Hmm. And again, I say: Hmm.
In February, two bills were debated in Utah. They didn't even get out of committee, and are now "dead". One was to allow gay and unmarried couples (yes, straight people) to adopt ,and one was to protect LGBT people from discrimination in housing and employment. The opponents of both of these used "choice" as their sole argument (thanks to Joe for these):
"...those who choose alternative lifestyles suffer the consequences..." (Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem)"What we're talking about is choice -- someone's sexual choice," she told a House panel. "Why would we put into law someone's sexual choice? … This is not the right thing to do." (Gayle Ruzicka, Eagle Forum President)
Clearly, it worked.
The Family Research Council (aka "The Axis of Evil") is certainly clear about it. Their handy brochure, "Homosexuality is Not a Civil Right" will fill you right in, 'splain it all to you so you understand clearly that being gay is a choice (or possibly you will understand clearly that the agenda of the RRR is to make that case, which is kinda different, don't you think?). Whatever you understand, people believe them.
And so do I.
Now, now, now....put away the pitchforks.
It has long been the stance of the GLBT community that being gay or lesbian is not a choice, but an inborn characteristic, as evidenced by the chorus of "Why would anyone choose THIS?. Way to feel proud, guys.
Yeah, some in GLBT groups are now saying, "Oh, we aren't using that argument [what I call the "poor-us-we-can't-help-it-so-please-give-us-equal-rights" argument] anymore." When you google the subject, you find lots of people saying "what does it matter if it's a choice or not?" (yay, I've been saying that for years, I knew they'd come around). But you also find this. HRC, the largest and most visible LGBT political organization in the U.S., continues to fight the good fight on the nearly abandoned front of "It's Not A Choice!!" (a few examples here , here and here) along with their pals at the APA and the AMA (who apparently have to choose between inborn or illness, kind of a black and white world view, no?).
Not to mention the hubbub about recent statements by Miss California (the symbol of all that is good and fair), who I don't think really did anything that wrong (yes, I know I'm digging myself in deeper every second)--she just stated her opinion. Why do we care what she thinks anyway?
I don't get why our own community, people who support us, would do that. At all. What's the matter with choice? Sure, it means facing persecution, but so does conversion to Judaism, and nobody says that people are crazy to do that. Why wouldn't people choose it, if there's nothing wrong with it? Are they saying that those who DO choose are not "real" gay or lesbian people? Seems to me the only reason to argue that it's not a choice is to say that we can't help it (with the obvious implication that if we could, we would). I don't know. That's not what pride (of any kind) or self-acceptance is about, in my opinion. On that note, check this out. Yikes.
[If you're reading, and inclined to leave a comment that says "Well, I didn't choose it!", you've got no argument from me. Some of us did. Some of us didn't. All I'm saying is that it's got zip to do with your (or my) right to equality.]
Many's the time I've wondered why HRC and other groups, not to mention individuals, so often fall back on this "not a choice" line. Maybe it's simply a reactive response to the right wing tactic of calling it a choice--but isn't that letting them define the conversation? Not for me, thanks. Maybe it's because the men who run the organization feel that they didn't choose it--but isn't that a little egocentric?
Or....or....(wait, I'm on to something)...is it because we (or some segment of "we") actually believe that immutable characteristics are the only rational justification for being given full protection under the law?
In the spirit of that old Jewish joke about the guy who didn't get a spoon for his soup....
AHA! And again, I say: AHA! (I know. I already used that. I like it.)
Today, the results of a huge new study were released by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. You can read about it here -- or for you stats geeks who want to run the data yourself--been there done that-- the study itself is here. (Just for a moment, we're going to slide right over the fact that the charts presented on CNN only refer to Christian denominations- it's my birthday and I'm feeling generous today.)
The gist of the thing is that half of Americans have changed religion in the course of their lifetime.
So. Religion is a choice (like we didn't already know that). Hmm.
And its practitioners are protected by law. Hmm.
And no one is pointing that out. Hmm.
And it's tax-exempt. Hey!
We've argued the "we can't help it" line for too long. I don't care what APA, AMA, HRC, FRC, and all them other three letter organizations say. We have argued it because immutability is one of the requirements for being a protected class.
I'm here to say that I'm picking another requirement (there are two others, you know). Mine is not less, it's not more. It's equal. (Equal. Hey, what a concept).
If something is not immutable, it either needs to be innocuous or protected directly by the Constitution. Let's see. Eeny-meeny-miney-mo. Either one of those works for me.
Let's just stop staying we can't help it, okay?