I wrote a piece on dailykos a few days ago, and figured I'd post it here too. I'm interested in people's reaction, but also just want to keep it somewhere easy to find. One guy on dKos went ballistic on me and told me I was undercutting the whole gay rights movement! Oy. Anyway, here it is, in a slightly edited form.
Choosing Gay or Choosing God
In his diary earlier today [user] ranted eloquently about [gay issues]. I found his diary spoke to me, and it's something I might have written myself at one point or another. But within just a few comments the dialog settled into that standard discussion of whether being gay is a choice, as if the matter of choice would settle how to deal with the homosexual issue.
Choice is the biggest red herring in the whole debate about gay rights. It doesn't matter if being gay is a choice or not!
Let's say for a moment that you can choose your sexual orientation. You're fed up with trying to understand the opposite sex, can't figure out how to give your date an orgasm, and want a partner with a wardrobe you can share. Looks like it's time to go gay. So you call the Fab Five to do a makeover on you and next thing you know you are gayer than Elton John's hairdresser.
Does this mean you are not entitled to the same rights as all those people who chose not to be gay?
In the United States of America, our Constitution and laws provide generous and appropriate protections for all sorts of choices. Religious freedom is one such thing. So is political affiliation. This list goes on, but I won't. Let's look at religion as an example.
Contrary to the apparent popular belief, religion is not genetic. There is nothing about you that is innately predisposed to a particular faith. While most people tend to follow the religion of their parents, that is no more genetic than the fact they also speak the same language. It's just what they learned growing up. But at some point in their lives, many people choose to follow different religions than the ones they grew up with. Even those that don't change can be considered to have chosen their religion; in the words of the band Rush, "if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." Certainly in our society, all people are aware of other religions, and not straying from the faith of their upbringing sometimes takes a great deal of will. Ask any Jew how hard it is to stay Jewish in the midst of a predominately Christian culture.
I don't want to get hung up on religion always being a choice, however. Let's just say sometimes
it is a choice and leave it at that.
In our country, your choice of religion is protected. The state can't tell you what religion to follow, or prevent you from following the religion of your choice. It can't prohibit or censor your religious texts, arrest you for attending worship, or close down your church as aberrant. You can't be institutionalized for believing in the wrong god, subjected to electroshock therapy to show you the light, or forced to take drugs to correct your mistaken spirituality.
You love your God and I love mine, each in our own way. We are blessed enough to live in a land where our choices are protected.
Why then is our choice of the humans we love not protected in the same way?
Somehow over the last 20 years, the debate over gay rights has been polluted by the issue of whether being gay is a choice. Research in genetics suggests there is a connection between genetics and sexual orientation. Statistical analysis of the sexual orientation of twins, genetic mapping, studies of animals that exhibit homosexual behavior - all of these things indicate that being gay is as natural as being left-handed. I think it is wonderful that this information is coming to light, but really, our rights should not hinge on whether being gay is natural.
A brief sidebar: Personally, I don't think I ever chose to be gay. If you're straight, when did you choose to be that way? I spent many years of my youth wishing I'd had the easy option of being straight. Now, being gay is such a fundamental part of who I am that I can't imagine choosing to be straight.
I say, let's end this whole matter of our rights depending on whether being gay is a choice. Genetic or chosen, sexual orientation is a fundamental part of who someone is. I'd say it is even more fundamental than religion or political affiliation (ex-gay Christians and Log Cabin Republicans notwithstanding). If our Constitution, laws and traditions provide protection for choices of religion and political affiliation, sexual orientation should be protected whether it is a choice or not.