Monday, 4 June 2018

The Malleability of Homosexuality

The Heart of the Matter

The majority of populations in the West appear to believe that homosexuality is a genetic predisposition.  They assume what their case desperately needs to prove or demonstrate.  Most of the emotive sympathy for homosexuals drives off the tee of this grand assumption.  It puts homosexuality in a special category, unlike other sexual desires and impulses.

Jeremiah Keenan, writing in The Federalist, takes up this issue in the light of the forthcoming decision by the US Supreme Court on whether homosexuals can be refused service by Christian (or Islamic, or anyone else for that matter) on the grounds of freedom of speech. 

Here is the heart of  his argument:

SCOTUS Liberals Think Doing Is Being

But the liberal wing of SCOTUS, which has dominated this issue 5-4 for decades now, does not view homosexuality as comparable to other sexual impulses. Instead, they have argued that homosexuality is to romance what race is to skin-tone: an inborn biological type.

From this point of view, doing really is being, for, as Kennedy puts it in Obergefell v. Hodges, homosexual’s “immutable nature dictates that same-sex marriage is their only real path” to profound romantic commitment. Phillips’ offer of a heterosexual wedding cake to homosexuals is thus an empty one, because no one with a history of exclusive same-sex attraction could want such a cake.

But is the liberal view on the issue factual? Is homosexuality an immutable condition written in one’s DNA? Or is it really just part of the vast spectrum of human desire properly governed by moral precept and choice?

The Research Solidly Finds Sexual Orientation Malleable

Many may be inclined to say that this is a matter of opinion, and that the leftist view on the court is as scientific as the view on the Right. Most liberal judges might agree, since they assume immutability of sexual orientation without bothering to state or defend it. Kennedy, an exception to this rule, cited an American Psychological Association (APA) brief which, though it contains much information designed to support redefining marriage, does not assert that sexual orientation is immutable.

The reason is very simple. There is not only no scientific evidence that sexual orientation is immutable, there is conclusive scientific evidence that most people who experience exclusive same-sex attraction end up developing an interest in the opposite sex over time. The stats on this have been printed out in tables and discussed matter-of-factly in the technical journals for decades, but they have a curious way of never quite making it out of the Archives of Sexual Behavior into CNN’s evening news.

Consider what researchers found in 2007 when they examined a representative sample of more than 10,000 American youth, following each individual from the age of 16 to 22. Rather than rely on an individual’s reconstruction of his or her past based on current identity, researchers met with people three times throughout the six-year period. The first time, when subjects were 16, researchers asked subjects whether they had ever been romantically attracted to a member of the opposite or same sex. In each successive interview, they were asked about their romantic attractions since last interview.

For instance, 17-year-old males were asked if, in the past year, they had a romantic attraction to another male or female. About 1.5 percent reported only having a romantic attraction to other males. Five years later, when that 1.5 percent of young men were asked about their romantic attractions since the last interview, the overwhelming majority of them (70 percent) reported a 180-degree flip in their sexual orientation—they only had romantic feelings for women.

Similarly, among females, about 40 percent switched from exclusive same-sex attraction (SSA) to exclusive opposite-sex attraction (OSA). Most of the rest (45 percent of total) reported that they had feelings for both men and women. Only 1 percent of women who at 17 reported a full year of exclusive same-sex attraction reported a similar experience in the five years that followed.

Leftist Judges Assume What the Evidence Shows Is False

Leftist judges have based their legal analyses on the assumption that if an 17ma-year-old woman has exclusive SSA, some form of same-sex commitment is her only path to “marriage” because her condition is immutable. But her “condition” has only a 1 percent chance of lasting five years!

On the same factually uninformed assumption, courts argue that businesses that refuse service to such a 17-year-old’s same-sex marriage (you can marry as young as 16 in most states) are discriminating against her for a condition analogous to race. The courts are ready to punish Christian businesses—fine them, re-educate them, and close them down.

Yet there is no question, on the facts, that exclusive same-sex sexual orientation (unlike heterosexual sexual orientation) is extremely unstable, especially among young people. According to hard numbers, by the time the courts are done reeducating a Christian business on a male plaintiff’s immutable homosexuality, he’s probably going to not only be having heterosexual feelings (about a 80 percent chance), but having sex with his girlfriend or wife (about a 50 percent chance).

It’s Not Just Young People, Either

Now, one might argue that this extraordinary instability of sexual orientation is only true for young people. This is a weak objection, since the courts’ ruling must apply to people at least as young as 16. Besides, an immutable characteristic does not fluctuate wildly in early adulthood: “Oh, at 17 I was white; by the time I was 22, definitely black, now quite settled into brown.” 

But such objections can also be answered by empirical data on older populations. While no study I am aware of can come close to the Cornell-led study cited above for rigor and sample-size, the data that exists on older populations excludes the possibility that sexual orientation is truly immutable. A 2011 study, for instance, found that a little under 30 percent of those who identified as homosexuals at 40 identified as bisexual or heterosexual by the time they were 50.

Such a high rate of change in self-identification at such a late stage in life indicates that exclusive homosexuality barely enjoys the stability one finds in clearly mutable preferences like religious identification or party affiliation. “Being homosexual” is rather like “being Democrat” or “being Hindu.” The probability of change before your mid-twenties can be quite high. The probability of change in later adulthood is around 40 percent.

Overall, roughly half of those who have identified as homosexuals in the past no longer do, and roughly half of those who currently identify as homosexual used to identify as something else. This rule of thumb (noted, in part or in whole by multiple scholars) indicates homosexuality is about as stable as religion: roughly half of Americans have changed religions at least once.
Doing Is Not Being
So, on what basis do the courts claim that homosexuality is inborn and “immutable” so that, for homosexuals, doing is being? The only evidence which, to my knowledge, they have brought to bear on the issue is the APA’s vague statement that homosexuality is “highly resistant to change.” The best evidence the APA could muster for this idea was their conclusion that so-called “conversion” therapies—as practiced primarily by a dying breed of Freudian psychologists and a handful of self-appointed counselors—are “unlikely to succeed.”

In point of fact, “conversion therapy” despite its sometimes bizarre methods, tends to enjoy “success” rates similar to other “kick-your-addictions” or “heal-your-sex-life” programs: maybe 15 percent. For comparison, Alcoholics Anonymous has a “success” rate between 5 and 10 percent. The low rate of success such groups enjoy does not by any means prove that homosexuality (or alcoholism, for that matter) is an immutable characteristic. The stats on that question are directly and easily accessible: homosexuality is hardly more immutable than religion or political party.

This brings us back to Gorsuch’s all-important question. Is Phillips’ refusal to make a ‘gay’ wedding cake actually a sly way of discriminating against people with same-sex attraction? The answer is no, in much the same way that Le Bakery Sensual’s refusal to make a traditional marriage celebration cake was not a sly way of discriminating against Christians.

Homosexual behaviors, including same-sex marriage, are no more inborn or immutable than Hindu veganism or Christian abstinence from “sodomy.” A refusal to make two homosexuals a cake for a gay wedding, when paired, as Phillips’ refusal was, with an offer to serve them in any other way, is not some sly strike at an individual for his identity. It is a good-faith objection to a practice, a doing which, as Gorsuch so aptly pointed out, is quite appropriately not the object of laws to protect being.

Jeremiah Keenan is a pro-life activist and freelance writer. He recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, where he argued with leftists and wrote for The Daily Pennsylvanian. He also earned a bachelors in mathematics and assisted the sociology department researching religious opinion trends on eugenics, race, birth control, and homosexuality. Jeremiah grew up in China and lives, at the moment, in Ohio. He can be contacted at

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