Asking if homosexuality is considered moral or immoral by Objectivism is sort of like asking if having brown hair is considered moral or immoral. Or, more appropriately, it is like asking if heterosexuality is moral or immoral. One's sexual orientation is a part of one's nature, not a choice. One doesn't choose to be gay or straight (or bi or whatever), one simply is. This is why many religious fundamentalists insist that homosexuality is a choice, because if it is a "God-given" part of one's nature, than it cannot legitimately be viewed as immoral.
What matters from a moral perspective is not one's nature, but whether or not one acts in accordance with one's nature in pursuing one's long-term self-interest. If an individual is homosexual, then that individual's ultimate happiness and well-being are intimately tied to finding a partner of the same sex, provided the individual is in the market for a partner. It is not only moral for that individual to live "out" as a homosexual, I would argue it is heroic in the present context. Open homosexuality, which today constitutes an expression of one's moral right to pursue one's happiness regardless of others' opinions or wants, garners such opposition that, in my mind, it constitutes an active defense of (explicitly or implicitly) the Objectivist morality.
It is not only moral to act in accordance with one's nature in order to promote one's rational self-interest, it is immoral to do otherwise. To live as a straight person when one is really gay constitutes deception toward one's friends, family, and most likely even oneself. It is an evasion of reality, one of the highest forms of immorality in the Objectivist framework. It is akin to pursuing a relationship with someone, not out of love, but out of pity, obligation, or indifference. It can only lead to misery for the individual as well as those around them. Empirical evidence of this unfortunately becomes available all too often.
The point is that homosexuality (or bisexuality or whatever) is neither moral nor immoral, rather living in accordance with one's nature in pursuit of happiness determines the morality of one's romantic and sexual endeavors.
answered Sep 16 '10 at 19:48
If you can tell me why you chose to be heterosexual — which means, tell me in explicit terms why you chose to be attracted to members of the opposite sex — then you have the right to judge people who are homosexual. I can't tell you why I first started noticing that girls were cute, though I could tell you precisely when I did. The process, for me, was automatic. It's automatic also for gays.
It's a different question whether it's an emotional defect, disorder, mistake, or whatever. Something can be automatic and unconscious, but still be mistaken. That's not at issue. The question is whether homosexuality is moral or immoral. To that, the answer is emphatically that it is moral to be gay, if you are. And, by simple obversion, it is wrong to act straight if you are not. (I am leaving aside family and other social issues, which might change the situation.)
People often remark that having a homosexual orientation is different from acting on it. The former military policy of "Don't ask, don't tell" was based on this idea: it was okay to be gay, just not to act on it. I couldn't disagree more profoundly: if you are gay, it would (in the normal situation) be immoral to act straight.
By the way, I know gay couples who have been in loving relationships for many years in all the same sorts of ways that straight couples can be. Whether or not homosexuality is a perfectly healthy psychology, some people do very well with it... better than a lot of heterosexual couples.
What is homosexuality?
In my experience, and according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, "homosexuality" has two meanings: (1) the quality or state of being homosexual and (2) erotic activity with another of the same sex [i.e., behavior expressive of that orientation].
What, then, is the moral status of homosexuality according to Objectivism?
The first thing to be said about this question, as Leonard Peikoff says in this podcast, is that
To illustrate this point, observe what one would have to know in order to judge homosexuality.
To judge it with respect to the first meaning (the quality or state of being homosexual), one would have to know: Is it directly chosen? Or is it innate? Or is it developed? If it's developed, is it developed deliberately or automatically? Does the process entail evasion or dishonesty?
To judge it with respect to the second meaning (behavior expressive of the homosexual orientation), one would have to know all of the above and more: Is it a healthy state? Can it be changed? If it's unchosen and unalterable, but unhealthy or suboptimal, then what is the best course of action?
Philosophy can tell you that sexuality is neither directly chosen nor innate because desires are not directly chosen, but are products of ideas, which are not innate, but acquired. The remainder of these questions, however, belong to the field of psychology.
Do any prominent Objectivists have views on this issue?
Ayn Rand had distinctive views on psychology and sexuality (including homosexuality), which are not part of her philosophy of Objectivism. They can be found in some of her articles, articles which she endorsed, and have been recounted by Leonard Peikoff. Leonard Peikoff has also related some of his own views. For those who are interested, below are some relevant resources. Please leave a comment if you have found others and I will add them.
Leonard Peikoff's Podcasts:
Leonard Peikoff's Lectures:
Leonard Peikoff's Radio Shows:
I agree with Ryan Krause, but it should be mentioned that this topic has been a matter of bitter controversy amongst Objectivists over the years. I still haven't heard any prominent Objectivist intellectual come out (ahem) and say there is nothing wrong with homosexuality, and that it is a perfectly natural element of overall human sexual diversity.
Many have either condemned it, or called it a form of mental illness, including Ayn Rand herself (who described it as "disgusting"), Nathan Branden (who implied it was an irrational deviance in at least one article), Leonard Peikoff (who called it a "developmental disorder"), and Edith Packer (who described it as a disorder, based presumably on the fact that some of her patients were gay, apparently not making the connection that this implied that the fact that she also had straight patients implied that heterosexuality was a disorder too.)
answered Sep 23 '10 at 23:41