Recent years have seen increasing pressure from advocates of homosexual behavior to force society to accept the lifestyle as normal, healthy, and equal to heterosexuality. Major pro-homosexual organizations have turned to pressuring businesses into abandoning support for traditional marriage.

At the same time, advocates are seeking new venues to promote the idea that homosexuality is common and biologically-determined. Every human being is of equal value and worthy of the same treatment under the law, but special protections should not be made for behavior-based special-interest groups.

Issue Analysis

Since the early 1990s, a number of studies have been touted in the popular press as proving that homosexuality is predetermined by one’s genetic makeup.[1] Having such a trait inborn would, it is argued, equate those who engage in homosexual behavior with racial and ethnic groups who have suffered due to their skin color or other physical characteristics.

No scientific evidence has been found to prove a genetic cause for homosexuality. Many scientists believe that, like other behaviors, homosexual behavior is caused by a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences – not a fixed genetic characteristic.[2] Even if a specific genetic marker were found which indicates a propensity towards homosexuality, it is hardly a case for creating special rights for homosexuals. Whereas race is based on physical, outward characteristics visible to all, homosexuality is a behavior, and behaviors are not visibly apparent to another person. Behaviors can also be modified or even stopped.[3]

If scientists were to find a biological reason to believe in a predisposition for homosexuality, we do know that it would never be the sole factor determining one’s feelings and, most importantly, one’s actions. Predisposition is not predetermination. For example, there is some evidence that alcoholics may have a predisposition towards alcoholism based on inherited characteristics.[4] This does not, however, offer an excuse for alcoholics to break drinking and driving laws or give them special protection from those who would urge them to stop engaging in a self-destructive behavior.

There are many documented cases of homosexuals modifying their behavior and becoming heterosexual through Christian ministries and counseling.[5] This strengthens the case that homosexuality is a behavior based on choice, not on genetic fate. Organizations like the members of the Restored Hope Network continue to show that there is help and potential for overcoming sexual sin in any form.

The Genetics and Biology of Human Sexuality

Advocates of homosexual behavior have been in search of any scientific study that would provide a biological basis for homosexuality. However, since research on the topic has begun, no definitive or statistically significant link has been found between biology and homosexual behavior.

Social and environmental influences almost certainly play a role in all aspects of a person’s development, including sexuality. For example, several recent studies suggest a possible association between childhood sexual abuse and homosexuality in adulthood.[6] Environment influences gene expression, and free will determines the response to possible predispositions. It is imperative that such scientific data illuminate findings, not support an ideology.[7]

Advocates of homosexual behavior often cite the following flawed studies in an effort to prove a genetic or biological basis for homosexuality:

  • The “Gay Gene” – This study, published in the July 1993 Science magazine, reported that researchers at the National Cancer Institute found a link between related men’s homosexual behavior and a genetic marker on the X chromosomes.[8] However, a study done six years later at the University of Western Ontario, also published in Science magazine, could not duplicate the results and concluded that the results “do not support an X-linked gene underlying male homosexuality.”[9]
  • The brain study – In 1991, Science magazine published a study of a specific cluster of neurons in brains of 35 male cadavers that compared the hypothalamus size of 19 men presumed to be homosexual AIDS victims to the hypothalamus size of 16 men presumed to be heterosexual. The findings indicated that a certain region of the presumed homosexual group’s hypothalamus was smaller than that of the presumed heterosexuals.[10]

Even ignoring the lack of a proper determination of whether the men were homosexual or heterosexual, this study is far from proving a biological cause for homosexuality. Behavior affects brain patterns, and any physical difference could be the result, not the cause, of homosexuality. A difference in the characteristics of the hypothalamus might also be the result of AIDS-related brain damage.[11] Finally, while there were some measurable size differences between the two groups, the range of hypothalamic sizes among both groups was nearly identical.[12]

  • A study of twins conducted in 1991 found that among homosexual males with an identical twin, the other twin was homosexual 52 percent of the time. Non-identical twins were found to have a homosexual brother 22 percent of the time, and an ordinary brother of a homosexual was only likely to have the same orientation 9 percent of the time.[13]

There are two major flaws with this study. The first is that the researchers recruited twins through advertisements in gay publications, and subjects were not selected at random from the general population of homosexual men. This leads to “ascertainment bias” that is not representative of the whole population.[14] Secondly, these twins were all brought up in the same household. A more accurate study would feature twins raised in separate families through adoption. This eliminates the environmental influences and isolates genetic factors.[15] The question ought to be, “Why, if homosexuality is genetically determined, are 100 percent of the identical twin brothers, who share the exact same genetic material, not also homosexual?”

Later studies of twins have sought to remedy the selection problems of the 1991 twin study.[16] These studies have concluded that there is a small correlation between “familial effects, primarily genetics” and homosexuality and a large correlation between environment and homosexuality.[17] Again, the most you can conclude from these studies is that while genetics may predispose a person to homosexual behavior, nothing is predetermined, and each person is still responsible for his or her own actions.

  • In January 2005, the University of Illinois at Chicago issued a press release implying that they had found regions of the human genome that influenced male sexual orientation.[18] A review of the study showed that the regions of the human genome the researchers identified fall short of the statistical significance necessary to show a “genomewide significance.”[19] In other words, the study does not indicate the existence of a “gay gene” or show that the human genome determines “sexual orientation.”
  • In June 2006, a study using samples from Brock University in Ontario, Canada, community-oriented homosexual/bisexual men from Toronto, and a sample of homosexual/bisexual and heterosexual men raised in non-biological or blended families, claimed that men who have more older brothers are more likely to be gay.[20] Months later, Danish researchers released a study that analyzed over two million men and women to determine the effects of environmental factors in homosexuality. The comprehensive study undercut the findings of the Canadian study.

The researchers found that having greater numbers of older siblings actually increased the probability of heterosexual marriage. The authors added, “We found no indication that older brothers were particularly common in these homosexual men …”[21] Moreover, it is not hard to imagine how having multiple older siblings changes the social environment in which a child is raised, which may have influence on the child’s sexual development.[22]

  • In 2012, scientists released a study indicating that it is unlikely that a “gay gene” will ever be found.[23] Instead, they argued, sexual orientation is influenced externally through “epigenetics” – the process by which gene expression is influenced by outside factors in the environment. The outside factors create “epi-marks” that affect how the genetic instructions are carried out. Though epi-marks are typically not passed on between generations, some epi-marks may be inherited or may be created at an early stage, including in the womb. The study used mathematical modeling to predict that homosexuality is sometimes passed on through the epi-marks that influence how masculine and feminine genes are expressed.

Epigenetics is a growing field of study that is reshaping how we think about what is genetic versus not. This study affirms the idea that there is not a fixed genetic marker that determines a person’s sexual orientation. Other factors from the environment – some hereditary, some not – likely lead to a person’s feelings of same-sex attraction.

  • In 1996, a study found a 52 percent reparative therapy success rate, Masters and Johnson found a 65 percent success rate in 1984, and other researchers report success rates varying from 30 percent all the way up to 70 percent. The evidence points to the conclusion that homosexual attraction is highly responsive to treatment.[24] Counselors have also had success in offering therapy in a manner that emphasizes evading unwanted sexual feelings by developing avoidance practices.[25]

Recent research confirms that a meaningful shift from homosexual orientation to heterosexual orientation is possible for some and that attempts to change one’s sexual orientation, even if unsuccessful, are not harmful.[26]

Advocates for homosexuality have pressured the American Psychological Association (APA) to denounce reparative therapy and use affirming treatment methods. In August of 2009, the Association adopted and voted on a resolution that encouraged therapists to consider other options when treating homosexuals, including celibacy and switching churches.[27] The final vote on the resolution was 125-4, showing the strength that pro-homosexual advocates are exerting on the APA.

Advocates are also pursuing laws to prohibit reparative therapy – a plain violation of the freedom of speech, religious freedom, and professional judgment of Christian therapists. California and New Jersey have recently passed laws prohibiting reparative therapy for minors.[28] So far, the federal courts have upheld the California law from a challenge by a group of professional counselors.[29] A challenge to the New Jersey law has been filed.[30]

Forcing the Issue

There is a myth purported by the homosexual community that anywhere between 10-20 percent of the country is gay.[31] However, according to a Gallup poll conducted in 2012, the real calculation is only 3.4 percent.[32] This was the largest single study of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) population in the U.S. on record at the time and shows that the numbers and influence claimed by the homosexual community are greatly exaggerated.

Homosexual activists no longer seek only public tolerance for their lifestyle, but instead vigorously seek society’s affirmation. Their efforts to change public policy and public opinion are now focused on normalizing homosexual behavior. Where efforts to adopt same-sex “marriage” have failed, advocates of homosexual behavior now target private companies, organizations, and programs to push their message on society:

  • In July 2011, a consultant for CISCO was fired because he authored a book defending marriage between a man and a woman. In spite of an impeccable record with the company, he was fired from his position after a homosexual manager within the company complained about the book. A few months later, he was fired from Bank of America for the same reason.[33]
  • Target, one of the largest national retail chains, came under fire by advocates of homosexual behavior for making a campaign donation to a business-friendly gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota who happened to be a vocal proponent of traditional marriage. Homosexual advocacy groups immediately became involved, calling for boycotts, protests, and online petitions.[34] The pressure led Target to make another donation to a “gay-friendly” candidate.
  • The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has grown to be the most powerful homosexual advocacy organization in the country, focusing their efforts on electing vociferous advocates for “gay rights.” In the 2008 election cycle, the organization donated nearly $1.4 million to pro-homosexual candidates and spent the same amount lobbying Congress for homosexual issues.[35] HRC spent nearly $1.5 million lobbying in Washington D.C. in 2012 and donated $1.1 million to federal political candidates.[36]The top individual candidate recipients from the HRC in the 2012 election cycle were Arizona’s Ron Barber and Kyrsten Sinema.[37]In the last 20 years, the Human Rights Campaign has spent in excess of $12 million on federal political candidates, a dollar figure that puts them ahead of WalMart, BP, General Motors, AIG, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, and pharmaceutical companies Eli Lilly and Bristol-Myers Squibb.[38]
  • Television programming has long been a target for homosexual advocates. The popular “family” show Glee has featured multiple homosexual character storylines, a same-sex kiss between teenagers, and a homosexual boy crowned high school homecoming queen. Other programs such as Modern Family, and even reality competition shows like Dancing with the Stars, Survivor, and The Amazing Race have forced homosexuality on families and children during primetime viewing hours. This exposure is the direct result of a concerted effort to normalize homosexual behavior and thwart any opposition.
  • Children’s shows have even been used in an attempt to further the homosexual agenda. In August of 2011, a petition was started by advocates of homosexual behavior to force a same-sex “marriage” between the characters Bert and Ernie on the children’s show Sesame Street.[39] Although the show’s producers stated they would not marry the characters, the petition remains active, as does the effort to force homosexuality on young children.
  • In May 2013, the Boy Scouts of America, an organization founded to instill character and values in young boys, bowed to tremendous pressure from advocates of homosexual behavior to abandon their long-standing policy and adopt a policy allowing openly homosexual members. The Scouts will maintain their policy against openly homosexual leaders for now. Trail Life USA, a Christian program that mirrors many aspects of the Boy Scouts, has launched to provide families with a safe alternative (www.traillifeusa.com).


Those dealing with unwanted feelings of same-sex attraction have many resources available to support and encourage. Restored Hope Network (www.restoredhopenetwork.com) is a network of ministries dedicated to directing homosexuals toward appropriate treatment and fulfillment of human sexuality as it was intended. Focus on the Family also offers resources for those struggling with the issue of homosexuality (www.troubledwith.com/loveandsex/Homosexuality.cfm).

In spite of the efforts by activists to force approval of homosexual behavior on society, support has continued to grow for traditional marriage and a biblical understanding of sexuality. The Manhattan Declaration is a petition that has been signed by nearly 550,000 citizens that affirms, among other things, marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Citizens can go to ManhattanDeclaration.org to read and sign the petition that makes the case for marriage out of love and concern for the common good.

Talking Points

  • No scientific evidence has been found to prove a genetic cause for homosexuality. Even if a genetic marker were found which indicates a propensity towards homosexuality, it is hardly a case for creating special rights for homosexuals. For example, there is some evidence that alcoholics may have a predisposition towards alcoholism based on inherited characteristics.[40] This does not, however, offer an excuse for alcoholics to break drunk driving laws or give them special protection from those who would urge them to stop engaging in a self-destructive behavior.
  • Homosexual activists have turned to bully tactics to force their lifestyle on Americans. Where efforts to adopt same-sex “marriage” have failed, advocates of homosexual behavior now target private companies, organizations, and programs to push their message on society.
  • Public policy should not be based on subjective standards based on someone’s behavior. Carving out special protections based on the vague and disputed terms of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” creates legal ambiguities and problems for law enforcement.


The issue of homosexuality is confronting American families on a regular basis through the media, popular culture, and even public schools. Claims about a definitive biological cause for homosexuality are a key part of the concerted effort to normalize homosexual behavior and silence opposition. “Family” television programs also play a key role in further desensitizing and undermining beliefs about homosexuality. Ensuring your family is equipped with accurate information and is prepared to speak in a winsome way about this contentious issue is critical.

© January 2014 Center for Arizona Policy, Inc. All rights reserved.
This publication includes summaries of many complex areas of law and is not specific legal advice to any person. Consult an attorney if you have questions about your specific situation or believe your legal rights have been infringed. This publication is educational in nature and should not be construed as an effort to aid or hinder any legislation.

[1] See, e.g., Anastasia Toufexis, New Evidence of a Gay Gene, TIME, November 13, 1995, available at www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,983713,00.html.

[2] Nanette K. Gartrell, et al., Adolescents of the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Sexual Orientation, Sexual Behavior, and Sexual Risk Exposure, 40 Archives of Sexual Behav. 1199, 1199 (2011), available at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3210350/.

[3] Linda Ames Nicolosi, Historic Gay Advocate Now Believes Change is Possible, National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (2001), www.narth.com/docs/spitzer3.html (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[4] Genetics of Alcohol Use Disorders, The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-use-disorders/genetics-alcohol-use-disorders (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[5] Testimonies, Restored Hope Network, www.restoredhopenetwork.com/index.php/resources/stories (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[6] Kimberly F. Balsam, et al., Childhood Abuse and Mental Health Indicators among Ethnically Diverse Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Adults, 78 J. of Consulting and Clinical Psychol. 459 (2010), available at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2911995/; Helen Wilson & Cathy Spatz Widom, Does Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, or Neglect in Childhood Increase the Likelihood or Same-sex Sexual Relationships and Cohabitation? A Prospective 30-year Follow-up, 39 Archives of Sexual Behav. 63 (2009); Kimberly F. Balsam, et al., Victimization over the Life Span: A Comparison of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Siblings, 73 J. of Consulting and Clinical Psychol. 477 (2005).

[7] A. Dean Bryd, Homosexuality Is Not Hardwired, Concludes Dr. Francis S. Collins, Head of The Human Genome Project, National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (2007), www.narth.com/docs/nothardwired.html (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[8] DH Hamer, et al., A Linkage Between DNA Markers on the X Chromosome and Male Sexual Orientation, 261 Science 321 (1993); Jeffrey Satinover, The Gay Gene?, www.jonahweb.org/article.php?secId=133 (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[9] George Rice, et al., Male Homosexuality: Absence of Linkage to Microsatellite Markers at Xq28, 284 Science 665 (1999); Yvette Schneider, The Gay Gene: Going, Going…Gone, Citizens for Community Values (2000), www.ccv.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/GayGenesGoingGoingGone.pdf (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[10] Simon LeVay, A Difference in Hypothalamic Structure Between Heterosexual and Homosexual Men, 253 Science 1034 (1991).

[11] Neurological Complications of AIDS Fact Sheet, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (June 6, 2013), www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/aids/detail_aids.htm (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[12] Brief on Sexual Orientation and Genetic Determinism, Council for Responsible Genetics (May 2006), www.councilforresponsiblegenetics.org/ViewPage.aspx?pageId=66 (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[13] J. Michael Bailey & Robert Prichard, A Genetic Study of Male Sexual Orientation, 48 Archives of Gen. Psychiatry 1089 (1991).

[14] Brief on Sexual Orientation, supra note 12.

[15] Jon Beckwith, Nature’s Imperfect Experiment, La Recherche (1998), www.ferris.edu/isar/bibliography/beckwith/twins.htm (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[16] Niklas Langstrom, et al., Genetic and Environmental Effects on Same-Sex Sexual Behavior: A Population Study of Twins in Sweden, 39 Archives of Sexual Behav. 75 (2010), available at www.researchgate.net/publication/5320571_Genetic_and_environmental_effects_on_same-sex_sexual_behavior_a_population_study_of_twins_in_Sweden/file/9fcfd50f9451e0a08a.pdf; J. Michael Bailey, Genetic and Environmental Influences on Sexual Orientation and Its Correlates in an Australian Twin Sample, 78 J. of Personality and Soc. Psychol. 524 (2000), available at http://postcog.ucd.ie/files/Bailey%20et%20al.%20twins,2000.pdf.

[17] Langstrom, supra note 16.

[18] Genetic Regions Influencing Male Sexual Orientation Identified, ScienceDaily, January 31, 2005, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050128221107.htm (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[19] Warren Throckmorton & Ray Durwwod, New Genetics Study Undermines Gay Gene Theory, Feb. 9, 2005, www.drthrockmorton.com/article.asp?id=128 (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[20] Anthony Bogaert, Biological Versus Nonbiological Older Brothers and Men’s Sexual Orientation, 103 Proceedings of the Nat’l Acad. of Sci. 10771 , 10771 (2006).

[21] Morten Fritsch & Anders Hviid, Childhood Family Correlates of Heterosexual and Homosexual Marriages: A National Cohort Study of Two Million Danes, 35 Archives of Sexual Behav. 533 (2006).

[22] See Brief on Sexual Orientation, supra note 12.

[23] William R. Rice, et al., Homosexuality as a Consequence of Epigenetically Canalized Sexual Development, 87 Quarterly Review of Biology 343 (2012), available at http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/10.1086/668167.pdf?acceptTC=true&acceptTC=true&jpdConfirm=true; George Dvorsky, Scientists Claim That Homosexuality is Not Genetic – But it Arises in the Womb, io9.com, Dec. 11, 2012, http://io9.com/5967426/scientists-confirm-that-homosexuality-is-not-genetic–but-it-arises-in-the-womb (last visited Oct. 4, 2013).

[24] A. Dean Byrd, et al., The Innate-Immutable Argument Finds No Basis in Science, National Institute for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, May 27, 2001, www.narth.com/docs/innate.html (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[25] Mimi Swartz, Living the Good Lie, N.Y. Times Magazine, June 16, 2011, available at www.nytimes.com/2011/06/19/magazine/therapists-who-help-people-stay-in-the-closet.html.

[26] Stanton L. Jones & Mark A.Yarhouse, A Longitudinal Study of Attempted Religiously Mediated Sexual Orientation Change, 37 J. of Sex & Marital Therapy 404 (2011).

[27] David Crary, APA Repudiates Reparative Therapy for Gays, The Spokesman-Review, Aug. 6, 2009, available at www.spokesman.com/stories/2009/aug/06/apa-repudiates-reparative-therapy-for-gays/.

[28] Geoffrey A. Fowler, California Bill Bans Gay-Conversion Therapy, Wall St. J., Aug. 30, 2012, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444914904577622153696305504.html (last visited Sept. 22, 2013); Tina Susman, Chris Christie Signs N.J. Bill Banning Gay Conversion Therapy, L.A. Times, Aug. 19, 2013, www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-chris-christie-gay-conversion-20130819,0,6276501.story (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[29] Court Upholds Law Prohibiting “Gay Cure” Therapy, CBS News, Aug. 29, 2013, www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57600665/court-upholds-law-prohibiting-gay-cure-therapy/ (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[30] Susan K. Livio, N.J. Gay Conversion Therapy Ban for Kids Challenged in Federal Court, N.J. Star-Ledger, Aug. 23, 2013, www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/08/nj_gay_conversion_therapy_ban_for_kids_challenged_by_therapist_groups.html (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[31] Daniel Luzer, Is the Gay Population a Lot Bigger Than Even Kinsey Predicted?, Pacific Standard, Oct. 23, 2013, www.psmag.com/culture/gay-population-lgbt-homosexual-sex-kinsey-68670/ (last visited Dec. 26, 2013).

[32] Gary J. Gates & Frank Newport, Special Report: 3.4% of U.S. Adults Identify as LGBT, Gallup Politics, Oct. 18, 2012, www.gallup.com/poll/158066/special-report-adults-identify-lgbt.aspx (last visited Dec. 26, 2013).

[33] Nathan Black, Christian Consultant Fired by Bank of America over Gay Marriage Book, The Christian Post, Sept. 4, 2011, www.christianpost.com/news/christian-consultant-fired-by-bank-of-america-over-gay-marriage-book-55047/ (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[34] Liberal groups push to exploit Target backlash, Associated Press, Aug. 13, 2010, available at www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/08/13/business/main6769857.shtml.

[35] Human Rights Campaign Client Profile: Summary, 2008, Center for Responsive Politics, www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientsum.php?id=D000000158&year=2008 (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[36] Human Rights Campaign Client Profile: Summary, 2012, Center for Responsive Politics, www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientsum.php?id=D000000158&year=2012 (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[37] Human Rights Campaign Organization Profile, Center for Responsive Politics, www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000158&lname=Human+Rights+Campaign (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[38] Top All-Time Donors, 1989-2012, Center for Responsive Politics, www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[39] Mary Papenfuss, Petition Pushes for Bert, Ernie Gay Wedding, newser.com, Aug. 10, 2011, www.newser.com/story/125475/petition0pushes-for-bet-and-ernie-gay-wedding.html (last visited on Sept. 22, 2013).

[40] Genetics of Alcohol Use Disorders, The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-use-disorders/genetics-alcohol-use-disorders (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).