Amendment One: 11th Hour Thoughts On Faith, Homosexuality & Choice

These words were originally posted in an online neighborhood forum about Amendment One to address a neighbor who believes homosexuality is a sin and that he could not cast a vote that condoned it, regardless of any unintended consequences of the legislation.

As both sides of the Amendment One debate wrap up their closing arguments, it has become clear that the vote comes down to religion. Mostly, it comes down to religion and the debate over the nature of sexual orientation.

I have been chastised in past posts for my adamant stance that homosexuality is not a choice. Some in the LGBT camp have criticized me (and rightfully so) for making this assertion, since people should be free to choose to be gay if they so wish. I agree wholeheartedly -- it shouldn't be anyone's concern if two consenting adults choose to be intimate with one another. But civil rights causes are a marathon and not a sprint, unfortunately. And the linchpin of the gay marriage debate is indeed the belief held by many religious people that homosexuals have made a conscious choice to live a lifestyle of sin and abomination.

We do not choose our sexual orientations. Our sexual orientations are determined by genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors. The following organizations have issued statements concluding that we do not choose our sexual orientation: American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, National Association of Social Workers, Royal College of Psychiatrists, and American Academy of Pediatrics.

Sexual orientations are not binary. Bisexuality is an actual thing, and not just a phase in college.

Gender is also not binary. If you believe it is, please explain your beliefs to an acquaintance of mine who was born with ambiguous genitalia. Doctors and parents made a choice that she would be a girl. Guess what happened? She grew to only be interested in girls. Whoops. Gender dysphoria is a real thing.

At the time of the Bible, people did indeed believe that gender and sexual orientation were binary, just as they thought epilepsy was demonic possession, and just as they thought the earth was flat and at the center of the universe.

When we gained enough understanding, we realized that the sun was not a god, but rather a hot rock. Then we learned enough to understand that it wasn't a rock at all, but a fiery hot ball of plasma interwoven with magnetic fields.

Please read this article in The Atlantic exploring the nature of gender, and tell me that you believe that the boy in the article made a decision to be the way he is. No amount of church, or whippings, or therapy is going to alter what this boy is in his heart, and nobody should try to change that. To deny him the right to grow up to experience marriage and family is cruel and unusual punishment.

Brandon Simms, age 5
I realize that by pointing to examples of gender dysphoria I am not directly addressing the issue of gay marriage. It's not so different, however. My point is that we are who we are. The fact is that we are not all born as males who will grow up to be attracted to females, or females who will grow up to be attracted to males. Some of us will be born gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. We are attracted to who we are attracted to. We can't turn that off and pretend. We all can't simply go along with society and ignore who we are at our very core. To do so is to live a lie. To force others to do so is to punish them for their natural born traits.

The Bible, while a great source of morality for many, cannot be looked upon for every bit of moral guidance. We must adjust our morality to consider our modern understandings about biology and the cosmos. If we don't, we will simply continue to live by Bronze Age morals -- and we know what that has done to Afghanistan, where they still practice many of the same laws that we find in the Old Testament. We Americans abhor their enforcement of holy law. We would do well to abhor it in our own country, too.

Good luck with your vote. I just hope that when you cast your vote you will feel comfortable knowing that a FOR vote will be engraved in stone. You may come to change your mind about sexual orientation. Changing a constitutional amendment, however, is not easily done.

If there is any doubt in your heart -- if you feel anything in your heart for those people like my acquaintance or the boy in the above linked Atlantic article, you should understand that by voting FOR, you are harming those people. (You are also harming heterosexual couples, children, seniors, and women -- but we've been through that already.)

If your Bible tells you to harm them anyway, then I am afraid your morality is flawed.

My morality requires that I never do harm to another human being, and that I respect the rights of minorities, and that I don't force others to live by my beliefs.  Is not one of our central roles as human beings to reduce suffering? How can we reconcile this with the denial of rights to our fellow humans based on their natural traits?

Legalizing gay marriage or domestic partnerships does not force someone else's beliefs on you (Remember, they will still be illegal if you vote AGAINST). This is what so many fail to understand. Legalizing domestic partnerships/civil unions/marriage doesn't alter YOUR rights to form a union that aligns with your belief system. Your YES vote tomorrow, however, will definitely alter others' rights. That is unfortunate, and completely at odds with everything that has made America a beacon of freedom.

I fear I will wake up on Wednesday extremely disappointed in my state. But I feel confident that before I die, I will see NC begin to accept all people for who they are, and afford them the same rights, no matter what their natural traits. It is a shame that North Carolina will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

I thought we were beyond this, but I guess we will have another generation of this way of thinking, until we look back and are embarrassed by this legislation the way we are embarrassed by the inter-racial marriage ban amendment of 1875.


  1. I've listened to people in the last few weeks who honestly believe that LGBT persons are being "intolerant" of their religion by asking for equal rights. It is hard to understand this way of thinking. Especially as we have been down this road before.

    I was reading excerpts (can't find a full copy, just newspaper accounts that have bits)of an old sermon by Bob Jones (founder of Bob Jones University) from the 1920s. He in part talked about how the anti-KKK activists of his day were guilty of "intolerance."

    We have gotten past this religiously-espoused racism (to a large degree, at least, though there are hold-outs like the Christian Identity folks) that from my research appears to have been extremely common as many KKK leaders were also preachers in their communities. I am hopeful we will eventually get past this too. I just wish that would happen already.

  2. This is another excellent post. I've been following your blog for awhile. Thanks.

  3. I love your articles and will continue to read them as well as pass them along. I wish people would shake well before using their heads,tongues or anything they do to communicate with others. And also their hearts...hate only breeds more hate.