So being gay isn't a choice. That conversation is over politically and scientifically. Cool.
But, plenty of people are still taught or convinced against all evidence and common sense that it is in fact a choice to be gay. Invariably, the people who think that it is a choice to be gay think that it is a bad choice.
It isn't a bad choice.
Since they apparently cannot be unconvinced of the choice issue, I want to pretend to accept it, and address the choice issue on their terms. I think that they are wrong even by their own standards.
The most common argument form for proving somebody wrong is the reductio ad absurdem, in which you accept your opponents premise and show that it contains or implies something ridiculous.
Anything that necessarily leads to something ridiculous is itself ridiculous. So, in order to get at this problem, let's all pretend for a moment that it is a choice.
There are three main issues here, and each of them should serve to shut up anybody who wants to rail against gay people for their sexuality.
If it is a choice, then that means we have less license to condemn it.
Though this is hopefully changing, it is a near certainty that people who condemn homosexuality and same-sex marriage and who think that being gay is a choice lean right politically.
That strikes me as odd. Aren't conservatives the self-described party of personal ownership and responsibility? Isn't the right side of the aisle the (somewhat begrudging) natural home of the libertarian? Is it not a Republican who can most easily be caught saying, "As long as people do not violate any other people's consent and self-ownership, it is not public business what they do"?
Now, it is no journalistic revelation that Republican values and policy do not line up. But, this issue seems to be so cut and dry, so obvious, and so determined by conservatism's core value, that I am still shocked.
So, I submit this statement for review to believers that being gay is a choice:
"The fact that being gay is a choice is a fact which makes it less, rather than more an issue which we should condemn with public policy. Even though homosexual behavior is sinful and wrong, it is not the right of the government or of society in general to keep people from making wrong choices about themselves.
Because it is a choice, we should respect individuals' rights to control themselves by declining to intervene in it. Because it is a choice, it's none of our business.
After all, we argue that abortion is a public issue precisely because we believe that it involves not only a woman's body, but also a separate human's body as well. Is the implication of the popular bumper sticker slogan, "It is not a choice, it is a child," that if it were simply a choice, we would support it.
In other words, we have actively affirmed that we do not condemn the following type of situation: One in which people make choices about their own bodies, so long as everybody involved is capable of consenting and does, indeed, consent.
The choice of, say, two men to engage in consensual long or short term gay sexual partnership is just such a situation. The choice to identify as gay and to have sex with this or that sort of person is just such a situation. In effect, the entirety of the activity of the LGBT community is just such a situation.
We, as the defenders of personal liberty and self-ownership, owe our society, in which our personal liberties are being thrown away so alarmingly rapidly and recklessly, internal consistency within our platform. We therefore, given that being gay is a choice, decline to comment that public policy should deal with homosexuality as different from any other sexual preference."
If anyone in the comments can explain to me what would stop an anti-gay conservative from assenting to that statement, please explain it to me. I genuinely have no idea.
Being gay is a choice, and it is a morally neutral one.
If homosexuality were indeed a choice, as we are pretending, there is nothing which makes it a bad choice.
As a silly but crucial trick of biology, sexuality happens to be an evolutionary well-preserved trait in organisms.
I know it sounds strange to call that "silly". But, given the throw-spaghetti-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks methodology which evolution employs, everything about our biology is really just arbitrary, in that it happens to be what works to survive and reproduce. Evolution is a bit of a Rube Goldberg machine.
Following that understanding, which really isn't an unconventional take on the science, the best way to look at LGBT people is as a slightly different type of weird accident. I, as a straight male, happen to be attracted to a certain shape of hairless, bipedal great ape, which is a bit softer and more rounded than my gay friends, who tend to like a kind of boxier, usually bigger (but ultimately very similar), hairless, bipedal great ape.
The only difference is a slightly different brain structure and chemistry. Neither of us like giraffes, which we would if we were ourselves giraffes. Neither of us are sexually attracted to yo-yo's, or to The Eiffel Tower.
Although, one woman who is sexually and romantically attracted to inanimate objects actually did marry The Eiffel Tower.
The fact is that what type of consenting adult we are romantically and sexually attracted to is simply a morally neutral issue. I do not sit around congratulating myself for wanting to have sexual and romantic experiences with attractive women.
Similarly, I do not "support" gay people in their gayness, other than against the unnecessary and malicious and ill-founded hatred of other fellow humans. Neither do I condemn them. To do either would be condescending and irrational.
There are so many activities that are worthy of praise or blame. There are so many reasons to call someone an evildoer or a hero. But, with whom we are inclined to want to have sex simply does not reflect any part of our morality or character. It just doesn't matter.
If it were a choice, fewer people would take it.
Even though we have seen above that it is morally neutral whom we want to have sex with, there are good reasons that people would choose to be gay or straight.
As this article is written with painful awareness of, certain people have made being gay a painful and unpleasant experience. This is no joke. This is no silly, arbitrary accident of chance.
So let us temporary believers that being gay is a choice consider the fact that at least about 9 million Americans, some 3.8% of all of us, are gay.
With all of the vitriol, with all of the hatred and discrimination, with the broad inability for a same-sex couple to enjoy the spiritual and material benefits of marriage, with the inability of a same-sex couple to produce genetic offspring (though I think that doesn't matter), why do so many people still choose to be gay?
Here we can no longer suspend our disbelief.
They do not.
Being gay is not a choice, but it wouldn't matter if it were.