Doctor Challenges Homosexual Assumptions

by Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, M.

Editor's note: The following testimony by Dr. Satinover was delivered May 3, 2004, before members of the Massachusetts Legislature, as that body was considering whether or not to legalize same-sex "marriages."

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Honorable Members, Citizens of Massachusetts:

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The debate over homosexuality is one of the most contentious and divisive in which our society has ever engaged. On the face of it, one might wonder that so intensely personal and private a matter could achieve such public weight, but wonder aside, it has. In this legislation now under consideration by the State of Massachusetts, all the varying points of that debate come into sharp opposition. As you all know, most keenly, the question before you is not merely one of academic dispute; rather, upon the outcome of your deliberations will depend the foundational social structure, hence direction of the commonwealth in future, and in significant measure, that of our nation as well.

It is therefore most urgent that these deliberations be based not only on compassion, and justice, but on the factual truth as well. Indeed, unless resting upon truth, neither justice nor compassion can long endure against shifts in sentiment. That as a society we strive no longer to condone-rather to condemn-cruelty toward people attracted to members of their own sex is an absolute requirement of both justice and humanity.

But we would be short-sighted indeed were we to advance this, as any other, just cause based on fictions. Not only will the inevitable uncovering of those fictions, however delayed, provide an excuse for bigotry to reclaim its unearned place, it will engender beliefs, attitudes, and policies that, by flying in the face of reality, will lead to an increase, rather than a decrease in the happiness all are entitled to pursue. Nature (and if you prefer, "Nature's God") cannot be fooled.

A number of claims have become central to the argument that the definition and privileged status of marriage ought to be expanded to include couples of the same sex. These claims are:

<![if !supportLists]>         <![endif]>That homosexuality has been repeatedly demonstrated to be, and is in fact, an innate, genetically-determined condition.

<![if !supportLists]>         <![endif]>That homosexuality is an immutable state of an individual.

<![if !supportLists]>         <![endif]>That the only disadvantages of homosexuality are those caused by social disapproval and discrimination.

<![if !supportLists]>         <![endif]>That a society composed of same-sex couples raising children in family-like units will differ from a society composed of traditional family units in no undesirable ways.

None of these claims is even remotely true, however widely believed they may have become; the evidence of the kind that "everyone knows" simply does not exist. Even a cursory examination of the actual sources behind these claims will reveal a very strong preponderance of evidence to precisely the contrary. The claims are simply fiction. I have below assembled a selection of statements from prominent researchers.

Most of the statements below have been selected according to three basic principles:

1) They are the general conclusions of prominent scientists whose research is well-respected.

2) The scientists cited have specifically identified themselves as "gay" or "lesbian" and/or as more generally sympathetic to "gay activist" political positions.

3) Their research is precisely that widely cited and believed as providing evidence directly contrary to what they themselves found and acknowledge. (It is to the credit of a number of them that they have publicly acknowledged that their own evidence contradicts what they had believed and had hoped to confirm.)

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Claim 1: That homosexuality has been repeatedly demonstrated to be, and is in fact, an innate, genetically-determined condition.

Dean Hamer of the National Institutes of Health performed and published the research most widely cited as pointing to a "gay gene." Dr. Hamer testified in the Colorado Proposition 2 court case that he was "99.5% certain that homosexuality is genetic." He later came to the following conclusions:

"The pedigree failed to produce what we originally hoped to find: simple Mendelian inheritance. In fact, we never found a single family in which homosexuality was distributed in the obvious pattern that Mendel observed."

Hamer's study was duplicated by Rice et al., with research that was more robust. In this replication the genetic markers found by Hamer turned out to be of no statistical significance: "It is unclear why our results are so discrepant from Hamer's original study. Because our study was larger than that of Hamer's et al., we certainly had adequate power to detect a genetic effect as large as reported in that study. Nonetheless, our data do not support the presence of a gene of large effect influencing sexual orientation."

Simon LeVay, a neuroanatomist at the Salk Institute in San Diego, founded the Institute for Gay and Lesbian Education in San Francisco after researching and publishing the study of hypothalamic structures in men most widely-cited as confirming innate brain differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals, as he himself initially argued. He later acknowledged:

"It's important to stress what I didn't find. I did not prove that homosexuality is genetic, or find a genetic cause for being gay. I didn't show that gay men are born that way, the most common mistake people make in interpreting my work. Nor did I locate a gay center in the brain."

Furthermore: "Since I looked at adult brains, we don't know if the differences I found were there at birth, or if they appeared later."

Also pertinent to the present debate is his observation that: "...people who think that gays and lesbians are born that way are also more likely to support gay rights."

Dr. Mark Breedlove at the University of California at Berkeley, referring to his own research: "[My] findings give us proof for what we theoretically know to be the case -that sexual experience can alter the structure of the brain, just as genes can alter it. [I]t is possible that differences in sexual behavior cause (rather than are caused) by differences in the brain."

Prominent research teams Byne & Parsons and Friedman & Downey both concluded that there was no evidence to support a biologic theory, but rather that homosexuality could be best explained by an alternative model where "temperamental and personality traits interact with the familial and social milieu as the individual's sexuality emerges."

Richard Pillard, is the co-author of the two major twin studies on homosexuality most often cited as providing family evidence for homosexuality being inherited. He noted to an interviewer that he, his brother, and his sister are all homosexual and that one of his daughters from a now-failed marriage is bisexual. He speculated that his father was also homosexual. The interviewer, Chandler Burr, comments re Pillard: "Many of the scientists who have been studying homosexuality are gay, as am I." The interview is part of a book Burr wrote that purports to demonstrate that virtually all reputable scientists consider homosexuality genetic.

This is certainly what Pillard both wanted and expected to confirm by his research: "These studies were designed to detect heritable variation, and if it was present, to counter the prevalent belief that sexual orientation is largely the product of family interactions and the social environment"

But that is not what he found. Rather, he concluded: "Although male and female homosexuality appear to be at least somewhat heritable, environment must also be of considerable importance in their origins."

To be concluded

Jeffrey Satinover, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist who has practiced psychotherapy and/or psychiatry since 1974. He is the author of numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals of psychology and of neuroscience. Among books he has written or contributed to  is Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth.

This article comes from Traditional Values Coalition

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