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Letter to the editor

Sexual orientation not a choice

April 24, 2009

Shawna Carpentier’s column (4/17/09) claiming that marriage should be restricted to heterosexuals rests on factual inaccuracies and fallacies about the history of the United States, the origins of marriage and the formation of sexual orientation.

First, she mistakenly attributes the famous quotation “…they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights…” to the United States Constitution, when in fact it comes from the Declaration of Independence, written 11 years earlier. Second, the separation of church and state was in fact a prime motivation for founding this nation (along with economic profit through colonization and the evasion of taxes). The nation’s founders had seen enough of the damages done by ruling classes claiming divine right. Now the separation of church and state is being tested through the debates about marriage, as members of one religious tradition (Carpentier’s, in fact) are claiming ascendancy over all others, attempting to force the nation to obey this relatively new religious tradition (marriage was practiced apart from state or church until 1545 and the Council of Trent).

But Carpentier’s defense of religious marriage rests on a third fallacy about sexual orientation when she claims that “people can choose their sexual preference (there is no proof that it is genetic)”: FALSE. People DO NOT choose their sexual orientation.

The notion that people can choose their sexual orientation is laughable (I almost ran into a door while reading that sentence). I challenge any reader to think back to the good old days of adolescence when you first starting having those ‘feelings’ for others. Do you remember that one monumental moment that determined the outcome of the rest of your life? You know, the one where you sat down, thought for a minute, and definitively decided to like boys or girls for the rest of your life? Of course you don’t! You know why? Because it never happened. Sexual orientation is innate.

In a news release from January 27, 2005, Brian S. Mustanski, Ph.D., states that “There is no one ‘gay’ gene. Sexual orientation is a complex trait, so it’s not surprising that we found several DNA regions involved in its expression… Our study helps to establish that genes play an important role in determining whether a man is gay or heterosexual.”

It’s true that homosexuals choose when to come out, where to come out and who to come out to, but they certainly do not choose their sexuality to begin with any more than heterosexuals do.

How does legalizing same-sex marriage affect the sanctity of heterosexual marriage? It’s a great question, and one I can’t answer, since I’m unable to fathom how two men or two women marrying one another affects anyone on the planet specifically and individually. Does it tarnish heterosexual marriages by making them more gay? Does it scare heterosexual couples that they have the same feelings [love] towards their partner that homosexuals have towards one another? Whatever the reason is, I have an easy rule to follow: If you’ re a man and you don’t agree with same sex marriage, don’t get married to a man. Same goes for women.

Carpentier is right: we need to contribute to the solution — if only we could determine the real problem. Carpentier believes the problem is that someday, homosexuals will stop being discriminated against and be allowed to marry. And that is the real problem: the intolerant attitude this country continues to encourage. Civil rights are something belonging to all Americans, and just like the African American and women’s rights groups before us, marriage equality activists will continue to stand up for an inclusive democracy, and eventually, we will win.

My solution doesn’t involve politicians, voting, religion or higher powers. It starts here, with you, on this campus. Until we, as the generation about to take control of the world, stop fostering a nation full of bigotry and hate no one will be able to enjoy the rights and freedoms our founding fathers were try- ing to give all of us.

So, the next time you decide your friend is being a ‘homo’ or that inanimate English paper with no human personality traits at all is ‘gay’ or the girl down the hall is ‘a big dyke,’ just remember: It’s not our choice to be gay, but it is your choice to be part of the problem.

Daniel Holm, student