What Makes People Gay?

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Via Arts & Letters Daily comes this interesting Boston Globe story by Neil Swidey. In "What Makes People Gay?," Neil Swidey writes,

No matter how imperfect these studies are, when you put them all together and examine them closely, the message is clear: While post-birth development may well play a supporting role, the roots of homosexuality, at least in men, appear to be in place by the time a child is born. After spending years sifting through all the available data, British researchers Glenn Wilson and Qazi Rahman come to an even bolder conclusion in their forthcoming book Born Gay: The Psychobiology of Sex Orientation, in which they write: "Sexual orientation is something we are born with and not 'acquired' from our social environment."

Which is not to say environment doesn't play a role–it's just that it might be the environment in the womb that's decisive, as opposed to, say, your family upbringing.

Swidey also explains why the origins of sexual orientation matter in today's policy debates:

Proving people are born gay would give them wider social acceptance and better protection against discrimination, many gay rights advocates argue. In the last decade, as this "biological" argument has gained momentum, polls find Americans–especially young adults—increasingly tolerant of gays and lesbians. 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."

Swidey does note that some gay activists resist the "born gay" argument, on the grounds that it makes homosexuality akin to a disease or genetic abnormality. One thing is true: People on all sides of the issue will come up with whatever arguments are necessary to justify their views regarding sexual orientation. One other thing is true, too, I think: The large-scale social argument over stigmatizing homosexuality is over.

While anti-gay bias still exists, in less than a generation we've gone from a president of the United States assuring the public that his ballet-dancing son was "all man" to highly visible gays in virtually every aspect of public life. Indeed, the yardstick has yet to be invented that can measure the social advance covering the distance between female impersonator impersonator Bette Midler playing Broadway to female impersonator Mario Cantone doing the same.

Whole Boston Globe thing here.

One of the researchers mentioned in the story is Michael Bailey, whom Reason contributing editor Deirdre McCloskey trashed a few years back with regard to his work on transgendered people. That's online here.

And just a few months ago, Assistant Editor Julian Sanchez asked "Are We All Kinseyans Now?" in rejecting rigidly dualistic formulations of sexual orientation. More recently, he demonstrated that, regardless of any nature/nurture debates, adoptive gay parents provide caring families to foster kids. That's online here.

NEXT: Collateral Damage

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

    It won’t matter a bit to the hardcore bigots. I’ve never heard a Klansman argue that anyone chose to be black.

  2. It won’t matter a bit to the hardcore bigots. I’ve never heard a Klansman argue that anyone chose to be black.

    True, but so what? There are still plenty of hardcore racists out there, but society as a whole no longer accepts that. “Wider social acceptance and better protection against discrimination” is a good thing, even if that acceptance isn’t 100%

    And besides homophobes and real scientists (note, these are not related), is there anyone out there who doesn’t already believe homosexuality is biological?

  3. Stretch-

    But there are still plenty of people who oppose things like interracial marriage (even if they don’t approve of other forms of discrimination), and more to the point, there are plenty of people who oppose birth control even though they can’t afford to feed the kids they already have. It’s going to take more than scientific facts to make people get rid of their hang-ups regarding their sex lives (or other people’s sex lives, actually). Even if the innateness of homosexuality becomes impossible to argue, there will still be people who insist that sex should be for procreation only, and if you’re not getting laid with the intention of making a baby, you’re somehow cheating.

  4. Stretch-

    Or consider the fact that we know EXACTLY how AIDS is spread, and exactly how to prevent it from spreading further, and yet there are people who STILL oppose condom usage in places like Africa where the rates of infection can be over 50 percent. If people won’t give up their sexual hang-ups to prevent mass death, what makes you think they’ll give ’em up to merely end discrimination against The Different?

  5. I’m worried that a Nature explanation will be read by certain parties as something akin to bi polar disorder. I’m sure we could get federal funding to cure so terrible a genetic disorder.

    Sigh.

  6. “Some advocates of gay marriage argue that proving sexual orientation is inborn would make it easier to frame the debate as simply a matter of civil rights. That could be true, but then again, freedom of religion enjoyed federal protection long before inborn traits like race and sex.”

    A light bulb went off over my head when I read this. Why have LGBT advocates consistently equated their fight exclusively to the African-American and women’s civil rights battles? Why not try likening their “choice” to a choice of conscience as well? It might be an interesting strategy.

  7. I thought James Dobson had already set the record straight: Men become gay if they don’t shower with their dads.

  8. On this topic, I’ve always wondered what difference it makes.

    Even if being gay turns out to be 100% nuture and 0% nature, does that make discrimination against gays any more acceptable?

  9. IMHO, even it turns out to be 100% individual choice, just as some biggots claim, the discrimination is unjustified.

    My preference for unsweetened black coffee is 100% my choice, but that does not justify any discrimination against me. Not even if I try to “convert” America’s youth into unsweetened black coffee drinkers.

  10. Nick, this is not news, and it will change nothing in the debate over the morality of homosexual acts. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, for instance, published over a decade ago, acknowledged that homosexual orientation is not chosen, yet asserts that choosing to engage in homosexual activity — whatever one’s orientation — is nonetheless immoral.

  11. But J, your preference for bitter coffee threatens the sanctity of marriage.

    Lame joke. I know. But I’m saying that facts don’t get in the way of prejudice. Even if you think being gay is a choice, how does someone else’s choice threaten YOUR marriage? It doesn’t, yet there are people sufficiently freaked out about it to try and amend the damn Constitution to discuss weddings.

  12. Jennifer, I’m not disagreeing with you I just think it’s irrelevant. You’re absolutely correct that it won’t make the discrimination and irrationality disappear. There are some people you’ll never reach, but there are also many people who you will. Take your AIDS in Africa example. Yes, there are those who won’t support condom use for any reason, but there are also those who disagree with birth control but think using condoms is better than millions of people dying.

    Your argument seems to be that hatred and discrimination will never completely disappear. I agree, but just because you’ll never convince everybody doesn’t mean that convincing some people isn’t worthwhile.

  13. And, of course, anyone in the private sector should be able to discriminate however they please. They could even discriminate against libertarian Catholic males for all I care. The market will punish those who discriminate unwisely.

  14. crimethink

    Has the Church ever defined what constitutes homosexual activity? Would two guys frenching each other count?

  15. JMoore,

    You mean “freedoming” each other, right?

  16. What Makes People Gay?

    Beats the piss out of me.

    All I know is that since my hair started going gray & I put on a few tons I haven’t gotten nearly the amount of unwanted attention from gays that I used to get.

    So is that genetic or learned?

  17. Jennifer

    I can think of only one argument in favor of not expanding marriage to homosexual unions: it might drive up public spending by increasing the number of people who qualify for things like survivor benefits from social security. Of course, such spending programs are a separate issue.

    I still wonder why the bigotry exists at all. Homosexuality may be maladaptive, but a hateful response to homosexuality is economically maladaptive. I also wonder why the color blue looks blue… 🙂

  18. Or consider the fact that we know EXACTLY how AIDS is spread, and exactly how to prevent it from spreading further, and yet there are people who STILL oppose condom usage in places like Africa where the rates of infection can be over 50 percent.

    Because condom usage may encourage premarital sex, which could result in more AIDS. What we need to get everyone to do is practice abstinance by sending a strong consistent message that abstinance is the only 100% guaranteed way to prevent AIDS.

    It has not been conclusively proven that giving out protection does not encourage sex. Even if not giving them out results in death, it is still the moral thing to do in order to prevent people from using immoral birth control.

    This is what Bush thinks, we cannot argue with him, he is our president, period, end of discussion.

  19. I can think of only one argument in favor of not expanding marriage to homosexual unions

    I hate to channel Santorum here, since he’s an ass on so many other issues, but once we significantly alter the milennia-old definition of marriage because there’s “no reason not to,” we open up the door to all sorts of obviously non-marital relationships becoming “marriages.”

    Of course, the problem is that marriage, an institution based on lifetime commitment and inherent differences between the spouses, does not gel well with individual freedom and equality. When the law tries to satisfy both these ideals, it has to shortchange one set.

    The solution, of course, is to get govt out of the marriage business and transform it into a contract between individuals.

  20. Agreed, crimethink! Get govt out of marriage. It is fundamentally a contract and should be treated as such.

  21. but once we significantly alter the milennia-old definition of marriage because there’s “no reason not to,” we open up the door to all sorts of obviously non-marital relationships becoming “marriages.”

    The millenia-old definition of marriage treated women as property, and usually allowed men to have as many wives as they could afford to support. Arguing from tradition doesn’t even work here unless you first lie about what those traditions are.

    just because you’ll never convince everybody doesn’t mean that convincing some people isn’t worthwhile.

    No, but what I’m saying is that the people who would care about the genetic aspects of homosexuality are already non-bigoted against homosexuals. I suppor tthe increase of knowledge, of course; I’m just saying it won’t make a difference. We’ll just be preaching to the choir.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get caffeinated before a conference call. And I need to hurry, before people like JMoore go around threatening the sanctity of creamy sweetened coffee.

  22. “Not even if I try to ‘convert’ America’s youth into unsweetened black coffee drinkers.”

    You sick freak!

  23. I always like to point this essay as a rational argument for why Gay Marriage is not necessarily a slam dunk issue for libertarians.

    I personally don’t see any harm in allowing the majoritarian stance stating that marriage is only for heterosexuals, as long as homosexual couples are afforded the ability to enter into civil unions for purposes of shared benefits, spousal rights, and such.

  24. Jennifer,

    The definition of marriage being a relationship between a man and a woman is as old as marriage itself. Polygyny (or polyandry, for that matter) does not require a change to that definition, as the man in question is married to each of his wives separately — the wives are not married to each other.

    And in the days when a married woman was considered her husband’s property, an unmarried woman was considered her father’s property. Marriage had nothing to do with the low status of women in general.

  25. crimethink,
    If you actually did some research into marriage laws, you’d see that it has always been a contract between two or more persons with a social construct – much like marriage is right now in the US, a contract between two willing participants and the government.

    Marriage cannot exist as a mere contract between two individuals because there is no third social construct to enforce its mores upon those participants. All government has done is replaced the religious social construct – i.e. church, temple, etc. with itself. Even common law marriages cannot exist without the surrounding social structure accepting the arrangement.

    So the question you should be asking is whether you really want to destroy marriage by removing the social construct that it depends on to actually be a marriage.

  26. No, but what I’m saying is that the people who would care about the genetic aspects of homosexuality are already non-bigoted against homosexuals.

    Ay, there’s the rub. I disagree with that. I think there are plenty of people out there who are generally uncomfortable with gays who would accept that discrimination against homosexuality is wrong if it has a scientific, biological foundation. Discrimination against lifestyle choices is not only still accepted in our culture, but in some cases it’s encouraged, whereas discrimination against genetic attributes is not tolerated at all. It’s a huge distinction and one which I think will have an impact, far beyond the choir. I think perhaps you underestimate the amount of grey area that exists when it comes to attitudes about homosexuality.

  27. JMoore,

    How do you figure that your preference for unsweetened coffee is not biological. I mean, at some level it is inevitably biological. Now how much the fact that you prefer it unsweetened may have been learned, and how much you were genetically predisposed to learn to like it is a tough item to figure out.

    I didn’t read the whole article, but I am skeptical. I don’t that they have come close to any real science that shows homosexuality to be genetic. I think it has to be a mix of genetics and learned behavior.

    Or were all the ancient Greeks genetically different? Are all the Afghans so genetically different? Do people genes alter in prison?

  28. Polygyny (or polyandry, for that matter) does not require a change to that definition, as the man in question is married to each of his wives separately — the wives are not married to each other.

    But if they were, that would be totally hot.

  29. discrimination against genetic attributes is not tolerated at all

    That must account for all of the ugly people we see in advertisements. oh wait…

  30. metalgrid,

    Good point. But if all the terms of marriage were included in the contract (including exclusive sexual involvement), wouldn’t the courts be able to enforce it as a matter of general contract law?

  31. kwais

    I knew someone would call me on that. Yes, ultimately, all choices have a biological or physical origin. I was just trying to make the point that, even if in some distorted reality where choices totally unrelated to nature and/or nurture exist, why should the choice of one type of coffee justify discrimination? An extremely silly analogy, btw, which is arguably a false analogy; but I feel silly this morning.

  32. Swidey does note that some gay activists resist the “born gay” argument, on the grounds that it makes homosexuality akin to a disease or genetic abnormality.

    Also regarding Jason’s “Nature” comments in his earlier post…it’s already been read this way by some conservatives. I can’t remember who, but about 5 years ago I heard a conservative pol being interviewed about the subject of homosexuality being a learned trait or some genetic disorder (around the time they identified the gene in sheep that seemed to determine sexuality), and this pol actually seemed to prefer the latter, claiming “if it’s genetic, we can cure it” with a smile on his face.

  33. crimethink,
    I don’t know if you’re purposely missing the point, but when you reduce marriage to a contract, it ceases to be a marriage because of the absence of the social aspect of it. You are right in your inference that individuality and marriage do not particularly mix well – in fact they are mutually exclusive because of the requirement of the social construct for the existence of marriage as we have recognized it throughout history – mainly as a vehicle for the exchange of goods and power. Then again, you have instances of the indolent warriors in Japan who had nothing better to do during their peace time than write up contracts of fidelity to each other which is probably the closest thing to what you are getting at.

    MP,
    The article you linked to doesn’t quite have it’s facts correct in terms of historical data or in it’s appeal to tradition and uninteded consequences. There have been documented cases of homosexual marriage with the state presiding such as in Rome as well as with religious insitutions presiding – i.e. the Christian church. It doesn’t neccessarily answer the question of what the unintended consequences are, but I’d expect a little more intellectual honesty from someone who has no opinion on the matter 🙂

  34. The legal aspect of marriage is most definitely a contract; nothing less and nothing more.

    But anybody who thinks that the legal aspect is the only aspect of marriage has clearly never been married, or at least not in a healthy marriage.

  35. when you reduce marriage to a contract, it ceases to be a marriage because of the absence of the social aspect of it.

    The state <> society.

    Marriage would only be reduced to a contract from the state’s POV in my plan. From the POV of the spouses and their community it may be much more

  36. Yeah, what thoreau said. (My modem died while I was trying to post that last one…)

  37. That Jane, she’s a hoot.
    Jane, are you available for parties?

  38. Actually thoreau,

    The legal aspect is a bit more than a simple contract; there are protections and priveleges entailed by marriage that cannot be contracted for in any other way. Plus, there is that word “marriage” in the contract, which some gay activists thirst for as a sign of acceptance. For those people, civil unions will not be enough.

  39. If researchers can now answer this critical question, they can now turn to another – what makes certain people “fabulous” and others less so? Why do so many gay people seem to fall in former category? Researchers, America wants to know.


  40. The state society.
    Marriage would only be reduced to a contract from the state’s POV in my plan. From the POV of the spouses and their community it may be much more
    Comment by: crimethink at August 17, 2005 10:41 AM

    It unfortunately isn’t as cut and dry as this. There are so many entanglements between the two and across whatever lines we chose to draw, that you cannot extricate it without falling prey to unintended consequence.
    My view on the matter has evolved from the position of getting the state out of the marriage issue into one of giving the state only the responsibility of being a recordkeeper – similar to the role of the state in recording births and deaths – after all, the state cannot tell you whether you can be born or whether you cannot die, why should it tell you whether or whom you can form relationships with? This accomodates the state in its recordkeeping duties while allowing it to remain neutral in whether it endorses differing types of marriage.

    The priviledges it grants to those who marry is a form of endorsement of a particular type of marriage. If you end the priviledges, you end the tacit endorsement of one type over another.

    In all honesty, however, this libertarian argument is more about ‘destroying’ marriage than anything that religious extremists could accuse homosexuals of doing.

  41. So if sexual orientation is determined in the womb, what’s James Dobson’s stance on aborting gay babies?

  42. “What Makes People Gay?”

    Show tunes, you silly goose.

  43. mediageek,

    Probably the same as his stance on killing gay people.

  44. after all, the state cannot tell you whether you can be born or whether you cannot die,

    You sure about that?

  45. Slightly off the topic.

    I have heard that gays outnumber lesbians by 2 to 1 ratio. Has that been validated by some studies?

    madman

  46. That’s at the high end of the estimates for the gap, but yeah, most studies show significantly more gay men than lesbians.

  47. Is it murder to abort a homosexual fetus?

  48. “That’s at the high end of the estimates for the gap, but yeah, most studies show significantly more gay men than lesbians”

    Huh, now that is curios. I wonder why the difference?

  49. Would the National Organization for Women support a law against aborting children with the gay gene, when the motivation for the abortion is the very fact that the child has the gay gene?

    I suspect that NOW would oppose such a law strenuously. Their rhetoric would undoubtedly be full of indignation – “a deceptive attempt to attack freedom of choice,” “address the root causes of homophobia in our society,” etc. But the bottom line would be that, yes, they support the legal right to abort gay babies because they’re gay.

  50. Or were all the ancient Greeks genetically different? Are all the Afghans so genetically different? Do people genes alter in prison?

    The way I’ve heard it, the homosexuality we hear about in ancient Greece was really just a culturally-accepted situation where older boys or young men were allowed to “take advantage of” younger boys – as a sort of precursor to becoming a “real” man before finding a wife. In other words, it wasn’t homosexuality in the way we understand it today (as a “lifestyle”). As for prison homosexuality, that’s just a situation where a guy’s gotta get his rocks off, and the only way to do it is with other guys. Again, not exactly homosexuality.

  51. I suspect that NOW would oppose such a law strenuously.

    Do you currently have to give a reason to get an abortion?

  52. As for prison homosexuality, that’s just a situation where a guy’s gotta get his rocks off, and the only way to do it is with other guys. Again, not exactly homosexuality.

    I’ve heard it described as a power thing, too. The Alpha male establishing his place in the pecking order, or whatever.

  53. kwais-

    Here’s my totally speculative suggestion for why there’s a difference. But in order to put it forward, I need to put forward a few assumptions:

    1) Let’s start by assuming that genetics plays at least some part in a person’s sexual orientation. Doesn’t necessarily mean that the presence or absence of a gene guarantees a certain outcome, but at the very least it significantly increases the odds.

    2) Let’s just agree that any gene that predisposes a person toward homosexuality will probably disadvantage that person reproductively. Yes, sexuality exists along a continuum, there are people who primarily consider themselves on one side but occasionally try the other side or vice versa, so there will be people who are mostly gay but mate with the other sex and pass along their genes at some point. But despite all that, such a gene almost certainly reduces (at least somewhat) the odds of mating and passing on the gene.

    3) Over time, such a gene would be eliminated from the gene pool unless it also conferred some other advantage. e.g. People who possess only one copy of the gene are unlikely to be gay, but possess some other trait that is advantageous for survival. Maybe it’s a social trait that’s advantageous (pick your favorite stereotype and put a good spin on it), maybe it has something to do with the reproductive system or hormones, or maybe it’s something that seems totally unrelated. (e.g. People with the gene for sickle-cell anemia resist malaria, hence this genetic disease has thrived for millenia.)

    4) In ancient history, people tended to live and travel in small groups where most members were related, at least distantly. So you have to consider not just how a gene affects an individual, but how it affects a group. (We are, after all, social animals, in that our ancestors hunted in groups.)

    5) Reproductive success among men is highly variable: Some leave tons of offspring, others leave none. Among women, you’ll still find some who have tons of kids and some who have none, but most women are much closer to the average (historically). And women can’t have more than one kid per year (roughly), while men can mate all the time.

    OK, with all that out of the way, anything that makes a man less likely to reproduce is actually not such a big problem. If a tribe is carrying around a gene that makes a few of the men less likely to mate but confers some other advantage on those who carry only a single copy of it, some other guy will undoubtedly step in and impregnate females. Meanwhile, the gay guys will still be hunting for food, and their relatives will enjoy whatever benefits come from having a single copy of the gene. So a tribe can “compensate” for gay men not mating.

    But if a gene decreases female reproductive success that’s much more of a problem: Even if another woman mates with all the men that the lesbian is turning down, she won’t have any more kids as a result. A lesbian will still contribute to the tribe in other ways, and those who have a single copy of the gene will still reap some benefit, but nobody can step up to the plate and have the kids that she’s not having.

    I don’t want to sound like I’m disparaging gays for not having kids, or implying that the only reason they’re acceptable is that their genes might confer some other advantage. But natural selection can be brutal: Those who mate less frequently don’t pass on their genes, so the only way their genes will persist is if their relatives are benefiting in some way. It’s cruel, but that’s evolution for you.

    Of course, all of this could be totally wrong. But it’s my best guess.

  54. Probably the same as his stance on killing gay people.

    So what is it? Firing squad, hanging, hung-drawn-and-quarterd, or stoned “like tha good ole’ book sayz?”

  55. I think we can all agree that the bulk of the responsibility here lies with Spider-Man.

  56. thoreau: I came up with a similar theory once BSing with a friend about why there’s a perception that women are more likely to be in the middle of the Kinsey scale, while men seem to be more likely found at the extremes. (I expect that either the premise is false or, if it is true, that the explanation is mostly cultural, but I had a just-so story about how female sexual flexibility might be a response to fluctuating population growth horizons, since it’s female fertility more than male that limits the growth rate.) The problem was, it’s a group phenomenon that would seem to rely on some kind of group selection–it’s not going to fly unless you can specify the mechanism.

    Rhywun: Yes and no. Yes, the erastes/eromenos relationship didn’t correspond that closely to the contemporary model of homosexuality. But there were very clearly men who exclusively partnered with other men rather than settling down and marrying eventually, as most did-and there are a few classical dialogues you can dig up between “partisans” of male-male love and male-female love about which is better.

  57. I’m surprised no one mentioned one very likely cause of the disparity between number of lesbians and number of gay men: these numbers are dependent on self-reporting.

  58. That’s at the high end of the estimates for the gap, but yeah, most studies show significantly more gay men than lesbians

    Where do bisexuals fit into this? I know a lot more women who have had sex with other women (non exclusively) than I know men who have sex with other men (non exclusively).

    Are there more gay men, but more bisexual women (than bisexual men)?

    Also, if being gay is genetic, is bisexuality genetic too?

  59. Jennifer: Arguing from tradition doesn’t even work here unless you first lie about what those traditions are.

    But the most common definition of tradition is, “The way my mother and father did it while I was growing up is the way everyone has always done it.”

    The huge problem fundamentalists have with the theory that people are gay at birth is the obvious next step: How can you believe God hates gays when He made them that way?

  60. What Makes People Gay?

    Beats the piss out of me.

    Please leave your fetishes out of this…

  61. Frankly, the causes of sexual orientation are irrelevant to the morality of actual sex acts. The causes of homosexuality are almost certainly identical in type to the causes of sexual orientation in general. For example, it seems highly unlikely that people choose to be pedophiles. One could argue that this implies that being sexually attracted to children is involuntary and therefore morally neutral – but that does not imply that we need to sanction actual pedophilic sex. So even if we agree that people are “born” gay (or not) we would be no closer to determining the morality of engaging in homosexual sex.

    Of course, a classical liberal or a libertarian should have no trouble finding reasons to sanction homosexual sex that are wholely independent of the origins of sexual desire.

  62. But if a gene decreases female reproductive success that’s much more of a problem: Even if another woman mates with all the men that the lesbian is turning down, she won’t have any more kids as a result. A lesbian will still contribute to the tribe in other ways, and those who have a single copy of the gene will still reap some benefit, but nobody can step up to the plate and have the kids that she’s not having.

    Thoreau–

    The problem with your theory is that for the overwhelming majority of history, the woman’s sexual preference didn’t matter–her husband was chosen by family or society, and whether or not she was attracted to him wasn’t an issue. A lesbian today doesn’t have to marry; that wasn’t true before.

    Florence King once speculated that the reason homophobic societies tended to be more tolerant of lesbianism that male homosexuality is that male homosexuality could be viewed as MORE of a threat to the species–a woman doesn’t have to feel any sexual attraction to play her role in the reproductive process, whereas a man can’t become a father if he can’t get it up. (She was far less vulgar in her description, but I’m tired and haven’t had my coffee yet.) Basically, a woman can be totally passive (or even asleep) during sex and still reproduce, but a man has to be a bit more proactive.

  63. T.W.L.:
    Frankly, the causes of sexual orientation are irrelevant to the morality of actual sex acts.

    Well, no. If homoerotic orientation is a disease or disability, then some will make a case that it needs to be cured or prevented and those afflicted kept from infecting others. If it’s a voluntary bad lifestyle choice then those who are too weak to resist should be “helped” for their own good. And so the argument goes.

    The causes of homosexuality are almost certainly identical in type to the causes of sexual orientation in general. For example, it seems highly unlikely that people choose to be pedophiles. One could argue that this implies that being sexually attracted to children is involuntary and therefore morally neutral – but that does not imply that we need to sanction actual pedophilic sex.

    The difference between homosexuality and pedophilia is victimization. We should sanction pedophiles not because they prefer children, but because they harm children. Just like we sanction heterosexual rapists.

    So even if we agree that people are “born” gay (or not) we would be no closer to determining the morality of engaging in homosexual sex.

    Of course we are. The proper libertarian response to any question of “morality” should be to presume an act is moral until there is evidence to the contrary. (IMO that’s also the proper Christian response as well, but I don’t have time this morning to flog that horse.) Therefore if people are naturally born homosexual and chose to engage in voluntary activities with others of that persuasion, then the only people with anything to say are the busybodies that want to run everyone’s lives.

    Correction: Run everyone else’s life. I continue to be amused by those who preach that gays should be persecuted because “the Bible says it’s a sin,” but who are divorced and living with their subsequent serial spouse. According to literal Scripture that’s adultery; a violation of one of the Big Ten.

    Jennifer, IMHO the reason lesbianism has been more widely tolerated in most societies is because men were in charge, and they like to watch.

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