Tuesday, August 16, 2005

What Every Homosexual Already Knows

I saw this article yesterday in the Boston Globe concerning the question of why certain people are homosexual and what the causes of homosexuality are exactly.

From the article, concerning two identical twin boys:

"What makes the case of Patrick and Thomas so fascinating is that it calls into question both of the dominant theories in the long-running debate over what makes people gay: nature or nurture, genes or learned behavior. As identical twins, Patrick and Thomas began as genetic clones. From the moment they came out of their mother's womb, their environment was about as close to identical as possible - being fed, changed, and plopped into their car seats the same way, having similar relationships with the same nurturing father and mother. Yet before either boy could talk, one showed highly feminine traits while the other appeared to be "all boy," as the moms at the playgrounds say with apologetic shrugs."

Why is this important?

"Proving people are born gay would give them wider social acceptance and better protection against discrimination, many gay rights advocates argue."

But, here's the caveat:

"And that's exactly what has groups opposed to homosexuality so concerned. The Family Research Council, a conservative Christian think tank in Washington, D.C., argues in its book Getting It Straight that finding people are born gay 'would advance the idea that sexual orientation is an innate characteristic, like race; that homosexuals, like African-Americans, should be legally protected against 'discrimination;' and that disapproval of homosexuality should be as socially stigmatized as racism. However, it is not true.'"

The issue here, as I see it, is two fold:

First, there is a sizeable chunk of the Conservative Christian community in the United States that is never going to be accepting of homosexuality, regardless of how much scientific proof is presented. I have copies of articles from various scientific journals, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, that clearly show homosexuality has no negative effects on relationship stability or the welfare of children. In fact, a study released in 2001 by the AAP shows that children having homosexual parents:

"...fare as well in emotional, cognitive, social, and sexual functioning as do children whose parents are heterosexual. Children's optimal development seems to be influenced more by the nature of the relationships and interactions within the family unit than by the particular structural form it takes." (2002 American academy of Pediatrics, Technical Report: Coparent or Second-Parent Adoption by Same-Sex Parents.)

Clearly, Conservative Christian organizations like the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family, are not going to relax their stance on homosexuality in the face of scientific evidence. After all, their belief in the "wrongness" of homosexuality is rooted in faith not in science; in the Bible (though likely mistranslated and misunderstood) than in any medical journal. Moreover, any proof of biology will just shift the sin from "homosexuality" to "homosexual behavior". Thus, any debate with them on the cultural effects of homosexuality is likely to be labeled "moral relativism" and ignored.

The second issue I have with the "naturalness" of homosexuality is that, from a cultural, moral and legal perspective, it should not matter whether homosexuality is inborn or learned behavior. It's really not relevant to the argument. Homosexuals should have the same rights to marry, have children and pursue happiness as heterosexuals regardless of why they are homosexual. Whether by choice or by birth, homosexuals in this country are created just as equal as heterosexuals and our laws should reflect that.

(More on this at AMERICAblog)


Gifted-1 said...

Wonderful commentary! We should all share in the freedoms that come with being Americans... regardless of sexual preference!

I firmly stand by 'Marriage for all'! Who would it possibly hurt? Why can't we just get our heads out of our ass, like Canada?

Alesha ~ 'Straight but not Narrow'

Samurai Sam said...

That actually begs the point, which I didn't make, that in what way does gay marriage actually affect existing marriages? Also, this whole conservative ideal of the "traditional" iteration of marriage is horseshit, to be frank. Marriage was originally used as a method of property transferral throughout most of European history. It was never tied to child-rearing either. Just more historical revisionism by the Right.

PoppieProng said...

I've always thought that the idea of homosexuality as being somehow innate is something of a non-starter. I think this because it opens the discussion to designer genetics, commentary such as "it's not his fault; he was born gay" (as if there is "fault" in being gay), and, as you say, it doesn't matter what science says. if fundamentalists are quite happy to say that dinosaur fossils are god's little tricks, they aren't going to care what some journal says is the case.
homosexuality is what it is, whether it is innate or a choice, and to punish people for it is quite reprehensible.

PoppieProng said...

Marriage was originally used as a method of property transferral throughout most of European history. It was never tied to child-rearing either. Just more historical revisionism by the Right.

Indeed. It was also a method of collecting money from the locals. I had a history professor at UT who delighted in telling the story of how the Catholic Church forced people, who were using the steps of the local churches to publicize their ad hoc marriages, to start paying for the privilege, which of course turned into a requirement that only church-sanctioned marriages were legitimate.

Samurai Sam said...

It was also a method of collecting money from the locals.

It's all about the money, in the end. It's the same reasoning behind requiring celebacy in priest: it was so they couldn't pass church property on to their family members. Some folks on the religious right could really use to crack open a history book (besides the Bible) occasionally.

Kykur said...

To be honest, there really is not enough substantial evidence to refute either claim. Unfortunately, the battle will continue to rage on, taking casualties along the way. The information by AAP is yet another example of this. While it boast of what appears a step in the right direction, it still draws on assumptions that are made far too early and are not clearly exclusive. Caution, however, should be exercised with this subject matter altogether though. The Conservative right may possess a large Christian backing, but lumping the two together marginalizes certain parties, which, invariably creates new enemies and solidifies opposition before dialogue can be established. Another example would be arguing that homosexuality is a product of the environment because of those individuals whom choose to live that life for a period of time before return back to a heterosexual lifestyle. Arguing that as a caviat only marginalizes those who do not fit with in certain parameters, causing increased tensions.

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Anna said...

Samurai, you had it right when you said "It's all about the money, in the end." Now that gays can legally marry in Canada (which I applaud), there are a couple of heterosexual guys back east who are going to tie the knot for tax purposes! Too funny.

Great entry - I really enjoy your blog.

Samurai Sam said...

Thanks anna!

Gillian said...

Hey, Sam! Great blog! Many thought-provoking entries!
In regard to this one, remember this is a capitalist country, why would it not be about money?
Aside from that, I've yet to understand why there needs to be such a discussion as to nature versus nurture or biology versus preference. We are all people afterall and we are more alike that we are diffent. We just want to live our lives in peace, be happy, and provide for our families. Does it really matter the gender of my mate/partner/husband/wife?
There is an underlying emotion to the intensity of the topic and that is fear. What I can't determine is just what are "they" afraid of?

Samurai Sam said...

Thanks gillian!

Sadly, "they" are afraid of the same old thing people have always been afraid of: change, and the unknown. They are doing what Conservatives do: dig in their heels against change. Sadly, they seem to have lost the ability to differentiate good change from bad (even there even is such a thing as "bad change").