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Sylvia Rhue, Ph.D.

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Can the Religious Right Handle the Truth?

Posted: 10/04/11 11:31 AM ET

There is an iconic scene in the movie A Few Good Men where Lt. Daniel Kaffee (played by Tom Cruise) is grilling Col. Nathan R. Jessup (played by Jack Nicholson) in a heated courtroom scene. Jessup yells, "You want the answers?!" Kaffee yells back, "I want the truth!" Jessup retorts, "You can't handle the truth!"

When the leaders of the religious right tell themselves and the world that homosexuality is a willfully chosen, sinful behavior that can be changed, cured or cancelled, they are not telling the truth. This meme is their never-ending, never-learning argument that they bring to legislative efforts to prevent full civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Here is the incontrovertible truth that the religious right denies: homosexuality is a gifted, unbidden, unchosen, innate state of being. It is not a behavior, nor is it sinful.

Belief that sexual orientation is a "choice" is a power myth that constitutes a primary, foundational linchpin of the dogma of the religious right and undergirds an integral part of their justification of antipathy toward LGBT people. Laws against LGBT rights are written and voted on by people who think that being LGBT is a willfully enacted, conscious choice and therefore (in their mind) deserving of punishment, curtailment or annihilation.

In my training as a sexologist, I learned that sexuality is wired into the brain. Our wiring is not chosen. The ways our hearts beat is not a choice. As humans, we come into an awareness of our orientation as we grow into young adulthood. Sexual orientations are deeply embedded themes in the orchestration of being human.

The overriding reality is that human beings do not choose their sexual orientation. A person's sexual orientation has already been determined by the time one can name it and claim it. What the leaders of the religious right fight against is people realizing that the state of being LGBT is a normal, morally neutral variation of human development. This simply means that someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender has the capacity (if they are so blessed) to be in companionship in deep and profound ways with another person who may be of the same gender.

This is an eternal truth that the anti-gay religio-political complex has found does not serve them well. Our truth has more currency than their lies. Sexuality and sexual orientation are gifts from a Creator that allow humans to express the mysteries of their sacred, erotic core in ways that can lead to a fuller experience of one's humanity.

Laws, beliefs and anti-LGBT programs need to reflect the truth. Sexual orientation is a gift that should be celebrated, not berated or eliminated. And that's the truth.