Haaretz has an article up on Orthodox Jews forming gay male/lesbian couples for marriage and child-rearing:
His 12th couple has just announced their engagement, Harel said, and he has a list of another 30 gays and 20 lesbians seeking matches. They don't deny their sexual identity, he stressed, but "they want to establish a home, whether for the sake of becoming parents or for the social recognition. A family isn't just sex and love. It's an instrumental partnership, though not just a technical one."[...]
Harel explained that while secular homosexuals see gay marriage as the solution, religious homosexuals are often unwilling to violate the halakhic prohibition on homosexual sex, and are thus seeking other solutions.
"Most of the couples agree not to have relationships with members of their own sex, but if there are 'lapses' once every few years, they don't see this as a betrayal," he said. "Generally, it's between them and their Creator."
He said each couple decides for itself how its marriage should work, and he is not involved in that decision. Rather, he deals mainly with halakhic issues like artificial insemination.
So, basically, it sounds like most people in these marriages are having gay sex anyway, just outside the marriage. They either have rules for that or "lapses." It's almost as if the sex drive is more powerful than people's will power.
It reminds me of an article I recently read about similar arrangements in China:
While past generations buried their sexuality in straight marriages, the people gathered at the yoga studio are trying a new approach. No. 8 (the men sport numbered buttons in a pleasing shade of blue, the women's are pink), a pretty 22-year-old woman with curly dyed chestnut hair, skinny jeans, and Snoopy slippers wants a fake marriage to ease parental pressure, but she doesn't want a baby. No. 15, a strikingly tall man with side-swept bangs, says: "I want to get married for my parents, but I think lying to them will make me feel terrible. So I want to have a fake marriage with a lesbian girl, but just for one or two years, and then I want a divorce to show my parents that I am not a marriage type." There's one constant: All the participants talk about pleasing their parents.
Influential Zhou Dynasty Confucian scholar Mencius said that the "most serious" way to be unfilial is to not produce an heir. It's an idea that still reverberates through China's family-centric culture. In contemporary slang, single women over the age of 27 are known as sheng nu or "leftovers."[...]
For many gay men, the chance to experience parenthood--and to provide a grandchild for longing parents--is a distinct advantage of these unions. At the yoga studio marriage market, almost every man says he wants a baby, Fen included. "[On the Web site] I said that I didn't want to have a sex life with my wife--absolutely none." Although he says he and his wife are not "very good friends," they have discussed having a child. "For a baby we will maybe use artificial insemination," he says.
In the US, people like this would be labeled and written off as self-hating closet cases.
But I don't think such a simple diagnosis is appropriate. We Americans, with our myths about our rugged individualism, like to pretend like having friends or a family are unimportant, unneeded. What we value is self-expression, so it's not surprising that we associate an appropriate manifestation of same-sex attraction with a declaration of the same.
Consider our standard response to heterosexual marital infidelity: the couple breaks apart or the offending party promises never to cheat again. More modern, liberal people say that someone who's sexually unsatisfied in a relationship should leave a marriage first before starting another sexual relationship, as if the marriage and the family have so little value that people can just pack up their bags and go without being too troubled.
On the other hand, there's no use pretending that the systems described in the above-linked articles aren't the result of outside pressures. Whether it's parental pressure in Shanghai or religious pressure in the West Bank, the people making these relationships don't think that having a satisfying sex life and a stable family all in one are possible.
I think there's an analogous, but less pronounced, choice forced on people in the US, what with the many gay people I see living alone and (often) lonely. I'll just say that, a decade after I left my parents' home, I'd rather live with a woman I get along with than to live completely alone. I don't deal with long-term alone-ness that well since it, for me, necessarily becomes loneliness.
Since I don't much believe in the institution of marriage or have any desire for kids, though, I'm really just talking about roommates. But if that actually mattered to me? Would anyone be able to judge so long as we're honest with each other about where we're coming from?
I'm interested in what others think about this. The usual problem with closeted people being married to someone of the opposite sex is the dishonesty and sexual incongruity. But gay male/lesbian marriages avoid the former, which helps solve the latter.