Be Careful What You Ask For

May 4, 2010 · 1 comment

My apologies in advance, but this post is very long.

Back when I started The Point Of Q, I received an e-mail from an old friend asking my opinion on several topics. In fact, there were so many topics that commenting on all of them would be enough to start a whole new blog altogether. The questions he asked weren’t so much “questions” but rather, invitations to engage in a debate on issues relating to same gender attraction, gender identity, a person’s freedom of choice versus the laws of society, etc. In fact, he even went so far as to say “I admit, I meant to toss an egg to you for some comments, and I think I just threw a huge snowball… with a rock in it. BUT… I am curious as to your thoughts.” So, after I read his e-mail, and after reminding myself that I was going for more of a light hearted theme with this blog, I promptly ignored it. But I can’t anymore.

(NOTE: I am not hiding from using the “H” word (hint, it rhymes with “blomo-mexual” and yes I just made up that word), it’s just that if I do, the censors that host this blog on their servers tend to want to flag it as inappropriate.)

To start out, I need to be completely honest, and say that I was surprised to hear from him because . . . well . . . growing up, I was a jerk, and depending on whom you talk to now . . . I still am. Nevertheless, I have an opinion or two on the topic that I am sure may not sit well with some. But you asked.

The next point I need to make is that he requested that I “leave religion out of it.” OK, I won’t involve religion. Besides, I have heard the debates on the topic of “blomo-mexuality” (that kind of has a ring to it) from a religious standpoint, and it seems to me that the “pro same-gender marriage” crowd isn’t faring too well on that front. Perhaps the request that I “leave religion out of it” is an implicit concession of that fact. Either way, it doesn’t matter to me because my opinion isn’t based on religion. So, with that said, here we go.

As I understand it, one of the cornerstones of contention is whether a person is born “gay” or whether it is a “lifestyle” choice. From a legal standpoint this is a very important distinction. Generally speaking, laws are designed to address what we “do” while at the same time protecting our rights based on who we “are.” So, if a person or group is seeking legal protection based on a characteristic they have (or commonly share), it makes much more sense to attempt to convince the public that the characteristic is “naturally occurring” rather than a “choice.” As a result, when the topic of gay marriage comes up, the proponents argue that not allowing same-gender marriage is a form of discrimination against the way a person was born. A point on which the opponents of gay marriage disagree. If it was a beer commercial, we’d be hearing “Less filling!!” from one side and “Tastes great!!” from the other. But when it comes to gay marriage, both phrases have been monopolized by the left. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one).

So what is my take on all this? Well, about 4 years ago I was watching a show about African Lions on the Discovery Channel. Like all nature programs, there came a point where they covered the procreation process. Now the King of Pride was this huge alpha male, and during mating season, he would go around to all the female lions like a man on a mission! Without so much as asking their name or buying them a drink, he was mounting them from behind, digging his claws into their hide, biting them on the back of the neck, and pretty much getting his way. It did not matter if the females were not into it (and many did not appear to be), he was going to do what he wanted to do, and that was it.

So as I was watching this, I thought to myself, “I’d like to see some knuckle head try that in a bar!” Seriously, if a human male tried that, he’d be looking at about 14 counts of aggravated rape, assault, you name it. And the result would be a long prison sentence, probably for life. So what’s the difference? And then it hit me: it’s the ability to choose. Animals don’t really make choices. For the most part, their actions are really re-actions driven by their basic biological instincts. Now, despite the Disney Corporation’s best attempts at anthropomorphism, the fact is that in the animal world there is no morality, no code of ethics, and no societal consequences for actions other than to be killed and eaten if found to be too weak, sick, or infirm. However, this is not the case with humans.

When the potential “knuckle head” enters the bar and sees scores of scantily clad women dancing and gyrating about, trust me the biological urges to engage in a “mating ritual” kick in. So why doesn’t he? Because he chooses not to. Now the reasons for that choice might be many, including but not limited to, getting is butt kicked by other men, or by a crowd of women, fear of arrest, or the most common “they just aren’t that in to you.” (note that did not stop the Lion). Any way you slice it, though, unlike the rest of the animal world, a human has the ability to choose to override any biological urge they encounter. Some might say that is a gift from God, but since we are leaving religion out of it, we’ll call it the pinnacle of evolution: The ability to choose.

Man is neither the biggest nor the strongest beast that walks the face of the earth, or enters the waters, but man is the most feared, and why? Because we can choose. We can choose to live wherever we want, to be whatever we want, and to be with whomever we want (but only of that person chooses us, too). And once we developed this ability to choose, we were no longer handicapped by the restriction of only acting when our biology told us to.

If they haven’t done so already, I am fairly certain that just about every human behavior will be traceable to some genetic characteristic. But does that really matter when you have the ability to choose? I mean, if they identify the gene that predisposes someone to anger, won’t the demands of society still require that those who possess such a gene keep their anger under control? Assault will still be against the law. What about kleptomania? There is undoubtedly a gene that predisposes some people to this characteristic, but theft will always be against the law, even if you were born that way. The list of similar examples is probably as long as the double helixes that comprise our very DNA, and the ability to choose will always be there to trump a behavior based genetic predisposition.

So what does this have to do with gay marriage? Are people born “gay?” I think that it is pretty well established that some people are born with a genetic predisposition to same sex attraction. But like all other examples in nature, being born with a predisposition and choosing to act on that predisposition are two different things. So, for me it goes like this, if the argument in support of gay marriage is that they were “born that way” then I have some concerns about legislating from that point of view. I do not really like being in a position where I (or society, for that matter) am asked to take an evolutionary step backwards by ignoring the ability to choose so that two people can get married. Furthermore, 50 years from now I do not think the gay community will be happy with the rights they secured if they had to resort to the “I have no choice” argument to secure those rights.

I think the better approach, and probably the one that will lead to more peace in society, is to acknowledge the function of the ability to choose and its role in the debate. In my opinion, if two men want to secure the right to marry (or privilege, but that distinction is a different debate), than acknowledging the role of “choice” and, accountability for that choice, is a good first step. And before you go and say “Well, it will never happen if we have to say it’s a choice” just remember the following important lesson from history.

One of the most important acknowledgments by the founding fathers in the Declaration of Independence was that all persons are endowed with certain “unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Using this triad of endowed rights, they then secured freedoms of choice such as religion and form of government. In fact, the freedom to choose one’s own religion is still a closely protected right in our country, and I would note that religion is not a trait that one is born with. With that in mind, it seems a bit contradictory to me to rely on the rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” while at the same time claiming lack of choice when it comes to matters of sexual preference.

It is just my opinion, but then again, it is my right to have one. Right?

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