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Opinion: Video games caught in the crossfire of the culture war
Opinion: Video games caught in the crossfire of the culture war Exclusive
April 10, 2012 | By Christian Nutt

April 10, 2012 | By Christian Nutt
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    120 comments
More: Console/PC, Exclusive, Business/Marketing, Design



[There's a culture war happening, and a letter campaign directed at EA from anti-gay groups is further evidence that video games are often unknowingly caught in the crossfire, says Gamasutra features director Christian Nutt.]

Yesterday morning I got an email from gay rights advocacy group All Out inviting me to sign a petition in support of Electronic Arts, which has recently been targeted by a massive anti-gay letter-writing campaign.

EA had actually sent a message to Gamasutra about this last week. This campaign involved thousands of letters and postcards -- addressed to the "CEO, Board of directors, creative leaders, and other executives inside EA," according to EA spokesperson Jeff Brown.

I wasn't sure what I wanted to write about this, or if I even wanted to write about this, period. We evaluated internally at Gamasutra if acknowledging this story would simply give the anti-gay letter-writers the press coverage they desired. The issue is important to me, personally, as a gay man, and as someone close to the game industry, but I didn't want to write a personal narrative about it. This isn't about me.

But once I saw the petition in my inbox, I was motivated to write. What I want to discuss is this volley of shots across EA's bow, and All Out's response -- just one more exchange of fire in the ongoing culture war in 21st century America. This is something that most people can easily ignore, but if we're planning to make increasingly complicated creative choices with our games, it's something we can't afford to ignore anymore.

If you pay attention to the news, you must be aware of the increasing frequency of these sorts of controversies. From the One Million Moms boycott of JCPenney after it hired Ellen Degeneres as its spokesperson to the Starbucks boycott organized by the National Organization for Marriage after the Washington company came out in support of marriage equality -- which Microsoft did, too, in some news that's a bit closer to home -- we're seeing stories like these more and more frequently.

I think it's easy to look at these as isolated incidents, particularly if they don't directly affect you. But the truth is that there is definitely a fight going on right now, and groups on both sides of the issue are working both to manipulate public opinion and mobilize their followers.

The fact of that matter is that as the battle heats up, both pro- and anti-gay forces are getting more passionate. Nothing will stop this, and if Roe v. Wade is any indication, even the Supreme Court deciding the marriage equality question -- which it may well do in the next few years -- things may not calm down for a good long while after, if ever.

Look at the rhetoric on both sides of the EA issue.

The Florida Family Association calls it "social engineering in a CHILDREN's game" and pairs it with a picture of two young boys with PlayStation controllers, mirrored with an image of two Stormtroopers embracing. "Enough is enough with LGBT activists trying to capture the minds of our children through the intense emotions children encounter when playing video games."

"Master Yoda wants to make sure Electronic Arts knows anti-gay haters don't win the game," says All Out, on the other hand. "Sending you a message of support against the dark homophobic forces, I am."

All Out might couch its message in humor, but the point is that both groups understand their audiences, and will push their buttons -- and neither is ambiguous in its characterization of those on the other side of the issue.

I bring this up primarily because developers have to be aware of what they're getting into.

I believe that the game industry has a tendency to fail to consider the repercussions of its creative choices. This isn't isolated to any specific issue -- you can find examples with very little effort. There's everything from Modern Warfare 2's No Russian, to Resident Evil 5's African zombie hordes, to IGN's flirtation with casual misogyny, and League of Legends' female character design. You can see the links for the ways in which the developers involved failed to think these things through.

All the same, I'm not saying that BioWare didn't consider things. Responding to a post titled "BioWare Neglected Their Main Demographic: The Straight Male Gamer," Dragon Age II lead writer David Gaider writes that "We have a lot of fans, many of whom are neither straight nor male, and they deserve no less attention," backing up his assertion with data and a discussion of the creative limitations placed on the team.

He closes with the comment "I wish we could do the ideal where there's something for every desire and opinion, but as usual we make do."

I may be kidding myself, but I think that's the real spirit behind BioWare's introduction of these choices -- these are role playing games, after all. Players are given tremendous amounts of choices in BioWare games, and this is just one more example of that.

Whether or not EA considered the implications up front, the company has now released statements to the press that "EA is committed to defending the right of developers to create games free of political harassment" and "we're not changing the policy on same sex relationships."

The point I'm making is that not all developers do consider the implications of their creative choices carefully, even if some do. But even if you do, there's no guarantee that you'll be backed by a corporation which is willing to stick its neck out for you.

Two parts of the postcard that EA released, addressed to CEO John Riccitiello, struck me in particular.

The sentence, "The overwhelming number of players on Star Wars games is children who do not need to be forced as a captured audience to participate in homosexual content" is one. There are two major assumptions in the statement: one is that you're "forced," as a player, to engage with the content, and secondly, that Star Wars: The Old Republic is aimed at kids.

These are both easy assumptions for, say, a Floridian grandmother who buys Lego Star Wars for her grandchildren and who has no idea what The Old Republic or even an MMO is, let alone the distinction between Traveller's Tales and BioWare. I don't know who signed this postcard, but it's an easy scenario to imagine.

The other thing that struck me is the only handwritten message on what is obviously a form letter: "Remember Sodom." I'm not pointing this out to make the connection between the message and hardline Christianity -- everybody, I think, is aware of it -- but rather as an examination of what the person who sent the card felt was the most salient possible addition to the canned message.

The destruction of Sodom -- from which we get the word "sodomy," of course -- is interpreted by hardline Christians as the Old Testament God striking down a city of homosexual vice. The point is: this postcard was sent by someone who believes that the world is sliding in a very specific and very dangerous direction, and that was their sole personal message for EA.

In the end, the industry is still struggling with the notion that games are for kids, in the minds of the masses. BioWare's developers may consider that they're creating mature narratives aimed at adults -- for what it's worth, Star Wars: The Old Republic is rated T -- but that doesn't change public perception, and this is, again, something to consider.

Cross this with a battleground issue like gay rights, and you have a recipe for this kind of clash. The 2008 "Sexbox" story from Fox News seems quaint in comparison, doesn't it?


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Comments


[User Banned]
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Ryan Marshall
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Everything else aside, I disagree that SWTOR is aimed at children. It seemed clear, from my perspective, that it was aimed at disenchanted ex-WoW players (and we could have a fascinating discussion about how perspective is shaped by expectation and how we see what we're looking for, but that's tangential at the moment.)

I mean, the thing about kids (like, the defining aspect of children, from a biological perspective) is that they don't care about romantic relationships. If the game was aimed at children, they wouldn't have included that aspect. Granted, the fairly tasteful nature with which they included such elements allows for children to experience the product without having that (entirely optional) aspect bog everything down, but that's just taking a cue from the original movies.

Rob Wright
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"...an ultimately infinitely unprovable scientific theory."

Joshua, if you could, please clarify. To what theory are you referring, and why is it "infinitely unprovable"? Honest questions, not trying to start a flame war.

Matt Fleming
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I would like you to cite examples of how "Swtor is in fact aimed at children", if you could. There seems to be plenty of evidence suggesting otherwise, the first of which that the game either requires a credit card or a time card, which indicates an ongoing charge. While the game may have a T rating, it also requires an ongoing payment which would indicate that the game is for people who are employable.

More of this problem stems from parents and other adults not understanding current trends in technology, and instead of researching and seeing what can be done (monitor your child's Internet usage, be aware of what's installed on the machine, etc) they lash out at things they don't understand.

You're right in that media has too much influence over many parts of our lives, though. You can't take anything you hear at face value these days.

Joshua Sterns
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Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

[User Banned]
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[User Banned]
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Bart Heijltjes
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I don't see what belief necessarily has to do with it. Where I live most religious people are perfectly fine with homosexuality. At least my grandparents are, thank god.

I don't think you need to drag the origins of the universe into this. Hasn't really got much to do with gay rights, does it?

I also don't see why AllOut's actions would have to be 'justified' for standing up to hate.

Aleksander Adamkiewicz
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"Science bases it's answers in what we can see, taste, touch, hear and smell. But it also basis it's answers in what is only provable by those means."

Actually science bases its answers on evidence that is measurable and repeatable, your representation is grossly inaccurate.

"Science doesn't explain why we exist, it doesn't explain morality, it doesn't explain Good and evil ect. try as many have via science, ultimately it is based in faith. "

Science doesn't explain why we exist because that question is completely irrelevant. Its the water in the puddle asking why the indent its in is perfectly suited for it while its slowly evaporating.

"The same faith it takes to believe we started off the backs of crystals, or from some cosmically inexplicable explosion ect."

I feel you misuse the word "Faith", which -specifically- means belief -without- evidence.
There is actual evidence for the things you counted up, the evidence might not be complete, but its there.

Faith is believing that I have 10 million dollars buried in my garden.

"Many believe as I do there is a top and a bottom, and even though it's unprovable in some impircal sense it isn't any more religious than those who are fans of "what we know right now" science."

If something is unprovable, what use is it?

Your gross misuse of the words "faith" and "religion" in context to knowledge and science is indicative of a strawman argument.

Please go burn it somewhere else.

I suggest a well isolated echo-chamber, there are enough of those on the internet.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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"Actually science bases its answers on evidence that is measurable and repeatable, your representation is grossly inaccurate."

How does one measure without sensing?

Aleksander Adamkiewicz
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"How does one measure without sensing?"

I can measure radio-waves, can you sense them (if yes, please report to your nearest scientist!)?

If you want to go into a debate about reality, and that eventually, when I go back far enough to our oh so loved solipsist argument that we cant actually "know" anything because all we can trust our senses (and those are subjective, right?), please, do me and yourself a favor and don't insult our collective intelligence.

We both know how knowledge, science and reality works and there are standards for real, testable knowledge about the state of the universe.

No amount of poking holes into the basis of "our flawed perception herp derp" will change the fact that science just -works-

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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"I can measure radio-waves, can you sense them (if yes, please report to your nearest scientist!)?"

I can hear them when I turn on my radio. I'm not even trying to be cute; I really don't know what you're trying to get at so fervently. Even if we can't see distant planets and can only rationalize their existence by measuring their gravitational effects on local stars, we are using vision to accomplish this (augmented by telescopes). Even if we had a computer that was programmed to generate a model of distant star systems via a telescope and a database of star movement and an algorithm to predict planetary position and mass based on star movement, I would say that the computer system is using its own "senses". Or if you only want to talk about human senses, humans would have to read (or listen to) the result of the computer system to finish using it as a tool of measurement. Any disagreement you have with me is getting into the semantic nitty gritty of words like "measure" and "sense". Which is fine, if not a bit off topic, but I don't appreciate your tone when you call Joshua "grossly inaccurate" (he's not) or the tone of your response.

"If you want to go into a debate about reality, and that eventually, when I go back far enough to our oh so loved solipsist argument that we cant actually "know" anything because all we can trust our senses (and those are subjective, right?)"

I wasn't even thinking of solipsism, but heck, since you bring it up, I would appreciate a disproval of the solipsist view. If you could do that, it would be a much greater feat than if I could pick up radio waves with my own senses!

Thierry Tremblay
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"I can hear them when I turn on my radio."

No you can't. LOL. Soundwaves != Radiowaves.

Aleksander Adamkiewicz
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"I wasn't even thinking of solipsism, but heck, since you bring it up, I would appreciate a disproval of the solipsist view. If you could do that, it would be a much greater feat than if I could pick up radio waves with my own senses!"

I don't want to disprove solipsism, because you can't, its an absolutely valid view, in a pedantic kind of way.
Solipsism also isn't useful in any conversation/argument, or in any application known to mankind, well maybe past philosophical masturbation that is.

Any solipsist-argument (as presented) is just a thinly veiled strawman, its never an argument, or a counter to any argument. Its just there to cast doubt on the foundation of logic and thought, it doesn't have any other function. It doesn't disprove or prove my/your point, its just the ultimate "fuck you" in a conversation, thrown out by someone when backed into a corner.

With a solipsist argument, congratulations, you win, you just reduced both arguments (in fact, all arguments) into meaningless opinion/drivel. You leveled the playing-field by dropping the nuclear bomb of meaninglessness and I have no further interest of discussion with you, because everything is now ash.

"Which is fine, if not a bit off topic, but I don't appreciate your tone when you call Joshua "grossly inaccurate" (he's not) or the tone of your response."

His argument is grossly inaccurate, he dropped the "science is just like faith"-strawman.
Science is not like faith, certainly not like religious faith.
Its a misuse of the word faith.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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"Science is not like faith, certainly not like religious faith.
Its a misuse of the word faith."

To some extent, I can at least agree with this. I guess I didn't interpret Joshua's sentiments to that degree. But I don't think there's anything wrong with admitting the limitations of science as long as you realize it is a process that is immensely greater than religion at explaining things (in that it actually attempts to falsify instead of just jumping to conclusions) that still has limitations (limitations of human perception are simply inescapable when humans measure things).

"No you can't. LOL. Soundwaves != Radiowaves."

~_~

Soundwaves are a conversion of the information found in radiowaves to a form our natural instruments can detect. You knew what I meant. Anyway, thermometers convert temperature to numbers that we can read, even though neither those numbers nor the mercury in the thermometer "are" the temperature. That's often how measuring works. This shouldn't be controversial... measuring requires observing which requires using your senses to decode information in _some_ form. Really, is this controversial? What is going on?

Any leap from the claim that measurement requires using senses to some pro-religious claim that is worth attacking is purely a construct of theophobic imagination. I am not defending that claim for religious purposes (I hate religion for personal reasons, I'm sure we have more in common than you think), I am simply defending it because it is a true claim for any form of the words "sense" and "measure" that I am familiar with. My original question "How does one measure without sensing?" was, believe it or not, mostly sincere (though I asked it with confidence that one can't). But it's really not that important to me either way, not worth the ever present semantic quibbling that these discussions inevitably devolve into.

Simon Ludgate
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It seems our culture operates with two incompatible values: freedom of expression and sexual repression. I can only hope the former will ultimately triumph over the latter.

I suspect that we are already traveling down that slippery slope of abolishing sexual taboos and, when we reach the bottom of that slope, we're going to realize that it's not so scary after all.

[User Banned]
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Bart Heijltjes
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@joshua
Because they all died in a fire for accepting homosexuality, right?

Oh, incidentally; homosexuality was completely taboo in the christianized Western Roman Empire in the century before its fall.

If anything, that is proof that uptight Christians destroy civilizations.

[User Banned]
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Kyle Redd
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I guess it's because I'm cynical, but based on the frankly ridiculous amount of press coverage this very minor story has been getting, it's hard for me not to believe this has all been ginned up heavily by EA and its friends in the press in order to distract attention from their abusive practices towards consumers.

The idea that EA is somehow a champion of GLBT rights because they stood their ground against a dinky, no-name organization like the "Florida Family Association" is a joke. EA isn't standing up for GLBT rights by letting players form gay relationships in SWTOR - That'd be akin to saying the housing industry supports GLBT rights because they let gay couples buy houses. You're not supporting someone's rights just because you don't actively discriminate against them.

Gay relationships in gaming isn't new or noteworthy anymore. The Sims wasn't even the first game to allow them when it came out over a decade ago (another "kids" game) and there have been dozens of other games since. So maybe let's scale back all of this fawning praise and admiration all over EA for something that didn't actually require any effort from them. If they or any other publisher decide to release a game that features an openly gay man as the central protagonist, *then* we can talk about how great a company they are.

Joshua Sterns
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I agree EA is no champ, but allowing content to exist sure does help with awareness.

I always thought Bioware specifically dealt with some good issues in their games. Racism, female empowerment, gay rights, etc. All present in their games, but are by no means a requirement. Can't say the same for other developers.

Aleksander Adamkiewicz
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True words, Kyle.

I'd even go further and say a gay protagonist isn't enough to pat EA on the back for supporting GLBTQ.

Supporting an issue would be creating a game that supports/discusses the issue, not just "has person X that is related to the issue".

I wouldn't praise a game-company releasing a game with an African-american (or whatever the PC word now is) protagonist as supporting racial equality either.

For a game to really support an issue, it needs to put the topic in the forefront, the (secondary) plot/story needs to deal with the issues.

Why not have a gay protagonist that actually goes through that identity-crisis, that all people go through when they discover their sexuality, in context to the overarching plot of saving the world (for example).
Have an atheist deal with a fundamentalist theocratic society that needs to be saved. What kind of inner turmoil would a protagonist need to go through that wants to save a world that hates him?

Those would be "supporting" an issue, and I would applaud every developer and publisher brave enough to release that kind of game.

We are past baby-steps right now with GLBTQ characters in games, we had that since the Sims.

Wylie Garvin
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@Joshua:

At least in the Mass Effect series, Bioware also portrays relationships of all sorts as "equally normal". When you talk to Cortez (gay male crew member) about his dead husband, the conversations are no different than they would be with a hetero male talking about his dead wife. I've played all 3 games recently, and I don't remember a single line of dialogue casting aspersions on any kind of pairing (between species or genders or anything). Everyone in this universe seems to think its perfectly normal for individuals to mix and match in any way they want to, even when their basic biology is incompatible (like the Turian male hitting on the Quarian female in the bar on Illium in ME2). They also had the clever idea of making the Asari species one-gendered, and able to mate and reproduce with almost any species. Even though Asari look similar to female humans and identify themselves using female pronouns, they can happily pair with anybody, and Bioware got a lot of mileage out of that in the various side-conversations (ME1 has the Consort who seems to have devoted admirers of every species, ME2 had a male Krogan reciting love poetry to his Asari girlfriend, ME3 has a female human who wants to leave her husband to be with her Asari mistress, etc.) Although now that I think about it, the Asari do have a mild taboo against bonding with other Asari (producing "pureblood" offspring). Hmm.

Joshua Sterns
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Exactly my point Wylie.

The Mass Effect franchise didn't make being gay an issue. It was just another part of this crazy world. Bioware didn't directly fight for the rights of homosexuals. They did, however, create a world where it was accepted.

A similar tactic is used for talking about racism. It's easy to bring up the issues when it's aliens and not humans. They aren't necessarily championing a particular point of view, but they are bringing the conversation to the table.

Kyle Redd
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@Joshua

In The Sims, having a gay relationship wasn't an issue either. It was presented just as normal and ordinary as any other relationship. That was back in 2003. So SWTOR hasn't made any progress on the matter.

That's what I mean when I say that EA isn't some white knight for gay rights just for allowing gay relationships in their games (and even then, it's not really EA at all. It's Maxis and BioWare actually doing the work). And likewise standing up to the Florida Family Association requires absolutely zero commitment or risk from EA. It's just an transparent way to generate positive press by making themselves out to be the big hero standing up to the evil bigots.

Harlan Sumgui
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It does have the stench of PR bullshit about it. I'm sure these letter campaigns have been going on for years, so why trot it out now? Oh yeah, being voted worst company in America. And don't forget, they used the religious zelot angle to market that turd of a game Dante's Inferno, going so far as to hire 'protests' to picket. Wot a company.

Bart Heijltjes
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Well, let's be honest; that 'worst company in America' is complete nonsense. I heard 4chan had a hand in that vote. That's a lot of bored people voting 'for the lulz'.

Anyway, I don't think it's a bad thing these issues are brought up to the front page from time to time. At least I think it's good that it has resulted in MANY MANY people speaking out against hate in the AllOut campaign. At least that's comforting to me. Even though I find there's still many rather distressing opinions being voiced in comments on IGN and even here.

EDIT: I hadn't read Joe McIntosh' comment below here just now, but that's exactly what I mean, except that he put it into words better than me.

Harlan Sumgui
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storm in a teacup. acceptance of gays increases every year as the old die. whatever or whoever this 'family first' group is, I'm sure their ecstatic about all the free press, but they should realize they are an anachronism and are seen as the enemy by most under 40 types.

Joe McGinn
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Possibly true but right now gay people - especially in the USA - are still fighting to have full civil rights, so it's not like it's reasonable to just say "wait a generation". It would be like telling African Americans in the 1960s just relax, you'll be free by the 21st century.

Harlan Sumgui
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Unfortunately, time is what it takes. I'm pretty rusty on my developmental psychology, but iirc personality traits remain pretty stable after puberty. Ergo, changing fundamental assumptions, feelings, and beliefs requires teaching the young. I get wanting rights right now, but if you look at recent history, it shouldn't take too much longer, but I don't think we're quite there yet.I mean, iirc, the American Association of Psychiatry stopped classifying homosexuality as a mental disorder in the mid-70s. And in 35 years or so, it has gone from being a mental disease to just another variant of humanity in the eyes of most educated non-fundamentalists. All that has to be done now is wait until enough of the angry old men and women die off so the vote percentages change.

Joe McIntosh
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I've had that same thought before of "just wait for all the old racist, sexist, homophobes to die, then everything will be all right." Sadly, those folks might just have children. And in the great words of Homer Simpson, "you can teach them to hate the same things you hate."

In time the laws and politics might change for the betterment of equality, as it has with black civil liberties and women's suffrage. But bigotry will never go away completely, imho. One can't just wait it out and hope the problem goes away as the old people die. Acceptance is a learned attribute, and prejudices are difficult to overcome.

I definitely agree that EA are spinning this to improve their public image, but the more this issue is publicized and discussed the better.

Joe McGinn
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Just so ... these things do not change because of time, or because they are young people. Youth's attitude changes *because* of people fighting hard for civil rights and against bigotry and hatred.

Mike Griffin
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Always baffling how seemingly articulate and intelligent people can also be frustratingly narrow-minded and ignorant. Is it 2012, or 1962? It's astounding the way hurtful old beliefs can still be so pervasive in such an open, modern society.

Lots of people are apparently still obsessed with stuff like a person's sexual preference instead of, you know, the content of their character (or creations). And these folks just hit the brakes and scream to the heavens, as if witnessing an accident, instead of understanding there's no emergency -- it's OK to drive by, get some perspective, and let things be.

Sigh, humans. I suppose we require these wacky zealots in some way, to act as a contrast. To show how far we have and have not progressed. To demonstrate how the collective still has so much embarrassing ignorance to conquer.

Ryan Marshall
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Eloquence is not directly tied to perspective, though they can each be influenced by factors such as intelligence and cultural expectations. Just as an example, I like to think that I can get a point across when I try, but I'm also incredibly narrow-minded on a number of topics not related to this article in any way.

I try to not conflate the meaning of the message with the method in which it is presented, but it is difficult to accept when I find myself agreeing with a point being made by someone whose form of expression makes him sound like an idiot. (Not around these parts, obviously.)

Jeremiah Bond
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The game is ultimately aimed at anyone who wants to play. Striking middle ground is ideal and respectful of everyone. A good balance is all we need. You can argue your facts versus anyone's and it still remains to be proven either way. As far as my input on gays, I'm not one of you and I don't appreciate being 'forced' anymore than you. I don't play games to be gay but I always play a male character and I still treat every character equally respectful as the other. As far as I'm concerned we are all brothers and sisters. What you do is for you and what I do is for me. Lets not attack, albeit in defense, someones perspective just because that is their choice belief. Lets not let this conversation be so biased as to not include those who DO believe in something.

[User Banned]
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Jeremiah Bond
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There is nothing dishonest about being fair. If you need lessons I'm more than willing to share.

Jacob Germany
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And of the countless minorities that play straight white male protagonists? Certainly you can argue that all video game characters should be mutable in terms of sexuality, gender, ethnicity, and the like, but this is neither true currently in the industry nor easily argued (as it contradicts more ingrained narratives).

It's true that choices allow for everyone to play who they want how they want, but I hardly think a gay protagonist or scripted relationship would be "forcing" anything on anyone.

Jeremiah Bond
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Hardly true at all Jacob. I don't play Grand Theft Auto games because I enjoy stealing stuff. I however do like to explore the open world. I play SWTOR to be a perfectly good guy soldier but also to be a perfectly noble Sith. I played SWTOR to play a perfectly evil Sith as well. Nevertheless, I would not play a game that has me going around as mass murderer. There is a difference in defending your country and fighting wars to that cause. Games where you go around killing things endlessly doesn't always equate to killing for fun (as we all know its a game) as to justifying the current role we are playing on a side of a war. Sure I worry that human beings can't coexist because we push for so much international hate. I wouldn't play Shepard as a gay protagonist because I didn't start as a gay Shepard. Nevertheless, I would play a gay Shepard, if it was an initial starting scenario, but I would not play that character as a gay Shepard. I'm just not interested in it.
When I say 'forced' I mean I don't want to play out my character as honestly straight and suddenly some guy is on his knees romancing me as if I had been interested all along. That is entirely the point and something that betrays my trust. I don't mind gay characters at all. I just don't need surprises that contradict my immersion. That's the difference.

Jacob Germany
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That completely sidesteps my point. I had to read your response a couple of times to even figure out how it related.

My point is, people of sexual, ethnic, and gender minorities play games with straight, white, male protagonists all the time. You say you don't want to be romanced by a male if you're playing a male, but how many times have women and gay men seen a romance unfold in a game where their male character kisses a woman? How many people played Final Fantasy X to see Tidus and Yuna kiss who weren't straight males?

Just as it shouldn't cause harm to them, and just as they played the game and came out of it having seen an interesting story, I don't see why a straight male can't see a gay male romance without suffering trauma.

Again, you can sit and say that all characters should be mutable, cut-scenes should be banned, etc, but it ignores the current state of the industry, as well as the more narrative stories to be told in games.

Jeremiah Bond
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First, dishonesty is for you and yours. I don't speak for dishonesty and fairness is clear as day.

Tolerance is a word like Racism. They only exist because people live their lives swimming in that crap.

I am neither tolerant nor am I racist. In my world, neither of these things exist.

We are all human beings and anyone who suggests "tolerance" "knows the answer to everything".

I do not profess some pseudo morality. Which, by the way, can you even define pseudo morality?. Ethics is a balance of morality. I merely respect that this world has more views than there will ever be answers and I have no right to disregard anything.

Do you know difference between Atheist, Agnostic, and Religious?

As for me, if a God does exist.. it WILL be a bad day for a LOT of people.

Everyone chooses their own path but there is no reason why I can't let others live the way they want without having to, at the same time, justify my beliefs to them and the other way around.

Jacob Germany
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Er, honestly, I have no clue what you're on about. I didn't say anything about "pseudo-morality" or dishonesty. That was @Joshua. But more to the point, you're rambling about how you're above this and that, but I'm talking about games, and how scripted gay relationships are no more "forcing" something on you than a large, large number of games have "forced" heterosexual relationships on plenty of games in the past.

I just don't really care that you think I'm "dishonest", or that "tolerance" doesn't exist in "your world". What I care about, in terms of this discussion, is the game industry and how it is unfair and unjust that games can force heterosexuality on players while being told they could never force homosexuality on anyone.

Jeremiah Bond
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Jacob, that doesn't side step your point at all. It IS a choice to play the game in the first place. You play a game expecting something. I <<< ME << didn't make the game. I expect certain behaviors because that is what I <<< ME << wants. Are you suggesting that I shouldn't know how a game unfolds, in relationship to characteristics of individuals in a game? Well, like all you who DID NOT want to play straight all this time, which by the way isn't to the fault of us non developer types (straight gamers), who, developer types, (straight gamers) also apparently made the games, should have to be shoved down the throat the same gameplay experiences you didn't enjoy in the first place?

The artist makes the game and YOU choose to play them. If I don't want to play something.. I don't play it.

So in your selfish heat for retaliation against people who made a game, the way THEY wanted, you expect to shove that crap down my throat because it was unfair that someone made THEIR game the way they wanted.

Typical any?

Sorry, I guess I don't see your point.. at all. I just don't buy this crap about it's soo unfair that we didn't make a minority game for ourselves that everyone MUST play.

If EA makes a game that makes me do something I don't want to do.. its easy for me to step away. Guess some of us actually pay for what we want. Others pay for crap they apparently can't stand.

Jeremiah Bond
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@Jacob.. if you know it was for Joshua.. why don't you just bite your slobbery tongue until a response comes for you?

Jacob Germany
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Because my slobbering eyes didn't see a @Joshua, and you already responded to his remark, and responded to mine later, so it's was a natural assumption that your new response was meant for the only new comment, which was mine?

I'll check out of this conversation, because, at best, we're missing each other's perspectives.

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Ricardo Hernandez
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I think it is you, who should be asking yourself that last question in the mirror.

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Ricardo Hernandez
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Actually no, I don't think that's the real issue. I think the real issue has to do with a certain kind of respect even if you don't agree. And as for telling you what to do - it was merely a suggestion. I can't possibly tell you what to do.

Now, when you vote or pass laws that take out liberty from others, you are indeed telling others what to do- now, I have no idea if you do that. But since you are asking a question, I thought my suggestion was a valid answer in this context.

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Joe McGinn
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Brave article Christian. Just wanted to say that the fight will be over one day, and the side of justice and tolerance for all will win. It's an inevitable evolution of society to embrace human rights for all it's members, to value diversity, and to tolerate everything short of intolerance itself.

As a Canadian I've seen great changes in my lifetime. Less than a decade ago gay marriage was legalized by our Supreme Court (we are fortunate in our constitution is younger than yours - it explicitly forbids discrimination by sexual orientation, amongst other things). What has happened since then is an increasing normalization of homosexuality in our society. My kids and friends with two moms for example, and thought nothing of it.

Have faith, the side of human rights for all must prevail, and keep fighting the good fight.

James Ward
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A very fair minded opinion piece Mr. Nutt. I have only one criticism. This phrase "anti-gay" to describe the groups and activities of those opposed to the gay rights movement seems to be used only by one side -- those in favor of gay rights. Now I think there is a reason for this, and the reason is that these "anti-gay" do not see themselves as opposed to gay people but to homosexual behavior. The phrase "anti-gay" suggests they are opposed to the very existence of gay people -- something I am sure is not true of any but the most hateful elements on that side of the argument. I realize that such a distinction will not be meaningful to some, and that "anti-gay" is a pithy way of characterizing one side of the debate, but I do not believe it is a fair one.

Jacob Germany
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Even less hateful voices on the anti-gay side still *are* opposed to the very existence of homosexuality and people who "choose" to be gay. Because that's the main argument on the anti-gay side, and very few posit that's it's both natural/inherent and immoral. So the argument is that it's a choice, and that those that "choose" it should stop choosing it.

So, yes, I would say that they are definitely opposed to the very existence of gay people. So, yes, anti-gay is pretty apt no matter how you read it.

James Ward
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@Keichel Browsing through some of the comments here I see that my distinction is a worthy one. Saying that they are anti-gay opens up people to call them haters, homophobes, judgers, etc. But I would say that a very large portion of those described as anti-gay (here and in other reporting) do not wish to harm homosexuals, are in fact caring people who want to treat everyone with love and respect. So the label anti-gay, being indefinite, opens the way to tar such people with every kind of negative epithet.

James Ward
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@Germany You wish to convince that everybody on the other side of the debate believe the same thing about it but I assure you you are incorrect. Of course, there is as yet no full understanding of what determines sexual orientation, and some reason to believe it can be adjusted, but I don't think most people would call it a choice. I wouldn't. But if you really wish to make your arguments based on stereotypes, and think on the irony of that, by all means go ahead.

Jacob Germany
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Most of the anti-gay side believe it is a choice because to do otherwise draws direct parallels to racism and sexism, that is, bigotry towards an innate, immutable, even God-created quality.

That's not to say, nor did I say at any point, that all people who oppose homosexuality believe it's a choice. Catholicism specifically acknowledges homosexuality as innate, but determines that it's a God-given burden. Conservative American Protestantism, as well as many other sources, *do* say it's a choice, and that is much, much more common in the public anti-gay voices.

Again, it's largely because saying it's not a choice leads to very dark roads. How is it to be distinguished from opposing other ethnicities on moral grounds? Neither affects anyone in any harmful way, so if they are equally natural and innate, on what grounds is homosexuality immoral? It's a difficult argument to make, which is why many don't make it and instead cite homosexuality as a choice.

And, just for the record, I don't care what you believe, personally. I'm speaking to the justification of calling those that oppose homosexuality "anti-gay", and bringing counter-points to your points. Anti-gay is a pretty fair descriptor, since the definition is literally "opposing homosexuality".

Jacob Germany
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Just to clarify, I think you're confusing "anti-gay" with "homophobic". It would be unfair to characterize everyone who opposed homosexuality as homophobic, as it's a much more complicated issue than that. The loudest anti-gay voices are pretty homophobic, but the average anti-gay citizen probably isn't. But "anti-gay" is pretty dead-on in describing what "homophobic" does not.

James Ward
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I don't believe I am confused. Anti-gay can mean homophobia, or it can mean simply moral opposition to any of a variety of of behaviors, but it is indefinite. I put forward to you that in this very conversation you can find people conflating anti-gay with homophobia (because why not? what is there to separate the two?) and therefore my concern is valid. The language is unclear. At the very least, it connotates an opposition to persons, even if it does not denote it.

Now I cannot debate percentages with you, but the Catholics are no small group, and the view you ascribe to them is present in non-Catholic groups. You are probably right about many of the most vocal voices in the debate here in America, but you must admit that it is not fair to characterize everyone that way, and should speak accordingly.

The truth is that the societal acceptance of homosexual behavior will have a huge impact on society. It already has. The long term effects are not certain, but the right is right about this, it does seem to have a part in the dissolution of marriage, an institution already far from what it once was. The conservative elements are doing what conservatives always do: fight change. And the left is doing what it always does: change things before the consequences are properly understood for ideological reasons.

Jacob Germany
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I welcome any and all changes to society that acceptance of sexual minorities brings. It could only be an improvement.

Jeremiah Bond
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James, you couldn't have said anything better (for sure). I am a leftist though and prefer a more progressive system. Mostly in part that I'm strongly opposed to conglomerate powers dictating (by an entirely different cast of society) the eventual means of all individuals, albeit that by elected officials. That being said, I completely agree with your statements.

@Jacob, your words only brings out your true uncaring characteristics and absolutist thinking.

Jacob Germany
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@Jeremiah If standing up for minority rights and equality is absolutist, I'm fine with that. There are moral absolutes, and those should be defended.

Jeremiah Bond
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@Jacob, In any case, I think that respecting what is hetero- as much as homo- you'd go much farther.

In representing minorities, you should not disregard the voice to which you direct your mouth.

Joe McGinn
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A lot of misinformation in the above posts ... claims it's still an open question whether sexual orientation can be changed or not is completely unscientific nonsense, for example ... seems like a lot of hair-splitting to avoid an uncomfortable truth: those opposed to gay rights, those opposed to true and full equality of all citizens, are bigots. It is exactly the same as the racism that infected the USA in the past. Anti-gay is indeed the correct term for that side of the "argument". (It is disingenuous even to call it an argument: it's not an argument. It's a discriminated-against minority fighting for full human rights. Nothing more nothing less.)

Jacob Germany
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What @Joe said.

And @Jeremiah, it's not that I don't respect heterosexuality. It's that I don't respect heteronormativity. It's like someone who stands up for ethnic minorities saying they respect the ethnic majority, but they do not respect ethnocentrism.

Everything I've said that is remotely disrespectful is towards bigotry, prejudice, and heteronormativity. And it's okay to not respect those things, because those things are societal problems that need to be fixed, not "valid opposing view points".

James Ward
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@Jeremia Thank you, it is always wonderful to find support, especially from someone on the other side of the political fence. It shows that diversity can be friendly.

@Joe Even if sexual orientation were set in stone it would not matter to my argument. But I do think sexual orientation is not as clear cut as two or three categories would make it appear and that it is open to some manipulation.

This debate over gay rights is not just over sodomy laws, so it isn't just about what happens in private bedrooms. We're talking about the alterations to the fundamental structures of society when debating gay rights. No one knows the long-term effects of these changes because they are all too recent. But we can say a few things about them. For example, legalization of gay partnerships correlates to high out of wedlock births and fewer marriages. This is not something hidden in a corner. It also correlates to developed countries with advanced welfare systems. And some of this has to do with government support replacing family support or the need of family support. Or, the replacement of family interdependence with government dependence. Now these are cause for genuine concern. I don't ask anyone to share all those concerns, but they are genuine and the repercussions could be serious.

There are consequences for actions, and desires, and responsible people must weigh them. Disagreement is good, it opens up room for discussion, but self-righteousness and intolerance for contrary opinions is wrong. You, Mr. McGinn, are wrong.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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"For example, legalization of gay partnerships correlates to high out of wedlock births and fewer marriages."

"gay partnerships... correlate to... births"

:|

I don't want to live on this planet anymore dot jpg

James Ward
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@Crenshaw Your snark is maybe forgivable ignorance. A history lesson.

At one time marriage and procreation went together like pees in a pod -- almost always. Then, in the early twentieth century, the protestants said, "Artificial birth control is OK." Then it became societally acceptable in a way it had not been to separate sex and procreation. Then better birth control came along and most people started using it... something... something... economics... there are multiple strands to this phenomina... it was easier to have sex without getting pregnant!

People had sex just for fun! You didn't have to get married because the societal and economic consequences started to disappear. But that didn't stop out of wedlock births from happening, it actually made them more common, and more children grew up with single parents, especially in poor communities. So marriage became a lit less relevant, it meant less.

Then gay marriage cuts the tie between sex, marriage, and procreation altogether and becomes more about serving people's narcissism? And now some people don't even know why marriage exists at all, 'cause it ain't much of what it used to be. That's the story.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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Yeah, I'm against irresponsible sex too, but... I don't see the connection between homosexuality and out-of-wedlock birth.The United States is the most religious industrialized nation in the world according to a poll done in 2009. It is also the country with the highest incarceration rate. Hm, there is a correlation, and since I don't like religion, I am going to jump to the conclusion that religion causes crime and claim that we should abolish religion.

I don't really believe that, but do you see the danger in that type of thinking? Sorry, but I really don't see how homosexuality could... physically increase out of wedlock births since allowing same sex couples to enjoy each others' company without guilt and ostracizing just... could not cause children to be born period. Although to be fair, you did say that legalization of such a practice is correlated, not the practice itself - though I think that is still a stretch and merely you grouping all your fears together.

Honestly though, our society has become too intolerant, myself included. I really think you're just speaking out of fear and trying to rationalize your fear after the fact because we don't have a culture that supports empathizing with others' fears so we bottle it up and defend ourselves this way. But I am speaking out of fear too. I'm not even gay, but almost every major issue I've seen in the world correlates to the religious right (claiming people deserve hell, defending capitalists for exploiting labor, fighting science and reason, etc), so it's hard for me to tolerate them. I mean it, I never set out to be "anti-the right", it's just _every_ little thing that comes naturally to me as moral and just is the opposite of what the right believes in. I hope we can all move past this, but it's hard to put down the sword when your "enemies" still wield theirs I suppose.

Well, not putting my sword down tonight :). And yes, not wanting to live on this planet was snarky, but it's also true. I am constantly depressed at the global behavior of the species right now to the point where I have very little to look forward to on a day by day basis as we move toward a neofuedal dystopia, so I just go to work and play games when I get home and sleep and generally pass the time hoping I will start to see more cooperation in this world.Anyway, yeah, let same sex couples marry, stop ostracizing them, let's get to the point where we're not even talking about this anymore because we all live and let live. And no sex until you are ready to have children, because abortions and unprepared parents lessen the joy in this world. But no need to conflate things that aren't causally linked.

James Ward
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@Crenshaw I won't respond to everything you said for brevity's sake, but I'm glad to talk to a less snarky you. You must understand that the correlations I'm talking about is part of a narrative, not some detached statistic. Gay marriage makes marriage that much less practical and meaningful, breaks down social taboos and customs that keep people from having sex before they are ready to have children in a stable family. And gay sex certainly has no procreative function. I seem to detect a peculiar strain in your argument that people shouldn't have sex until they are ready to have children, but that obviously does not apply to gay couple. So gay people are free to have sex when straight people are not? And in this you seem to be calling for personal responsibility and restraint: that actions have consequences and people should think of more than their personal desires.

I can ensure you that I do not idly draw arguments from statistical correlations, and you can believe that acceptance of homosexual marriages won't effect behavior in the rest of the population but I assure you you are incorrect. Though in this case I suppose gay-rights homosexuals just want to behave like everybody else -- regrettable.

Let me also caution you that you know almost nothing about me, and it is rash to make assumptions about motives. As to the world, or at least America, I wouldn't be too worried if I were you. The left is in the habit of winning. It has been winning for hundreds of years now and there is no reason to believe it will suddenly stop. Fifty years ago where were the angry public debates about gay rights? Nowhere because it wasn't a serious issue. That there are angry debates is a sign that it has successfully become an issue, and social trends all point to the left winning the argument.

The right doesn't have a chance and never really did.

Jacob Germany
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@James Could you cite statistics showing that legalization of gay marriages correlate to high out of wedlock births and fewer marriages? Which I'm preeeeetty certain is neither true nor causal. Then could you point to the research showing out-of-wedlock births and fewer marriages as having some actual negative impact on individuals or society?

Then could you explain how those negative impacts are more detrimental than the marginalization of a minority?

And, for the record, progressives win in situations like this because it is increasingly difficult, as social critical mass forms, to defend marginalization of minorities as they gain more and more of a voice. Why? Because it's far easier to marginalize a silent and easily demonized group. When they gain a voice, start protests, form public relationships with the media, television viewers, etc, they become humanized. And humanization inevitably leads to equality, while contradicting marginalization.

So, no, it's not a "winning streak" by "liberals" that women got the vote, schools were desegregated, or sexual minorities will one day receive hospital visitation rights, inheritance rights, and respect and equanimity in media like video games (hey, back on the original topic!). It has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with fundamental moral principles like human equality trumping pretty much everything else.

Joe McGinn
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>> For example, legalization of gay partnerships correlates to high out of wedlock births and fewer marriages. <<

Poppycock! (Always wanted to use that term and your made-up nonsense claim was custom-made for it.)

Completely, utterly, factually, untrue. Canada legalized gay marriage 7 years ago. The affects of this are:
- More people getting married
- Less people feeling hated and excluded thus creating a better feeling of peace throughout society
- More stable, monogamous couples available to adopt children (so less children growing up without families, as orphans)
- Last but not least: in calling gay marriage what it is: marriage, it every way, it has normalized gay Canadians in our society. What does this mean? It is becoming taboo to speak prejudice against them. Non-gay Canadians such as myself are very proud of this change in our society. My own children have friends with two moms and think nothing of it. This is how the hatred will be eliminated from the next generation.

There are no negative ramifications of gay marriage whatsoever. Canadians are well aware of it ... is is for this reason that even our current conservative federal government has become a proponent of gay marriage ... they have no choice, this is a value that has quickly become as sacred as our medical system: no politician can challenge it and get re-elected. Every argument against gay marriage is a thinly veiled excuse for holding onto prejudice and hatred.

James Ward
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@Jacob An interesting interpretation of what I said Mr. Germany. But of statistics, I believe I can find some for you.

Out of wedlock births have negative impact:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/13/health/13mothers.html

http://www.brookings.edu/papers/1996/08childrenfamilies_akerlof.a
spx

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/misc/wedlock.pdf

http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2109424?uid=3739856&uid=212
9&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21100716259561

http://firstthings.org/page/research/out-of-wedlock-pregnancy-fac
t-sheet

http://phys.org/news197644722.html

Correlation of gay marriage to out of wedlock births and fewer marriages:

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/217803/smoking-gun/stanley
-kurtz

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003
/660zypwj.asp?page=3

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2010/01/marriage-r
ates-and-the-defense.html

http://houstonhs.scsk12.org/~mrobinson/Mr._Robinsons_Web_Site_at_
Houston_High_School/Contemporary_Issues_Resource_Page_files/The%2
0declining%20importance%20of%20marriage.pdf

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2004-12-15-marriage_x.htm

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-05-13-unmarriedbirths_N.
htm

Of course, no two countries are entirely alike and so results in one will not automatically carry over to another. The correlation appears to me almost beyond dispute. Causation, of course, is more difficult to establish, and I have tried to stress interrelationship rather than one way causation.

Since America has more poverty, the out of wedlock birthrate is naturally more obviously detrimental than in Scandinavia.

As to the marginalization of a minority: I don't really care much about individual sexual preferences. It is quite far down on my list of things that matter. Accommodating sexual preferences is therefore also quite far down on my list of things that matter. As far as I'm concerned sex is foremost about procreation and if it is not about that I only desire that it not be public -- I'd rather the procreative kind not be public either. Civilization is not built on romance, but I do believe it is built on procreation and civility -- and the ability for people to stay true to their commitments.

@Joe After reading your challenge I tried to find statistics on Canada, and while I could not find a comprehensive analysis, everything I did find indicated higher out of wedlock birthrates and lower marriage rates since 2005 when gay marriage was legalized. So unless you can provide me figures I must say... um... popycock to you.

Jacob Germany
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@James Oh, my my my. Do you realize that many of your links dispute your own points?

In one: "But since familial instability is often damaging to children, they may be better off with mothers who never cohabitate or marry than with those who form unions that are later broken."

In another: "Despite consistent evidence of greater risk, the
research also shows that the majority of children in single parent families develop normally. The exact magnitude of the effects that are caused by nonmarital childbearing has not been isolated, but effects have been characterized as small to moderate, depending on the outcome being examined"

And about homosexual marriages having any effect on out-of-wedlock births?

In one: "Since 1970, out-of-wedlock birth rates have soared."
In another: "As statistics from, for example, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (O.E.C.D.) show, the marriage rate has been declining in almost all E.U. countries since 1970. "

So, o-o-w births have increased consistently for decades, there's very, very little even correlational evidence linking it and gay marriage, no causal evidence, and evidence that even o-o-w births aren't all that bad, though not without general small-to-moderate negative effects.

Now, to your argument that those effects are more important than the effects of marginalization of minorities, all you can say is "Who cares?"? That marriage is all about procreation? Conveniently ignoring that there are many, many unwanted children in our foster care system that desperately need couples that CAN'T procreate to provide them with loving, stable homes?

Next time you google research to back your statements up, you might want to make sure they don't cite evidence against your own points. Also, you might want to think up some excuse as to why orphans don't matter in your attempts to discredit gay marriage as somehow "having an interrelationship" with the right of o-o-w births (which makes no sense) and the fall of straight marriages (which also makes seriously no sense).

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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This is really getting absurd. One couple's decision to have a same sex marriage has no bearing on another couples' decision to have premarital sex. I'm glad you admit this is merely a correlation, but such sweeping correlation is hardly ever accurate as you are cherry picking trends to prove your point. One more example: I could point out the incredibly low out-of-wedlock birthrate in Japan (2%, from here http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-05-13-unmarriedbirths_N.
htm?loc=interstitialskip) and then point out the low birth rate crisis that Japan is going through (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/oct/25/japan-birthrate
-decline). So clearly nations need out of wed-lock child birth to sustain growth. Or maybe the birthrate is so low in Japan because of hentai and fascination with animated girls. But on the bright side, Japan's rape rate is far far lower than the rape rate of the United States (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_statistics#UN_Statistics), so it is reasonable to conclude that hentai reduces rape. Oh, and China has no reported rapes in that list, so it is reasonable to conclude that rape doesn't occur in China (wink wink).

But wait, there's more! I see a correlation between Christianity and rape (match the blue countries from here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Prevailing_world_religions_map.
png with the high rape countries from here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_statistics#UN_Statistics), and a negative correlation between Buddhism (brownish green) and rape. Since I have an agenda against Christianity, I'm going to jump to conclusions and say that Christianity causes rape. Well, I'm going to admit that it is merely a correlation, but let's not kid ourselves -- I'm putting it out there for others to see in hopes of harming the image of Christians. Intolerance? What? No, I'm just pointing out statistical facts good sir!

This is kind of a fun game actually.

James Ward
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@Germany I was quite confident providing a wide spectrum of statistical evidence because it does, regardless of slant, correlate high out of wedlock births to low marriage rates and the legalization of gay marriage (or civil unions). Now to the reason why this is, I have provided you with my interpretation and I think its a good one you have not even tried to assail. You don't find gay marriage being legalized in countries that have low out of wedlock birthrates, or they don't have them for long. Why? Because they are part of the same phenomena. Sexual mores and attitudes to marriage determine whether gay marriage makes sense to a society.

About out of wedlock births, those small to moderate negatives are, you should have noticed, quite serious. A high school dropout rate twice that of children in two parent families, for example. In addition, single parent families are endemic to the poorest elements of American society. Rich, well educated people tend to have more stable relationships. As the study also showed, single parent families have a harder time improving their living conditions than two parent families. Perhaps if you tried to understand the issue rather than score points you'd come out better.

While it is true that children seem to do better with two parents, regardless of gender, and so you have a point, the numbers of same-sex couples raising children is low compared to the general population. The homosexual population seems to comprise about 5-10% of the total population, but is less likely to form long term stable relationships, and among those who do, gay couples are less likely to raise children than heterosexual couples. In other words, not a replacement for the classical family model. And I suppose it is worth mentioning that those high out of wedlock birthrates have the same origin as gay marriage: the left.

Forcing Catholic adoption agencies to shut down doesn't strike me as thinking of the children.

The dangerous thing about you Mr. Germany is that you're the sort of person who believes he has the light of truth at his back and all the world against him is darkness, just like your Puritan forebearers. You remind me of the gentleman below, but with a veneer of sophistication and more rudeness.

Jacob Germany
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I'll respond in more depth later, because right now I'm on my iPad. But I'd like to point out the ludicrous nature of your statement that I am rude when you are utilizing vague corelational data to endorse marginalization and disenfranchisement of a very large minority group. It's also amusing that you compare me to puritans when your concept of marriage and romance matches their theology pretty closely.

To reiterate what Jeffrey is saying, correlational data is just showing a correlation. No cause, no interrelatedness, no actual link whatsoever, unless you have a very strong correlation supported by multiple studies. Sometimes, a correlation is simply a coincidence, sometimes it's the result of a tangled mess of causal relationships. But you need much, much more supportive data, even if that data was accurate (what you linked wasn't very convincing), to justify the marginalization of homosexual and bisexual citizens. Or, in the case of the topic at hand, to justify inequal representation or heteronormative propaganda in our industry.

James Ward
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Why you are so intent on attacking my statistical claims puzzles me. I have taken great pains to make only very moderate claims and almost entirely on issues about which there is a great deal of consensus. Do you wish to argue that single parent households aren't generally worse than households with two parents? I've linked to information on both sides of the gay adoption debate that all agree two parents is better than one. Are you going to argue that liberalized policies and social mores on sexual behavior has not led to more out of wedlock births? Or that liberal policies and social mores haven't paved the way for gay marriage? Or that legalization of gay marriage decreases out of wedlock births and increases marriage rates?

Why do you even want to prove me wrong on these things? I can understand not liking that out of wedlock births, that have had a negative impact on society, have increased because of the types of policy or behavior you support. But given your values, don't you think that things are still much better than they were fourty years ago, socially? Why do you even want to deny most of these connections? Aren't they the sign that your equal rights and personal freedoms are winning? So go ahead, show me where I'm wrong, because practically everybody agrees with me as far as the statistics are concerned. I suppose the most controversial claim I've made is that gay marriage is linked to declines in out of wedlock birth, but when you consider that my position is that both out of wedlock births and gay marriage are results of the same phenomena it comes close to simple fact.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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Hey James, I think the only real issue here is that statistics-based posts still carry normative flavor, whether you intend it or not. I know you aren't asking me, but perhaps I and Jacob have similar views so I will share (and he can correct me if I do not represent him). To me, saying that homosexual relationships and single mother families spawn from the same thing (liberal ideology) is more an offensive interpretation than an honest statistical assessment, similar to if I were to try to paint religion in a bad light because, despite correlating to marriage, it also correlates to the crusades. I think a better approach is to separate things -- can we have religion without crusades? Can we allow homosexual marriage without encouraging out of wed-lock child birth? I don't see why we can't.

The issue is really about this "flavor"; it has nothing to do with the truth of your sources but how you tie that into a thesis, what your agenda is for even selecting to post about that correlation instead of any other correlation that could be made. With that said, I really was taken aback by your claim that homosexuality leads to more out-of-wedlock births. I still don't fully agree, but I at least see your reasoning.

How about we try to discover the common ground. I believe there is a taboo against homosexuality that causes real pain, which I have seen friends go through. So I count that as a problem that needs to be solved. I also think that unplanned parenthood is an enormous problem, because it can ruin the lives of the parents and not provide the best life for the child. So can we solve both of these problems? I can't rationalize them being eternally connected, it seems more likely that they should be tackled as separate problems despite any correlating trends. If we can agree that 1.) consenting homosexual relationships in the privacy of ones home are ethical but we still have a problem with the taboo nature of homosexuality, bullying, and hate crimes, 2.) planned parenthood is yields immensely better quality of life for families than unplanned parenthood, particularly unplanned parenthood in poor socioeconomic conditions, and 3.) Solving these problems does not need to be a mutually exclusive task, then I think we can all be on the same page.

If this is worth continued discourse, maybe we can start by discussing why homosexual marriage is correlated with birth out of wedlock. There are a lot of questions there, actually. Does one need marriage to raise a child as a couple? Does one need state/church sanctioned "marriage"? Is the issue the lack of two adult role models or the lack of two sources of income, or some combination? Also, why do homosexuals want the benefit of marriage? Is it more a cultural acceptance thing (feeling equal to help self esteem) or more for legal purposes? Also, how much of the problem from either side is more fear-based than reality based?

James Ward
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@Crenshaw I think you raise many interesting and valuable questions. I can understand why you would find my claims offensive, especially if they were unexpected, but by now I hope it is clear that I wasn't making a foolish "there's a correlation, therefore causation" argument. One must always comprehend the context in order to make sense of a statistical correlation. That said, I stand by my interpretation, even given in the broad strokes I have presented it. You might find my analysis disingenuous, but I find claims on the other side that gay rights is simply about the actions of consulting adults extremely disingenuous.

I have never said that gay-marriage will always be strongly correlated with increases in out of wedlock births. Now, I don't know of a case in which the two are not correlated and I've given you an interpretation on what happened, one that I do not believe is generally controversial. They are linked to liberal ideology and policy, even if it didn't need to be, even if something could have been done to prevent those results. Obviously, since this just a comments section discussion I won't do some kind of complete analysis: I draw attention to the facts pertinent to my argument and then provide the best explanation I can.

Something like out of wedlock birth rates have different effects in different places. Sweden, for example, with its fairly socialist government and its high level of affluence does, to the best of my knowledge, not experience as many negative social repercussions as the United States, where the traditional family structure is far more important. The long term effects in any country are unknown because this is a relatively recent phenomena. I would say to you that, while maybe a society could have homosexual marriage and low out of wedlock births it doesn't seem to have happened yet, and people in countries, like Sweden, don't seem to mind. That's not surprising in my interpretation because marriage wouldn't be seen as important there, it having lost much of its economic and social significance.

I believe a healthy child can come from any family circumstances. But that doesn't mean that any family structure is good for a society. I think I have made it plain that marriage in modern liberal societies is increasingly unimportant to society (hence the lower marriage rates) and even when it does happen it is often not fulfilling many of its traditional functions.

Now I'd like to address your third paragraph. I'm sympathetic to the difficult situation homosexual's have growing up. Bullying, any other sort of cruelty are entirely unacceptable. Skullgirls just came out and even though it looks like a lot of fun I'm not going to buy it. The reason for that is that I think it demeans and objectifies women. A couple months ago I read an article on that very topic (if I remembered where it was I would link it). In that article one of the female developers of the game was quoted defending the game. Even though she is a woman and I'm not, her opinion did not have the least effect on whether I thought the game was demeaning to women. Not that it is not important to listen to the opinions of those directly involved, but I won't automatically accept their standards.

I tell you this because I approach gay-right in a similar fashion. If marriage, particularly same sex marriage, isn't really about procreation and child-rearing but about a group of people desiring societal affirmation than, not only do I think it isn't really marriage, but I don't have sympathy for it. Like I don't have sympathy for gamers who are riled to have the wider culture accept videogames as art. So what I am left with is not seeing gay-marriage as a rights issue, because I don't think it is, but as something with repercussions on society and that's entirely where it should be judged.

Conservatives have been claiming that liberal policies and standards will hurt marriage for decades and they have been right. One can question and discuss whether society needs marriage, or can rig up something else, or combination of things, but there is no assurance that society can do without traditional marriage in the long run. Considering demographic shifts its entirely possible these modern trends will prove unsustainable in the next century.

I have no intention of winning this argument here, because this isn't the place, but if I can get anyone to consider the other side of the debate seriously that's worth it. That's why I have not responded to all your good points.

Joe McGinn
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Give it up Jeffrey. You cannot change a hater bigot's mind with reason or fact. He will hold onto hate no matter what.

Jacob Germany
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@Jeffrey No, you're dead on with the "flavor" of his correlations. I approve.

@James Why do I continue to attack your correlational data? I'm going to try to answer this tersely (I tend to ramble way too much) and fully

1) I don't believe it. Certainly, single-parent households have problems two-parent households don't, but I don't believe there's a real correlation between gay marriage and out-of-wedlock children. But, even if there were...

2) Correlational data is only noteworthy. It's interesting, but it is nothing off which one should ever base change or policy or principle. It simply implies a noteworthy case that should be further explored with research. It's far, far too speculative to be evidence towards public policy.

3) Even ignoring 1. and 2., Gay marriage still is not even linked with correlational data to anything bad. It's only correlational to a social event (o-o-w births or fall of marriage rates) which themselves are correlational to negative effects. This means that...

4) There stands no cause, no reason, and no justification for denouncing, marginalizing, disenfranchising, harming, ignoring, or treating unfairly or unequally any minority or group. Not only have you not justified it in these comments, I have never seen any justification for it in any scenario, any moment in time, for any group. Certainly not because someone, somewhere has some data that links it to something that someone else has data that links to certain negative effects.

I agree that you haven't explicitly stated your correlational data equals causation, and I appreciate that. But I think you're still giving it far too much credit, and you're offering it as your only justification for.. .well, whatever it is we're discussing. I'm not even sure anymore if it's gay marriage, gay rights, or gay representation in video games. But I support all that, so it might as well be any of that.


The only thing I wanted to say further, though I'm worried this is going on far too long, is that I agree that the social complexities mean that any social change can make further social changes. I totally agree with you on that. But I think it seems silly to me to say that gay couples don't commit, and they don't adopt, and they don't start families, when it's the anti-gay side that encourages and fosters a culture in which gay couples cannot commit socially or legally in marriage, they cannot adopt, and they are prevented in many cases from starting families.

I think, in a completely equal world, gay couples would have far more motivation to adopt than straight couples given the lack of an easy means of biological children (since artificial insemination and surrogacy are very expensive).

Timothy Larkin
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The issue is not a debate, but a battle. You either stand by Christ or you don't. The truth is self evident and built into everyone's conscience. The letter campaign is a free market reaction by God-fearing people. Bioware and EA have ignored their own conscience for whatever reason, and now they need free market pressure to wake them up. I hope they listen. (I am one of those letter writers.)

hanno hinkelbein
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certainly not built into my concience and you said it out loud "god-fearing" now i don't think god needs us to fear him really. what kindof god woud that be? and i would also think a god that teaches love would think you stand by him if you give people the choices they need to express their personality. wake up man - nobody needs hate or exclusion. i wonder why people who don't follow organized religions are always the ones who have to teach so called christians their own beliefs.

Evan Combs
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Standing with Christ does not mean attacking those who are sinful.

Please don't make me gt out my Bible to prove it, this is something every Christian should already know and understand.

Harlan Sumgui
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**certainly not built into my concience and you said it out loud "god-fearing" now i don't think god needs us to fear him really. what kindof god woud that be?***

The god of the old testament. He is one of the most psychopathic, sadistic, genocidaly, insanely jealsous characters in fiction. I could enumerate some pretty messed up episodes, but I'll just leave a quote direct anyone who is interested to Richard Dawkins' God Delusion book.

From the Bible: "But if this charge is true (that she wasn't a virgin on her wedding night), and evidence of the girls virginity is not found, they shall bring the girl to the entrance of her fathers house and there her townsman shall stone her to death, because she committed a crime against Israel by her unchasteness in her father's house. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst." (Deuteronomy 22:20-21 NAB)

Aleksander Adamkiewicz
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Timothy, can you please also write a letter to other developers for displaying people wearing clothes mixing wool and linen?

Jeremiah Bond
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Yet still, Harlan, you don't know the truth of the bible. The words may be tough for you to hear or stomach, but cultures back in those days 'could' have been much different than now. Hating on old beliefs does not disregard the fact that those beliefs have become new for some. Those that have not you can't possibly say you have the right to say they are wrong. We don't even know what the hell humans were doing 3+million years ago.

Jeremiah Bond
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Oh, before you smack your face against your desk. 3+ million years ago was an anthropological reference and not one of a possible ~10000 year old book. Again, we don't even know that.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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Protip: God is a lie devised by power hungry humans to control the masses.
Protip#2: So is the free market, but it certainly isn't pressuring EA in the direction you think (http://www.pcworld.com/article/247153/star_wars_the_old_republic_
shatters_mmo_sales_records.html)

Timothy Larkin
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For all of you who rely on science alone, the only evidence we have that a man is gay is his word. He says that he was "born that way". The same goes for anyone that calls themselves LGB or T.

So, when I am critical of LGBT apologists, I am not critical of them, but of their words. (As a Christian, I don't believe in accusation, but forgiveness.)

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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"So, when I am critical of LGBT apologists, I am not critical of them, but of their words."

Why? What is wrong with their words?

"As a Christian, I don't believe in accusation, but forgiveness."

Forgiveness? For what? Being gay harms no one if consensual relationships are involved. Defending those who are gay harms no one and in fact I would say helps many who are going through unwarranted criticism. What is there to "forgive"?

Joshua Sterns
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Again...

Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

Joshua Sterns
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Battle? Why are Christians (and other religions) always crusading?

And free market? I'm guessing that's the invisible hand from Mr. Smith's book. Didn't that support slavery and child labor? I wouldn't count on any capitalist forces being compassionate.

Ryan Marshall
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This is getting substantially off-topic. Regardless of which side you hold in the great debate, the point of this article is to be tolerant of other views.

You don't see people like myself writing letters to various publishers, complaining about their hetero-normative propaganda, because other people have the right to their own beliefs as long as they don't harm anyone else (no matter how detestable I may find them to be).

Jacob Germany
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@Timothy Please don't compare the entirety of Christianity to your own personal religious beliefs. Christianity, as a religion, is incredibly varied and diverse, including many unique perspectives and belief systems. There are many people of all points on the political spectrum, there are people of all sexualities, genders, ethnicities. There are people who even befriend and love people of other belief systems, and people who don't.

I am a Christian, I stand with Christ, and I approve of homosexuality, bisexuality, and heterosexuality equally. There are, in fact, many, many like me. And I intend, in whatever work I do in the game industry and out of it, to support sexual minorities and gay rights.

So, please, do not equate your belief system with all of Christianity. Because they simply are not, and cannot, be the same.

Aleksander Adamkiewicz
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"For all of you who rely on science alone, the only evidence we have that a man is gay is his word. He says that he was "born that way". The same goes for anyone that calls themselves LGB or T.

So, when I am critical of LGBT apologists, I am not critical of them, but of their words. (As a Christian, I don't believe in accusation, but forgiveness.)"

Who cares if its a choice or not.

Why do you want to look into what other people are doing or not doing in bed?
Do you also want to know what they had for breakfast, or how big a dump they had this morning?
Whats inherently so interesting about other peoples sex for you?

So what if it one day turns out that all GLBTQ are GLBTQ by choice?
What does that change?

Does that solidify your belief that they are going to hell because thats what your doctrine dictates? Yes?
Again, nobody cares.

There are around 40.000 known religions on this planet, of which there are alone 300 flavors of christianity with wildly differing beliefs.
Christians most of the time can't agree between each other what they consider "the truth".
But I'm sure your flavor is the one that got it right....

This is all your opinion, and your opinion is most likely wrong by statistics alone.

Yes, yes I did just a reverse Pascals Wager on you.

You're welcome.

Joe McGinn
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@Timothy: it is a indeed a battle.

It is a battle of a minority for full human rights. And you are firmly, fully, and publicly on the side of the bigots declaring against liberty and justice for all. Indeed, I might wonder: which side would Jesus be on? It is impossible for me to imagine Jesus on the side of hatred and bigotry.

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Ricardo Hernandez
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"For all of you who rely on science alone, the only evidence we have that a man is gay is his word. He says that he was "born that way". The same goes for anyone that calls themselves LGB or T."

That is not true at all. There's an ever growing body of evidence that genetics have something to do with it. However, most importantly, why exactly their word is so flawed? Aren't you after all Christian in big part due to the words of people told to other people?

It's very amusing to me how people like you say something like this without a second or even third thought: you really think gays one day wake up "wow, I want to like men. My choice! Yay! Have to deal with all the society bullying/outcasting/false stereotyping, why not, it's my new hobby."

How sanctimonious and how dare you? You are nobody to know. Just like the same way you saw a girl one day and you felt something it's the same way with gays. There is no difference. So if you are going to bring the God/Christian argument you should be asking yourself why God created them that way and why perhaps, you are misinterpreting something from your so called teachings.

After all if you are going to pick for Leviticus on gays, you should be picking on a rather wide range of stuff, and the lack of consistency me thinks makes someone who does that completely insane at worst, and a supreme hypocrite at best.

I tell you what- what I am really sick of is pretend-to be Lawyers of Godtm that are humans. It's funny why I keep hearing about God's nature by people like you but never from the source. Maybe God is vastly different than what you think.

Ricardo Hernandez
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@Joshua

"The bible pretty clearly separates homosexuality as a an abomination. This doesn't leave any interpretive latitude in any way shape or form in that manner. The bible is also pretty clear about sexual designation and purpose from Genesis "

The Bible pretty clearly separates a lot of things as very wrong yet I don't see people following them. There's also different theories to go about it- like New Testament agreement type theory, or the fact that it seems that people that I have seen "Christian" on this seem to care too much exclusively about Leviticus homosexuality and nothing else, making them look like supreme sanctimonious hypocrites.

The Bible also does say something about hypocrites… I think it's in apocalypsis or something :-)

But quite frankly, like I mentioned, what I am really sick is people like you telling me what it's supposed to be like. I think God doesn't need any help there (otherwise wouldn't be Almighty God no?)

Lee Thompson
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If "standing by Christ" means hate and intolerance towards what relationships other people have then I would definitely not stand next to him.

Jacob Germany
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"The bible pretty clearly separates homosexuality as a an abomination. This doesn't leave any interpretive latitude in any way shape or form in that manner."

I disagree wholeheartedly. I've delved into the topic quite deeply, and I can assure you the Bible is not nearly as clear about homosexuality as the religious right believes. I'm not sure if I should go into detail, as I feel that the topic has already gone very, very off-topic, but I promise there are many people very versed in Biblical theology who can explain it all online. Religioustolerance.org is a good place to start.

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Ricardo Hernandez
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@Joshua

You need to read more carefully. I didn't say Christians are hypocrites, I said "Christians" and I am referring specifically to those who seem to selectively read the Bible to suit some things they want enforced on others that, would not apply to themselves or just read what seems convenient for them to follow and even bash on others.

Oh and what I refer to goes well beyond the "Do not judge lest ye be judged" and the like which btw, seems often quite appropriate too. You see either there's contradictions there or there aren't. And I think someone who decides to pick on gays because of what a part of the Bible says, is ignoring what that very part of the Bible is saying about oh so many other things, at least that's very often the case I have seen.

Of course you are an absolute nobody how to tell me what my relationship with God is or what the ever after is like, which is what I tried to explain with "pretend be Lawyers Of GodTM."

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Eric Geer
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I still don't understand why games have to be the target, when you have movies and books that delve into this "blasphemy" 100x more in depth and graphic than video games have done. (PS-For those that are attacking SW:TOR---Luke Skywalker-in the movies-was definitely gay. He never had a girl throughout the 3 movies--except well that awkward moment and tension where he kissed his sister. And what about R2D2 and C3PO--they were lovers at first sight.)

I understand that video games and comics have been the problem children of the entertainment world. But come off it---if you want it or like it...buy it or don't buy it...like it or don't like it...but don't destroy everyone elses good time.

Also, it's not like the games FORCE( :-P) you to be gay or straight. These are choices--if your kid is straight or gay, he/she will make the choices in the game that lead him or her to where they want to go.

Joshua Sterns
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Anne Rice's vampire books were way more graphic then any game I've ever seen. ( Or perhaps my imagination is more graphic in general.)

There's always a scapegoat in our society. Rap music, Heavy Metal, Pot, Games, Comics, Commies, etc.

Dan Porter
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At the risk of being drawn into this moral quagmire, I would submit that regardless of whether you believe homosexuality is a sin, it shouldn't change whether or not it exists in a video game. How manysins... how many crimes against humanity do you commit in the average "T" for Teen game?

Let us consider that every major world religion holds Murder to be one of the foremost crimes a human being can commit (both in the eyes of man, and in the eyes of whatever deity(ies) you believe in.)

SWTOR has you literally murdering people by the dozens. You can steal, cheat, lie, and even engage in crimes that are not possible in the real world (what is "force persuade" if not rape of the mind?)

And yet of all these horrendous crimes that a player could commit or is encouraged mechanically to commit, many people are focusing on optional homosexual content.

I have a challenge for you. Reach level cap in SWTOR and complete your character storyline without killing any sentient life forms or breaking any of the 10 commandments (substitute 10 commandments for any other religious moral code). Good luck.

That said, I suggest anyone reading this googles an article called "I'm Christian, unless you're gay." by a blogger called Single Dad Laughing. It is very powerful regardless of which side of the issue you fall on. Despite its inflamatory title I found it to be much less offensive to Christians than the name would suggest.

http://www.danoah.com/2011/11/im-christian-unless-youre-gay.html

For those who do not wish to read, the gist of it is this:
Regardless of whether homosexuality is right or wrong, the people opposing homosexual content are holding a much different standard for homosexuality than many of the other "wrongs" they are morally against. Why does homosexuality get a zero tolerance policy when games (and media in general) are rife with hundreds of other types of questionable content.

hanno hinkelbein
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another very valid point made. no one writes angry letters about murdering limitless amounts of people (at least not the same people who write furious letters about gay romance in games) but as soon as two guys start kissing tolerance is over.

that is beyond comprehension really

Timothy Larkin
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Depiction of violence does not motivate or tempt people to commit murder (unless it's really grotesque sick violence, like Manhunt.)

Out of context sexual situations or nudity is a temptation (especially for men).

So, a player does not sin by getting a CoD headshot. But, playing the Hot Coffee mini-game in GTA is a sin. (Viewing porn is a sin, which is the same as playing porn games. Viewing the Battle of Midway is not a sin.)

Nick Meh
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I think that is where you are losing us Tim.
How is viewing porn a sin, while veiwing or virtually acting out murder not?

Jacob Germany
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"Out of context sexual situations or nudity is a temptation (especially for men)"

I can't read anything into that except that all men are borderline gay. Any single gay reference, even if not pornographic but relationship-based (as in SW:toR), can be the straw that broke the gay camel's back.

Joe McGinn
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>> I can't read anything into that except that all men are borderline gay <<

Well we do know scientifically that homophobes like Timmy are more likely to be gay. Doesn't excuse their bigotry of course, though it may help explain it.

Jacob Germany
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@Joe You really, really have to love science. Especially when it shows some correlation like that.

Ricardo Hernandez
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"Depiction of violence does not motivate or tempt people to commit murder (unless it's really grotesque sick violence, like Manhunt.)

Out of context sexual situations or nudity is a temptation (especially for men)."

How exactly two men kissing is equal to pornography? How exactly a character that is a man talking about how much he loves another man is pornography? And most important: how is this supposed to tempt general men again? Are you suggesting all men are gay?

Please explain by all means, maybe I am misunderstanding your message here. I find this very difficult to understand. You may have to forgive me- English is not my first language.

Nick Meh
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To the Author, Christian Nutt:

The Florida Family Association isn't a real group. It is just one man with a mailing list:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/17/us/on-religion-a-one-man-war-on
-american-muslims.html?_r=2

It's amazing what one fanatic can do. It truly is.

Also Dan Porter's argument is perfectly sound. Kodus, you couldn’t have worded it better.
It has always been my question; if fundamentalist groups are offended by the exposure of gay marriage in a game, but not the underlining facts that the Teen Rated game is nothing more a Murder Marathon without the blood splatter, exactly what lessons are these groups aiming to teach their children. 'You are currently in total agreement that your children practice nothing but lying, cheating, murder, genocide, and infidelity in the game’, yet gay marriage is where you draw the line in your barriers for belief system?

Jacob Germany
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The anti-gay sentiments in the comments to this post alone show that our industry still needs to push ourselves to fight for societal rights. But, then again, as you stated, we still need to push ourselves just to be recognized as a medium for adults as well as children. =|

Joshua Darlington
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Humans are a small branch of fishes.

http://www.howfishbehave.ca/pdf/The%20sex%20lives%20of%20fishes.p
df

Joe McGinn
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Brilliant article on the subject by Charlie Booker:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/apr/15/charlie-brook
er-gay-video-game


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