31 May 2006

Gay Rights For the Reality Based

Al Knight has an opinion piece in which he argues against a gay rights proposal that will be on the ballot this year backed by Coloradans for Fairness and Equality. In it, he criticizes one of their TV ads for saying that you are born gay.

One ad shows a fetching photo of an infant who, the ad announces, is deprived of a whole series of rights simply because he was "born gay." This claim ignores a large body of evidence suggesting that homosexuality is not merely a genetic issue.

Sorry Al. You are the one whose science is out to lunch. As noted previously at this blog, sexual orientation has a very substantial component that is present, if not genetically, at least, at birth.

"[T]he roots of homosexuality, at least in men, appear to be in place by the time a child is born." Two to four percent of men are born gay. It is probably partially genetic, but as there are gay-straight identical twin pairs, this isn't the whole story. It probably has some component of events that take place in the womb, probably early in a pregancy. Maybe it involves hormone exposure, maybe a virus, maybe something else.

Contrary to Knight's claim, there is no strong scientific evidence that suggests otherwise. If he knows this, he is himself misrepresenting the situation, by omission with the weasel words "genetic" when the claim itself is that you are born gay. If he doesn't, than he is more one bigot basing his main claim on ignorance.

Knight then goes on at some length to argue that domestic partnerships are unnecessary because hospital visitation can be achieved with medical powers of attorney. Great! So, Al, why not abolish civil marriage entirely then? You don't think that's a good idea? I didn't think so.


Anonymous said...

While the origin of sexual preference is interesting, I don't see it as relevant to the issue of gay rights. Would you join the bigots if a scientist told you that homosexuality is a "life-style choice"? If we found the gay gene, would you discriminate against a gay person who lacked the gene?

There is value in challenging bad or misrepresented science, but science isn't the arbiter of this debate.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

True, but I'm always particularly irriated by the "make shit up" school of opinion making.