Question Begging on a Grand Scale

The Fallacious Case for Homosexual “Rights”

In the debate over homosexuality and homosexual “rights”, the pro-homosexual camp makes a gratuitous assumption: homosexuality is a genetic, physical orientation.  It must, therefore, be regarded in the same category as the colour of one’s hair.  Just as you would not discriminate, argue against, nor condemn someone for skin colour or having red hair, neither would you argue against homosexuality. 

We say the assumption is gratuitous because there is no foundation for it, despite assiduous research and many false alleys along the way.
  It turns out there is too much slam dunk contrary evidence–and as Popper reminds us, logically you need just one piece of verifiable contrary evidence to reject a scientific hypothesis as false. 

The first kind of evidence is behavioural.  People professing to be homosexual have changed to practise bi-sexuality and heterosexuality.  A recent longitudinal, seven year study 

. . . followed 61 subjects for a period of six or seven years, finding that 23 percent of them were, as they reported, successful in converting to heterosexual orientation. An additional 30 percent reported what the Christian Examiner calls “stable behavioral chastity with significate dis-identification with gay orientation.”  Study co-author Stanton L. Jones (Jones conducted it along with Mark A. Yarhouse), a psychologist at Wheaton College, explains:

“The results that we report in our study suggest that change is definitely not impossible, and it’s probably not uncommon, either. That doesn’t mean that change is easy. We think that these results need to be taken into account as a way of respecting the religious freedom of individuals.”

These results, whether valid or not, will likely create angst and debate between those individuals who believe conversion is possible and those who adhere to the notion that people are born gay and cannot change.

Such things, of course, would not happen if there were a homosexual gene.  One cannot change oneself to be a natural red head.  One cannot will oneself to be non-diabetic.

A second kind of contrary evidence is  research done with identical twins.  One study claimed  to have found evidence of a homosexual gene, only to have it shot down by reviewers:


Michael Bailey and Richard Pillard, researchers at Northwestern University and the Boston University School of Medicine, carried out a similar experiment, examining 56 pairs of identical twins, 54 pairs of fraternal twins, 142 non-twin brothers of twins, and 57 pairs of adoptive brothers (1991, 48:1089-1096).  Bailey and Pillard were looking to see if homosexuality was passed on through familial lines, or if one could point to environmental factors as the cause.  Their hypothesis: if homosexuality is an inherited trait, then more twin brothers would be expected to have the same orientation than non-twin or non-biological brothers.

Their Reported Findings

  • 52% of identical (monozygotic) twins of homosexual men were homosexual
  • 22% of fraternal (dizygotic) twins were likewise homosexual
  • 11% of adoptive brothers of homosexual men were homosexual
  • 9.2% of non-twin biological siblings reported homosexual orientations (Bailey and Pillard, 1991, “A Genetic Study of Male Sexual Orientation”)
  • 48% of identical twins of homosexual women were likewise homosexual
  • 16% of fraternal (dizygotic) twins were likewise homosexual
  • 6% of adoptive sisters of homosexual women were likewise homosexual (Bailey and Benishay, 1993, “Familial Aggregation of Female Sexual Orientation”)

Problems with Bailey and Pillard’s Study

While the authors acknowledged some of the flaws with their research, they still were quoted in Science News as saying: “Our research shows that male sexual orientation is substantially genetic” (as quoted in Bower, 1992, 141:6).  However, the most glaring observation is that clearly not 100% of the identical twins “inherited” homosexuality.  If there was, in fact, a “gay gene,” then all of the identical twins should have reported a homosexual orientation.  And yet, in nearly half of the twins studied, one brother was not homosexual.  In a technical-comment letter in Science, Neil Risch and colleagues pointed out: “The biological brothers and adoptive brothers showed approximately the same rates.  This latter observation suggests that there is no genetic component, but rather an environmental component shared in families” (1993, 262:2063).  In fact, more adoptive brothers shared homosexuality than non-twin biological brothers.  If there was a genetic factor, this result would be counter to the expected trend.  Byne and Parsons noted:

However, the concordance rate for homosexuality in nontwin biologic brothers was only 9.2—significantly lower than that required by simple genetic hypothesis, which, on the basis of shared genetic material, would predict similar concordance rates for DZ [dizygotic] twins and nontwin biologic brothers.  Furthermore, the fact that the concordance rates were similar for nontwin biologic brothers (9.2%) and genetically unrelated adoptive brothers (11.0%) is at odds with a simple genetic hypothesis, which would predict a higher concordance rate for biological siblings (1993, 50:229).

A more recently published twin study failed to find similar concordance rates.  King and McDonald studied 46 homosexual men and women who were twins.  The concordance rates that they reported were 10%, or 25% with monozygotic twins—depending on whether or not the bisexuals were included along with the homosexuals.  The rates for dizygotic twins were 8% or 12%, again, depending on whether bisexuals were included (King and McDonald, 1992).  Byne and Parsons commented: “These rates are significantly lower than those reported by Bailey and Pillard; in comparison of the MZ [monozygotic] concordance rate, including bisexuals (25%), with the comparable figure from Bailey and Pillard (52%)” (p. 230).  They went on to observe: “Furthermore, if the concordance rate is similar for MZ and DZ twins, the importance of genetic factors would be considerably less than that suggested by Bailey and Pillard” (p. 230, emp. added).

The debate over homosexual “rights” changes considerably as soon as the assumption on homosexuality being an inherited condition one is born with is exploded.  

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