There has been a recent reversal of progress on gay rights, most overtly in Russia and Uganda, where anti-gay legislation has already been passed. In Arizona, a bill that would make it legal to deny services to people on the basis of their sexual orientation is currently awaiting the governor’s signature. Georgia is considering a similar bill.
In the case of Arizona, “freedom of religion” is being manipulated to mean “freedom to target a group of people because of their perceived incongruities with biblical teachings”. It allows religious zealots to lambast and demonize the homosexual population, framing their hate speech as religious commentary, and taking biblical text as law. Many base their criticism on claims that homosexuality is “unnatural”; that is, not genetically determined, but rather a misguided choice that can, with enough pushing, be reversed.
A recent study at Northwestern University in Illinois found that gay males shared genetic signatures on the X chromosome, pointing to an indisputable biological factor to homosexuality. The study also made reference to epi-marks or temporary switches in the structure of our DNA occurring during gestation or shortly after birth. Homosexuality is there- fore scientifically proven to be natural. While this finding may seem to vindicate defenders of gay rights, it actually undermines the interests of the gay community.
Studies such as the one conducted at Northwestern, which seek to establish a biologically determined sexual orientation pander to the argument used by right wing protesters of gay rights. Formatting our arguments to fit the standards set by parochial conservative commentators does not bolster the argument for gay rights, but undermines the legitimacy of the homosexual community.
The long term effects of these studies have the potential to threaten progress that has been made in society’s perception of same-sex relationships. I read a comment posted below the study’s findings in which one man referred to homosexuality as an “unfortunate developmental aberration.” This study could, inadvertently,retrograde consciousness into concluding that homosexuality, though technically natural, is still an aberration, and should be chemically treated. The study could further entrench the idea that homosexuality is someone’s primary trait or identity, far more defining than heterosexuality. The scientists who carried out the above study also said that there waspotential for neo-natal testing to predict homosexuality in fetuses. This is dangerous, as certain parents might look to terminate a pregnancy on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Science serves reason, which is detached from religious dogma. Science is to be used to build on previous knowledge or to correct beliefs suspected to be inaccurate. It is not compatible with irrationality and bigotry. Finding genetic proof is not going to convince the religious right, comprised of the same people who peddle creationism even in the face of every scientific finding ever being to the contrary. Studies of this kind could further alienate the religious right, who will dismiss the study as biased just as they have done with global warming evidence or condemn it as consistent with liberal godlessness.
Do not mistake me; I do not believe homosexuality is a choice. But, I also do not believe in subscribing to the reactionary notion that same-sex relationships are somehow different or wrong but that genetics can provide a salvation from this moral damnation. We should not incorporate the religious right’s dialogue into an understanding and presentation of our identity.
Studies that seek to find the so-called ‘gay gene’ are conducted on the terms of the conservative right, the result of ‘choice’ rhetoric. They are meant to convince and gain the approval of the right. If tomorrow’s scientists could map all the environmental and genetic factors that resulted in my being gay, it would not change what I eat for breakfast or what I say to the person sitting next to me on the bus. They are irrelevant to anyone except those inclined to bigotry. The morality of same-sex love is not determined by biological evidence, whatever its verdict may be.
The alternative I offer to genetic
testing would be education of the
public on issues of homosexuality.
Another commenter on the study inquired
whether lesbians and gays
possessed the same reproductive
cycles and capabilities that straight
people do. This shows an almost
egregious ignorance, which in turns,
brings about the fear and hysteria that
could cause the unprecedented antigay
legislation we are witnessing.
Our efforts should go towards educating
people on the basic humanity
of gays and lesbians. Responding to
ignorance-based fear with accessible
knowledge can prevent indifference