The following is an article I sent to the Ventura County Star in response to an article in the Tuesday, November 11, 2008 edition, page B7 entitled, "Civil Rights not won at ballot box" by Jerry Clifford. See VenturaCounty Star.com
We are lucky to live in an era where so much is being discovered about our minds and bodies. Unfortunately, oftentimes scientific inquiry is driven by political expediency and so it becomes difficult for the general public to know what to believe. Complicated data are reduced to sound bites that often bear little resemblance to the conclusion of the actual research being reported on. Information about same gender attraction has been caught in the throes of this war of words, trying to sway the public’s opinion towards a notion of biological inevitability. However, this viewpoint is inconsistent with other scientific evidence.
In the last ten years neuroscience has made incredible discoveries. My opinion is that this research has been more objective since it has not been for the purpose of supporting a specific political agenda as in the case of research on homosexuality. What scientists overwhelmingly agree on is that the human mind is much more plastic (malleable) than had previously been believed and that humans are capable of learning throughout their life span. How wonderful to realize that we have amazing capacities to influence our own thinking, feeling and behaving. We are not bound by our biology but can choose to maximize or minimize whatever genetic predispositions we may have-whether they are physical, emotional or intellectual. You can improve your coordination, increase your I.Q., alleviate most depressive symptoms, overcome the ravages of strokes, learn to speak a new language after 50, etc. It is widely held that every aspect of being human involves nature and nurture. So even though they have found a gene for racism, and for most everything else by the way, no one is making the claim that people are justified in acting on those predispositions The same gender movement would have you believe that your sexuality is the ONLY part of your humanness that is beyond your control-that you are “born that way”.
In a recent article in this paper Dr. Clifford cites one study done in 1993 by Dean Hamer. Dr. Hamer is someone with same gender attraction and his study was on self reported same gender men. However, rather than citing the researchers own opinion he cites the conclusion picked up by the news media-that “genetics plays a significant role in determining homosexuality”. Let me quote Dr. Hamer in his own conclusion “...”suggesting the possibility of sex linked transmission in a portion of the population,”at least one subtype of male sexual orientation is genetically influenced.” Hardly a ringing endorsement for a gay gene. A study done by Dr. Rice trying to replicate Hamer’s findings, found “ our study was larger than that of Hamer et al, we certainly had adequate power to detect a genetic effect as large as reported in that study. Nonetheless our data do not support the presence of a gene of large effect influencing sexual orientation…”
It would appear that all human behavior is influenced genetically. But exactly how is still not understood. The same gender movement has researched every possible angle to prove sexual orientation is not a choice and so far the findings show correlations, descriptions but not causation. So it is inaccurate and misleading to use science to bolster claims for equal rights. It would be more honest to say this is something the same gender movement really wants but not something they are owed or should be granted based on their biology. There is insufficient evidence for the claim that homosexuality is a condition but lots of evidence for the argument that homosexuality is like all other human behaviors a complex interplay between biology and environment.