The Choice Narrative
Over the past ten years, the fight for gay rights has swept the nation and has become a political battle that has entered just about every conversation. Although previously the fight for gay rights seemed incomprehensible, it is now a social norm to support rights such as marriage equality. However, one of the most detrimental arguments in support of gay marriage is what I call “the choice narrative.” The choice narrative is the reasoning that gays and lesbians do not have a choice over their sexuality because they are born that way.
My question is, why are people so fixated on whether or not being gay is a choice?
Philosophy Now poses a valid question asking,
“Would it be all right to discriminate against gay people if it were purely a choice? Discrimination on the basis of religion is not generally regarded as acceptable, and religion is certainly a matter of choice. Some straight people choose to experiment with homosexual behavior – is it moral to discriminate against them?”
While science does show that being gay versus being straight has its differences in genes and the structure of the brain, by using this narrative, people fall into the “moral” understanding which underlies discrimination and bigotry.
The unfortunate issue that arises is that it’s simply easier for people to accept that being gay is not a matter of choice. Attaching a scientific reason to a widely accepted moral understanding allows people to accept gay people’s fundamental rights. But why is it any less acceptable if being gay were a choice? By framing the argument this way, the choice narrative doesn’t seem to promote equality anymore because it “frames homosexuality as a second preference, justifiable only in the eventuality that nature has prevented an individual from pursuing a heterosexual relationship.” While many believe homosexuality to be unnatural, this line of reasoning “merely excuses individual homosexuals from blame.”
It becomes clear that “whether you believe in gay by genes or gay by choice, the ‘why’ doesn’t really matter.” Rather, it’s a matter of understanding one another and allowing the same opportunity. While the choice narrative argument protects the well-being of gay people due to people’s averse understandings of homosexuality, it ultimately isn’t fair to accept them merely on the basis that “it’s not their fault.” It is not fair to attach religious beliefs and moral understandings to another’s way of life. What’s important to understand is that everyone deserves the same opportunity to live their lives freely. Regardless of sexual preference, allowing for equal rights on the basis of justice is a step in the right direction towards a more accepting and open society. Gay rights is an issue that will continue to sweep the nation and deserves to be accepted with open arms, not a limited understanding.