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Goodbye To The ‘Gay Gene’ Theory

A recent study in the journal Science addresses the question of whether homosexual behavior is genetically influenced.

The study, described as a “genome-wide association study,” collected data on 477,542 people. According to The Wall Street Journal, the study “found five genetic markers linked to whether someone has ever had sex with a person of the same sex.” However, the data cannot “be used to predict a person’s sexual behavior or orientation, researchers say, since like most human traits they are influenced by an array of genetic and environmental factors.” Furthermore, the study found that same-sex behavior “has genetic underpinnings,” but also found that “no single gene is associated with it.” The study’s authors note that “many uncertainties remain to be explored, including how sociocultural influences on sexual preference might interact with genetic influences.”

The study is significant because of same-sex advocates’ efforts, over a period of decades, to portray homosexuality as genetically based. The goal of these efforts was threefold: First, to argue for heightened court scrutiny of various laws under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (an effort which has largely failed); second, to persuade the public that homosexuality should be viewed as an unchangeable, intrinsic, and morally neutral characteristic like race (an effort which has been somewhat successful); and third, to marginalize any efforts to reduce or resolve unwanted same-sex attraction (an effort which has largely succeeded).

The bottom line is this: Genetics may influence sexuality. However, influencing sexuality is not the same thing as determining sexuality. Finally, as Bioedge.org points out, there is no “gay gene.”