Analysis: 3 Issues That Confuse the 'Born Gay?' Debate

Choice is revered, yet some are denied the option to get professional help if they want to get rid of their same-sex attraction. As ex-gay Christopher Doyle, director of International Healing Foundation, put it, once you are gay, "you can never leave." Doyle describes the tactics that anti-ex-gay activists have used to try to discredit ex-gays. While liberals claim to value personal experience and the uniqueness of individuals, Doyle is told that his experience of choosing to no longer be gay is invalid.

These inconsistencies have, naturally, led to debates among liberals themselves as they try to make sense of their own contradictory beliefs. And, the suggestion that women have more sexual "fluidity" (changing sexual desires over time) than men is "insidious" and "sexist," according to Slate's Vanessa Vitiello Urquhart.

On Science of Relationships, a blog by academic researchers who study relationships, Dylan Selterman of the University of Maryland, responded to Vitiello Urquhart. He supports same-sex marriage and does not support therapies to change sexual orientation. Yet he is critical of the notion that sexual desires cannot change. Sexual fluidity is real and is not the same as bisexuality, Selterman wrote.

"The (Vitiello Urquhart) Slate article makes it seem as if some people happen to be bisexual, which then influences their attraction to both male and female gendered partners, and that psychologists have mislabeled it 'fluidity' simply because women are more likely to be bisexual than men. But, in fact, the truth is that people who identify as straight can wind up experiencing a romantic infatuation (love) for someone of the same gender, and as a result, produce sexual desires that were not present before. This is sexual fluidity," he explained.

Why do gay marriage activists insist homosexuality is inborn and unchanging?

Given the scarcity of evidence that homosexuality is determined exclusively by genetics, that human sexuality can obviously change over time and liberal inconsistency on the issue of "choice," claims of gay marriage supporters are likely related to political goals.

The reasoning may go like this: If the public believes that gays are born that way and they can never change, they will be more likely to support redefining marriage to include same-sex couples.

If this is the reason same-sex marriage supporters have tied themselves to weak and liberal arguments, they may be on to something. In Gallup polls tracking the question, there has been an increase in those saying that gay or lesbian relations are morally acceptable that parallels the rise in support for same-sex marriage.

Selterman similarly suspects politics is at play in rejecting the evidence for sexual fluidity: "I'm speculating here, but perhaps political liberals want to believe that sexuality is stable across the lifespan, thus giving credence to the idea that since people cannot change or control their sexual preferences (they are simply 'born that way'), it would be a rallying cry for equitable treatment (equal rights) based on gender and sexual orientation."

For traditional marriage supporters, on the other hand, these issues matter less because their arguments are not based upon whether homosexuality is inborn, a choice, or immutable. Support for legally defining marriage as between one man and one woman is based upon the rights and needs of children, and children do best when raised by their mother and father.

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