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Equality Does Not Depend On Biology

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Cynthia Nixon’s recent comments are very wise:

Regarding her late-in-life sexual orientation switch, the “Sex and the City” star said:

I gave a speech recently, an empowerment speech to a gay audience, and it included the line ‘I’ve been straight and I’ve been gay, and gay is better.’ And they tried to get me to change it, because they said it implies that homosexuality can be a choice. And for me, it is a choice. I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me.

Writer Alex Witchel reports that “her face was red and her arms were waving” as she continued, “It seems we’re just ceding this point to bigots who are demanding it, and I don’t think that they should define the terms of the debate,” Nixon said. “I also feel like people think I was walking around in a cloud and didn’t realize I was gay, which I find really offensive.”

Nixon may think her comments are “politically incorrect,” but they also represent what should be the clear progressive position. Obviously, people’s attractions are driven to a greater or lesser extent by biological factors, and also obviously people have agency. The precise ratios, however, are completely irrelevant to political questions about LBGT rights. The issue is not just whether the means proponents of legally subordinating gay and lesbian use will “work”; it’s that the ends are reprehensible, because there is in fact nothing wrong with being gay or lesbian. It os a profound violation of human dignity for the state to police consensual behavior among results irrespective of to what extent one’s behavior is driven by biology or agency. It is fundamentally wrong and undemocratic for the state to prevent a same-sex couple from marrying on the same terms as an opposite-sex couple regardless of whether the couple is exclusively attracted to members of the same sex, chose their partner from a number of plausible same-sex or opposite-sex partners, or for that matter is asexual but wants to codify a long-term companionship. To put too much emphasis on the biological roots of sexuality, as Nixon says, concedes way too much.

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