What Gay Gene?
The largest study to date on the genetic basis of sexuality has revealed five spots on the human genome that are linked to same-sex sexual behavior, but none of the markers are reliable enough to predict someone’s sexuality.
These findings, published on August 29 in Science and based on the genomes of nearly 500,000 people, shore up the results of earlier, smaller studies and confirm the suspicions of many scientists: while sexual preferences have a genetic component, no single gene has a large effect on sexual behaviors.
“There is no ‘gay gene’,” says lead study author Andrea Ganna, a geneticist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
There is no gay gene!
I’m a-twitch with so many reactions, but sadly, the one I most notice is, the big inhale/exhale sigh of relief, thanking all powers that be. Which is followed by a slightly ashamed, slightly rueful, “how sad that is what I’m thinking.”
But rueful or not, it doesn’t make my thinking wrong, or dramatic even. Because if, I wonder, they had found a single gay gene, how many of us would never exist?
I mean, come on, what’s a little gene edit party between friends?
Now if you’re thinking my sentiment sounds like some kind of dystopian wonder, it shouldn’t. Right now, today, how many people are already using science—not to save a baby from an otherwise incurable disease, but to “fix” the sex of their baby?
And for the record, this is not something I ascribe to conservative vs. liberal. In fairness, and honesty, while I think so many of us have come so far in accepting what is, that’s not the same thing as altering what could be.
How many parents, if they could pre-screen, would edit us away?
On the other hand, in an effort not to make this wonderful news depressing, let’s celebrate what those of us on the LGBTQ spectrum have always known: being gay comes in all shapes, sizes, preferences, practices, and yes, even political factions. And yes, baby we are born, natured, and nurtured, this way.
But bitterly, we also know that not everyone thinks being gay is natural, fabulous, and human, which is why there’s an irony to this scientific validity now playing out in our courts.
On Tuesday, October 8, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to cases of anti-LGBTQ discrimination.
The court will consider whether anti-LGBTQ discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, and thus prohibited under Title VII, which bars discrimination based on sex in the workforce.
The consolidated case of Zarda v. Altitude Express and Bostock v. Clayton County will determine whether sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination. Another case, Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC will determine whether anti-transgender discrimination is a form of sex discrimination.
Although the litigation is set to determine whether Title VII applies to cases of anti-LGBTQ discrimination, the ruling will affect all federal laws barring discrimination on the basis of sex, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Fair Housing Act.
In a brief submitted by 153 congressional Democrats, lawmakers argued if “a man is discriminated against in the workplace because he dates men, but his female co-workers, who also date men, are not discriminated against for the same conduct, sex is clearly a ‘but for’ cause and a motivating factor in that discrimination.”
Two separate briefs were submitted by 48 Republican members of Congress and 15 DOJ attorneys. The Republicans argue that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964—which bans employment discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin”—does not protect against workplace discrimination due to a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Republican position posits, “[A]t the time Congress enacted Title VII, ‘sex,’ ‘sexual orientation,’ and ‘gender identity’ had different meanings. As a result, the word ‘sex’ in Title VII cannot be fairly construed to mean or include ‘sexual orientation’ or ‘gender identity.’” They argue that, “The Second Circuit and the Sixth Circuit erroneously conflated these terms to redefine and broaden Title VII beyond its congressionally intended scope.”
Both Republican briefs argue that the power to ban discrimination against LGBTQ people rests solely with Congress.
And there you have it. They intend to:
- Argue the courts should not protect discrimination, because it belongs to Congress.
- Have Congress not take care of it (Equal Rights Act, anyone?).
And this equals:
- State-sponsored discrimination.
So thank whatever power you believe in that there is no one gene for creating LGBTQ folks.
Remember, we are fabulous. We are loud, proud, here, queer.
We will not be edited out. ▼
Stefani Deoul is a television producer and author of the award-winning YA mystery series Sid Rubin Silicon Alley Adventures, with On a LARP and Zero Sum Game.