NEW YORK – Truth Wins Out praised rock star Melissa Etheridge today for asking former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson during last night’ Human Rights Campaign presidential forum on Logo Television whether he thought homosexuality was a choice. Last week, Truth Wins Out’ executive director Wayne Besen told the Washington Blade newspaper that this was the one question the organization wanted to come up in the symposium. The organization was gratified that this crucial issue was addressed, but was disappointed with Richardson’ answer.
“Richardson stumbled and bumbled his way through what should have been a no-brainer,” said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. “While we praise his record as governor, Richardson needs to lift his game if he wants to become president. On this key question, he really missed a key opportunity to impress the GLBT Community.”
“It’s a choice,” he replied, to audible groans in the live audience.
Figuring that Richardson had misheard her query, Etheridge rephrased her question, asking if ‘a homosexual is born that way, or do you think that around seventh grade, we go, ‘Ooo, I want to be gay.'”
Richardson seemed oddly perplexed.
“It’s, it’s, it, you know, I don’t see this as an issue of science or definition,” he said. “I see gays and lesbians as people, as a matter of human decency. I see it as a matter of love and companionship and people loving each other. You know, I don’t like to categorize people. I don’t like to answer definitions like that, that you know perhaps are grounded in science or something else that I don’t understand.”
Today, Richardson’ campaign issued a much-appreciated clarifying statement.
“Let me be clear — I do not believe that sexual orientation or gender identity happen by choice,” Richardson said in the statement printed by the Voice. “But I’m not a scientist and the point I was trying to make is that no matter how it happens, we are all equal and should be treated that way under the law.”
This question is critical because right wing organizations have spent millions of dollars to trick Americans into believing that homosexuality is a casual lifestyle choice or a dysfunction that can be treated through prayer and therapy. The reason they have taken such an interest in this issue is because poll after poll shows that when people believe that homosexuality is inborn, a dramatic and undeniable shift towards full acceptance occurs.
- A November 2004 Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates poll shows that 79 percent of people who think homosexuality is inborn support civil unions or marriage equality. Among those who believe sexual orientation is a choice, only 22 percent support civil unions or marriage rights.
- In a May 2000 Associated Press poll, 59 percent of people who believe gays are born with a homosexual orientation support same-sex marriage, while 69 percent of people who believe gays choose their sexual orientation are opposed to these marriages.
- A May 2007 Gallup Poll showed that 42 percent of Americans say homosexuality is inborn, compared with 13 percent in 1977. This seismic shift is a key reason support for gay rights legislation has increased in recent years.
“In a free country it should not matter whether sexual orientation is inborn or a choice,” said Besen. “However, polls show that this is the single most important factor in determining a person’ attitude towards GLBT equality. The overwhelming majority of gay and straight people would agree that their sexual orientation is natural and not chosen. We are grateful to
Melissa Etheridge and the Human Rights Campaign for ensuring this question was part of the dialogue in this historic presidential forum.”
Additionally, Truth Wins Out praised the Human Rights Campaign for hosting the monumental gathering and making sure GLBT concerns play a role in the presidential selection process.
“The gay community should be proud of this historic debate,” said Besen. “We expect our Washington lobby groups to exert influence and the Human Rights Campaign’ Executive Director Joe Solmonese has delivered and created a terrific way to gauge the candidates stances’ on gay and lesbian issues. It is a great day to be a gay American.”
Truth Wins OUT is a non-profit organization that counters right wing propaganda, exposes the “ex-gay” myth and educates America about gay life. For more information, visit www.TruthWinsOut.org.
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