PM Rudd peddles clinical falsehoods on gay marriage

Mr Rudd's skewering of a Christian Pastor on Q&A this week over gay marriage completes his abandonment of the sector of the electorate that most loyally supported him in 2007 - as demographer John Black demonstrated in his detailed research in 2008.

But that is not the main issue at stake in his speech. It is bad for Mr Rudd, an ostentatiously Christian public figure, to show such bone-headed ignorance of the Bible as to say that it endorses slavery as a natural state (he was muddling that with Aristotle); it is worse for the Prime Minister to perpetrate a public argument on a major public issue based on scientifically false premises.

Mr Rudd’s relevant words were: “They are gay if they are born gay… And therefore, the idea that this is somehow an abnormal condition is just wrong… Secondly if you accept that it is natural and normal for someone to be gay… then you’ve got to ask a second question: should therefore their loving relationships be legally recognized? And the conclusion I have reached is that they should.”

To get the context and flavour of the speech, view the excerpt here:

The PM's argument is invalid both on his premise and his argument. His incorrect premise is that people “are born gay”; then he makes the illogical inference that a “natural” phenomenon (one thinks of bipolar disorder or diabetes as natural phenomena) is therefore “normal”; then he reaches the puzzling conclusion that a “natural” loving relationship is incomplete without the unnatural and unnecessary intrusion of lawyers.

Mr Rudd shows he is not, in fact, averse to simplistic three word slogans. “Born that way” puts him on an intellectual par with Lady Gaga, but puts him at odds with recognized clinical authorities. The American Psychiatric Association, the arbiter of all psychological diagnoses, says we cannot conclude gays are “born that way”. They state: “There are no replicated scientific studies supporting any specific biological etiology for homosexuality”. Even the avowedly pro-gay American Psychological Association cannot reach a “born that way” conclusion: “Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors.”

The director of the Human Genome Project, Francis Collins, notes that “sexual orientation is genetically influenced but not hardwired by DNA, and whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predeterminations." There is no justification, then, for Mr Rudd’s conclusion that homosexuality is biologically determined; in the same way, psychodynamic theories are not sufficient to explain all cases. All one can conclude is that the phenomenon is multi-factorial in origin, with predisposing and precipitating factors; a deeply ingrained but potentially modifiable psychological condition, not an innate identity.

The public policy importance of rejecting the error of Mr Rudd's “ born that way” premise is to stop gay propagandists portraying marriage rights for gay people as equivalent to civil rights for black people, and therefor smearing opponents of gay marriage as no better than racists. Their analogy is wrong, because black people really are born that way, and cannot stop being black.

It is important that leading public figures addressing leading public issues do not peddle clinical falsehoods.

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