Hamer's Hammer

WATCH: Scientist Dean Hamer Faces Down Ignorant Hawaii Marriage Equality Foes, And The World Turns

Before Hawaii became the 15th state to legalize gay marriage, the bill reached a tipping point in our favor when it went through the public comment process. More than 1,000 people showed up to testify, friend and foe, stretching the hearing on the measure to a sometimes tedious, sometimes dramatic 57 hours over five days. As we look back at the many people that voiced an opinion, one man stands out as a MVP, Dean Hamer.

Hamer is a geneticist who during his two minutes of testimony calmly used scientific studies to explain to the House why the scientific community has “concluded that sexual orientation is a deeply engraved innate trait with strong genetic and biological roots.”

Or, when asked for layman’s terms, “Being gay in’t a choice.”

His prepared remarks are solid (if a little over my head) but it is what happens after that makes his testimony so fabulous. For the next ten minutes his facts are challenged by stereotypes, his education is mocked and scientific research as a whole is disregarded by those elected officials scrambling to hold on to a fading world view.

Dean Hamer responds to it all with humor, supported evidence and a few well-timed eye rolls. The video is on the long side in the Youtube world but worth watching as it depicts the victory of the scientific mind over bigotry, something we are looking forward to seeing more of these days.

Thank you Mr. Hamer and congratulations Hawaii.

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  • GayTampaCowboy

    Great testimony!

  • aerogens

    What a marvelous man.

  • Dakotahgeo

    It doesn’t take a whole lot of intelligence, common sense, or education to show the anti-GLBT Neanderthals’ ‘last stand voices’ on the Marriage Equality issue. Thankfully we can count on learned men to keep the religious extremist trolls at bay while progress is made for better living standards, socially, professionally, and Spiritually.

  • viveutvivas

    That it is not a choice is such a bad argument to base human rights on. Are we to conclude that it is okay to take away other rights that ARE based on freedom of choice? For example, what about the pro-choice argument for abortion? Are we all now going to be anti-abortionists because that is a choice?

  • Caliban

    @viveutvivas: That’s absolutely true, but make no mistake, the language and rhetoric about homosexuality being a “choice” is very much about denying and limiting the rights of gay people. The underlying assumption is “You could change it if you REALLY wanted to, so therefore you aren’t being denied anything.”

    In fact I actually don’t believe that most of those who talk of “choice” and “change” actually believe in it themselves. It’s a POLITICAL position, not one based in reality. So long as they can CLAIM homosexuality is a choice they have cover to continue to deny gay people rights.

    But how many of them would counsel their own child to marry someone who says they “used to be gay”? I’d bet money that very very few, none actually, would do that when it comes to their own loved ones. Because they KNOW it’s not real, a recipe for misery. It’s only in the abstract that they’re willing to claim that change is possible, for political purposes. It’s a convenient lie and they KNOW it.

  • viveutvivas

    I know, but by coming back at them with the argument that (for many but not all of us) it is not a choice, we are just feeding and giving credence to their (wrong) idea that it is okay to deny rights based on freedom of choice.

  • EdgarCarpenter

    @viveutvivas @caliban: The “choice” argument against us is a religious argument, not a legal argument, although it sometimes shows up in court. The bible’s obscure references that are applied to LGBT people are about people making unnatural, ungodly choices and aligning themselves with the anti-god part of society.

    So when we bring up evidence that human sexuality is NOT a choice, and provide evidence that same-sex sexual activity is very common in the rest of the animal world too, we are challenging the theology which our opponents are using to deny us equal treatment.

    This is fundamentally different from “choice” in the abortion argument – the basis of abortion rights is the mother’s right to determine what happens to her body – that’s the choice she should have the right to make.

    No one questions a woman’s “choice” to be female, though, like they question our “choice” to be gay – and that fundamental attack on our identities is what we’re fighting against when we say “we’re born this way”.

  • viveutvivas

    If you think it is a religious argument, then the correct way to respond would not be to stoop to their level and take it seriously (by trying to refute it) but to point out that religious arguments have no place in lawmaking and leave it at that.

    And my point is that even if it is a choice (as it is for bisexual people) that does not take away from the argument that we should have the right to make that choice. In any case, the evidence that we are “born this way” is not that strong – identical twin studies show that only about 50% of being gay is determined genetically. I don’t see how that can threaten your identity. It doesn’t mine.

  • imperator

    @viveutvivas: The flaw with your argument- that an appeal to a biological/genetic basis for homosexuality means we’re giving a green light for discrimination on the basis of traits that *are* chosen rather than biological- is that you’re trying to make an apple into an orange.

    An appeal to a bio/gen basis for homosexuality is one affirmative statement: “this immutable, inborn characteristic should not be the basis for discrimination.” That’s its content and its scope. It doesn’t follow that therefore characteristics that are chosen *should* necessarily be the basis for discrimination, because it isn’t saying “there are grounds that *are* justifiable for discrimination,” only that “this is *not* a justifiable grounds for discrimination.”

    If someone asked you to make a list of the reasons you shouldn’t go around punching random strangers in the face, you could probably go on at some length. But it doesn’t follow that anything that doesn’t make it on to your list is a reason that you *should* behave that way.

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