Good grief! Another elected official in Oklahoma has embarrassed our state by making a bigoted and ignorant statement about something for which she has not a medical or academic clue. This time the subject is homosexuality.
State Representative Sally Kern, in a recently televised speech, stated that homosexuality is more dangerous than terrorism; that gays are destroying our society. She goes on to compare gay people to cancer, calling them “deadly, and destroying our children and this nation.” Hers is the kind of remark that leads people to think Oklahoma and ignorance are synonyms. It is particularly discouraging to those of us who believe what the world needs now more than ever are speeches with words expressing love, compassion, cooperation, and understanding rather than hatred, divisiveness and intolerance. Even more, when we have a sense that moral judgments should, at the minimum, start with a belief in the brotherhood of Man under the fatherhood of God, her comments are downright offensive. They are an insult to any thoughtful person’s sense of reason and intelligence. We must never forget that all homosexuals are born of heterosexual parents.
Sure, it has yet to be proven beyond debate that gay and lesbian behavior is genetically embedded in those who are; just as it has never been proven that sexual preference is a matter of individual choice. But herein lies a remarkably sobering question. What if gay and lesbian tendencies are indeed genetic? How would this modify the categorical imperatives? What impact would this have on society’s collective moral conscience? How would one feel if he could know with certainty whenever he encounters a gay that, except for biological fate, there he himself is!
Besides, regardless of how we may feel about this issue, it is getting increasingly more difficult to argue that genes play no role in homosexuality. In the last 15 years, more and more research results are leading scientists to an increasing likelihood that one or more genes are connected with gayness. This has already been proven in monkeys, cattle, fruit flies, in DNA tests with X chromosomes, in brain differences between gays and straights; and even in tendencies that twins are more likely to share the same sexual orientation than other siblings.
And this brings me to the real point of this musing. If gayness turns out to be genetic, then it can no longer be considered a 100% non-impeachable moral sin. Moral values will no more depend on sexual orientation than morality depends on religion. As hard as we have often tried over the centuries, no individual or group has ever been able to supplant or replace the innate human capacity for knowing the difference between right and wrong. The bottom line is that moral judgments are based as much on reason as on blind faith or blind feelings. There is a morality in reason just as there is a morality in dogma. It begins with the individual’s life as the primary value, and the recognition that that life contains the same spark of the Divine as yours and mine. We are all Sons or Daughters of God.
Of course, we still have to ultimately identify the further values that will enable us to sustain our life with some sense of fulfillment and contentment. But, in the overall scheme of things, our very nature demands that we not live by random urges or animal instincts. In fact, most of us don’t. Rather, we live by a moral principle which distinguishes us from animals and upon which our existence fundamentally depends. That principle is reason. Some prefer to call it good old common sense. It is the faculty which enables us to experience the world, understand it, and make judgments of fact about it.
Just because a particular religion holds its doctrines to be absolutely true is no evidence that they are. Sally Kern’s convictions which have convinced her that gays are as much a threat to the world as terrorism is no evidence that they are.
But then, educated, intelligent, reasonable, and compassionate people already know that. This is why Sally Kern’s recent remarks are so embarrassing to Oklahomans.