06/28/2015 02:23 pm ET Updated Jun 28, 2016

Marriage Equality and Science

Yana Paskova via Getty Images

It's worth noting that the decision to make same-sex marriage a nationwide right in America owes a big debt of gratitude to science.

Scientific research proved pretty conclusively that being gay is not a choice but a matter of genetics. Some of us would argue that even if you could choose to be gay, you should still get the same rights and protections as those who "chose" to be straight. Scientific evidence, however, revealed not just the immorality of prejudice, but the irrationality of it too -- and completely changed the way ordinary people looked at the LGBT community.

Without science, this Supreme Court decision might have been delayed another century until mere decency prevailed over the entrenched forces of American fundamentalism. This is the power of science: to quietly change and improve our lives through research and evidence. But sometimes science is too quiet. This is why I and many others -- Nobel laureates, science and tech stars, major science organizations, artists, politicians, university presidents and universities -- support, an organization calling for televised public debates in which the U.S. presidential and congressional candidates share their views on science and technology policy, health and medicine, and the environment.

The fact that science is complex and hard to talk about is the very reason why it must be talked about. Avoiding the subject allows it to become another form of magic, dangerously open to political manipulation and exploitation. This is brilliantly explained in this short TEDx talk by science writer and board chair, Shawn Otto.