It has always annoyed me that many of the most vehement opponents of lesbian and gay equality tend to be those with strongest religious beliefs.
The seems to be for a few basic reasons. Firstly, there is a religious text that is somehow interpreted to suggest or mandate that such a prejudice is not only acceptable, but actually a mark of the virtuous. Secondly, there is a theme around free will, choice, and the concept of original sin. This is the idea that, like Adam and Eve, Adam and Steve are making a choice to disobey a divine edict and, as a result, deserve to be kept outside the garden. And last, it's often a theme in any religion to fear "the other", those who are "not we".
The argument I hear most often is that same-sex attraction is a moral flaw or failure and that people "choose" to be gay or lesbian. The Catholic Church goes so far as to say that same-sex attracted people are "intrinsically disordered." The implication here is that gays and lesbians are unnatural and morally deficient. And for the most part these people get away with this defense. But the question remains, why?
That most vulgar plagiarist, Anne Coulter, proclaims that there is on the American political left a "doctrine of infallibility" holding that the proclamations of people like 9/11 widows and widowers cannot be challenged.
The American political right does, however, have it's own "doctrine of infallibility" that is uses to wrap their agenda in a cloak of religious and moral imperatives. When someone says simply that "It's in the bible" their are two benefits they immediately accrue. They can avoid having their own reasoned and cogent argument for their position, and they cannot be challenged on facts (there are none) or have their position disproved. Summed up it's the "Well, that's what I believe and you can't prove me wrong" defense. It doesn't hurt that religion is a protected class in much federal and state legislation, either.
But there is a huge and looming problem on the horizon for these arguments. The march of the scientific method is revealing more about the biological basis for same-sex attraction every year. The latest research to get play is the part that biological birth order plays in increasing instances of same-sex attraction in men. This research observes that there is an increasing occurrence of same-sex attraction as the number of biological older brothers increases. It demonstrates that post-natal social variables like the number of male siblings you are raised with do not contribute to the effect. This research "strongly suggests a pre-natal origin to the fraternal birth order effect." From PlanetOut:
Having several older brothers increases the likelihood of a man being gay, a finding researchers say adds weight to the idea that there is a biological basis for sexual orientation.Put simply, as a mother has more male children, the probability that a male child will be same-sex attracted increases. Oh, and it is determined before they are born.
"It's likely to be a prenatal effect," said Anthony F. Bogaert of Brock University in Ontario, Canada. "This and other studies suggest that there is probably a biological basis for" homosexuality, he said.
S. Marc Breedlove of Michigan State University said the finding "absolutely" confirms a physical basis. "Anybody's first guess would have been that the older brothers were having an effect socially, but this data doesn't support that," Breedlove said.
It's not unknown for Holy Books to enshrine the scientific ignorance of the time and build laws around them. The Sin of Onan came from a fundamental ignorance about human reproduction and concerns about demasculinization from a deeply patriarchal society.
Human Sexuality is complex but one thing is certain. The biological basis for same-sex attraction makes any moral or religious argument about "choice" or "evil" or "unnaturalness" of same sex attraction moot.
There is a narrow isthmus between the advance of science and the march of human ethical evolution on which those opposed to gay and lesbian equality stand.
That isthmus is getting smaller and smaller all the time. You can track it's shrinking here.