Brian S. Brown
via C-SPAN

The missive from Brian S. Brown on behalf of National Organization for Marriage is like all of the other missives from Brown: Send NOM some of your money because [topic du jour]. This one is titled: Pete Buttigieg was not ‘born that way.’. Oh, do share your scientific wisdom Bri!

It doesn’t take Brown very long to get to the point:

Today I would like to address Buttigieg’s claim, one frequently made by many others in the gay community and their supporters, that God made him gay. Essentially, Buttigieg is repeating the often-accepted narrative of the LGBT community that they were ‘born that way.’

Mr. Brown is perfectly willing to look like an imbecile in order to be a Defender of the Faith

Let me first say that the causes of homosexuality are complex and difficult to ascertain with certainty. A variety of factors may contribute to a person concluding that they are gay. These might include internal personality factors as well as external influences such as experiential, environmental, and volitional factors, and even cultural and social influences.

“[I]nternal personality factors?” What does that even mean. “[V]olitional factors” is intended to convey the preposterous notion that sexual orientation is a choice. “[C]ultural and social influences?” So sexual orientation is contagious?

Brown must enjoy looking like an idiot:

But one thing we know for certain is that, despite an exhaustive search, science has failed to identify any biological determiner for someone being gay.

Back in 1990 when a team of international scientists began decoding the human genome, we have been subjected to relentless claims by the gay-affirming media that it was only a matter of time before a “gay gene” would be discovered showing conclusively that homosexuality was not a matter of choice, but of biology.

Brown doesn’t provide any links but gay gene mythology has been around for some time. Anti-gay bigots insist:

  1. That there has been an exhaustive search for a gay gene without providing specifics about who did what where and when.
  2. Despite this considerable effort no gay gene has been found.
  3. Ergo sexual orientation is not genetic.

Not one of the above claims is true.

From a sample containing genetic material (DNA) a scientist would not be able to conclusively determine someone’s race. Would anyone claim that race is not genetic? Scientists can predict from genetic material whether someone is African-American, Hispanic, East Asian or white. However there is no African-American, Hispanic, East Asian or white gene.

Twin studies and the fraternal birth order effect demonstrate that sexual orientation is hormonal or genetic, at least in part. Consider the following from the American Psychiatric Association:

[T]he American Psychiatric Association holds the following
positions regarding same-sex attraction and associated
issues. It is the American Psychiatric Association’s position
that same-sex attraction, whether expressed in action,
fantasy, or identity, implies no impairment per se in judgment, stability, reliability, or general social or vocational
capabilities. The American Psychiatric Association believes
that the causes of sexual orientation (whether homosexual
or heterosexual) are not known at this time and likely are
multifactorial including biological and behavioral roots
which may vary between different individuals and may
even vary over time. The American Psychiatric Association
does not believe that same-sex orientation should or needs
to be changed, and efforts to do so represent a significant
risk of harm by subjecting individuals to forms of treatment which have not been scientifically validated and by
undermining self-esteem when sexual orientation fails to
change. No credible evidence exists that any mental health
intervention can reliably and safely change sexual orientation; nor, from a mental health perspective does sexual
orientation need to be changed.

In other words, regardless of the factors involved in developing sexual orientation it is: a) involuntary and; b) not subject to change.

Returning to Mr. Brown:

Perhaps the most comprehensive study on sexual orientation and gender ever conducted was released in late 2016 by two of the nation’s most distinguished psychiatrists. One served for 25 years as the chief psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins University Hospital, and the other is a distinguished professor of psychiatry and biostatistics at Arizona State University as well as being a scholar-in-residence at the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University. The two scholars reviewed nearly 200 peer-reviewed studies on sexual orientation and gender identity from the biological, psychological, and social sciences. The studies reviewed cover a detailed and exhaustive examination of the subject.

Mr. Brown omits the names and other important information. What Brown is referring to is an article at a conservative Catholic outlet. It was not subjected to peer review. It was written by Paul R. McHugh who hasn’t practiced medicine in two decades (he is almost 90). McHugh has acknowledged that he is an apologist for the Catholic faith. His co-author was Dr. Lawrence S. Mayer. McHugh and Mayer did not perform any original research. This was a literature review so to call it a comprehensive study is misleading.

A literature review that is not subjected to peer review has a high potential for selective observation. A literature review can be used to prove just about any hypothesis. Mr. Brown does not identify Dr. McHugh by name because he knows that McHugh has been thoroughly discredited in regards to human sexuality.

There is no evidence that people are born gay or lesbian. Mr. Buttigieg’s bold assertion that God created him to be gay is false.

Sexual orientation is formed by about age two. There is substantial evidence that genetics play some part. If one is a believer who further believes (as Mr. Brown does) that God is both omniscient and omnipotent then God is responsible for whether people are gay. But that is an oversimplification because, as the American Psychological Association points out:

Research over several decades has
demonstrated that sexual orientation ranges
along a continuum, from exclusive attraction
to the other sex to exclusive attraction to the
same sex.

Here’s the best part of Brown’s lecture:

NOM’s mission is not to challenge the lifestyle choices of gays and lesbians. Rather, we have always held the view that they are free to live their lives as they choose. The fact that Mr. Buttigieg considers himself to be gay is of no particular import to us. What is of great importance, however, is using the false notion that sexual orientation is immutable to impact public policy on issues such as marriage and gender.

Sexual orientation is not a “lifestyle choice.” Sexual orientation has nothing to do with gender.  Those are separate constructs. No one has ever proven that sexual orientation is mutable. As the American Psychiatric Association states (above): “No credible evidence exists that any mental health
intervention can reliably and safely change sexual orientation.”

Brown goes on at considerable length to re-litigate Obergefell v. Hodges. The issue is settled. I see no reason to counter Mr. Brown because he is simply restating the losing arguments. They were not persuasive the first time around. Then, of course, there is this:

And this prattle:

NOM is committed to leading the fight to restore marriage to America’s laws. We have a realistic opportunity to do so with Justice Kennedy having retired and justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh now on the Court. Indeed, we are actively considering legal strategies as to how, and when, to seek to bring marriage back before the US Supreme Court.

Gorsuch has already stated that marriage equality is a settled issue. Kavanaugh’s mentor was Justice Kennedy who recommended Kavanaugh to be his successor. The greatest challenge might be Article III standing. What actual (not hypothetical) harm has a litigant endured as a direct result of same-sex marriage and is invalidating same-sex marriage necessary to address that harm? You will recall that California Proposition 8 was overturned in federal court. That was upheld by the Ninth Circuit. The appeal to the Supreme Court was dismissed because the promoters of Prop 8 lacked standing. That does not bode well for Mr. Brown and NOM.

Then there is the important doctrine of stare decisis. The Supreme Court has been very judicious in reversing itself. It took 58 years for the Court to overturn Plessy v. Ferguson with Brown v. Board of Education. Furthermore, when the Court has reversed itself, it has done so to widen the rights of citizens rather than to constrict them.

For example it only took 17 years for the Court to reverse Bowers v. Hardwick with Lawrence v. Texas. The sodomy laws that were permitted by Bowers were subsequently banned in Lawrence. I cannot find any Supreme Court reversal that narrowed the rights of citizens. In fact Obergefell explicitly overturned the the 1971 ruling in Baker v. Nelson.

Of course Brown follows the above with:

For us to be successful in the courts, or in the court of public opinion, in support of God’s creation of marriage – the universal truth about marriage lived in every place and time that man has existed – we need to have the strong, determined backing of supporters like you.

I give Brian S. Brown credit for being a continuing source of amusement. I have no idea what Brown independently believes. His impossible task is to create a narrative than aligns with the teachings of the Catholic Church irrespective of reality.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.