Cynthia Nixon’s “gay by choice” might not play well in court

UPDATE: I’m going to let this dead horse lie shortly.  But I wanted to make one more point, since I’m seeing a number of people, elsewhere, “correct” me while ignoring what Nixon actually said.  Some people are arguing that a small subset of women, say 15%, go back and forth in life between same-sex partners and opposite-sex partners.  So Nixon is right, they argue, about this subset. Again, I’d argue that the logic is imprecise.  That might suggest that the 15% is bisexual, not that the 15% “chose” to be bisexual (and acting on your bisexuality is a choice, being bisexual is not a choice, it is not something you will to happen).

I suspect what this argument really is getting at is the notion that for some people their sexual orientation itself, which gender their attracted to, shifts back and forth over life.  So that people like Nixon aren’t really bi since they’re not into both genders at the same time, they’re only attracted to one gender at a time, but that gender keeps shifting over time.  If that’s the case, how do you get from the existence of this fluidity to it being a “choice” that the attraction shifts back and forth?  That is my point.  Nixon claimed that she willed the attraction into existence where it previously did not exist – she didn’t just choose to be with a woman, she chose to find women sexually attractive, in essence, she chose the fluidity (and the flip side, she could choose to shut down the fluidity and lock her attraction to only one gender).  I don’t buy it.

I think Nixon is using sloppy language to describe her fluidity.  I think she’s defining “gay” as a lifestyle, to use the verboten word.  She’s defining “gay” as being paired with someone of the same gender, not simply being attracted to someone of the same gender (or having 51% of your attractions being to that gender).  So she “chose” to be gay because she “chose” to act on an errant desire she had for a particular woman, and now lives a “gay lifestyle”, lives as a woman with another woman.  That’s not choosing to be gay any more than a gay person who chooses not to date or have sex – Catholic priests come to mind – has chosen to be cured.  And I said I was cured because I hadn’t had a date in a while, no one would launch a PC defense of my right to define my own sexuality.

LA Times op ed:

[I]n the courts, as the lawsuit against Proposition 8 wends its way through the appellate process, this issue could have very high stakes. Under the 14th Amendment, the courts have historically said that discriminatory laws must pass a very high legal bar to remain law, if they affect a “discrete” and “insular” community that has traditionally been singled out for discrimination. Traditionally, this has included ethnic and racial minorities, and women. In his ruling on the Proposition 8 case, then-U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker wrote that this surely applied to the gay and lesbian communities as well.

Historically, though, one of the criteria for such groups is that they must be a minority because of an unchangeable characteristic. If, as Nixon says, sexual preference can be a choice, then couldn’t gays and lesbians simply “choose” otherwise?

No one is saying that she’s going to be quoted in a court case. They are saying, however, that her argument, were it more widely adopted by the gay community, just might cut us out of civil rights victories at the judicial level because we’d be admitting (false, I might add) that our sexual orientation is not “immutable.”

I still want anyone who defends her, and claims that she has the right to define her own sexual orientation, to explain to me how exactly it works.  Because the proposition is absurd.  You don’t choose your sexual orientation.  She’s not into girls today, and has no interest in guys, but tomorrow says “I will it that I will find guys sexually attractive, but no longer find women sexually attractive” and voila, it happens.

I’m sorry.  No one, no one, has ever – ever – shown it to be true that someone can change their sexual orientation on a dime by willing it so.  That’s what she said, she “chose” to be gay, she chose her sexual orientation.  That’s what people are defending.  So if they’re going to defend it, they should drop the pseudo-psychology babble and explain in normal English how someone CHOOSES willfully to change their sexual orientation.  That’s what “choice” means.  It doesn’t mean your sexual orientation slowly changed on its own, or that it’s fluid – as one guy wrote yesterday – because that wouldn’t be willful, it wouldn’t be a “choice.” That would simply be, as I wrote before, choosing among flavors you already like.  That’s not choosing to be gay, that’s just choosing which gay you saddle up with.

She said she “chose” to be gay. It means through the power of her mind she willfully turned herself from straight to gay.   Right, and through the power of my mind I can turn myself into a toaster.  (And please don’t tell me otherwise, because you’d be violating my right to define my own sexuality as I wish.)

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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