By Lori Heine
We’re all familiar with the old canard that “sexual orientation is a choice.” It’s repeated, over and over, by opponents of LGBT rights for the purpose of demonizing gay people. Why does it matter, to the general public, whether being gay is a choice? Though the assumption that “homosexuality” must be objectively wrong is increasingly discredited, the accusation that we choose it puts the blame on us for being “that way.”
Senator Ted Cruz, the rising Republican star from the Lone Star State, has a father famous for saying strange things about LGBT people. Rafael Cruz, a pastor, recently addressed a panel at the National Religious Broadcasters convention. “Sexual orientation is a choice,” he said, “it’s not a civil right.”
Lots of Americans still aren’t totally sure what they think of “homosexuality.” An increasing number support our equality under the law because they realize sexual orientation is not a choice. Those who continue to oppose our equality desperately – even hysterically – hang onto the assertion that it is chosen.
To do their utmost to make our lives miserable – while at the same time implying that we love misery so much, we’d voluntarily choose it – is clearly irrational. It is so irrational that, now that almost everybody knows actual, out-of-the-closet gay men and women, most reasonable and fair-minded people distance themselves from those who claim that we are gay by choice.
But many may still vote for those who refuse to disavow that claim. How is it that a serious contender for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination can stand silently by when his own father says such a thing? According to Right Wing Watch, the senior Cruz told that same conference that “he opposes gay rights – which he believes are part of a Communist plot and lead to child abuse – because he loves gay people and does not want to ‘prostitute the Gospel.’”
By almost any standard, this is crazy stuff. It’s fair to ask how many of these views the senator shares with his father. Perhaps it’s time for those of us who support LGBT equality to ask: is anti-gay lunacy a choice? And to ask all who plan on voting in the 2016 Republican primary if endorsing such views – even if they are expressed not by the candidate himself, but by his father – is a choice they want to make.
For any voter who considers LGBT equality important, a candidate for our nation’s highest office who holds such extreme views is problematic. Though it was not Senator Cruz who uttered them, it is fair to ask whether he shares them. To anyone who would be embarrassed – or even afraid – to vote for a candidate who believes such things, it can be rightly pointed out that silence does not equal disavowal. Perhaps more often than not, it signals agreement.
In pressing the matter’s importance, we would not be at all overemotional or extreme. It’s fair to ask what sort of Supreme Court appointments a president with such views would make. Not that we need worry that he’d be elected. If our Republican relatives, neighbors, coworkers and friends pull the lever, in the primary, for such foolishness, they can kiss the White House goodbye in 2016, and very likely 2020 too.