Group Prepares Legal Challenge to 'Born Gay' Theory

By Lawrence Morahan | July 7, 2008 | 8:04 PM EDT

( - A coalition representing former homosexuals is developing a legal strategy to litigate on behalf of people who challenge the proposition that individuals are "born gay."

The group also is seeking to promote the idea, particularly among schoolchildren, that people can overcome unwanted homosexual attractions.

Arthur Goldberg, president of Positive Alternatives to Homosexuality and co-director of Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality, said the coalition intends to stress the concept of diversity, a concept he said homosexual advocacy groups have misrepresented to promote the concept that people can't change.

"We want to make sure that people understand the diversity, that this is an open forum. We want toleration of those who have been able to successfully change and get their rights recognized as real rights," Goldberg said

Dr. Warren Throckmorton, a professor at Grove City College, Pa., and a supporter of the Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, or PFOX, said the coalition aims to correctly portray the current state of research concerning sexual orientation.

"There are two broad views about the origins of homosexuality - one being related to environmental factors and one being primarily related to genetic factors," said Throckmorton. "The truth is, the science on the subject is so unclear that we can't really say with certainty that we know what the role of any of those factors are."

Since homosexuality cannot be identified by immutable genetic traits, such as skin or hair color, spokesmen for the coalition said policymakers should be allowed to hear that thousands of people who used to consider themselves homosexuals now are living as heterosexuals.

Coalition members also want to see an end to what they consider reverse discrimination by institutions. Since homosexuality is no longer considered a disorder, neither should recovery from homosexuality be considered a disorder, they said.

Goldberg described so-called ex-gays, who he said are fighting a two-front war, as "the most repressed minority in the world."

"They're fighting an internal battle with their own unfilled emotional needs on the one side, and on the other, they're fighting society, which is telling them to accept it," Goldberg said.

Indeed, institutions that suppress the message could put themselves in legal jeopardy. According to Goldberg, schools and universities that tell questioning individuals homosexuality is genetic may be liable in lawsuits if clients endanger themselves or others by engaging in sex acts on the advice of school counselors or psychologists.

Data show that an individual's environment clearly plays a role in forming sexual attitudes, Throckmorton said. Also, there may be some factors that would be loosely called genetic that influence sexual choice in some way.

"But to say that we have any kind of clarity about the way that would occur is just wrong," Throckmorton said.

The message that homosexuality is determined genetically could give homosexual advocacy organizations more ammunition in calls for special legislation and enactment of hate crimes laws.

Conservative groups said they would use same-sex marriage as an issue to rally voters in the 2004 presidential election.

Mark Mead, a spokesman for the Log Cabin Republicans, a homosexual advocacy group within the GOP, discounted the message that homosexuals can change and claimed telling people they can is not likely to be helpful.

"Most of the people I know who claim to have changed usually end up getting caught in gay bars or in gay relationships. I think that message has been dismissed by most folks with common sense," Mead said.

But Throckmorton said the coalition's primary objective was to reach policymakers, particularly in the field of education, "because so much of what the schools are teaching concerning sexual orientation is really suspicious from a scientific point of view."

Many school authorities have adopted the "born gay - gay gene theory" as fact, ignoring a considerable scientific controversy over that theory, Throckmorton said.

"Not just among evangelicals and secularists, but within the scientific community, there are many people who simply don't accept that the data support that theory," Throckmorton said.

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