The “Trojan Couch”

Page 12

enough to be meaningfully spoken of and in partic ular used legally to establish homosexuals as a class, following a program laid out years before in a legal paper by Green. They then assert that both Laumann and the other footnoted authorities support the following set of claims (I am paraphrasing sections A through C of the brief): 1) That there are basically three general orientations: heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual, though their boundaries blend somewhat to form a continuum; 2) Thit such uncertainties as exist in current estimates for the diff erent orientations are due to methodological problems, and in particular the underreporting caused by societal bias; 3) That research has established that “sexual orientation” is comprised of sexual behavior, feelings of attraction to the same or the oppos ite sex, self-concept, public image, and identity with a community of others; 4) That it is fixed by adolescence; and 5) That it is in significant measure an innate condition. Looking specifically at Point 3, for instance, the brief’s references provide sharply limited support. Only sexual behavior, feelings of attraction to the same or the opposite sex, and self – concept (but not public image and identity with a community of others) have proven to be consistent, reliable, and quantifiable measures of “sex ual identity.” (The support for the claim that public image and identity and community with others help constitute sexual identity comes only from Herek—these are statistically unsupported “dimensions” that he coined and on which he has published extensively. He is, of course, one of the brief’s co -authors.) Furthermore, sexual behavior, feelings of attraction, and self – concept have not proven to form a stable, consistent, integrated definition of “sexual identity” or “homosexuality” per se. In fact, Laumann’s authors were forced by the data to the conclusion that “homosexuality” scarcely exists. To claim to “be gay” is in effect an almost utterly meaningless scientific statement. “Sexual identity” is too unstable to be labeled “identity.” Reputable scienti fic reference provides overwhelming evidence that contradicts the amici’s claims. The labels “homosexual,” “bisexual,” and “heterosexual” provide nothing more than a convenient short -hand, because the dynamism of sexual “identity” over time frustrates any such static classification system. Moreover, the authors of the brief allege that “[c]urrent professional understanding is that the core feelings and attractions that form the basis for adult sexual orientation typically emerge by early adolescence. For some people, adult homosexual orientation is predictable by early childhood.” They do not mention the contradictory evidence in Laumann, which provides the most careful and extensive database ever obtained on the childhood experiences of matched homosexual and heterosexual populations. Indeed, later, the authors will cite a paper that Laumann et al. wrote using the same data to analyze the impact of childhood sexual trauma on later life, but will ignore what that study has to say about homosexuality. They also claim that “Few generalizable estimates exist of the prevalence of homosexual orientation in the United States [their footnote refers to Laumann]. Among existing surveys on sexuality, estimates differ substantially.” Laumann actually says: “[O]verall w e find our results remarkably similar to those from other surveys of sexual behavior that have been conducted on national populations using probability sampling methods.” 20 In summary, the meaningful findings about sexual identity in the scientific referenc es amici provide are: first, that behavior, reports of attractions and feelings, and/or self – definition can be used alone or in combination, to define sexual identity on a study -by-study basis; second, that sexual identity is not in the least fixed at adol escence but continues to change over the course of life; and third, that there is no evidence whatsoever for its being innate.

Footnotes: 20 Laumann, et al. op. cit., p. 297