The tendency for advocates of same-sex marriage to sometimes point to some species in the animal kingdom that engages in same-sex sexual relations has always struck me as suspiciously selective. They offer this observation in an effort to justify homosexual desires and behaviors as a natural — and therefore normal — variation in sexual identification. I’m not picking on homosexuality in particular, it’s just that I’ve never heard this suggestion that we look to the animals for our acceptable behavior in any other context.
Presuming for a moment that our moral cues can be legitimately culled from the animal kingdom, how could we possibly disqualify any behavior without doing so arbitrarily? If for example, same-sex sexual coupling is morally neutral or benign because we find instances of it in the animal kingdom, why do we limit our scope of acceptable behavior to non-human animals? We too are a part of nature, why aren’t our behaviors therefore considered natural? Racism, “homophobia”, dishonesty, selfishness, and misogyny are just a few traits found in nature if we include ourselves as a part of nature.
We humans have unique qualities which markedly separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom. Not the least of which is our ability to not operate solely on instinct. We’re able to recognize that certain feelings and urges (which some may call instinct) must be suppressed. Human beings have something no other animals have: moral intuition. We have the ability to recognize right from wrong. We know lying, cheating, stealing, murder, rape, and infidelity to one’s spouse are immoral, but animals commit these acts routinely and instinctually. Even people who commit these behaviors know they’re wrong but choose to engage in them regardless of their conscience informing them to the contrary.
Most animals engage in behaviors on a regular basis which we would be quick to condemn a fellow human. There are animals that:
- Kill their offspring, some even cannibalize them
- Force copulation
- Have hundreds, even thousands of sexual partners
- Kill to acquire territory
Should we really be looking to the animal kingdom for behavioral guidance? I think activists know better than to use animals as a guide on how we should behave, but must grasp at any straw available. If humans engaged in the acts above, we would never accept “it’s done in the animal kingdom” as a valid defense. So why does observing same-sex sexual behavior in a minute fraction of a given species population which is only a minute percentage of the overall animal kingdom become validation for their sexual proclivities?