Politifact rates Tim Pawlenty's views on sexual orientation

On the July 10 Meet the Press program, Tim Pawlenty was asked by David Gregory whether or not homosexuality is a choice and if it is genetically caused. Politifact rated Pawlenty’s answers and overall did a pretty good job of it.

They rated Pawlenty as mostly true on the genetics question but false on the question of choice. Go give it a read. Also, what do you think of this money quote from Michael Bailey?:

“If you can’t make a male attracted to other males by cutting off his penis, castrating him, and rearing him as a girl, how likely is any social explanation of male homosexuality?” Bailey asks.

  • Lynn David

    Also, what do you think of this money quote from Michael Bailey?

    It’s one thing I have pointed out in some discussions concerning the very young intersexed males who are reassigned and raised as females. But the savvy anti-gay would naturally find that the response of a female-assigned person to a female was ultimately one of a heterosexual. And as they would agree that heterosexuality is natural, genetic, and the only real orientation, they simply conclude that nature is taking its course despite parental attempts to subvert (pervert) it.

  • Lynn David

    They rated Pawlenty as mostly true on the genetics question but false on the question of choice. Go give it a read. Also, what do you think of this money quote from Michael Bailey?:

    I think Pawlenty like many think that homosexuality is an either – or situation. Either it is genetic or behavior but that is surely a false dichotomy. First Pawlenty seems to associate behavioral with ‘choice’ (or was that the fault of the interviewer?); thus leaving out the extent that homosexuality may be environmental. And Politifact goes on to discuss possible biological causes which have no origin in genetics.

    It seems that this false dichotomy is becoming the rule concerning “belief” about homosexuality more and more. Perhaps most especially among those who I can only find to term as anti-gay, but also among gays and allies themselves (though I think to a lessor extent). In general, I think it shows up the poor understanding of the extent of scientific possibilities in the general population.

    It is an easier rhetorical (political) argument for the more fundamental Christian. Sin is sin (choices) and god does not make (genetic) mistakes (oh? Please explain 47 XXY to me – or even psychopathy). It seems too many on that ‘side’ of the issue are even becoming disallusioned with the environmental psychology of NARTH except when it turns out to be an effective argument for them. They even seem to be ignoring what ex-gays themself and Exodus say about being homosexual.

    Thus when persons such as you, Warren, or Albert Mohler express a move away from that NARTH evironmental/psychological argument you were effectively abandoning the religious argument against homosexuality. You both took steps into the netherworld of what so many on the religious right, including NARTH, constantly teach as being ‘bad science.’ It is as if historical geology and evolution should be correct, then the discovery of a biological/genetic cause for homosexuality would result in a tipping point against Christian belief.

    And in all of this the one thing that is missing is simple human contact. Talking and listening to people who are gay and lesbian. It seems many who truly deserve the honorific of scientist have done so. It is perhaps a sorry state that those espousing the ‘pro-choice’ argument would rather not.

  • Teresa

    then the discovery of a biological/genetic cause for homosexuality would result in a tipping point against Christian belief.

    A good point you’ve stated here, Lynn David.

    What would happen, to either side, if in the near future, some hormonal, intrauterine basis for a large part of homosexuality would be discovered and verified, over and over? What would happen to the NARTH’s, Exodus’, Evergreen’s, etc.? What would happen to that large religious edifice built on just being homosexual ‘is a choice’? Monumental implications in that.

    Equally so, what would happen to the gay world, if this were found? Do we intervene prenatally to ‘change’ the intrauterine environment. Would any of that be ethical?

    Very much to contemplate in imagining a world where the bio-sciences make some radical discoveries, and how a society responds.

  • Lynn David

    I don’t know if it was a good point, but it is my impression of the how things are proceeding. But then I get much of that feeling from the Internet – so who knows how skewed such an impression would be!

  • Brent Sharp

    Sin is sin (choices) and god does not make (genetic) mistakes (oh? Please explain 47 XXY to me – or even psychopathy).

    This arguement has always puzzled me about Christians. If god doesn’t make mistakes then explain birth defects. Furthermore, if god doesn’t make mistakes then surely being gay isn’t a mistake. I truely feel that normal human sexuality has less to do with actual sex then are feelings about ourselves toward sex and sexuality. Whether it is influenced by genetics or biology, the few gay friends that I know have stated time and again that they knew very early before they even knew what “being gay” was that they were gay.

    Further, science and christian fundamentalism are at odds. Fundamentalist use science to support what they already believe and discard sciences that do not support said belief. Imagine if Keppler or Newton had used this approach.

  • DAVE G

    I would like to see more light shed on the interactions of human development and identity formation, attraction/relationships with other persons (Cf. Dartmouth study “Hardwired to Connect”), and the point at which “connecting” becomes sexual.

    The APA Task Force points out the two aspects of identity and attraction, but seems to assume “attraction” is necessarily sexual. And then, at what point does sexual behavior become addictive?

    I have some of my own thoughts on these factors, but I would like to hear (read) what others have discovered.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Lynn David,

    I think Pawlenty like many think that homosexuality is an either – or situation. Either it is genetic or behavior but that is surely a false dichotomy.

    That is exactly what I thought when I heard his explanation.

    Additionally, it appeared to me to be that Pawlenty makes a political equation. If orientation is not genetic, then therefore punitive or discriminatory social policy is acceptable. “Not genetic” = punishable behavior.

    Like the other candidates, he needs to be careful. Attitudes are shifting on this issue at a highly accelerated rate. We’ve passed the tipping point, and if current trends continue then by November 2012 this could be a challenge.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Dave G,

    Three points of caution:

    1. It certainly is possible that the APA Task Force uses language that implies that attraction is restricted to sexual attraction. But I very much doubt that most gay people would agree. Attraction encompasses sexual desire, certainly, but it also is experienced in other ways such as romantic attraction and affection with are both directed more to the character and personality of the person rather than to their physical body. Gay Christians also tend to use language of spiritual attraction.

    2. In general, gay people will tell you that their earliest attractions were experienced pre-sexually. That is, before they knew anything about sex, they experienced same-sex attractions in exactly the same way that heterosexuals experience opposite-sex attractions. “Crushes” appear to be a part of human development among all people, gay or straight.

    3. Addictions are developed based on past experiences. One does not crave heroin prior to ones first fix. One does not have a tobacco jones without ever having smoked their first cigarette. But virtually without exception, gay people will tell you that their attractions, fantasies, and desires pre-existed any actual sexual engagement, in precisely the same way as heterosexuals.

    So I don’t think that gay people, at least, will be particularly receptive to theories that propose sexual orientation to be based in addiction. And if the romantic, affection, and other emotional elements of attraction are ignored and homosexuality is presented solely as a sexual addiction, gay people will likely be dismissive (and mocking) of such ideas.

  • DAVE G

    Tim,

    According to the Dartmouth study, all humans are attracted to others; a toddler to any their own age-category, children to others their own gender, and only in adolescence, as sexual feelings begin to emerge, especially to others of the opposite sex.

    However, same-sex “best friends” remain intact. If these later decide to room together, or even maintain a household together, they are not “gay” unless they also use each other as sexual partners to elicit a bodily sexual response. I submit that some prior experience leads some individuals to reject opposite-sex attractions in favor of same-sex relationships if for whatever reason they seem safer or more satisfying.

    So my question is, what life-experiences tend to turn us off from opposite-sex relationships that may become intimate?

  • Jayhuck

    Dave G -

    I submit that some prior experience leads some individuals to reject opposite-sex attractions in favor of same-sex relationships if for whatever reason they seem safer or more satisfying.

    So my question is, what life-experiences tend to turn us off from opposite-sex relationships that may become intimate?

    I don’t completely understand what you are suggesting. Are you saying that sexual orientation is formed because of some prior “life experience”?

    Timothy’s paragraph – #2 – deals with this a bit:

    In general, gay people will tell you that their earliest attractions were experienced pre-sexually. That is, before they knew anything about sex, they experienced same-sex attractions in exactly the same way that heterosexuals experience opposite-sex attractions. “Crushes” appear to be a part of human development among all people, gay or straight.

    I am that gay person. As early as I can remember, I was attracted to the same sex. This influenced the pictures I lingered over in magazines and who I fantasized about. We’ve been down this road before but I think most of us agree that the development of same sex attractions is likely a complicated mix of genes, biological factors and environment – not some prior life experience, if I understand what you seem to mean by this

  • DAVE G

    Jayhuck,

    I appreciate your input. My observation is that in early childhood we are all attracted to same-sex friends as we formulate our own identity. For me, that would be my maleness, a supplement to already established notions based on my relationship to my father and siblings as well as uncles, grandfathers, and other primary male relationships. “Crushes” are not necessarily sexual, but rather fulfill a desire for a primary relationship not found in one’s own experience.

    One biological factor that would seem to also play a role is the fact that each of us is born with a certain identifiable temperament, which plays a role in the relationships we develop –or fail to develop.

  • Teresa

    “Crushes” are not necessarily sexual, but rather fulfill a desire for a primary relationship not found in one’s own experience.

    Dave G, they aren’t? Why do they become sexualized for some of us, and not for others?

    Beyond the crushes, comes the deficit, I use that word guardedly, of not ‘emotionally bonding’ with the opposite gender. Even if some of us who are same sex attracted do not engage in sexual behavior with same gendered individuals, I would hazard a guess that this deep, emotional disconnect with the ‘other’ is always there. We find our relational home with the ‘same’. Does that make sense?

  • Lynn David

    DAVE G….. My observation is that in early childhood we are all attracted to same-sex friends as we formulate our own identity. For me, that would be my maleness, a supplement to already established notions based on my relationship to my father and siblings as well as uncles, grandfathers, and other primary male relationships.

    Congratulations, you just constructed a strawman.

    “Desiring to be in the company of the same-sex,” which is what most young boys are, is not the same as having an attraction to the same sex.

  • Jayhuck

    Dave,

    I appreciate your input. My observation is that in early childhood we are all attracted to same-sex friends as we formulate our own identity. For me, that would be my maleness, a supplement to already established notions based on my relationship to my father and siblings

    I don’t know that I can say I was “attracted” to same-sex friends in early childhood -although I think we probably need to flesh out what you mean by attracted and by early childhood. Besides the fact that we don’t know what causes a person to have a homosexual orientation, we don’t know what causes someone to have a heterosexual orientation. I think there are more things at play than what you suggest. Although, I’m sure its different for everyone, generally speaking I think sexual orientation is a more complex issue than what you seem to think it is

  • Jayhuck

    Lynn,

    “Desiring to be in the company of the same-sex,” which is what most young boys are, is not the same as having an attraction to the same sex.

    Thank you :)

  • Jayhuck

    Dave,

    One biological factor that would seem to also play a role is the fact that each of us is born with a certain identifiable temperament, which plays a role in the relationships we develop –or fail to develop.

    You really think the fact that each of us is born with a different temperament can be directly traced to ONE biological factor?

  • DAVE G

    An interesting quote I recently came across from ex-gay Stephen Black:

    “The reason the Lord has reminded me of the things I went through was to demonstrate that, though many people claim they are born gay, it is childhood influences and not genetics that incline one to homosexuality. Many say that they have had desires for the same sex as long as they can remember. I was a very little boy when all this started in my life. I was opened up to sexual perversion and demonic influences at a very young age . Yet, I had never really thought about all these episodes until the Lord reminded me of them after coming out of homosexuality.”

    Two issues here: it seems that exposure to the potential of a homosexual relationship influences our interpretation of a typically human attraction to another person, possibly only in retrospect. And, the intervention of a religious interpretation shifts one’s perspective on what’s actually happening. Does the religious relationship to a “heavenly Father” fill an unfulfilled relationship in one’s life to provide the necessary roots for identity formation?

    • http://wthrockmorton.com Warren

      DAVE G – With Lynn David, I don’t put much stock in Stephen Black’s opinion or observations. His biases are strong and clear. Bring to us an account from someone who is not tied into proving homosexuality to be a state of pathology for political reasons.

  • Jayhuck

    David G -

    it is childhood influences and not genetics that incline one to homosexuality.

    LOL! Is he a scientist? Has he proven something scientifically and just not shared it with the rest of the community? This is not fact, this is his opinion – and old and cliched opinion if you ask me ;)

  • Lynn David

    I do not know if I would necessarily thing Black to be a good source of information. The man claims he was molested twice (evidently the first time by a woman babysitter?) when young and that such abuse is very common among gays and lesbians. He also claims he was alienated from his father and that is common among gay men. But the facts state otherwise.

    Otherwise I’d just blow off Stephen Black for backing someone as divisive as Sally Kern but that would be wrong.

  • Lynn David

    ….. “think Black”…..

    I hate it when my fingers think they know better.

  • Jayhuck

    Dave G -

    Two issues here: it seems that exposure to the potential of a homosexual relationship influences our interpretation of a typically human attraction to another person, possibly only in retrospect. And, the intervention of a religious interpretation shifts one’s perspective on what’s actually happening. Does the religious relationship to a “heavenly Father” fill an unfulfilled relationship in one’s life to provide the necessary roots for identity formation?

    A religious interpretation always seems to have an impact on the way a person views these and many other sorts of issues – no matter what sort of religious faith you hold. That, of course, doesn’t make these religiously-altered views right or correct.

    I’m not sure what you mean with your “religious relationship to a heavenly Father” comment. Would you mind elaborating? Generally speaking, I think most people of any faith would claim that their belief, worship and practice in a higher power does, for them, fulfill a sort of need. I suspect you are trying to say something more than this though so I will leave it at that for now

  • Teresa

    David G., it seems that the experience of most ex-gays doesn’t fill that unfilled relationship you’re speak of. If that were the case, David G., Exodus and NARTH would be the best place to look for that ‘change’.

    Are we simply re-talking the same talk that seems to go on endlessly here? All the “missing father” notions, all the prayer and work to fix this ‘loss’ hasn’t given the conclusion you’re trying to state here. The statistics don’t show that at all. In fact, if anything, they smash that idea pretty clearly. How is it that millions upon millions of men have abusive fathers, distant fathers, no fathers, smothering mothers, and these millions upon millions of men are str8?

    It continues to bother me, in a way, about the world of ‘ex-gay’. I now understand in a way I formerly didn’t that ‘ex-gay’ doesn’t mean what I initially thought. The statistics bear out the fact that ‘ex-gay’ means behavior change, not orientation change. That certainly is a big deal in light of everything for many persons. But, it certainly does not mean, one was gay, now one is str8. It doesn’t mean for the vast, vast majority of gays that marriage will happen in a way that is fulfilling for the str8 spouse, and not simply a cover for the gay person.

    The religious intervention, one’s faith beliefs, drive the process to change behavior, not orientation. Because one leaves the ‘lifestyle’ has little to do with leaving one’s orientation, except in the area of removing ‘temptation’, indulging in behavior incongruent with our beliefs. Yes, all that is essential.

    It would be far better for both sides on this issue to limit the politicized talk, to limit excoriating the other side, and to try to simply say what’s the truth as best we can. If people of a certain faith belief, find same-sex behavior wrong, is it really so hard to say … we will help you align your behavior with your faith? We’re here to help with that, as you can help us with some of our problems.

    So much of the NARTH, and Exodus world seems to me, to be a world of smoke and mirrors: a world run by the man behind the curtain. I really don’t mean to be disparaging about these groups. It’s just their approach, as well meaning as it is, doesn’t reflect outcomes.

    However, the other side of the aisle on this issue, what we’ll call the left, seems to understand the statistics, but seems quite averse to gays wanting to change their behavior. They seem somehow threatened that some of us gays have opted for another choice, and that choice is fulfilling for us … even if difficult.

    Sorting the wheat from the chaff on the issue of homosexuality is possible. Not easy, but possible.

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    “Crushes” are not necessarily sexual, but rather fulfill a desire for a primary relationship not found in one’s own experience.

    I would agree with this, since I experienced crushes on both males and females during adolescence — but they weren’t the same type of “crush” at all!

    The crushes on males were highly sexualized; the crushes on females were highly “chaste” and based on shared intellectual interests, without the slightest desire for sexual experimentation.

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    Additional thought: I think that at times, I had a “crush” on the idea of having a girlfriend, since all the other guys did!

  • StraightGrandmother

    Theresa,

    I think you made a very good comment. I was not opposed to people who want to change their natural sexual orientation behavior, if it can be done, but after reading the Yarhouse study I am just seriously worried if it can be done. If you have same sex attractions that you just cannot accept, and for most people it is because of their faith, I am starting to believe that people should remain like you did, celibate.

    If a sexual minority tries instead to attempt to change his/her sexual behavior to heterosexuality, then it involves another person. We saw on the Yarhouse study that for the vast majority of heterosexual spouses, it turns out bad. Don’t the scientists care about the spouses? How can they professionally help people to change their natural sexual orientation behavior when they know statistically that they will harm an unwitting victim, the spouse. And that spouse will never get those years back in their life, that they spent in an unfulfilling marriage.

    I was open minded learning what I could, absorbing the science, but after reading the Yarhouse research I think I am planting my foot in the “No” camp. I am inclined to think that the only option would be to remain celibate, which does not require any “changes” just help in maintaining celibacy for those who really want to put their Faith First. And remaining celibate harms no one.

  • StraightGrandmother

    I did not comment on this

    “If you can’t make a male attracted to other males by cutting off his penis, castrating him, and rearing him as a girl, how likely is any social explanation of male homosexuality?” Bailey asks.

    because I didn’t understand it. I did not understand “how likely is any social explanation of male homosexuality? The other part I understood.

  • DAVE G

    I find that reading the material on this blog, as well as the testimonies of others who have abandoned homosexuality, to be a necessary process in understanding the full dynamic of the issue. Otherwise, we find that we’re only talking to ourselves, simply refining definitions and viewpoints that are going in the same direction.

    Warren, everybody writes/speaks from within the context of his/her own life; that doesn’t necessarily negate the opinions and convictions expressed. I was more interested in Blake’s admission that early exposure to porn, as well as molestation, shaped his expectations as to what he was to become.

    Theresa, I agree that some agencies seem to be trying to over-simplify explanations for behavior, and at the same time omit the fact that a person has free will to make a path for themselves. In other words, J.R.Kantor’s interactive psychology theories need to be considered.

  • Teresa

    I find that reading the material on this blog, as well as the testimonies of others who have abandoned homosexuality, to be a necessary process in understanding the full dynamic of the issue.

    DAVE G., I’m not sure what you mean by “abandoning homosexuality”. One of the things I’m genuinely grateful for is this Blog of Warren’s that has helped me understand in some degree that few people, very few people “abandon any sexuality”. We don’t see a run of str8 people “abandoning their heterosexuality”.

    Perhaps, DAVE G., you meant abandoning a particular ‘lifestyle’. If that’s the case, I’d certainly agree to some extent. But even here we must be cautious in our usage of words or phrases. Are we saying abandoning a ‘lifestyle’ of promiscuity, or do we mean abandoning ‘same sex sexual behavior’. Abandoning gay friends? Abandoning what exactly? Are committed, monogamous same sex partners abandoning a lifestyle, even if those partnerships are chaste, or not? Believe me, there are both types of partnerships out there …

    DAVE G., are you defining ‘homosexuality’ in a way that includes same gender sexual behavior?

    We’ve spent endless amount of ‘digital ink’ wrestling with words, terms and phrases of what “do we really mean”. It has not been a fruitless endeavor, but oftentimes frustrating. I think we can agree, those that have read and paid some attention, that changing a persons’ sexuality (orientation) is about as possible as getting hit by lightning, standing on a high hill, under a tree, in a thunderstorm.

    And, we can, also, agree that ‘change’ means behavior, not orientation … regardless, if one ends up in a mixed-orientation marriage, or not.

  • DAVE G

    Teresa,

    Sometimes I think if we had a face-to-face dialogue we could clarify each others’ meanings, but that is not an option.

    Please see my latest entry in the string about “CNN Belief Blog examines congruence paradigm…” I’m finding your entries informative …as are the others as well.


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