By Jay Hansen
Man, where to begin. First, all accredited medical organizations such as the American Medical Association, the American Association of Pediatrics, and the American Psychological Association are in agreement that sexuality and gender identity are not choices.
Taken from the American Psychological Association’s page on 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.”
This is one of the primary reasons I have such little respect for the Republican Party in today’s America; they have become the anti-science party. Be it Evolution, Global Climate Change, or the science of human sexuality, all they do is bury their heads in the sand, plug their ears, and shout “LALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU” when it comes to anything that causes them even the slightest bit of cognitive dissonance. It’s times like this where I actually start to think the religious wing of the party may have more power than the wealthy wing, because at least the wealthy wing would be smart enough not to deny science and prevent such asinine statements by its members, right? And yet, here I am writing this article.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, even if sexual orientation was a choice, Lankford’s argument is still inherently false. If employers can fire someone because they “choose” their sexual orientation, can they also fire employees based on religion? We choose our religion, after all. If an atheist employer decides to fire all his Christian employees simply because he hates Christians, should he be allowed to? Or how about an Evangelical employer firing all his Protestant employees, simply because he or she disagrees with their beliefs? According to Lankford yes, because religion is a choice – far more of a choice than sexual orientation ever has been.
It’s this exact question I plan to pose to Lankford in an e-mail, because I’m sure he’s being flooded with e-mails right now with the sources of how and why homosexuality isn’t a choice. I decided to take a different approach. See the bottom of this article for the full text of the very short message.
Now, to be as fair as physically possible to Lankford (am I not the most open minded man in Oklahoma?), if he answers yes to the religion question, that employers should be allowed to discriminate based on religion, at least he’s not being a bigoted, disingenuous asshole. Instead, he’s just being a libertarian asshole. I’m not saying all libertarians are assholes, but rather I’m talking about the ones that hold the belief that employers can do no wrong and should the government ever attempt to intervene, regulate, or otherwise tell them what to do they cry bloody murder of “big, intrusive government.”
“But sir, we in the federal government are just saying you can’t whip your employees as a form of discipline.” – Regulator
“Bull$#%&!” – Libertarian asshole
I’ve talked about this level of libertarianism before in previous articles. In a nutshell, I explained that while there’s sometimes merit to libertarian arguments, we live in a society that needs fair and efficient intervention and regulation of the free market to prevent exploitation of consumers, employees, and the citizens of our country in general. We can’t just let each and every employer make their own rules, otherwise entire communities within society could easily be discriminated against en masse, forcing them to forever stagnate in horrible poverty, turning them into a completely new lower class of society. It happened to the black community in the dark days after the Civil War and before discrimination laws were created, so to say it is out of the question or too farfetched that it could happen to the LGBT community simply isn’t true.
Of course, Lankford’s no libertarian. That would take principle. His support of big oil subsidies and earmark spending prove that beyond much of a doubt. Given that, the only real option is the former of the two; Lankford wants to use the issue of discriminatory hiring practices as yet another means to spread, or at least permit and foster an environment for, discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered individuals. While this is no real surprise, I think this story may tell us a lot more about Lankford than most of us perceive.
When Rick Perry came out with his horrible campaign ad “Strong,” I wrote this article about the projection of homosexuality. I’d suggest reading the entire article, but again, in a nutshell, I explained that truly straight people don’t have gay thoughts. It’s pretty much that simple. Therefore, if you hear a preacher or politician talking about how people need to “reject the temptation” of homosexuality, what does that tell us about him or her? It means that they, in their personal lives, have experienced this temptation, and assumed it’s normal. If one of these same people see homosexuality as some great plague upon humanity that could bring an end to us all, the only explanation for that is because they assume that everyone would be gay if they weren’t “choosing” not to be, when in reality they’re just suppressing their instinctual urges. Why else would they assume everyone would choose to be gay if it was legalized or otherwise sanctioned? It’s because they feel these urges themselves, and to defend their own psyches from the possibility of the realization that they might be gay themselves, they project the perceived flaw onto everyone else because of their assumption.
One of the primary ways this projection happens now is politicians and other social leaders make the claim that homosexuality is a choice. By touting this claim, despite it not being scientifically or medically true at all, they can convince themselves that they are “choosing” not to be gay even though they themselves feel the urge to be. So for them, it is a “choice,” but only because they’re ignoring and suppressing their instincts and who they are. So, as I said in the aforementioned article, whenever a politician insists that homosexuality is a choice in the face of great scientific opposition to the notion, raise a huge red flag – the person making the claim is very likely gay themselves, or at least bisexual.
So, in the words of Cenk Uygur, I’m not saying anything, I’m just saying, and allow me to be the first to say it.
James Lankford… gay?
Allow me to be immature for a moment. This does make a lot more sense now. I mean, look at the guy.
Tell me this picture and face doesn’t just scream “I’m going to be caught snorting coke off a male prostitute’s ass within ten years.” Does anyone want to start an official poll? It’s something about the lips and mouth, I tell you. Maybe the hair.
Well whatever it is, this story and video of Lankford has really triggered my gay-dar. There’s nothing wrong with being gay of course, but when you’re making a career out of gay-bashing and oppressing them even if just in part is when I clearly begin to take issue with such sell-outs.
At the very least, I’m starting to think my initial branding of Lankford as a tool may have been overly generous. Now that he’s showing direct defiance of science, and falling for his party’s own propaganda and lies, he may turn out to be a fool yet.
Full Text (of message to Congressman Lankford)
Dear Congressman Lankford,
My name is Jay Hansen. I’ve recently come across a conundrum within right-wing ideology, and I’d like to know your position on the issue. I know you support most deregulation to give employers as much freedom as possible in their own businesses and hiring practices, but I must ask, how do you feel about employers that practice discriminatory hiring practices based on people’s religion? Could an atheist employer refuse to hire Christians? Or could an Evangelical employer fire all his Protestant employees simply because they’re Protestant? Do you believe this should be legal and permissible?
Thank you for your time.
- Jay Hansen
UPDATE: Lankford went on an Oklahoma local news station and says that Think Progress is trying to slander him by taking his quote out of context. He clarified in the interview that he does not support legal protections for members of the LGBT community from workplace discrimination. What he doesn’t seem to understand is that not everyone is as open-minded as he claims to be, as he continually assumes the argument that an employer would never fire anyone based on anything other than job performance, which is just extremely ignorant.
So… he wanted to clarify that he does in fact believe it’s okay for employers to discriminate based on sexual identity?