Pro-Choice: Defending the Right Not to be Gay
In an article I wrote recently, Gay Rights: An Unnecessary Battle, I argued that there are no specifically anti-gay laws, only laws distinguishing between single individuals and married couples. There is one law that I missed. California law SB-1172 Sexual orientation change efforts actually does intentionally and specifically discriminate against people based solely on their sexual orientation. The law states: “This bill would prohibit a mental health provider, as defined, from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts, as defined, with a patient under 18 years of age. The bill would provide that any sexual orientation change efforts attempted on a patient under 18 years of age by a mental health provider shall be considered unprofessional conduct and shall subject the provider to discipline by the provider’s licensing entity.”
Essentially, any gay person under the age of 18 who wishes to seek religious counseling for their sexual feelings is now prohibited from doing so. Liberals have effectively denied access to healthcare to gay Americans.
This law effectively puts a “No Gays Allowed” sign on therapist’s doors across the state. Individuals with homosexual attractions are now a segregated population in the psychological community; their freedom limited to what is viewed as best for them.
Obviously this is hyperbole, but it is exactly the language used by the Left whenever it is even perceived that a law or policy is presented that may reduce the impact of an issue they hold dear. We can see this clearly with the “War on Women” rhetoric around contraception compensation, limits to abortion, and religious freedom laws passed around the country. Liberals are highly sensitive to even the smallest pebble placed on the road they are paving through America.
The difference is, however, that the Sexual Orientation Change Efforts law actually discriminates, denies access and isolates a vulnerable population from engaging in not only their freedom of speech but their freedom of religion. This law does deny access to available healthcare options, not because it negatively affects anyone but because it offends the liberal belief in sexual orientation as an absolute when facing the direction of homosexual expression.
When a man or a woman chooses to end a heterosexual relationship in favor of a homosexual one, liberal culture cheers. This is viewed as a profound and joyous victory for being true to one’s self. Despite the impact it can have on an already established family or marriage is irrelevant to the individual happiness that is assumed to be won by the decision. A homosexual person doing the opposite, however, is viewed as mentally ill, in denial, or as subject to the result of forces outside their will. The bill states: “The task force [Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation by the American Psychological Association] concluded that sexual orientation change efforts can pose critical health risks to lesbian, gay, and bisexual people…” which includes a long list of every known negative emotion a human can experience including suicidal thoughts.
This is based on the belief that homosexuality is simply a part of “who a person is” and that it cannot be changed. It is also based on the assumption that any attempt to alter homosexual feelings or expression must be the result of coercion. These two beliefs are quasi-religious in nature as they defy any argument against them as innately harmful. The population this bill represses is a small portion of the mostly Christian community, although it is also expressed in Jewish and Muslim communities as well. There is no widespread attempt or program designed to actively seek out and eliminate homosexuality through therapy on the nation’s youth, despite liberal fantasies to the contrary. The population affected is so small it is surprising the gay community even knew they existed. The only reason they did is because they have become obsessed with eliminating any view or belief around homosexuality as a whole that threatens their worldview.
In a fascinating examination of homosexuality throughout history, David Benkof writes that even gay historians are unable to find evidence of a singular and persistent homosexual identity in any other time or place in our world before the 18th century. The essential argument is that while homosexual expression and sexuality were present in nearly every culture, there was no defined homosexual community in any of them. Arguments are made that this is due to longstanding cultural suppression, but even in Ancient Greece and Rome where sex between members of the same sex was culturally accepted and common we do not witness an exclusive sense of sexual orientation.
In our current worldview our culture views sexual orientation as an absolute, but this is a new phenomenon. From many Jewish perspectives this can be evidenced by the very prohibition in Leviticus 20: 13 which specifically mentions sex between two men. The Torah (first 5 books of the Christian Old Testament) was designed for all Jewish individuals, but specifically men in terms of sex morality. It is just assumed that all men are susceptible to homosexual acts and therefore prohibits it specifically. It also assumes that all Jewish men should seek out wives and produce families.
But all of this is irrelevant in terms of freedom. It is fascinating to explore the topic on many levels and it is my personal opinion that regardless of the outcome of the discussion (innate at birth, cultural, mental illness, choice, etc) nothing negative occurs as a consequence. We have freedom that allows us to live the life we choose in America and that includes lifestyles others may not approve of. This freedom also includes those who would choose religious imperatives over personal desires.
I am comfortable with how I experience my sexuality, but I am not threatened by those who are not. Choosing a religious path is significant and it is insulting to assume a teenager is incapable of making a dedication to a religious path which includes choosing how sex impacts their lives. Attempting to coerce a person to “change their sexuality” or go “gay to straight” is futile. Allowing a person to access the guidance and support they need to choose how their sexual lives are experienced is both compassionate and ethically positive. If an assumed straight person can struggle with their sexuality, so can an assumed gay person.
Choosing to live a Christian life or an Orthodox Jewish life, for example, and getting married, having children and adhering strictly to Biblical principles and laws is a perfectly appropriate choice which should be supported. Our society should not be dependent on the mercies of the liberal religious worldview. Freedom of thought, expression and religion will inevitably lead to choices some do not approve of, but that is part of the culture we embrace and fight for.
If the gay community is truly devoted to a society that is open and free, it must first allow that freedom within its own community. Challenging the assumed is what builds creative and effective intellectual wisdom. Abolishing any view that appears threatening to absolutist worldviews is true suppression, not freedom.
Chad Felix Greene (@Chadfelixg), author of Jewish Children’s Books, Non–Fiction and Social Commentary (www.chadfelixgreene.com)