Is Homosexuality Like Left-Handedness?
The recent excitement over Chick-Fil-A brought forth the familiar claim that being homosexual is like being left-handed.1 Both are morally neutral (so the story goes), a matter of simply being “born that way.” If you toss a ball to a kid and he automatically fields it with his left hand, as do about 10% of the children on earth, what’s the difference?
Of course, we need to be careful about endorsing all youthful inclinations, for some kids are born with the tendency to pull the wings off live butterflies. The question then remains whether the tendency is positive, neutral, or negative.
Now, to be fair, throughout human history, some cultures have looked askance at left-handedness. Indeed, the English word “sinister” is based on bad associations, and the French use “gauche” to denote awkwardness. “On the other hand,” the Hebrew name “Benjamin” brings honor to one who is “son of my right hand.” But it is hard to declare lefties as victims in a nation which has recently elected “openly” left-handed presidents named Ford, Bush (the elder), Clinton, and Obama.2 (Openly gay heads of state are much harder to come by, though Iceland elected a lesbian prime minister in 2009.)3
So why the great disparity? Is it blind prejudice? Or are there good reasons to feel queasy about one and not the other? Well, in fact, the relevant differences are obvious. Here are three:
1. If everyone were left-handed, it would not mean the extinction of the human race. While some homosexual couples become parents by adoption, surrogacy (for males), and in-vitro fertilization (for females), their access to children depends upon heterosexual cooperation. Left to itself, homosexuality is as demographically self-defeating as the celibacy of the Shakers.
2. Left-handed behavior does not shorten one’s life expectancy.4 A Canadian study in the International Journal of Epidemiology estimated that half of 20-year-old gay and bisexual men would not reach their 65th birthday, and that their current life expectancy was no better than that of men in the 1870s.5 While some studies suggest there is a greater incidence of dyslexia and ADHD6 among lefties (as well as advantages in creativity), these are innate, and not exacerbated by “promiscuous” left-handed behavior.7
3. Left-handed parents are as good as right-handed parents. The same cannot be said of gay and straight parents. University of Texas sociologist, Mark Regnerus has recently completed a substantive study on the effects of homosexual parentage, examining 40 categories of social impact. His study finds special problems with the children’s impulse control and mood, leading to depression, thoughts of suicide, and the need for mental health therapy.8
One could go on to note that, unlike homosexuality, left-handedness is not condemned by the world’s major religions—Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism.9 Of course, it is logically possible but highly unlikely that all these faith groups are confused on this point. But is it not far more likely that they have all noticed a substantial moral difference in certain human tendencies, and that they reasonably urge us to mourn and resist some of them while accepting and building on others?
See, for example, Andrew Klavan, “Someone Who Likes Gay People and Hates Fast Food in Defense of Chick-Fil-A,” PJMedia, August 1, 2012, http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2012/08/01/someone-who-likes-gay-people-and-hates-fast-food-in-defense-of-chick-fil-a/ (accessed September 5, 2012). (“Homosexuality seems as much a part of nature as left-handedness and is probably much less annoying when using scissors.”)
Perri Klass, “On the Left Hand, There Are No Easy Answers,” The New York Times, March 6, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/08/health/views/08klass.html (accessed September 5, 2012).
Vanessa Buschschluter, “Iceland’s PM Marks Gay Milestone,” BBC News, February 1, 2009, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7862804.stm (accessed September 5, 2012).
See Kairos Journal article, “How Healthy Is Homosexuality?”
R. S. Hogg et al., “Modelling the Impact of HIV Disease on Mortality in Gay and Bisexual Men,” International Journal of Epidemiology, vol. 26, (1997): 657-661, http://ije.oupjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/26/3/657 (accessed September 5, 2012).
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Shirley S. Wang, “The Health Risks of Being Left-Handed,” The Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204083204577080562692452538.html (accessed September 5, 2012).
Karla Dial, “University Vindicates Mark Regnerus,” CitizenLink, August 30, 2012, http://www.citizenlink.com/2012/08/30/university-vindicates-mark-regnerus/ (accessed September 5, 2012).
See Kairos Journal article, “Homosexuality and the Wisdom of the Ages.”