Sunday, November 09, 2008

Justifying the No Vote

Since Tuesday, I've heard quite a few people defend their choice to vote in favor of Proposition 8 both in person and in the media, and a theme seems to be emerging. People that otherwise believe that minority groups should receive equal rights, seem to have a difficult time applying this concept to gays. They reason that people are born to a particular race, but that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice. The color of one's skin is a genetic twist of fate that is thrust upon an unfortunate percentage of our population through no wrongdoing on their part, whilst gay people choose to swim against the tide of human conformity to be with their own sex. These same people often argue that homosexuality is unnatural. After all, why would God (or Mother Nature if you prefer) have made pregnancy and the continuation of the human species the outcome of the coupling of male and female if he intended us to mate with our own gender?

I'll confess that when I started college, I was one of those people that just didn't understand why anyone would want to be gay. After all, who would chose to be the subject of jokes and discrimination? I didn't know any gay people and thought of them as well, queer. I remember realizing with horror that I had worn jeans to school on "Gay Bluejeans Day" at UCSD. What if someone had mistaken ME for one of THEM! Growing up in ultraconservative La Jolla obviously didn't expose me to much diversity. My attitude began to change when a panel of gay and lesbian students spent an hour conducting a question and answer session as part of a psychology class in which I was enrolled. As we filed into the lecture hall, a series of questions was written on the blackboard.

Why did you chose to be a heterosexual?
How old were you when you decided to be heterosexual?
Would sleeping with someone of your own sex maybe change your mind about being heterosexual?
Why do you like the opposite sex more than the same sex?

Flipping the question around was enough to at least allow me to consider that homosexuality wasn't a choice.

Studies have shown that if one identical twin is homosexual the other twin is more likely to be homosexual, but when one fraternal twin is gay the likelihood of the other twin being homosexual is the same as when two non-twin siblings are compared. This suggests that genetics rather than environment has some roll in determining sexual orientation. Exposure to prenatal hormones is also thought to influence sexual orientation. There is also some evidence that the youngest sibling in a family of multiple male children may be more likely to be homosexual. The point is, that homosexuality appears to be much less a conscious choice than it is the result of a complicated interaction between the environment and genetic predisposition.

If homosexuality is aberrant or dysfunctional, why does it persist? Why hasn't natural selection eliminated this trait and further why does it occur even in non-human animals? This article explains a couple of theories on how different forms of a gene could confer a reproductive advantage for the gay individual or a close relative, thus causing the gene to persist. What about gay animals? Do they exist outside of South Park (Super! Thanks for asking!)? In fact, according to this article, homosexuality has been documented in "over 450 different vertebrate species", including the male bighorn sheep. This sounds like a case of Brokeback Mutton to me.

So, if homosexuality is not truly a lifestyle choice, shouldn't civil rights legislation be extended to gays for the same reasons that it is extended to women and minority groups? Maybe the religious right would feel more at ease with legislation allowing gay marriage if they could begin to understand that homosexuality is really part of God's big plan for all of us. Along with Adam and Eve, he really did create Adam and Steve. Do you think they'll buy it?


Anonymous said...

There are those who don't believe the truth because they choose not to believe. No rational argument, no amount of scientific evidence will ever convince them.
Take global warming, (perhaps catastrophic climate change would be a better name) for example. How much more evidence do we need ?

I For One..... said...

You must be referring to still president George W. Bush. Something tells me HE would have voted yes on 8, had he the chance to vote in California.