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I remember the first time I heard of Dr. Ben Carson. I listened to him speak and I thought to myself, “Now that’s a man who I can back in politics.” His demeanor was very calm and he appeared quite logical. You would expect this from a man who performed brain surgeries for a living. His story is pretty amazing, and I thought we had a winner in our midst.
When it comes to politics, I find that some on the left go way too far left, while some on the right go too far right. I believe that a healthy place is somewhere in the middle. I worry about any person who picks one side, and doesn’t consider things from all angles. Extremists from any side are dangerous.
It was my belief that perhaps Dr Carson was the man who could potentially unite these two opposing sides. That is until I saw this interview today where he made this sad argument about homosexuality being a choice. When I first read the story, I assumed that this was likely being spun in a fashion to make the good doctor look bad, but then I watched the footage myself. The video, his delivery—all that I saw made matters worse from my perspective.
Just like that, there goes his presidential bid.
Dr. Carson does not have full support from the right. Some feel that he doesn’t have any experience in politics whatsoever. Some are concerned about his foreign policy credentials, but then again, Carson couldn’t be any worse in foreign policy than President Obama right now. Yet today Carson showed that when it comes to social issues, he’s off as well.
When it comes to whether or not being gay is a choice, I think back on my life. There was no point in time where I consciously “decided” that I was attracted to women. I just was.
When I was younger, I made the mistake of asking a specific question on a talk forum. The question I asked was “Is being gay a choice, or genetic?” That question rained down so much abuse upon me, that it took me days to recover. Though I am no more an expert today than I was then, I learned one very important lesson that day: Being gay is not a choice.
If you are a proponent of science, there is a body of evidence suggesting that sexuality is not a choice. A recent study states that homosexuality could very well be determined by genetics. The study suggests that genes can account for up to 40% of a man’s sexuality. The study, though well documented is not “completely determinative.” The scientists acknowledge that there are other environmental factors involved, but they do believe that genes are involved in male sexual orientation. This discovery has been dubbed “The Gay Gene Discovery.” There is still work to be done in the field, but this should serve as some sort of data for those who are against equality for the homosexual population.
Here is what the American Psychological Association says about sexual orientation:
How do people know if they are lesbian, gay, or bisexual?
According to current scientific and professional understanding, the core attractions that form the basis for adult sexual orientation typically emerge between middle childhood and early adolescence. These patterns of emotional, romantic, and sexual attraction may arise without any prior sexual experience. People can be celibate and still know their sexual orientation–be it lesbian, gay, bisexual or heterosexual.
Different lesbian, gay and bisexual people have very different experiences regarding their sexual orientation. Some people know that they are lesbian, gay or bisexual for a long time before they actually pursue relationships with other people. Some people engage in sexual activity (with same-sex and/or othersex partners) before assigning a clear label to their sexual orientation. Prejudice and discrimination make it difficult for many people to come to terms with their sexual orientation identities, so claiming a lesbian, gay or bisexual identity may be a slow process.
What causes a person to have a particular sexual orientation?
There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.
In addition, Dr Carson stated that sometimes people who are straight go to prison, and then come out being gay. He stated that they “chose” to become gay, and thereby this negates the argument that it is genetic. Now you don’t have to be a medical expert to attack that statement somewhat intelligently (what about gay people who don’t go to prison), or with some witty sarcasm. All you need to do is sit down and watch a few seasons of the HBO show “Oz” and you will understand what happens in prison. Implying that these guys “chose” to be gay is insane. It’s much more complicated than that.
So, when it comes to this issue, Dr. Carson, I can only say this to you:
In a recent interview on CNN, I realized that my choice of language does not reflect fully my heart on gay issues.
I do not pretend to know how every individual came to their sexual orientation. I regret that my
words to express that concept were hurtful and divisive. For that I apologize unreservedly to all
that were offended.
I’m a doctor trained in multiple fields of medicine, who was blessed to work at perhaps the finest institution of medical knowledge in the world. Some of our brightest minds have looked at this debate, and up until this point there have been no definitive studies that people are born into a specific sexuality. We do know, however, that we are always born male and female. And I know that we are all made in God’s image, which means we are all deserving of respect and dignity.
I support human rights and Constitutional protections for gay people, and I have done so for many years. I support civil unions for gay couples, and I have done so for many years. I support the right of individual states to sanction gay marriage, and I support the right of individual states to deny gay marriage in their respective jurisdictions.
I also think that marriage is a religious institution. Religious marriage is an oath before God and congregation. Religious marriage must only be governed by the church. Judges and government must not be allowed to restrict religious beliefs.
I am not a politician and I answered a question without really thinking about it thoroughly. No excuses. I deeply regret my statement and I promise you, on this journey, I may err again, but unlike politicians when I make an error I will take full responsibility and never hide or parse words. As a human being my obligation is to learn from my mistakes and to treat all people with respect and dignity.
Growing Up Bronx