Nature or nurture: who cares?(Submitted 21 May 2004 to the Galesburg Register-Mail)
I have to admit that I'm getting tired of the current debate between Christian Schock and his various op-ed page sparring partners regarding the innateness of homosexuality. I have my own thoughts in that regard, but the argument is really just a straw man not worth defeating.
By agreeing to even argue the point, voices of tolerance are making an unfortunate concession: there is an implied undercurrent of "we should only tolerate them because they can't help themselves, the poor unfortunates." Intolerant bigots love to argue within that framework, because it casts everything about homosexuality into a negative light. This reframing of a basic human rights issue is simply unacceptable.
Can you imagine someone saying "we shouldn't oppress black people, because they can't help it"? That implies that they would, perhaps should, want to change their race if they could. But being black, or Asian, or anything else other than a middle-aged white man, is not some sort of sad, untreatable disorder. The reason we shouldn't oppress them is because they are people.
With respect to legal protections, there's still precedent for both sides of the question. Race is clearly not a choice, but religion is; and both are protected classes under the US Constitution and many other bodies of law. We should avoid discriminating against homosexuals, not because "they can't help it" or "they were born that way", but because they are human beings, and treating them as such is the only decent thing to do.
Feel free to link to this essay, but do so at its original link: http://www.blahedo.org/essays/naturenurture.html. Feel free to quote this essay in whole or in part, but please attribute it to me and (if on the web) link to the original.
Don Blaheta / firstname.lastname@example.org
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