Saturday, September 08, 2007

Choice or no choice, it doesn't matter

Xanthippas' briefly covered the issue of homosexuality as a choice a few months ago, but after seeing a clip of the LOGO debate on The Daily Show, which you can watch here, I felt it was necessary to once again address the issue.

To summarize, host Melissa Etheridge asked New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson whether he believed homosexuality was a choice, to which he answered that he believed it was. I'm not sure why the question was asked though, or if it's even a question that needs to be addressed. I really think that getting hung up on whether homosexuality is a choice simply retards the movement to equality.

Homosexuality has, as far as we can gather, always been a part of human nature. In all times, in all places, some people are homosexual. That's no surprise whether you're arguing for environment or nature. What history teaches us though is that to a certain degree homosexual behavior is a social choice. The most obvious case for this is the ancient Greeks, who we love to romanticize as ideal men, warriors and philosophers (or as the Spartans in 300), but most people do forget to mention that these guys thought men should only love men and only use women for reproductive purposes (yes, 300 was inaccurate on that point). They not only theorized; they did it (did each other, that is). For those who argue the case of inherency, the burden is on them to show how homosexuality could possibly be the default for 100% of men, while being at normal levels in women, and how, when this society was ended, the succeeding generations of men were straight. There are other instances of social homosexuality in history, especially in places where warrior cultures were predominant (such as Japan among the samurai).

It seems easy then for (let's call them) Choice-ists to insist, based on these examples, that this proves homosexuality is a choice. Inherentists, what's your argument now? Ah, well, let's not forget of course that there have also been societies where homosexuality is highly discouraged. Such as our own, even now in some places (like anywhere outside the major cities). Places where you would be killed for being gay. So why do people do it then, for the rush? If it's teens, are they just rebelling in the most extreme way they can think of? Come on, kids smoke, they don't risk death and (especially) humiliation just to rebel. Nor, if they're rebelling, do they try to do it so that no one finds out. The whole point of rebellion is to piss off your parents. Furthermore, what about a guy who lives his life straight for 45 years before going gay? Do you suppose he just wakes up one day and decides to play for the other team? That's not likely. And of course, inherency has the support of a growing amount of scientific evidence to support it.

But having said all that, does it matter whether or not it's a choice? I suppose there might be some folks who would agree that if homosexuality is not a choice, homosexuals shouldn't be penalized for being themselves. But for the most part, it won't matter to those who are either just plain homophobes or those who back their position with the Bible. And of course, those of us who are willing to give gays equal rights and treatment under the law don't care why people are gay. So who does it matter to? Gays themselves? Is that why Melissa Etheridge asked the question? If so, I'm not going to fault her for it, but if the point is to gain wider acceptance among the straight people, well, it just doesn't matter.

Of course I'm nobody special, and not a lot of people are going to hear what I have to say, but know this: I will never quit advocating equal rights for gays whether you just up and decide that one day you're gay or if you know it from birth. That's not because I love gays so much or encourage homosexuality (I will be horrified if any of the children in my extended family grow up gay), but because no matter who you are or how you decide to live, your rights should be equal to mine. Just because my wife and I can have children made from both of us, we're not going to be better parents than a gay couple. As a matter of fact, I could point out many instances where people had children just because they got pregnant, and it turned out not to be the right choice for either them or the child. Gays should have parental rights to children. And it's not right for the government to come and take away the money you invested in a life with someone else. That's why you get to keep your spouse's property when they die. Why should that be any different for two men or two women? If the person you want to make the decision on whether to pull the plug on you is the same sex as you, then that's who the hospital should listen to, not your nearest kin.

Gay rights should not be (and in reality are not) predicated upon whether homosexuality is built in or a choice. Gay rights are predicated upon the fact that all Americans are entitled to equal rights, no matter how we feel about the people who claim them. That's argument enough for me, and it should be for those self-righteous pricks who think they get to decide how everyone else lives.

1 comment:

adam said...

Good blog. It doesn't matter and shouldn't matter.