The Left

Lifestyles Are Irrelevant

Gay marriage
Gay marriage
Same-sex marriage (also known as gay marriage) is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex and/or gender identity. Legal recognition of same-sex marriage or the possibility to perform a same-sex marriage is sometimes referred to as marriage equality or equal marriage, particularly by supporters. | Photo: | Gay Marriage, Homosexual, Rights, Religion, Prop 8, Lesbian, Gay,

Yet another weak argument against gay rights

I have yet to run into a good argument against gay marriage or against homosexuality in general. The argument on the right that homosexuality is "just a lifestyle choice" doesn't change the anti-gays' unbroken string of fail.

This is the argument that opposing homosexuality isn't bigotry because gays aren't really born that way. Gayness isn't some immutable characteristic of their being, it's a lifestyle, like wearing Hawaiian shirts or avoiding red meat. Banning gay marriage, by this logic, isn't anything like opposing interracial marriage because gays are choosing to engage in their sick, perverted, destroying-the-institution-of-marriage relationships when they could just as easily have wholesome het sex.

For example, Texas Governor Rick Perry--a supporter of his state's gay marriage ban--said in 2014 that "Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that." Apparently trying to cover all his bases, he added that even if your behavior still has some genetic component, you can refuse to do it.

Likewise, Robert Lopez, who describes himself as an ex-gay now married to a woman, said a couple of years ago that someone of any sex can always choose whether or not to have sex, therefore it's perfectly reasonable to describe gay sex as a choice and judge gay men for it.

More recently, the anti-gay group PFOX--which used a stock photo of a gay man as a straight man in a billboard ad--claims homosexuality isn't inborn, it's a choice, and therefore gays can choose to stop.

The obvious problem with this is that even if science tomorrow found conclusive proof that being gay was entirely a choice (however you define that), that wouldn't prove gayness or gay marriage something that should be banned (which a number of conservatives still want). Lots of things are lifestyle choices, like my being a vegetarian. Would that justify the government forcing me to eat meat?

The only valid reason for a secular, non-theocratic government to ban or restrict a "lifestyle"--assuming everyone involved is consenting-- is that it's the only way to stop that way of life from causing harm. Banning drunk driving, for example, makes sense. But homosexuality? Despite all the shrieks of outrage from the anti-gay right, they've had zero success showing that gay sex or gay marriage are more harmful than straight marriage, let alone harmful enough to ban.

Gay marriage
Gay marriage

Same-sex marriage (also known as gay marriage) is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex and/or gender identity. Legal recognition of same-sex marriage or the possibility to perform a same-sex marriage is sometimes referred to as marriage equality or equal marriage, particularly by supporters. | Photo: |
That being the case, what difference does it make if being gay is a choice or not? I doubt anti-gay activists really care. After all, as Perry points out, even if someone does have an inborn inclination to some particular behavior, it's still possible to resist. I imagine that's the tack the anti-gays would take if science proved conclusively tomorrow that gayness was genetic: gays should still not be having sex, let alone getting married, because gay sex is still awful and icky and gives God cooties.

And even if we assume anti-gay hatred isn't comparable to racial bigotry, what about religious bigotry? Our choice of worship certainly isn't inborn: people convert from Catholic to Protestant, from Christian to Wiccan, from Lutheran to Baptist, from Christian to atheist. Unquestionably it's a choice. So presumably that makes religion just another lifestyle, hardly worthy of protection in the Bill of Rights. If your neighbors don't tolerate your religion, just change it, like you buy new clothes when the old ones go out of style.

That is, of course, bullshit. For many people, their relationship with their god (or their belief there is no God) is fundamental. It's a choice, but not a casual one.

The same is true of our choice in partners. Gay or straight, being able to choose the person we want is not some casual lifestyle choice, it's fundamental. Assuming everyone involved is consenting and adult, it's not the kind of choice the government should be weighing in on. Hell, even if it's a choice such as "I want to marry a redhead!" I don't think it's something government should factor in when deciding whether to grant marriage licenses.

That choices matters, much, much more than a mere "lifestyle." If that choice

Of course, the nature of religion is to lay down rules for which "lifestyles" are acceptable. And the nature of the American right-wing is, too frequently, to demand those rules be written into law.

Certainly they're entitled to condemn gays, or anyone else they choose. That's their freedom as Americans. But they've got no right to have their interpretation of God become the law of the land based on arguments that don't stand up in a stiff breeze.

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Updated Apr 22, 2017 5:31 AM EDT | More details

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