy. The Romans experienced a major population decline, hence the importance of adoption in Rome, and the granting of citizenship to non-Romans. The cause of this seems to have been a mix of birth control, possibly self-sterilization by drinking water from lead pipes and wine from lead rich cups, lots of wars and an increasing set of self-indulgent (a new Roman middle class) values.

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