Being gay is not a choice. What if it were?

This past Friday, I hung out with one of my buddies to eat pizza, talk politics and laugh at Sarah Palin. We went through our routine of taking up interesting political topics and eventually wound up discussing homosexuality. My friend asked if I knew that Bill Richardson had once said that being gay is a choice. I couldn’t believe it. This was a man who ran for president — in a Democratic primary. How could he have been so naïve? After extensive Googling, I discovered the governor later claimed he made a mistake. The problem is that thousands of people in America make this mistake every day. Many religious groups have created camps dedicated to turning gay people straight. As I thought of these groups, something sparked in my mind: What if they were right? What if being gay is a choice?

Obviously, this is ludicrous. Being straight isn’t a choice. Why would being gay be any different? But what if it were? What if we didn’t believe the studies proffering biological explanations for homosexuality - or our gay friends with the same convictions? Would I change my opinion on any of the gay rights issues – from the right to marriage to the right to adoption – if I thought about this idea of choice differently? Would choice really excuse any repression of this group? The answer is a resounding “Hellz no.”

America is a country that takes pride in the choices its citizens have, be they lawyer or doctor, Jennifer or Angelina, Large or Super Size. We also believe that no one should be persecuted by the law because of his or her choices. People who like N’Sync more than Backstreet Boys shouldn’t be thrown in jail, even though such a belief is far worse than blasphemy. People should be allowed to do and believe in what they want.

Now, there are exceptions. I’m not suggesting we let someone like O.J. Simpson commit — okay, bad example. But there are exceptions for actions that harm others. That aside, there is no reason the government should regulate any individual action. We should be a nation of freedom and equal protection under the law.

My point is that the choice to have sex with a member of your own sex should be protected just as your choice of religion, breakfast cereal or even political party (though, if you read my past column, you might also see this as poor example). Choice does not excuse preventing a soldier from fighting for the country he or she loves. Choice does not excuse the firing of dedicated workers. And choice certainly does not excuse the torture and murder of individuals who are, above all else, human beings just like the rest of us.

So much controversy has developed from this question of biology versus choice that we forget that, in terms of the law and government action, it really doesn’t matter. Everyone should have the right to be him or herself. Despite Richardson’s blunder, politicians throughout our nation should listen to what he later said: “... No matter how it happens, we are all equal and should be treated that way under the law.”

Phil Cardarella is a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs and a liberal columnist for The Eagle. You can reach him at

Never miss a story

Get our weekly newsletter delivered right to your inbox.

More from The Eagle

Would you like to support our work? Donate here to The Eagle Innovation Fund.