On this day 23 years ago, in Mary E. Gearing Hall at the University of Texas at Austin, I first delivered the lecture “What’s Morally Wrong with Homosexuality?” At the time, according to Gallup, 57% of Americans thought that homosexuality was not an “acceptable alternative lifestyle.” We’ve come a long way.
Prof. Gary Gutting of Notre Dame gives me a shout-out at the Stone in The New York Times:
The problem is that, rightly developed, natural-law thinking seems to support rather than reject the morality of homosexual behavior. Consider this line of thought from John Corvino, a philosopher at Wayne State University: “A gay relationship, like a straight relationship, can be a significant avenue of meaning, growth, and fulfillment. It can realize a variety of genuine human goods; it can bear good fruit. . . . [For both straight and gay couples,] sex is a powerful and unique way of building, celebrating, and replenishing intimacy.”
Read his full article here.
There’s a nice profile of John at the Urban Innovation Exchange:
John Corvino is a refreshing antidote to the screaminess on one of the central issues of our times – marriage equality. It befits his work as a philosophy professor at Wayne State University; as such, he needs to think deeply about the very nature of morality and why we behave the way we do. It also befits his life; he’s an out gay man who has been with his partner, Mark, for 13 years.
Read the full profile here.
Bridge Magazine just posted a nice profile of John’s work.
Corvino is emerging as a new public face of gay America, well-suited for an era of increasing acceptance by the dominant culture – calm, polite, respectful, telegenic. In an era when cable television and the Internet reward snark and sarcasm, he meets the opposition on their own turf and engages in argument without insult.
Read the full story here.
In a New York Times “Room for Debate” discussion on plural marriage, John rebuts the slippery slope:
Polygamy raises a number of public-policy concerns that same-sex marriage does not. That said, the gay-rights movement has bolstered the polygamist-rights movement in one key way: by insisting that finding a practice weird or icky or religiously anathema is not sufficient reason to make it illegal.
Read his full post, and watch the accompanying video, here.
John’s talk at Skepticon 6, entitled “Gay Sex in a Disenchanted Universe,” in which he reflects on Joseph Bottum, the Book of Genesis, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the new natural law theorists.
UPDATE 11/13/2014: Yesterday Jen had a three-hour surgery taking a skin graft from her thigh to reconstruct the tissue in her mouth; this was the planned follow-up after the successful (second) bone graft in January. The surgery went well, and the underlying bone looks healthy. Jen is uncomfortable but in good spirits. She hopes to be out of the hospital by Saturday. The next step would be the reconstruction of her teeth. Unfortunately, her fund is once again nearly depleted, and the posts and teeth alone will cost over $10,000 out of pocket. We are re-opening her fund to help defray her expenses. Thank you for your support. (Prior updates below.)
I am writing to ask a favor on behalf of my beloved sister, Jennifer. (That’s us above, circa 1980 and today.)
In 1999, my sister was the victim of a horrible act of violence. Late one night as she was entering her car, she was approached by an unknown assailant. As she quickly rolled up her window, he pulled a gun and shot her at close range. The bullet pierced her neck and shattered her jaw, coming within millimeters of her spine, her windpipe, and her carotid arteries. Amazingly, she managed to step on the gas and drive for a few blocks before collapsing. A stranger found her and called an ambulance, which rushed her to the hospital where doctors saved her life. Her assailant was never caught.
Over the next several months Jennifer underwent a series of reconstructive surgeries. The lack of an exit wound meant that she was spared major facial disfigurement; unfortunately, it also meant that the fragmented bullet would remain in her for years. Her jaw was wired shut for two months, and she lost all of her lower front teeth. Needless to say, the various physical challenges she has endured have served as a constant reminder of the emotional trauma of being shot.
Since the shooting, Jennifer has had over a dozen surgeries to stabilize her jaw, including bone grafts from both hips as well as multiple cadaver grafts. The doctors have done amazing work, but the early reconstructive surgery has gradually deteriorated. Last February, they were finally able to remove the largest bullet fragment, which was causing ongoing problems.
Here is why I am writing to you:
In order to achieve a stable long-term solution, the doctors will soon remove part of Jennifer’s fibula (the smaller calf bone) and do a vascularized graft to re-build her jaw. The surgery will be performed by three surgeons and take approximately five hours; it will require at least a three-day hospital stay. Later, the doctors will be able to provide her with permanent teeth implants.
Unfortunately, Jennifer’s Crime Victims fund is nearly depleted, and she faces roughly $20,000 in expenses not covered by insurance. (Part of the problem is that some of the procedures, including the restoration of her teeth and the reshaping of her chin, are deemed “cosmetic”; she also has a rather stingy insurance plan.) I am therefore reaching out to my friends and their networks to ask for support. Would you consider giving $25, $100, or whatever you are able, to help Jennifer get through her remaining surgeries and put this ordeal behind her? Every little bit would help. I’d also appreciate it if you’d share this message with your networks.
(Any funds collected will go toward relieving medical expenses; if there are somehow excess funds, they will be donated to the Crime Victims organization that has supported her over the years.)
Jennifer is my only sibling. We have always been close. Her strength in the face of adversity is inspiring, and I want to do anything I can to relieve her burden. Thanks for your consideration.
At the New York Times “Room for Debate,” John argues that gay rights and transgender rights are related but distinct:
Each group has distinctive needs and challenges. By jumbling them all together into one alphabet soup — L.G.B.T.Q.I.T.S.L.F.A.A., anyone? — we run the risk of covering or erasing people’s experiences, especially those who are already most marginalized.
Read the full article here. And check out this video, which explains some of the distinctions: