Truth Wins Out is unique among LGBT non-profit organizations because we allow for dissenting views among our writers — at least in our blog section. We live in a democracy with freedom of speech so we strive to allow an array of opinions and ideas because critical thinking is key to personal, emotional and psychological growth. By stirring debate we allow thinking people to explore and ultimately understand the controversial and sometimes uncomfortable issues of religion, sexuality, and politics that Truth Wins Out touches on each day.
Which brings us to the main point: I disagree with Bruce Garrett in his TWO blog post today “Choice: Six of One, Half Dozen of the Other.”
In his column Garrett states that James Hormel is wrong in his assessment that, “The number one problem today as I see it is that people think that being gay is a matter of choice, and they somehow distinguish gay people as having made a choice to be tormented by their society.”
I happen to agree wholeheartedly with James Hormel. The “choice” question is by far the most important of all and a harbinger of whether we are accepted or rejected. A November 2004 Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates poll shows that 79 percent of people who think homosexuality is inborn support civil unions or marriage equality. Among those who believe sexual orientation is a choice, only 22 percent support civil unions or marriage rights. Every single poll on the nature vs. nurture debate yields the same results.
The religious right gets this. Why do you think they have invested millions of dollars to trick Americans into thinking one can “pray away the gay?” They know their “ex-gay” programs are nonsense. Yet they read the polls and understand that if they can convince voters that homosexuality is a frivolous sexual act that can be discouraged or reversed — they will go into the voting booth and vote against our equality. Equally important, the right wing wants to portray homosexuality a “choice” so they can keep GSA’s and anti-bulling measures out of schools. If homosexuality can be taught, they say in their convoluted propaganda, why should it be “promoted” in schools? Indeed, they can even make a case in favor of bullying by saying that whipping potential gay lads into shape is actually good for them in the long run and healthy for society.
However, if sexuality is not a choice, (It isn’t) than obviously LGBT kids can’t be recruited, encouraged, taught or influenced in their orientation (all true).
Garrett makes a solid point when he writes:
Look…nobody questions the fact that race isn’t a choice and that has never made racists question their racism as far as I can tell. Hell…they have their own junk science industry proving that blacks are genetically inferior so prejudice against them is morally justified.
The difference, however, is that black children are not born into families with two white parents. Thus, it is easy to still hate people from another race and stigmatize and discriminate against them. Meanwhile, LGBT children are born into every type of home — conservative, liberal, rich, poor, black, white Latino, etc. When we come out to friends and family members they earnestly want to know “how we became gay, bi, or trans.” If the answer is that it is simply who we are — not a choice — acceptance often follows. However, if the answer is, “I chose to be gay” — well, don’t be surprised if they try to help you “unchoose” by suggesting an “ex-gay” minister or an exorcist or a shrink. That’s just well-meaning, but ignorant and misguided people, trying to “help” a friend or family member.
I fully agree that in a free country it shouldn’t matter if sexual orientation is a choice or it isn’t. It certainly isn’t the governments place to decide how two consenting adults live their lives. However, in the real world it matters a whole hell of a lot. Every poll ever conducted on this matter backs up my point. It also happens to be true that sexual orientation is not a choice. Sure, bisexuals have the option to choose a male or female partner — but the fact they are attracted to and love members of both sexes isn’t a choice. So, why play fast and loose with the facts and assist our enemies in the process? Why not simply and honestly state the truth about our orientation?
I fully agree with Garrett on one matter:
The reason some people are homosexual does not matter to bigots. They just hate us. That hate is what comes first. The justification for it comes later, and takes whatever shape the bigot needs it to have to justify that preexisting hate.
He is entirely correct — the true bigots cynically exploit the choice issue for political gain. These fundamentalists only care about what their stunted and backward interpretation of the Bible says, not about science or biology. Indeed, the issue was addressed by Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:
“If a biological basis is found, and if a prenatal test is then developed, and if a successful treatment to reverse the sexual orientation to heterosexual is ever developed, we would support its use as we should unapologetically support the use of any appropriate means to avoid sexual temptation and the inevitable effects of sin.”In an interview Tuesday (March 6), Mohler said he was referring to a possible hormonal treatment and not arguing for genetic therapy. He said he would also support other hormonal modifications. “If we found out there was a prenatal test to show that a baby would have poor eyesight but a hormonal treatment … would restore full eyesight, what parent would not use that?” he asked. “That’s not genetic treatment. We do want healthy babies.”
“In the end, the scientific evidence is not morally important, though it may be medically useful. The church’s witness to the biblical condemnation of homosexuality as sin is a crucial test of faithfulness, no matter where the biological research may lead. The church must take its stand on the Word of God, and leave the genes to the geneticists.”
Obviously, LGBT people do not fit into Mohler’s religious fantasy or his creation storyline — so we have no right to exist, and if we exist we must remain marginalized and invisible. If science finds a way to identify us in the womb, we will likely be targeted for extinction by allegedly “pro-life” individuals. They will probably justify their actions by leaning on their superstitions belief that homosexuality is caused by demons. In their twisted and perverse minds this will allow them to rationalize that they are destroying an evil demon, not a genuine human life. Rest assured they will devise a gay exception to their abortion rules the moment science makes this scenario possible.
While we will not move much of the religious right, the “choice” issue still resonates with and moves the vast majority of people towards acceptance. This idea is best articulated by Lady Gaga when she sings her hit “Born this Way.”
1) James Hormel was right — the choice issue is key (Hormel’s got a new book!)
2) In a free country it shouldn’t matter — but polls say it actually does
3) Religious zealots hate us no matter what the science reveals (they aren’t fans of research)
4) Learning that sexual orientation isn’t a choice moves mainstream Americans towards acceptance
Bruce Garrett started a healthy debate on this site. I’d love to know what our readers have to say about this vital issue. Please let us know your thoughts.