Universal Press Syndicate, May 14, 2001
Gay activists should review justification
Dr. Robert L. Spitzer is a brave man.
He was a brave man back in 1973 when, as a member of the American
Psychiatric Association's Task Force on Nomenclature, he met with gay
activists. As a result of his intervention, the APA, while rejecting the
argument that homosexuality is "a normal variant of human sexuality," agreed
it "does not necessarily constitute a disorder."
He was an even braver man this week when he reported the results of a
new study of 200 "ex-gays": "[S]ome people can change from gay to straight,
and we ought to acknowledge that," as he told the Associated Press.
Sixty-six percent of the men and 44 percent of the women studied
achieved what he terms "good heterosexual functioning," a sustained loving
and sexually satisfying relationship with a partner of the opposite sex, as
well as never or rarely fantasizing about somebody of the same sex.
Spitzer's sample was not random. He cannot tell us what proportion of
motivated homosexuals could achieve normal sexual relationships with members of the opposite sex.
Research into effective voluntary therapies for same-sex attraction
disorder receives very little funding and a surprising amount of
professional intimidation. Even so, these results are remarkable.
Certainly gay activists think so. "I'm appalled, absolutely appalled
it's not scientific," psychologist Barbara Warren of Manhattan's Lesbian and
Gay Service Center told the New York Post. Then she shifted into
totalitarian high gear: "I cannot believe Columbia would allow any of its
professors to do anything like this."
Gay activists have staked their political claims to normalization of
unisex marriage and relationships on the race analogy: Sexual orientation is
not a "lifestyle choice;" it is a fixed, unchangeable, probably biological
To anyone with even a cursory knowledge of sexual orientation
research, this position is no longer scientifically tenable.
Research on identical twins, for example, reveals varying rates of
"concordance," but usually well under 50 percent. Though there may be some biological influences, scratch the idea of a gay gene.
Another 1997 longitudinal study of bisexual men found that over a
one-year period, 17 percent of the men had moved toward a heterosexual
self-identity (compared to 34 percent who had moved toward a homosexual
Leading researcher on lesbian parenting Charlotte Patterson pointed
out in the November 2000 Journal of Marriage and the Family: "Mounting
evidence suggests that, particularly for women, sexual identities may shift
over time." And in the April issue of American Sociological Review, Judith
Stacey and Timothy Biblarz acknowledge that "Some lesbians relinquish
lesbian identities to marry; some relinquish marriage for a lesbian
identity. ... Sexual desires, acts, meanings and identities are not
expressed in fixed or predictable packages." Exactly.
I believe there is rather powerful evidence that human beings are a
two-sex species, designed for sexual rather than asexual reproduction. If
this is true, then the absence of desire for the opposite sex represents, at
a minimum, a sexual dysfunction much as impotence or infertility. Human
beings seeking help in overcoming sexual dysfunctions deserve our respect
and support (and may I mention, President Bush, more research dollars?).
On the moral plane, I believe that no human being can be reduced to
his or her sexual impulses. Desire in itself cannot license us to act, nor
can our impulses compel our behavior or identities without our consent. I
cannot be defined by that for which I lust, unless I choose to be. In this
sense (and this sense alone), a homosexual or heterosexual identity is a
choice, for which (like all our choices) we must accept responsibility.
Advocates for treating same-sex relations as a normal, equally
desirable, human variant must begin making real moral, and not bogus