Recent polls have shown that most Americans believe that homosexuals are “born that way” rather than become gay as the result of environmental factors. In fact, perpetuating the belief that sexual orientation is innate has been crucial to the gay rights movement. According to the most recent Gallup Poll on the subject, 88 percent of people who believe homosexuals are “born that way” support the legality of same-sex marriage, while only 39 percent of those who believe homosexuality is the result of environmental factors support the legality of same-sex marriage.
So, what happens when science proves that homosexuals aren’t “born that way”? Perhaps we’ll find out. A new comprehensive scientific study of the biological roots of sexual orientation released Thursday proved that there no “gay gene” and that genetic factors are insignificant in determining sexual orientation.
The research, which analyzed data on DNA and sexual experiences from almost half a million people, found there are thousands of genetic variants linked to same-sex sexual behavior, most with very small effects.
Five of the genetic markers were “significantly” associated with same-sex behavior, the researchers said, but even these are far from being predictive of a person’s sexual preferences.
“We scanned the entire human genome and found a handful – five to be precise – of locations that are clearly associated with whether a person reports in engaging in same-sex sexual behavior,” said Andrea Ganna, a biologist at the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Finland who co-led the research.
According to Ganna, these genetic variances have “a very small effect” on sexual behavior, and combined, only explain “considerably less than 1% of the variance in the self-reported same-sex sexual behavior.” This means that non-genetic factors, including environment, upbringing, personality, and nurture “are far more significant in influencing a person’s choice of sexual partner, just as with most other personality, behavioral and physical human traits,” according to the researchers.
There have been many other studies conducted in the past that have attempted to resolve the nature vs. nurture debate, but due to their small sample sizes were considered inadequate. “Previous studies were small and underpowered,” according to Ganna. “So we decided to form a large international consortium and collected data for (almost) 500,000 people, (which) is approximately 100 times bigger than previous studies on this topic.” This new study “analyzed survey responses and performed analyses known as genome-wide association studies (GWAS) on data from more than 470,000 people who had given DNA samples and lifestyle information to the UK Biobank and to the U.S. genetics testing company 23andMeInc.”
Will the release of this comprehensive study finally put this issue to rest? Doubtful. Past studies have done little to shift public opinion on this. But, the size and comprehensive nature of this new study ought to crush the “born that way” myth. What is the LGBT lobby to do? It appears they are trying to spin this study as reaffirming to their beliefs. “This new research also re-confirms the long-established understanding that there is no conclusive degree to which nature or nurture influence how a gay or lesbian person behaves,” said Zeke Stokes, the chief programs officer of the gay rights group GLAAD. Clearly, there will be a lot of denial from groups like GLAAD and the left that this new study completely undermined the foundation of the gay rights movement.