Edie Windsor, who is challenging the constitutionality of the the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act and seeking a refund of the federal estate tax paid by the estate of her late wife, filed an affidavit yesterday responding to House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) claim that her homosexuality was a “choice.” Lawyers for Boehner’s Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House of Representatives (“BLAG”) levied the charge in a brief filed on Aug. 1, writing, “a significant percentage of gays and lesbians believe they exercised some or a great deal of choice in determining their sexuality.”
Windsor argued that her short marriage to a man demonstrated the opposite. “I understand that BLAG argues in its papers that my first, brief marriage to Saul Weiner in 1951 demonstrates that I had a ‘choice’ about my sexual orientation. As I explain below, that is certainly not the case,” she said. “What my marriage to Saul Weiner shows is that although I tried to make a ‘choice’ about my sexual orientation by getting married to a man, I was simply unable to do so.”
From Boehner’s August brief:
Plaintiff’s own evidence indicates more than 12% of self-identified gay men and nearly one out of three lesbians reported that they experienced some or much choice about their sexual orientation. This contrasts with actual suspect classes, which involve“immutable characteristic[s]” determinable at birth and “determined solely by the accident of birth.” Moreover, according to multiple studies, a high number of persons who experience sexual attraction to members of the same sex early in their adult lives later cease to experience such attraction. Lisa M. Diamond &Ritch C. Savin-Williams,
Explaining Diversity in the Development of Same-Sex Sexuality Among Young Women, 56 J. of Soc. Issues 301 (2000)
All major medical professional organizations agree that sexual orientation is not a choice and cannot be changed, from gay to straight or otherwise. The American Psychological Association, the world’s largest association of psychological professionals, describes sexual orientation as “a complex interaction of environmental, cognitive and biological factors.” There is considerable evidence to suggest that biology, “including genetic or inborn hormonal factors,” plays a significant role in a person’s sexuality.
Professor Lisa Diamond — whose work Boehner’s lawyers cite to substantiate their claims — has charged BLAG of distorting her writings. “Neither this article nor any of my other published work supports BLAG’s claim that ‘a high number of persons who experience sexual attraction to members of the same sex early in their adult lives later cease to experience such attraction,” she claimed in an affidavit. (HT: AmericaBlog Gay)