Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

Here’s the Science, Mr. Cain

Jim Burroway

October 6th, 2011

Godfather Pizza magnate and GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain appeared on ABC’s The View this week, to talk about, well, I suppose a lot of things. But the thing that seems to have gotten the most attention is his views on gays.

YouTube Preview Image

Joy Behar: I want to ask you about your conservative position on gay marriage and civil unions…

Herman Cain: Are we changing subjects?

Behar: Yeah, I’m changing the topic a little bit because you’re a social conservative…

Cain: Yes.

Behar: …strictly, I think…

Cain: Yes.

Behar: You would like to roll back… bring back “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” I think that you believe that being gay is a choice.

Cain: Yes.

[…]

Behar: It has been basically… I think that to think that gay is a choice, I don’t know how to respond to that. I mean I don’t think that anybody in this world wants to be gay considering all of the vilification that is brought upon someone who is gay. Why would you choose that?

Cain: Well, you show me the science that says that it’s not and I’ll be persuaded. Right now it’s my opinion against the opinions of others who feel differently. That’s just a difference of opinions.

[…]

Well, as we like to say in the comments sections at BTB, Mr. Cain is certainly entitled to his opinion. But since he asked for someone to show him the science, we are happy to oblige. And to start off, we can point him to research conducted by folks who are fellow conservatives like himself — the Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse ex-gay study. That’s the study that found that out of 98 gay and bisexual people who entered the study who really wanted to choose to be straight, only fourteen could do so after seven years. And even then, those few found that their choice was not “unequivocal and uncomplicated.” Which is why Jones and Yarhouse wrote that their study “is not an optimistic projection of likelihood of change for one considering that process.”

Remember, these are major advocates for choosing not to be gay writing this.

And so it’s not surprising that the American Psychological Association — you know, scientists — after reviewing hundreds of studies (PDF:  816KB/138 pages), found that “enduring change to an individual’s sexual orientation is uncommon,” and that “there was some evidence to indicate that individuals experienced harm” from such attempts. And it’s also why the rest of the medical and mental health professions agree that trying to force a choice where none exists is contrary to the best medical and psychological evidence.

Those are the facts, the science you asked for. But as always Mr. Cain, you are certainly entitled to your opinion.

Comments

POST COMMENT | COMMENT RSS 2.0

Lynn David
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

He’ll never put himself in a position where he has to discuss any science on the matter. And should he do so, he’ll be sure to have some pseudo-science from NARTH to back him up.

Ivan
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

Perhaps he’d also like to see the evidence that people like him are often closet cases.

Charles
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

I like Herman Cain but on this subject he is truly stuck on stupid. He has run several businesses and should know the simple and obvious fact that people don’t choose to be gay.

Aeval
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

Even if it was a choice, what happend to the freedom of choice, to the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

Henri
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

I still maintain that anyone who thinks gay is a choice is admitting to having same sex attractions. Obviously, they have made a conscious choice to ignore those and focus on their straight feelings.

dave
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

He says show me the science that it’s not a choice. Well Mr Dumbell, you show me the science that it IS a choice.

Ian
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

He had already been proven wrong… and it was exactly before he brought up the challenge!
And i don’t think the studies you cite would work, he’s not talking about ‘gays can change’, he’s talking about if it was even a choice, whether one could ‘step into homosexuality’.

dave
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

Cain: Well, you show me the science that says that it’s not and I’ll be persuaded.

Well Mr Cain, you show me the science that says that it IS a choice.

BlackDog
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

When science conclusively proves them wrong, then they’ll just say that science itself is wrong and a sin.

Oh, wait…some of them say that already…

Ian
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

Even NARTH can’t help him with this one, because they didn’t do ANY study about how gays ‘choose to be’.

Soren456
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

Cain, and those who use the “choice” canard, always fail to describe their own point of choice.

If I had a choice, it follows that so did they. Yet I’ve never heard them tell of it, nor have I ever heard an interviewer demand to hear it.

Harry
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

Being gay is not a choice.

Being homosexual is.

You choose who you sleep with. You don’t choose your attractions. It’s pretty simple.

You might say that “no one should have to suppress their attractions” or something like that. And guess what? In this society, you don’t! You can CHOOSE to act on them or CHOOSE not to.

But in the end, no one “hates you” for “who you are”. They object to volitional behavior. And until you get this through your thick skulls, you will continue to lash out at phantom menaces and suppress the civil rights of other people.

Anyway, I don’t buy the “gays are vilified” meme that idiot Behar. What planet does she live on? Homosexuals need their victimhood so that they can continue to receive special treatment.

Jim Burroway
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

HArry, like all homophobic trolls who descend to non-sequiter arguments, completely misses the point. You can choose who you sleep with — David Vitter and Newt Gingrich proves that — but that doesn’t mean you can choose who you fall in love with.

As for villification, Harry proved his own point in subsequent posts he left which violate are comments policy and were removed. He is now on moderation.

Soren456
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

@Harry:

Forget Behar. On what planet do you live?

Dave Sandidge
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

We’re all born with crosses we have to bear. For some it may be alcohol, or drugs, or illicit sex, or stealing, or lying, or any number of things we feel we’re compelled to do. For some it is homosexuality. You cannot justify something when, in your own heart, you know it is wrong.

Jim Burroway
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

You cannot justify something when, in your own heart, you know it is wrong.

Of course, that is correct. Which is why I find that being gay is so right. It is precisely because it is what I know in my heart.

Timothy Kincaid
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

Dave,

You speak of this cross to bear.

Although – having put a great deal more thought, study and prayer into the subject than you ever will do – I disagree with you about the rightness or wrongness of sexual relationships, I will – for the point of argument – accept your terms. I’ll predicate this point on the notion that being gay is a cross to bear.

But having accepted that presumption, the rest of your argument then becomes contradictory. By labeling sexual orientation a compulsion and comparing it to other compulsions such as stealing, lying, or illicit sex, you then open yourself – and Cain – up to comparison of your response.

Let’s remember that Behar placed the discussion in terms of social policy such as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. And it is in those terms that we will look at your attitudes (as reasonably surmised by your defense of Cain).

Cain would forbid gay persons from serving in the military. To be very specific, Cain would forbid gay persons who are virginal faithful church attendees who are teetotalers, drug free, truthful and honest from serving in the nation’s military. (Ironically, gay persons with a compulsion towards lying might have a loophole).

Cain would not forbid heterosexual from serving in the military. To be very specific, Cain would NOT forbid heterosexuals who are promiscuous, drunk for every off-duty minute, and who feel not even the slightest hesitation to lie with abandon. (In fact, skillful liars seem to advance quickly in the military.)

Because to Cain, and to you, behavior really isn’t the issue. It’s the facade you hide behind. And even orientation (what you call “compulsion”) isn’t the issue.

What you demand – and will fiercely punish if you don’t get – is agreement.

Those homosexuals who agree with you that “in their own heart, they know it’s wrong” are fine. But let a gay person say, “no, my orientation is not an abomination” and they challenge your world, they upset your status, and they threaten your power.

That is the choice that you and Cain object to so strenuously. The choice to no longer live in subservience or to see oneself as inferior.

Oh, you can’t admit that. Even acknowledging your motivations to yourself would bring recognition of the horrific, anti-Jesus, freedom-opposing, dictatorial attitude you carry. You might even feel guilt and have to question some of your arrogance and presumption. So you will never admit it.

But late at night when your defenses are down you will recall this. And truly you cannot justify something when, in your own heart, you know it is wrong.

Chip
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

@Dave Sandidge:

If homosexuality is the cross that some people must bear, it must be something that all people have the potential to experience, as Paul says in I Corinthians 10:13. Thus, the existence of even one person who is incapable of experiencing homosexual feelings disproves the notion that it is a temptation we must overcome.

If you are interested in pursuing the matter further, I encourage you visit the following site:

http://hoperemains.webs.com/

Priya Lynn
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

Harry said “But in the end, no one “hates you” for “who you are”. They object to volitional behavior.”.

That’s B.S. Harry. Countless virgin gay teenagers have been bullied relentlessly (some to death) solely because they are same sex attracted – it has nothing to do with behavior. And ultimately you have no moral right to hate and oppress people for the harmless behavior of gayness.

Dave said “You cannot justify something when, in your own heart, you know it is wrong.”.

You have no basis on which to claim gayness is wrong. The only things that are wrong are those which hurt others. Gayness by definition is moral.

Charles
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

Well said Timothy. Perhaps you should add that the African-American community has a poor history of accepting gay men. And, the AIDS infection rate in their community is far higher than any other community.

Priya Lynn
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

Further to Harry’s comment “But in the end, no one “hates you” for “who you are”. They object to volitional behavior.”.

Harry, the army’s DADT policy wasn’t to fire anyone who had same sex sex, it was to fire anyone who was same sex attracted. Same sex attracted individuals were fired regardless of whether or not there was any evidence of same sex sex, in fact there was no attempt to demonstrate sexual conduct was taking place in any of the firings.

You’re a liar Harry and you know it – gays are persecuted merely for being same sex attracted. Bigots like you don’t care whether or not they are sexually active.

Pacal
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

I’ve never gotten the the “choice” arguement. Like when the hell did I ever make the “choice” to get turned on by a guy? I just had those feelings I never chosed them. The fact that strobgly motivated individuals who want to be hetrosexual yet have homosexual feelings find it virtually impossible to get rid of those feelings makes the “choice” arguement look pretty absurd. Of course people who think like that will then switch tack and argue that their talking about behaviot in which case their desire to help make other peoples lives more misierable is obvious.

Donny D.
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

Lynn David wrote:

He’ll never put himself in a position where he has to discuss any science on the matter. And should he do so, he’ll be sure to have some pseudo-science from NARTH to back him up.

I don’t think he would. Because cozying up to NARTH would be too incendiary.

I think his statement was a lot more well-planned than it might seem. He implicitly pushes the idea that there is no science supporting the unchangability of sexual orientation, while not touching the pseudo-science that supports the choice/change notion. If he can get people to buy that there is no science against what he says, than what he believes is apparently equal in truth value to those who support reality.

He’s also injecting an anti-gay meme into the political culture, or giving it a lot more publicity than it’s had so far.

Voice of Reason
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

To say it is a choice may over simplify, but the “studies” cited are merely sociological observations. In my personal experience I have observed several gays whose fathers were in the home but entirely absent with no relationship with the sons who appeared to seek male approval their entire lives thereafter. My best friend and housemate in graduate school was a prolific heterosexual hedonist who became involved in the NYC homsoexual scene after feeling “cheapened”, as he described it to me, by his profligate life. He died of AIDS. I feel sorry for those who struggle and see it as a very complex response to environmental factors, rather than genetics, which have never been proven. I am not insensitive; in fact, I play music, paint, cook and to many males, could be considered a candidate.

Timothy Kincaid
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

VoR,

ummm when did your personal experience become more relevant than the studies that you dismiss as “sociological observations.”

While you may think it a very complex response to environmental factors, your theory actually has less scientific support than the notion that homosexuality is caused by Gerber strained peas. At least the Gerber theory hasn’t been proven a failure over and over and no one has died as consequence.

I don’t care if you are insensitive. I care that you are presenting nonsense – harmful nonsense – while disparaging science all so that you can feel that your political/social/religious views are justified.

And that is evil.

Timothy Kincaid
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

As for genetics “never been proven”, perhaps its wise to actually do a bit of looking about before you spout nonsense. Especially if you are doing it on a site that tracks this kind of thing.

Have at it. Just type “cause” or “biology” or “twins” or “genetics” or “hair-whorls” or “x-chromosome” in the search box.

CPT_Doom
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

@ Harry – “volitional behavior”? Really? You mean like choice of religion? I am sure the hundreds of people burned at the stake during the Wars of the Reformation were so happy to know they were not hated for who they were.

As for Mr. Cain’s science – I think he should first show us the science proving that being black is genetically distinct from being white, seeing as our concept of “race” has no scientific basis (there is only one race – the human race).

Jim Burroway
October 7th, 2011 | LINK

n fact, I play music, paint, cook and to many males, could be considered a candidate.

My god. I think I just saw the most ignorant statement about what it means to be gay in my entire lifetime.

Honey, playing music, painting and cooking isn’t what makes you a candidate. Finding men attractive and falling in love with one — that’s what makes you a candidate.

Idiot.

Erin
October 7th, 2011 | LINK

Ten bucks says Voice of Reason and the other trolls won’t come back to defend their statements from the holes in them you guys already pointed out.

Erin
October 7th, 2011 | LINK

Also, to add to yet another of VOR’s ridiculous comments: Why is your personal experience more important than mine? I am a lesbian. Both my mother and father were present in my life and are still together. My mother was religious and taught me being gay was wrong and I bought into it, enough to tell my friend at school I thought being gay was an awful sin, when the topic came up. I changed my mind when I fell in love with another woman at the age of 15, and realized I was never even physically attracted to boys, let alone in love with any one of them. My best gay male friend had both parents in his life, and they’re still together. He doesn’t see them often because they spout the same religious bs about the “evil” of the gay whenever they see him. He too, could not deny he was solely interested in men. My other gay male friend’s parents are still together. When his college degree wasn’t helping him find a job, his father taught him the plumber trade and he still works as a plumber part time for his father’s business. My partner’s father is a Baptist minister and his wife sings in the church choir. Yet, she’s 100% homosexual. She loves me and has never felt this way about a man. What say you now, spouter of bs?

Erin
October 9th, 2011 | LINK

I’ll just give myself $10 now. Stupid trolls.

Timothy Kincaid
October 11th, 2011 | LINK

Erin,

Be sure to spend that $10 on a treat that you do not need and otherwise would not get. Maybe a Haagen Dasz sundae or some sparkly trifle in the window of a quaint second-hand store. You deserve it.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required)
(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.