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." A 1997 poll of readers of The Advocate (a major gay publication) found that 54 percent maintained either that "Sexual orientation can change" or that "We are all bisexuals." 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 scientific, arguments.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.
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