Much ado has been made of late regarding the bigoted and insensitive comments of LDS “Apostle” Boyd K. Packer referring to homosexuality as a choice that people can, and should, overcome. Packer indicated that in some way LGBTQ individuals choose their gender identity/orientation and that choice is evil. While this kind of statement from a bigot like Packer isn’t surprising, it is surprising that there is still a fairly large segment of the population that believes this nonsense, contrary to all of the science on this subject.
Being a straight male, I can’t say from first-hand experience that LGBTQ people are “born that way” — but I can confirm that I was born straight and I am confident enough in the research and science to say that this is most likely true. I didn’t choose my gender or preference, I was born as I am. Why should I believe that people with different gender orientation, identity, or preference were not born as they are?
As the topic has been beaten to death lately, I’m going to ignore the aspects of God, Jesus and sin in this argument. In my opinion it’s all a ridiculous fairy tale used to megalomaniacs to secure some form of control or power over other people. What I want to focus on today is choice. The religious fanatics like Packer would have us believe that LGBTQ persons are not entitled to equality under law because they make a conscious choice to be different, and that equal protections don’t apply because this is a choice, not an inborn characteristic.
To these idiots I would like to raise two primary arguments. First, science has conclusively demonstrated that orientation/identity are no more a choice than skin color or gender itself. All of us are born as we are, each unique, and each with inherent value. I didn’t choose to be a straight male with pattern baldness and a genetic predisposition to gout and diabetes, but here I am.
I personally don’t know a single individual that identifies themselves as LGBTQ by choice. Such a person may exist, but I’ve yet to meet him or her. I also don’t know anyone that is truly heterosexual by choice. I do know a few people that, for reasons of their own, choose to live a hetero (or even celibate) lifestyle even though their natural desires fall under the LGBTQ umbrella. And while these individuals make a choice about how they live and express themselves, their gender identity/preference remains, although hidden.
I think that the best argument that can be made regarding choice in this regard is one simple question: could you truly change your orientation? Boyd Packer, I’m asking you: can you honestly say that you have the ability to change your preference, emotionally, mentally, and physically? I’m not talking about suppressing your sexual desires, but truly changing your innate attractions. I know I couldn’t do that, nor would I ever want to try. Why, then, should we ask any other member of our society to do that?
The second part of the argument, though, is the interesting part, and the one that is most often overlooked in this discussion. Why should a choice result in the loss of liberty or equality? Let’s assume, just for argument’s sake, that the science is wrong and we’re all delusional. Gender identity, preference and orientation are choices we make. Even if that is true, why should that choice impact an individual’s right to liberty and equality?
All you have to do in this town is utter a vaguely anti-LDS remark to have the brethren come out of the woodwork shouting about religious freedom. Yet religion is a choice, is it not? It is a choice that doesn’t negatively impact other individuals or society as a whole, and hence is protected under law. There are a number of choices that we make that are protected under law, such as religion, marital and family status, etc. Protections exist under law that prohibit discrimination on the basis of these choices. These are not in-born characteristics.
So, again for argument’s sake, if an individual chooses to be gay, why should they still not be entitled to equality under law? That choice poses no risk to any other individual and no harm to society as a whole. The only risk that is posed is to outdated dogma and ridiculous religious “sensibilities.” Even if this was a choice, society has no right to impose consequences on that choice.