Supreme Court Arguments Include Men Attracted to Men Who Are Married to Women
On Tuesday (April 28, 2015), the U.S. Supreme Court will once again hear arguments about same-sex marriage. One of the Amicus Briefs (or Friends of Court briefs) submitted to argue against same-sex marriage is from a group called “Same-Sex Attracted Men and Their Wives in Support of Respondents & Affirmance.”
They don’t use the word bisexual to identify themselves, although some of them used that identity at one time in their lives. And, although it doesn’t say anywhere in the legal brief, upon closer inspection, the 10 men mentioned in the legal filings are all part of the Mormon Church, and their video statements are on a site owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints.
In one argument, Brent Olsen talks about being attracted to boys in junior high school, and then going to the bishop in his church about it. The bishop told Brent to date girls.
“I’d been dating girls, and that’s not a problem,” Brent laughs in the video, with his wife Anissa at his side. “I want people to know that this choice, this choice I made, that Anissa and I made together, is possible and can bring happiness and hope. We have been able to do that. We’ve been able to have a 16-year marriage. We’re raising four fantastic sons.”
In the legal brief, Brent’s wife is quoted as saying, “I am so happy that Brent was willing to share his feelings of same-sex attraction with me and then give me the choice to marry him. I am grateful for the option that God has given us to have a family together.”
In some of the video testimonies linked to the brief, the men said they were criticized by others who told them they should accept their same-sex attractions and leave their wives, family and church. One man said that a self-help group he was going to was infiltrated by an investigative reporter who tried to tell him that he was a hypocrite and should accept his same-sex leanings.
Brent came to terms with his attractions. “I think I said out loud to myself, ‘I’m attracted to men. It’s a physical thing. It’s in my body and I have no idea what to do with it.’ I felt like I was the only one on the planet.”
Brent and Anissa both believed that his same- sex attractions “would go away” once married, but Brent said, “the Lord had other plans.” He still felt the attractions, and he was afraid to tell Anissa. A decade later, it came to a head when Brent told her that his attractions had never changed. Anissa was scared, but Brent’s openness started them “back on a path toward renewed closeness.”
In the filing, the brief argues that allowing same-sex marriage will undermine these men who are attracted to other men, but “prefer the sanctity” of raising a family with a woman. “Most questioned, at some point, whether it was possible for them to have a successful marriage with a woman in light of their physical and emotional attractions to men. Some married decades ago when the pursuit of legal same- sex relationships was never an option. Others married more recently, when they could have chosen same-sex relationships with significant social and cultural support. All agree that marriage between a man and a woman is inherently unique.”
The world “Bisexual” appears in the brief only five times, and three times to quote an analysis of the 2013 National Health Interview Survey revealing that 51% of bisexual adults with children and 18% of self-identified gay men and lesbians with children were living in opposite-sex “traditional” marriages.
“Why would almost two-thirds of bisexual adults with children and more than a fifth of gay or lesbian adults with children elect man-woman relationships, principally man-woman marriage?” asks the court documents.
“While in times past such relationships were often the only legal and culturally acceptable options, in today’s welcoming climate, the decision of same-sex attracted men and women to marry, and remain married, to opposite- sex spouses is a testament to the uniqueness of man- woman marriage as a familial relationship.”
In one of their arguments, if the Supreme Court allows same-sex marriage, it would “send a harmful message” to same-sex attracted men that it would be “impossible, unnatural and dangerous” for them to marry someone of the opposite sex.
The 38-page court document quotes 10 men, even a grandfather, who are happily talking about their same-sex attractions. Stu Back is quoted, “I saw families—happy families. There were men who spoke openly about [their same-sex attraction] without shame or embarrassment. Their wives seemed happy, fulfilled, and equally unashamed about what their husbands experienced. . . . I went home, bewildered, unable to comprehend what I had witnessed. These people were thoroughly, unapologetically happy. . . There was something to hope for.”
Bill Seger said, “After many confusing years, he told himself, ‘Okay, this is it, I’m gay, I can’t do anything about it. I might as well just live it.’ He pursued same-sex relationships, but never felt right. I wanted to have a family. I wanted to have children and a wife. That was a big issue for me through all this time: family, family, family.” Bill and his wife Louise have been married for more than 30 years, and are the parents of three and grandparents of five.
This group fears that the two gay and lesbian couples who are suing for their right to get married are trying to “disfavor and demean” the marriages of these 10 Mormon families “as fakes and shams.” All of the couples have children, and some say that the straight wives and men have had better attractions with each other now that they are honest with each other. One woman says she loves her husband, “not in spite of his attractions, but because of them.”
The argument is that “striking down man-woman marriage laws on the basis of a constitutional deprivation would send a message to the same-sex attracted that there is only one choice for them, that man-woman marriage is unattainable, that they are acting against their nature for desiring it.”
The legal brief notes that these men realize their same-sex attraction at an early age and they have chosen to build their families on the foundation of marriage between a man and a woman. None of them went through any kind of “reparative therapy” or attempts to “pray away the gay,” or change sexual orientation. But, allowing gay marriage would jeopardize their world.
“A Constitutional right to same-sex marriage can only come at the cost of marginalizing and demeaning [these] marriages and families,” they argue. These men could be seen to only “be true” then if they are in same-sex marriages.
(It’s hard to imagine that if someone actually explained bisexuality to these people—or if they met some bi couples in relationships—that they could not still be happy, too.)
Mike Szymanski has written about bisexual issues since 1989 and has one of the longest-running regular bisexual columns as the National Bisexuality Examiner. He came out as bisexual in a cover story of Genre magazine, which resulted in more than 50 television appearances, including Ricki Lake, Phil Donahue Show and 20/20. Szymanski won the Lambda Literary Award in 2007 for co-authoring an informative humor book “The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe: Quips, Tips and Lists for Those Who Go Both Ways.” Write him at Mike@bisexual.org