For the last two weeks, much of the media focus has been on same-sex marriage, especially since President Obama completed his so-called “evolution” on the issue. This led to some pretty heated debates on cable news pitting pro-gay marriage pundits against conservative Christian leaders. And whether it was Rep. Barney Frank versus Tony Perkins, or Piers Morgan versus Bill Donohue, the socially conservative pundit’s point usually boiled down to this: We cannot take seriously any gay rights issues because homosexuality is a choice.
That’s just wrong. Talk to any gay person who remembers (let’s just clear it up now: I’m not gay), as far back as they can remember, feeling attracted to the same sex. There was no moment where they suddenly thought “Ah! Homosexuality suits my needs. I shall wander over to the dark side!” No. They were born that way. It’s genetic.
Regardless, you are completely entitled to believe it’s a choice. But I ask one thing: Please stop using it as a reason for wanting government to prevent homosexuals from doing a variety of things, including marriage.
Some egregious examples from the past week:
Catholic leader Bill Donohue told Piers Morgan that government should discriminate against alternative lifestyles (read: choices), including not just homosexual relationships but also any lifestyle that deviates from the “normal” heterosexual marriage:
I want the law to discriminate against straight people who live together — I used to call it “shacking up,” but now it’s called cohabitation. I want the law to discriminate against all alternative lifestyles, against gays and unions. I want to promote and to put in a privileged position that institution of marriage between a man and a woman.
Donohue isn’t necessarily saying he wants government to use force against against such “alternative lifestyles,” but he sure does imply it. And this isn’t some fringe sentiment either. According to a Gallup poll, an alarming 31% of Americans still think homosexual relations should not be legal. This means sodomy laws and other restrictions on behavior. Those same people see homosexuality as a sinful choice, and so it is therefore subject to government’s controls. As Virginia’s U.S. Senate candidate Robert Marshall said today: “Sodomy is not a civil right.”
In his fight over gay marriage with Congressman Frank, Family Research Council head Tony Perkins kept insisting that homosexuality is a result of environmental factors as well as parenting choices. Perkins honestly believes his children will never “choose” the gay path because he has taught them “appropriate” behavior according to the Bible.
Why the homosexuality-as-choice question has any place in a discussion about government preventing homosexuals from marrying is beyond me. It does fall in line, however, with the conservative impulse to legislate against other “sinful choices” they don’t approve of: gambling, drug use, prostitution.
I argue that government shouldn’t be involved in marriage at all — matters like divorce, hospital visitations, etc. can easily be handled through private arbitration and pre-fab contracts. Government originally got involved in marriage in order to prevent interracial weddings. But outside of that, marriage has always been a private religious matter. Your views on whether homosexuality is a “sinful choice” does not make it fair game for government to discriminate or legislate against it.
The bottom line is this: Let’s just for one second assume Perkins is right that homosexuality is a choice. Even then, why should we care? Relationships — hetero and homosexual — involve something called consenting adults. Why do we care what consenting adults do? If they are in love, they are in love. Personal choice is personal choice.
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