The Family Research Council has provided another reminder of just how harsh its condemnations of homosexuality are. Filling in for Tony Perkins on his daily radio show, Peter Sprigg offered Tuesday that homosexuality is “harmful to the people who engage in it and to society at large”:
SPRIGG: When we express concern about homosexuality, our concern is about homosexual conduct… Sexual orientation is really not one thing, it’s actually kind of an umbrella term for three different things: a person’s sexual attractions, their sexual conduct, and their self-identification… I would not say that people’s sexual attractions are necessarily a choice. Some people do experience unwanted same-sex attractions, but what they do with those attractions is a choice. [...]
Our principal concern is not with people who experience involuntarily same-sex attractions as much as it is with engaging in homosexual conduct, which we believe is harmful to the people who engage in it and to society at large.
Listen to it (via Jeremy Hooper):
Such rhetoric is no surprise from Sprigg, who has previously said that gay people should be imprisoned or kicked out of the country. Still, his explanations of identity are worth parsing for a better understanding of how conservatives do — and do not — appreciate the lived experience of people who are gay, lesbian, bi, queer, or however else they might identify.
Sprigg actually deserves a modicum of credit for distinguishing between sexual behavior, sexual orientation (attractions), and how people may identify themselves. Indeed, many people engage in sexual behaviors that do not coincide with how they might describe or identify their attractions. Some people may struggle to find words that fully describe their identities, or may not want to be associated with the cultural baggage some language carries, while others may remain closeted despite both their attractions and behaviors. But Sprigg’s intention is to suggest that because orientation does not necessarily dictate behavior 100 percent of the time, the two can be totally separated.
This is particular apparent from Sprigg’s insinuation that even though he concedes that same-sex attractions are not chosen, they are presumably “unwanted.” There is no conservative context or understanding that same-sex attractions may very much be wanted, or at least welcome. As a result, there is no appreciation for the inherent personal value of pursuing relationships that coincide with a person’s sexual orientation, which has been shown to be beneficial to the mental health of the gay community. If sexual orientation is not a choice, then neither is it a choice when two people of the same sex with a same-sex orientation fall in love with each other and find fulfillment in building a life together.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Sprigg wants to live in a world with no gay people, and that is exactly the world he constructs for himself and then promotes to FRC’s followers. FRC has been labeled a “hate group” for promoting exactly this kind of community erasure.