Australia, I’m talking to you – it’s time to get sexy and serious.
The rest of the western world has entered the 21st century and now it’s your turn to stand up for the rights of same sex-couples.
I know you’re already on board with the idea of two people of the same sex getting all up in each other’s dirty bits. I know this because the most viewed category in Australia on everyone’s favourite heavy breathing aggregator site, PornHub, was Lesbian (the type with more than 2 boobies in shot and no scrotum).
So, you can’t hide it, it’s clear you love lesbians but maybe what you don’t love is when they love each other.
You’re fine with seeing people of the same sex explore each other’s bodies but perhaps you’re offended by the idea of allowing them to explore the perfect table decoration for their wedding.
To feel like I’ve done my part, I’m going to look at the science of same-sex relationships and shed some light on some of the facts that’ll help you decide.
What all the gay animals are doing.
In the natural world, same-sex behaviour occurs in over 450 species and there are many thousands of instances of courtship, pair bonding and copulation.
Bottlenose dolphins have one of the highest rates of same-sex sexual behaviour in any animal.
Males love to put their willies in each other, touch each other up and a little bit of “goosing” (ramming their noses into another dolphin’s dick). Goosing sounds very much like a rugby locker room scenario minus the “no-homo” assertions.
This behaviour strengthens alliances between small groups of males and provides practice for future opposite-sex encounters (as soon as they grow out of the genital punching stage).
In bottle nosed dolphins, female– female sexual behaviour also occurs, but to a much lesser extent. Which is why there’s no specific category for this on PornHub.
Closer to us in our evolutionary ladder, bonobo females spend a considerable amount of time engaged in same-sex sexual behaviour, including genital rubbing that can result in orgasm.
To a much lesser extent, bonobo males engage in kissing, blow-jobs and genital massages. It’s thought that same-sex sexual behaviour might ease social tension and facilitate reconciliation among group members. Remember this top bonobo tip for the next time you piss someone off at work.
But it’s not all about the shagging.
Reducing the marriage equality debate to sexual preferences in animals is clearly not helpful on its own.
Although, I’m sure you’re all animals in the sheets…amirite?
As the 2009 album from Barbra Streisand says, Love is the answer. Yeah, that reference made me uncomfortable too.
Science and scientists are really bad at measuring love. There’s no love spectrometer or probe that measures love specifically. Sure, we can measure physiological effects like heart rate, pupil dilation, oxytocin concentration in the blood and how much you grit your teeth when you see a cute puppy, but we cannot come up with a real value for love.
For me, love is like gravity: we can observe its effects but we can’t see it.
Let’s have a look at loves effects:
First of all, a study from the Open University found that couples in same sex relationships are likely to be happier than straight couples. It also found that childless men and women are more satisfied with their relationship than their sleepless and food stained counterparts.
The study asked 5000 people questions about their relationships and found that it was “hard to pin down” what is meant by love in a relationship, adding: “The act of saying ‘I love you’ is identified as important by men and women alike but a loving gesture is far more highly valued”.
What’s the secret sauce of a happy relationship?
Well, actions speak louder than words as far as loving relationships are concerned. The people surveyed said it was the things that their partners did for them that made them feel most appreciated.
- Says thank you and notices my achievements.
- Buys thoughtful gifts and shows kind gestures – a cup of tea in bed was especially appreciated by mothers.
- Talks with me and listens.
- Physical affection, with cuddles and foot massages featuring prominently.
- Shares the household chores and/or child care.
Note what was not on the list: having different genitals as me…
Won’t someone please think of the children!
The science is clear on this one.
Scientists agree that children raised by same-sex couples are no worse off than children raised by parents of the opposite sex, according to a study of studies.
The research looked at 19,000 studies and articles related to same-sex parenting from 1977 to 2013.
The studies showed some disagreement among scientists on the outcome of same-sex parenting in the 1980s but it largely subsided in the 1990s, and a clear consensus had formed by 2000 that there is no difference between same-sex and different-sex parenting in the psychological, behavioural or educational outcomes of children.
There it is in all its peer-reviewed glory.
If you are sitting on the fence or you feel trapped in the marriage equality closet science is here to help.
But there’s one thing that we can all agree on without the need for an ARC funded, double-blind study: If you vote ‘No’ to marriage equality you’re probably a massive fuckwit.