There was an elephant in the San Francisco courtroom where lawyers contested the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the California law that prohibits the marriage of same-sex couples. One key issue should influence every aspect of the Perry vs. Schwarzenegger proceedings yet remained unspoken: What makes people gay? Is it a choice or is it innate?So why does this matter?
....the empirical evidence for the role of genetics in human sexual orientation has been quietly but steadily mounting over the last 15 years. ....The results unambiguously demonstrate that heritability plays a major role in sexual orientation and far outweighs shared environmental factors such as education or parenting.
...critics of sexual orientation inheritance are fond of pointing out that there is no single identified "gay gene." However, they fail to mention that the same is true for height, skin color, handedness, frequency of heart disease and many other traits that have a large inherited component but no dominant gene. In other words, sexual orientation is complex, i.e., many genes contribute...
Biology cannot be avoided in determining whether fundamental rights are protected under the equal protection clause of our Constitution. This is because "immutability" is one of the factors that determine the level of scrutiny applied to possible violations and that determine whether gays are awarded "suspect class" status, which would give them more constitutional protection. Heritability is not necessary for immutability or suspect class status (religion is the usual counter-example), but it should be sufficient; we do not choose our genes, nor can we change them.,,,polling data [shows] that people who believe that gays are "born that way" are generally supportive of full equality, whereas those who believe it is "a choice" are opposed.In the Advocate, a commentator pushes this further, and challenges the political decision not to bring this up strongly in the advocacy for marriage rights.
Eighty percent of voters who believe people are born homosexual vote yes on gay rights. Our strategists intentionally ignore this. Economists call this opportunity cost: what we could and should be doing strategically instead of what we are. It is shocking to realize it, but the “empathy” and “letting people hear our stories” ads that Garden State Equality and the Empire State Pride Agenda use our money to run are, in their political opportunity cost, just as toxic to us as the ads run by Schubert Flint and the National Organization for Marriage. We're being killed by friendly fire because our own people dislike the fact that Bob Schieffer’s question, "Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?" moves voters. So they don’t ask it.Okay, but why ignore it? The commentator provocatively suggests,
Homosexuality is inborn. The problem is that this contradicts liberal ideology. The leaders of the gay rights movement are (logically) almost all liberals, and so viscerally opposed to the idea that behavioral traits are innate. Yet those 25 percentage points we get from making voters understand that homosexuality is innate are exactly what will make us win. Result: We've got a serious problem here.A deliberate decision, he suggests, for political or ideological reasons. He goes further,
What we are doing wrong is simple. We’re failing the Schieffer test. We’re refusing to answer the only question America is asking us. This is political suicide. In an interview with Rex Wockner six weeks before voting day in Maine, Jesse Connolly, No on 1’s campaign manager, dismissed the other side’s strategy: "These are the same old doomsday tactics that opponents of equality have been using ... in every state."So how would the mantle of biology help counter the arguments used against us? (Used, we must remember over and over again with considerable success).
In an e-mail to Connolly, Wockner observed, "And those tactics worked in every state."
Connolly: "Question 1 is only about fairness and equality."
Wockner: "'Fairness' and 'equality' are lovely words and beautiful high-minded concepts. But they were beyond useless ... " Wockner.... made the cool, ballot-box-math, matter-of-fact observation: "They like us better if we're born gay." And they just do.
Schools can't "teach" homosexuality any more than they can "teach" handedness. (Although they can teach understanding and acceptance.) Teachers can't "promote" innate traits like being black or female, and if your TV spots claim they can, it reveals antigay forces to be the idiots that they are.SO, time for a big change. I am glad to see this brought up--and it's critical to the argument in the Prop8 case. It is well past time to explain that for most gay people, it's not a choice. We aren't a pathology. It's who we are. So stop making such a big deal of it, give us our dam' rights, and let us work together on things that really matter.
Are you listening, Rick Jacobs? Are you listening, Geoff Kors? Are you listening, Jesse Connelly? Are you listening, HRC, EQCA, Courage Campaign?
What are you going to do about it?