Woman To Marry Fairground Ride. A New Sexual ‘Orientation’?

I want you to tell me exactly why Amy Wolfe, a 33-year-old “US church organist”, can’t marry her favorite roller coaster. You heard me. Roller coaster—an “80ft gondola ride.” Exactly, now.

No fair saying, “It’s illegal”. Same-sex “marriage” is illegal in many spots too, but lots of people are still for it. Why shouldn’t she be allowed to do as she pleases?

Wolfe sure looks happy in a picture of her and her intended, surnamed “1001 Nachts”. The Daily Telegraph reports:

“I love him as much as women love their husbands and know we’ll be together forever,” she said.

Miss Wolfe first fell for the ride when she was 13: “I was instantly attracted to him sexually and mentally.

“I wasn’t freaked out, as it just felt so natural, but I didn’t tell anyone about it because I knew it wasn’t ‘normal’ to have feelings for a fairground ride.”

Point one: she said, “I’m not hurting anyone and I can’t help it…It’s a part of who I am.” So Wolfe ‘oriented’ towards roller coasters. If you say no, why?

It’s not an argument to laugh or scoff and say, “That’s absurd!” Maybe it is absurd: your job is to tell us why. It’s also not an argument to say why you’re in favor (if you are) of same-sex “marriage.” I don’t care—not here, anyway—unless the reason you’re in favor of SSM is the same as why Wolfe should be bound by matrimony to her ride.

No good using the word “obvious” in your proof. It’s obvious to me, for example, that SSM shouldn’t happen and that Wolfe needs a good psychiatrist; perhaps it’s obvious to you that SSM is A-okay and Wolfe is free to do what she wants. We have to go deeper than obvious.

Point two: though she didn’t use the word, in effect she said she’s “oriented” towards playground rides. Very well. Perhaps this “orientation” is biological; I mean, caused (in some way, we know not how) by her genes, raging hormones, or perhaps a swollen amygdala.

Coincidentally, I was reminded of a study by Bearrman and Bruckner: “Opposite-sex Twins and Adolescent Same-Sex Attraction (in American Journal of Sociology, 2002, pp 1179-1205).

Oddly, despite the popularity of the idea, the evidence for genetic and/or hormonal effects on same-sex orientation is inconclusive at best. The most publicized genetic findings, for example, the discovery of a marker for homosexuality in men (Hamer et al. 1993) has not been replicated, and studies purporting to establish a genetic or hormonal foundation to human sexual orientation to have serious methodological flaws.

The reason genetic markers are looked for is that it has been noticed that, sometimes, homosexual behavior runs in families. But then so does trout fishing. Meaning sometimes behavior is not genetically predetermined. Meaning that’s it’s possible, and even likely, that sexual behavior is at least sometimes chosen, a politically unwelcome idea. Anyway, with human behavior as complex as it is, it would be a wonder if there was just one explanation for our amorous proclivities.

Science News also reports “no major gene for homosexuality has been found despite numerous studies searching for a genetic connection”; instead some people are looking for epigenetic “shocks”, so to speak. But it’s all theoretical at this point, meaning the epigenetic idea “isn’t based on actual experiments,” quotes one scientist. (This is all necessary because evolutionary theory predicts genes for non-heterosexuality would quickly disappear because non-heterosexuals acting non-heterosexually don’t pass on their “selfish” genes.)

Even if the epigenetic shock theory were true, it wouldn’t explain people like Wolfe, those who are ‘oriented’ towards our four-legged friends, those oriented towards the infertile (children and the deceased; not much evolutionary advantage here), or folks with other non-standard desires.

The old-fashioned natural, scientific answer to today’s question is that marriage is between one man, one woman, mated for life and for the purpose of making and raising children. Used to be, up until about five, six years ago it was customary to acknowledge this, at least tacitly, especially the bit about kids.

People (even “researchers”) used to say that kids raised in homes with biological mom and dad did best. Evolutionary psychologists were even on board with this idea, saying (for example) adopted kids in man-woman families were under increased “risk” of death (step dads want to eliminate rival genes, you see). “Researchers” are now having to present data which “shows” that kids raised in any state whatsoever are equal to kids raised in scientific families. Given the loose requirements of statistical evidence, they’ll find it, too.


  1. Jim Fedako

    Careful with your terms. Marriage IS between a man and a woman. A “legal marriage” is whatever the state says it is. But the state can no more redefine “marriage” to mean something other than a man and a woman than it can redefine “credit” to mean the addition of electronic digits at the FED. Both are false, and both will always be false.

  2. I have made this argument for years. Once you stop defining marriage as “one man, one woman” you have no way to argue against marriage in any form. Unless you want to just keep adding same sex, then multiple partners, then other species, etc. If you go that route, it’s pretty obvious that the only reason for the redefinition is political. Then, if it’s political, you have no where to draw a line (it goes wherever politics takes it), leading us back to any marriage is acceptable.

    People used to claim this was a “slippery slope” argument and thus, we could ignore it. However, it was not a slippery slope, it was a logical progression.

    As Jim F points out, marriage is between a man and a woman. “Legal marriage” is an attempt to get around a biological and sociological reality, without really considering the consequences. It’s not working nor should it.

  3. Sander van der Wal

    The fairground ride is not able to fulfill its legal obligations regarding marriage, so it cannot marry.

    It is also impossible to be certain that the ride want to marry the woman. Without consent, it cannot marry either.

    Mmm, that was easy.

  4. Briggs


    No, this fails. First, you used “legal”, which was off limits. We’re not arguing the law here. We’re trying to figure what’s right and wrong. Second, the “consent” part doesn’t work either, and for two reasons.

    Number one, the ride doesn’t say yes or no, or say anything. Number two, if consent were all that were needed then you could marry a child if you could get it to say “Yes”, or even wed a dog as long as you could get it to bark.

  5. John B

    Point of order.

    I saw that fast foot shuffle. Behaviour is not orientation.

    The question is not whether sexual ‘behaviour’ may be genetically acquired, but that sexual ‘orientation’ may be.

    Of course it is possible to chose sexual behaviour – people in prisons do so, as do lonely shepherds, for example – just as it is possible to chose whether to eat or not, but nobody can chose not to feel hunger.

    Sexual attraction as I was taught in zoology long ago, is basically down to chemistry.

    If sexual orientation is a matter of choice, then Mr Briggs you should have no difficulty controlling your body chemistry and choosing to be physically attracted to members of your own sex, say for a few days just for the sake of experiment, and reporting back how you managed it. Others might like to try.

    Mind you don’t get stuck.

  6. Ye Olde Statistician

    Legally, “silence means consent.” So if the ride says nothing, it has tacitly consented. I worry if the woman can sue carnival riders for alienation of affection and has a claim on half the ticket revenues.

    But everyone knows that marriage is all about self-celebration and the WOnderful Me-ness of Me. So obviously, anything goes so long as you can feel good about yourself. It’s not as though there is no precedent:

    Mrs. Eiffel: http://m-francis.livejournal.com/83149.html
    Mrs. Herself: http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2010/10/on-going-re-def-of-marriage.html
    Mr. Labrador: http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2010/12/on-going-collapse-of-modern-ages.html
    Mrs. Warehouse: http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2012/07/gay-marriage-advances.html

  7. Briggs

    John B,

    No, that doesn’t work. How can you tell, beyond self-report, a person’s “orientation”? Not genetically, not hormonally, etc. You must have some non-verbal, non-observation-of-behavior measure in mind if you say there is a difference in behavior and born-that-way attraction. Besides heterosexuality, what is it? There is plenty of evidence, on the other hand, that “orientation” could be developed via the environment.

    Update: Don’t forget we’re not terribly interested in homosexuality here, but in “orientations” towards fairground rides or the object YOS provided.

  8. William Sears

    There is a tendency to present a cartoon picture of genetics, which should be avoided. Most people have a picture of genetics as first introduced by Gregor Mendel where the genes (characteristics) were on separate chromosomes with little chance of interaction. This was an important first step but the field has advanced enormously since then. I would be very much surprised if anything involving human behavior was not influenced by a great number of genes, gene interactions, the epigenetic effect that you mention, as well as the hormonal environment of the womb. The effect of upbringing should not be considered the default explanation when no other is found. It needs evidence as well. Thus more than one twin example is needed.

    As to evolutionary advantage, or lack of same, you must consider the trial and error nature of evolution. A good example of this is the gene for sickle cell anemia. The reason that this disorder exists is because a single copy of the gene (allele) provides resistance to malaria whereas two copies produce anemia. There are many examples of this kind of trade off in genetics and I would be very much surprised if sexual behavior was not rife with them, for obvious reasons. The latter involving multiple genetic interactions.

  9. Luis

    No fair saying, “It’s illegal”. Same-sex “marriage” is illegal in many spots too, but lots of people are still for it. Why shouldn’t she be allowed to do as she pleases?

    Because roller coasters cannot sign the marriage contract. There. That was easy!

  10. Luis

    (Sander van der Wal, I didn’t mean to plagiarize!)

    Briggs said the ridiculous counter:

    Number two, if consent were all that were needed then you could marry a child if you could get it to say “Yes”, or even wed a dog as long as you could get it to bark.

    Mr Briggs is confused between a necessary condition and a sufficient one.

  11. Briggs


    No, signing is merely a matter of the law. We are discussing the state of matrimony, not matrimony as defined by the state.

  12. I am wondering if “consent” is required, what of arranged marriages? I suppose the lucky couple could refuse to marry or run off and avoid the marriage. However, there is evidence that “consent” may not be part of the marriage ritual in all cultures.

  13. Luis

    No, signing is merely a matter of the law. We are discussing the state of matrimony, not matrimony as defined by the state.

    Then it’s even easier. If she wants to say that she’s married to a roller coaster, then she has the right to do so under free speech. And that’s all she really can do anyways, so I really see here nothing more than fearmongering about some invisible slippery slope that does not exist.

    The implicit reasoning is atrociously bad. Gay marriages are now possible, therefore crazy women can declare themselves married to roller coasters, and the only possible conclusion we can have is that the world is DOOMED.

    Come on, get back to reality. The crazies are having an effect on you.

  14. David

    Isn’t requiring consent discriminatory in this instance? The requirement of consent in marriage law is not to protect the consenting partner, but the un-consenting (e.g. a child who doesn’t know what they are doing; or a bride being forced into marriage against her will). That purpose is not present for objects. “Marriage rights” as presented means that you have the right to be married without being limited by your sexuality. For this woman, her orientation makes it impossible for her to enjoy “marriage rights” if her partner must consent. We also know that the requirement of consent serves no purpose in this relationship. Thus, the only reason you would require “consent” in this case if because you disapprove of her sexual conduct, and we all know that we can’t impose our morality on others.

  15. Stephen J.

    How’s this for an argument:

    Ms. Wolfe consistently uses the word “him” to describe the machine in question. But machines are neither biological with an inherent sex, nor are they conscious with the capacity to determine their own gender as part of their experienced identity. Therefore Ms. Wolfe’s continued attribution of gender to the ride must be based either in her own inability to distinguish its presence or absence, which is proof of her mental incompetence and thus disqualifies her from entering into marriage, or in her refusal to accept the machine’s own asexuality and her insistence that the ride must violate its own identity to marry her, which is proof of unjust double standards and disqualifies their arrangement from being called “marriage”.

    Of course, all Ms. Wolfe needs to do is get into the habit of calling the ride “it” to avoid this, though I understand why she might be reluctant; but if she’s already redefined “marriage”, redefining “it” so it doesn’t include its historic reduction-of-person-to-object overtones shouldn’t be that hard.

  16. Andy


    edited: knock it off

  17. Chuck L

    She could marry a potted plant as far as I am concerned. Perhaps it is better that such people “marry” inanimate objects – they will not be able to reproduce, better for the gene pool…

  18. JH

    My Dear Mr. Briggs,

    I feel that I’d be insulting you if I have to point out the differences between same-sex marriage and human-roller coaster marriage… because surely you know the differences. Just as you know the differences between heterosexual marriage and human-roller coaster marriage, between heterosexual marriage and bestiality.

  19. Sander van der Wal


    Giving consent means answering “yes” on a very specific question. So it could be a nod, or a written message too.

    So a dog is out of the question. The child is also out of the question as a child is not yet an adult. Consenting adults can marry each other. As a dog or a ride cannot consent, there is no test needed for them being adults. A child can consent, so the test for being an adult is needed too.

  20. tom

    “We got to stop being the stupid party.”

  21. Ye Olde Statistician

    Germanic tribal law held that “the act makes the marriage.” That is, if a man and woman Did the Deed, they were married. The Roman/Christian tradition that “consent makes the marriage” was not universal. Likewise, in an arranged marriage consent was between the patriarchs of the two clans, not the two individuals.

    The age of consent was likewise a legal matter. Throughout most of history, it was 12 years old for women and 14 for men. In some times and places it was 25 years old, 21 years old, 18 years old. In Rome, it was never. So long as the paterfamilias was alive, his children needed his consent to enter a marriage.

    So, by the Usual Argument, this diversity of cultural practices negates the proposition that either consent or a particular age of consent is essential to the nature of marriage.

    Mr. Briggs asked for something in the nature of marriage that would bar objectum sexuals (qv) from marrying and celebrating their loves. Legal and customary bars are extrinsic to marriage, an imposition of the naked will of the State or Society; e.g., that a man may not marry unless he has served in battle, that a man must marry by the age of 30, that a man must marry a woman from the proper moiety, etc.

  22. If the marriage is consummated, that will give a whole new meaning to the phrase “machine screw.”

  23. David

    I want to try this. The marriage is morally wrong because she is paying for the relationship (she has to buy a ticket everytime they meet). It is akin to prostitution. As a side point, no long term relationship can come out of this since prostitution is by definition a short term thing. (I think I deserve some points for the effort).

  24. Michael

    I agree with your point- same-sex marriage can never be “marriage”, but we’ve got to have better arguments than this. Same-sex partnerships involve two humans able to consent to a legal contract, which is what marriage is as it concerns civil government. The fair ride is inanimate, and thus could never consent to the marriage contract. Again, I get and agree with the point, but this argument makes us look ridiculous.

  25. Ye Olde Statistician

    involve two humans able to consent to a legal contract, which is what marriage is as it concerns civil government.

    Then the private detective firm of Archer & Spade is a marriage?

    And what then becomes of common law marriage and “palimony,” since there is no contract?

    And why two?

  26. Michael

    I’m just saying as an attorney, just like every other legal contract, requires consent of both parties. I wasn’t saying gays can or should be able to get married, I was just saying you could never enter into a legal contract with a fairground ride, animal, or other object incapable of giving consent.

  27. Michael

    As for why limit it to two, that’s the traditional definition of marriage both anthropologically and legally (at least until liberals decide otherwise). That’s the problem with same-sex marriage -now that the media has abandoned the taboo, the polyamorist deviants are clamoring for “marriage” rights too

  28. Ye Olde Statistician

    What about a contract entered into by the ride’s pimp, I mean operator? This person would fill the role of parent or guardian, no?

  29. Michael

    Parents cannot give consent for minors to marry. Again, the example in the post makes no sense and certainly doesn’t further our argument for traditional marriage. I’m guessing its satire

  30. There is no argument against. She can marry her ride, for nearly the same reason I have twenty three legs; for what you benighted fools would call my fingers, toes and nose are actually legs.

  31. Rich

    “Once aboard the lugger and the lugger is mine!”

  32. JJ

    It’s not even a rollercoaster, you ninny. If you can’t even get a simple
    distinction like that correct, do you really expect me to read your entire spiel about the rights and wrongs of sexuality? ?

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