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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Pro-gay rights: The common-sense position

    Talyor Kessinger columnist
    Talyor Kessinger
    columnist

    Despite centuries of progress in accepting and understanding our fellow man, homosexuality remains maligned and misunderstood by the public at large. In the worst cases, the gay community is outright demonized without a shred of justification. Such bigotry is a growing blemish on the face of American politics and culture – a blemish that needs to be removed fast.

    Throughout our election cycle, almost all of the candidates have voiced their tacit disapproval of homosexuality, either directly or by weaseling into the “”civil unions”” pigeonhole. Only Democrats Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich and Joe Biden have explicitly supported homosexuals’ rights to marry the consenting adult of their choice, although there’s no chance we’ll see any of them in the White House come 2009.

    Our culture’s homophobia has even slipped into our vernacular, as we commonly refer to dislikeable individuals as “”fags,”” and we use “”gay”” as a synonym for “”bad.”” Suppose one of your friends stated, “”Man, I hate this class. It’s so Jewish.”” You’d be pretty horrified – so why is “”gay”” an exception to the rule?

    What these examples show is that even supposedly “”enlightened”” individuals often harbor residual respect for the position that condemns homosexuality and denies homosexuals the same freedoms and rights as anyone else. After all, people are entitled to their opinions, right? However, the truth is that being pro- or anti-gay rights isn’t a matter of opinion at all. It’s a matter of correct and incorrect.

    The standard arguments against homosexuality – that it is “”unnatural”” (says who?) and that homosexual partnerships have negative consequences for both partners and the children they may raise – closely mirror 19th-century arguments against interracial love. In the United States, the most common source for anti-homosexual sentiments by far is conservative Christianity. But this is unsupportable even from a Biblical perspective.

    Some Christians will point to verses in books like Leviticus, the book that also tells us women shouldn’t attend church while menstruating. Others will counter that, while the “”new covenant”” makes Old Testament morality largely irrelevant, verses in New Testament books like Romans and Judges do condemn homosexuality. Still, closer reading of the original, untranslated text yields only references to “”strange pleasures,”” “”unnatural flesh,”” and “”perversions,”” as well as implicit condemnations of pagan temple behavior. None of this explicitly pronounces judgment on being gay.

    A deep reading of the Bible therefore leaves no strong impressions about the moral status of homosexuality. But where Biblical exegesis fails, critical thinking and science – tools almost everyone in the world, irrespective of their religious inclinations, can agree on – succeed. There are no justifiable moral grounds on which to disapprove of homosexuality. Specifically, no scientific evidence supports the conclusion that homosexuality is a choice, and how can something be immoral if one doesn’t choose it?

    Instead, the best evidence supports the conclusion that sexual orientation isn’t binary. Rather, there are shades of gray, and one’s orientation depends on a multitude of factors both environmental and genetic. Besides, no one has ever given a convincing argument for why anyone would willingly choose to be gay despite widespread discrimination and moral hysteria.

    If you still don’t believe me, consider this: University of Utah biologists recently managed to genetically engineer gay nematode worms. Maybe worms are capable of making complex lifestyle choices and intentionally selecting a certain orientation just to be contrary, but the simplest explanation, that homosexuality is not a choice in any animal and that humans are no exception, is vastly superior.

    Facts like this betray the truth about homophobia: It’s a form of bigotry, plain and simple, and it’s no different from any other kind of intolerance. It’s inculcated into many of us by our peers and our superiors, and by good, old-fashioned fear of the unknown. And like any form of bigotry, it’s a detriment to social progress insofar as it inhibits millions of Americans’ abilities to pursue happiness.

    The crusade against homosexuality in all of its forms, ranging from outright hatred of gays to mere “”disapproval”” of homosexuality, is ultimately indefensible. Most importantly, the support of gay rights isn’t a view that should be associated with liberalism, humanism or any other -ism. It’s just common sense, and every rational American who takes a few minutes to think objectively will agree here.

    Taylor Kessinger is a junior majoring in math, philosophy and physics. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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