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From mental disorder to civil-rights cause

"From mental disorder to civil-rights cause" Continued...

Issue: "Social Security breach," Feb. 19, 2005

These platitudinous outlooks "feel" deep, but are astoundingly shallow (the concept "sexual orientation" is an example-it is a "stopthought" that won't bear five minutes of serious scrutiny before dissolving into a welter of contradiction). But when a judge is handed an amicus brief that bears at its end a list of say five or 10 well-respected national or state mental-health professional organizations-he's impressed. Then he starts reading, and it's "The Emperor's New Robes." In learned-sounding terms, he's fed back all the nice-sounding pieties with which he's become familiar and comfortable. He doesn't have to stop and think for a second. He just has to be "nice."

So, over the years, the concept of "sexual orientation" has worked its way into the culture and up the court system to the level of the U.S. Supreme Court and in certain key state Supreme Court cases, especially in the Goodrich case in Massachusetts. The key U.S. Supreme Court cases are Romer and Lawrence. Leaving specific variations aside, all three approach homosexuality from the point of view of civil liberties-a misframing that goes all the way back to Hooker and the history I've mentioned.

It has been critical for the mental-health guilds to stand before the courts and say, "You see, your honors, we in particular, who are the very experts of what constitutes a mental disorder, proclaim that sexual orientation should not be discussed as a condition that is problematic and changeable, it is a normal and immutable state of the human being and therefore should be discussed in civil-rights terms, like race."

WORLD: How should the understanding that homosexuality is not a stable trait affect public policy?

JS: The entire legal argument (same-sex marriage, homosexual rights) rests upon the civil-rights argument, and this is based on the concept of "suspect class status." That's a technical term referring to the idea that you can define a group of people in some reasonable, meaningful way, and this definitional "boundary" results in their being subject to invidious discrimination.

The obvious example is being black. The way "suspect class status" is determined isn't totally mathematical, but it isn't totally fuzzy either. There's a good deal of common sense to it. We want to avoid having people cry "discrimination!" just when it suits them, in order to game the system. For example, I couldn't apply to the University of Michigan Law School as "black" under the recently decided affirmative-action decision because, having just returned from two weeks in the Caribbean, I've got such a terrific tan.

Since, to quote the University of Chicago study, "it is patently false that homosexuality is a uniform attribute across individuals, that it is stable over time, and that it can be easily measured," you have absolutely no basis whatsoever for building a "suspect class" out of it.

WORLD: How should that understanding affect the way individuals react to those who identify themselves as homosexual?

JS: What you're left with are human beings, no different than you or me, who are, of course, sexual beings. Like you and me, their sexuality is broken in a broken world. The notion that "homosexuals" are in effect a "different species" (different genes) is ludicrous beyond belief. There is not the slightest evidence for that as anyone who actually reads the studies (not reports on the studies) knows.

Of course as one grows and changes, one "grooves" a pathway that becomes embedded and increasingly difficult to alter. Of course a different innate disposition places one at a different "risk profile" for all sorts of different paths in life. So what else is new? It is also true that people do sometimes want to change, and some do and some don't. This is true of everything. It's also true that few good things in life are easy, and no achievement is ever perfect.

That said, we should remember that homosexuality has risen to the top of the social-policy agenda because of the utter wreck we all have made of family life over the past 50 years. This horror cannot be blamed on anyone but us.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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