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Homosexuality: open letter to Christie



Chris Christie of New Jersey: did he learn anything?

To Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey: your signing of a new law banning the treatment of homosexual tendencies is a grave mistake. You rely too heavily on prejudiced opinions and junk science for your conclusion. You have in effect conferred protection on a mental disturbance, protection that no amount of direct observation can justify. Worse yet: when people lament their homosexual tendencies, you have just told them, “You’re gay. You were born that way. Accept it.” Of course what you do not realize is that homosexuality is a learned response, a teachable response, and a recruitable response. Such recruitment took place in ancient Greece, and again in medieval Rome. And recent evidence suggests it is taking place again.

My credentials

Advocates of homosexuality (like those of goo-to-you evolution) often accuse their critics of pseudoscience, or of a “war against science.” They have it backwards. A war against science does rage, and the liberals have waged it since Darwin. They wage it by censoring all material that contradicts or challenges their hypotheses. So it is with goo-to-you evolution, and so it is with homosexuality as “natural and normal.”

So before you, Governor Christie, or anyone else, asks: I hold the degree of Doctor of Medicine. I also received the degree of Bachelor of Science from Yale College in 1980. Until some years ago, I was a laboratory administrator at a 250-bed community hospital right here in New Jersey. I got my medical training in the early 1980’s. This was after the American Psychiatric Association first dropped homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders (the DSM). But it was before all the medical schools discontinued all the textbooks that still discussed homosexuality for what it is, and what childhood influences might cause it.

I ought to mention one more thing: I am the one who, nearly four years ago, first broke the “Climate-gate” story out of the narrow niche of climate-skeptical blogs and into the realm of journalism. Thirty-five thousand page views in twenty-four hours, and citations in The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere, should suffice to prove what I say about my role in that affair.

An inexact science

Chris Christie violates parental and adult rights by banning homosexual conversion therapy.

Chris Christie holds a town hall meeting in Hillsborough, NJ, on March 2, 2011. Photo: Bob Jagendorf, CC BY 2.0 Generic License

First, bear in mind that psychiatry has never been an exact science, Sigmund Freud notwithstanding. Some might argue that medicine itself is more art than science. But psychiatry (literally, doctoring a soul) has never been about much more than guesswork.

The APA first decided that homosexuality was not a mental disorder in 1973. But when I was in medical school, they still recognized ego-dystonic homosexuality as a disordered condition. And what does ego-dystonic mean? It means the patient doesn’t like it, and wants to change. Forty years ago, the APA offered some hope that people who wanted to change, could change. Now, of course, they arbitrarily declare that they cannot change and ought not try to change. (Don’t just take my word for it. Visit the home page of NARTH. And by the way: you will hear from them, if you haven’t already, if this statement by them is any indicator.)


I say “arbitrary” because that is what it is. In fact, the APA made their 1973 decision, only after active, practicing homosexuals gained a majority in the APA and took over the editorship of the DSM. Determined as they were never to change, they declared that they, and others like them, weren’t sick. They grudgingly admitted some people didn’t like that tendency. Then in 1987 they struck the phrase “ego-dystonic homosexuality” from their catalog of mental illness. (The International Classification of Disease still lists it. Or did, as of this publication.)

A homosexual gene?

Geneticists toyed with the concept of isolating a gene, or a chromosome, that determined homosexuality for years. In July of 1993, Hamer et al. published, in the journal Science, the first “study” trying to suggest such a thing. But what did they find? They thought they had a particular gene, or chromosome, that showed up in homosexuals and their families more often than in “the straight world.” Then in 1994, Science carried this disclaimer:

Time and time again, scientists have claimed that particular genes or chromosomal regions are associated with behavioral traits, only to withdraw their findings when they were not replicated. “Unfortunately,” says Yale’s [Dr. Joel] Gelernter, “it’s hard to come up with many” findings linking specific genes to complex human behaviors that have been replicated. “…All were announced with great fanfare; all were greeted unskeptically in the popular press; all are now in disrepute.”

And for good reason. It can’t happen. Not in a million years. No geneticist, or psychiatrist, can possibly show how a gene, or a group of genes, can determine how any given person will orient himself or herself sexually, notwithstanding the moral examples that said person’s mentors set for him or her.

Moral examples are the key. Recently someone claimed that, if one identical twin is homosexual, the other has just under even chances of being homosexual also. By comparison, estimates of the prevalence of homosexuality in the American population vary from the 2 percent that the Alan Guttmacher Institute guesses, to the 10 percent that homosexual activists want to believe. One critic of this twin study commented tartly:

While the authors interpreted their findings as evidence for a genetic basis for homosexuality, we think that the data in fact provide strong evidence for the influence of the environment.

And what is the relevant part of the environment? Start with the moral examples that a person’s guardians, rest of the family, and community set. Contemporary community standards, said the United States Supreme Court in setting their test for what works are legally obscene. They add up to one thing: what moral examples will people set.


And then consider actual homosexual encounters, typically between unwilling boys and adults who will not take “no” for an answer. Matt Barber addresses that issue here. He cites two sources. First is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have found that homosexual men are “at least three times more likely to report CSA (childhood sexual abuse)” than heterosexual men.

Second is the Archives of Sexual Behavior, and more particularly a 2001 study on the subject:

46 percent of homosexual men and 22 percent of homosexual women reported having been molested by a person of the same gender. This contrasts to only 7 percent of heterosexual men and 1 percent of heterosexual women reporting having been molested by a person of the same gender.

Surely any victim of such molestation has the right to seek help in clarifying whatever feelings their attackers awakened in them. And their parents have the right to seek such help for them. This new law forbids that option, thus breaching the rights of victim and patient alike.

The environment rules

Molestation aside: Governor Christie, if you doubt that community moral examples are important, consider this fact: the incidence and prevalence of homosexuality in any society move up, or down, with the level of tolerance for the practice, and the exposure of ordinary lawful residents to that practice. In ancient Greece (at least, before the coming of Rome), the prevalence of homosexuality among men approached 50 percent. In ancient Rome, of course, it stayed at about 2 percent. In fact, most Greek men, in their apprenticeships in the law (or rhetoric, as what passed for the discipline of law was then known), had to give homosexual favors in exchange for their legal/rhetorical education.

More to the point: until very recently, female homosexual activists did not hold that they were born that way. Far from it. They regarded this position, on the part of their male counterparts, as a lame excuse. To a female homosexual, homosexuality was a choice – and an explicitly political one.


William Tucker, at National Review, addressed this issue squarely in the 1990’s. He took note of the explicit declarations, that pervaded the feminist literature, especially of the 1970’s and 1980’s, that the only truly liberating mode of sexual expression for women was explicitly homosexual.

Some of these were the same kinds of people who, in the 1970’s and 1980’s, coined words like “herstory” to replace history. They held that history comes from the English pronoun “his,” as in “his story.” They forgot, if they ever knew, that history comes from an ancient Greek word for an inquiry into past events. The first popularizer of the word that became the English word history was Herodotus.

Now you will ask how I knew this. I know it from my personal memory. I attended Yale College from 1976 through 1980. I read some of that feminist literature, read review after review in The New York Times Review of Books, and listened to quite a sufficiency of women who would say things to me on precisely the lines I mentioned above.

You don’t hear so much about women choosing to be homosexual today. Then again, you haven’t heard quite so much about women fighting a no-holds-barred war of the sexes, either. Muhammad said “all war is deception.” I put it to you that homosexual activists, male and female, argue either choice or born with it as and whenever it suits them.

A right to treat

Clearly this new law violates a fundamental parental right, and for no good reason. Matt Barber, describing the findings of an APA task force on sexual “reorientation” (for lack of a better term), says:


The APA also acknowledged that there is no evidence whatsoever that change therapy harms minors. Matt Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, addressed this, the most outrageous aspect of the law: “The very report that the governor cited for signing this law also admitted that there is absolutely zero research – none – regarding the effect of change therapy with minors.”

So why does the sponsor of that new law openly threaten to have DYFS remove children from their families when they are trying to repair damage that another Coach Sandusky has done?

Finally, this new law violates the right of an adult to seek treatment. The right to refuse treatment includes a right to seek treatment.

What kind of society have we, that respects the right of a person to change his or her sex, but not the right to “straighten oneself out” if they want to do that?

Genetic tendencies do exist for some other illnesses. One prime example is alcoholism. Now: shall the government forbid treatment to encourage someone to abstain from alcoholic drinks on the theory that all who imbibe such drinks to excess have inherited a tendency so to act?

More to the point, homosexuals can change. Back to Matt Barber:


The taskforce confessed that such therapy has shown “varying degrees of satisfaction and varying perceptions of success.” It acknowledged within its own skewed, very limited “study” that some people had “altered their sexual orientation. … [P]articipants had multiple endpoints, including LGB identity, ex-gay identity, no sexual orientation identity, and a unique self-identity. … Individuals report a range of effects from their efforts to change their sexual orientation, including both benefits and harm.”

In plain English: Homosexuals can change, and have changed. They have to want to change; else they never will. But they who want to change, have the right to change, and to seek help in changing. Declaring a priori that they cannot change, and then declaring, in law, that they may not change, breaches their rights at least as much as trying to insist they change. Indeed it puts you in the untenable position of legislating a sexual preference in the name of freedom of said preference. (And how untenable it is, you will soon find out when NARTH and Liberty Counsel sue the State to stop that law. As they have explicitly announced they will do.)

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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