Saturday, August 13, 2011

Not a Choice...

With the 2012 elections not quite around the corner (but closer than I'd like them to be), a great deal of political conversation has again turned to the issue of equal rights. Particularly since the Obama administration called for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and determined it wouldn't uphold the Defense of Marriage Act, and same-sex marriage was approved in New York State, nearly every Republican candidate for president as well as leading conservatives have attacked the very idea of equality and sexuality.

Beyond the usual posturing about how same-sex marriage disturbs the sanctity of traditional marriage (yet divorce doesn't) and the ridiculous claims that allowing same-sex marriage will lead to polygamy, pedophilia, bestiality and even people wanting to marry inanimate objects, comes the oft-held opinion that sexuality is a choice.

In a fantastic opinion piece in the San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Carroll takes on the idea of sexuality as a choice. He talks about Michele Bachmann's husband, Marcus, a therapist whose practice involves turning gay people straight with the help of prayer, Bible reading and classes. Jesus will forgive your homosexuality, Bachmann promises, as long as you repent and become straight.

As Carroll says, "Experts in the field no longer believe that [sexuality is a choice]; most regular citizens, aware that they came by their own sexual orientation naturally, don't believe it either. This does not deter Marcus Bachmann."

The only choice a person has about their sexuality is whether or not to suppress their true nature. Sadly, so many people live secret lives in order to do the "right" things—marry a person of the opposite sex and raise a family. And yet many of those people are the ones who get caught in sting operations in parks and public restrooms, or are the anti-gay politicians who get caught making advances toward an intern or an escort.

The fact is, given the way gay people are treated in most of the world, it is hard to believe many of us would choose this way of life if we actually had the chance to. Why choose the possibility of being bullied, often violently? Why choose a life in which the simple act of showing affection toward the person you love could lead to violence, or a life where, in most states, you cannot legally marry the person you love, adopt a child together or make healthcare decisions for them?

Carroll's editorial points out how ludicrous the idea of sexuality being a choice is through humor. Perhaps the ridiculousness of the points he makes will force those who believe it is a choice to reconsider.

Perhaps after 2012.

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