Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Strict Scrutiny for LGBTQ?

Due to a new study that is currently being conducted by DePaul University in Chicago, LGBTQ may get their day in court as a class of people protected under strict scrutiny. According the NY Times article, the study may show that homosexuality is an immutable characteristic. The article reads:

"The Cabreras hope the findings will help silence critics who say homosexuality is an immoral choice.

If fresh evidence is found suggesting genes are involved, perhaps homosexuality will be viewed as no different than other genetic traits like height and hair color, said Julio, a student at DePaul University in Chicago.

Adds his brother, ''I think it would help a lot of folks understand us better.''

The federally funded study, led by Chicago-area researchers, will rely on blood or saliva samples to help scientists search for genetic clues to the origins of homosexuality. Parents and straight brothers also are being recruited.

While initial results aren't expected until next year -- and won't provide a final answer -- skeptics are already attacking the methods and disputing the presumed results.

Previous studies have shown that sexual orientation tends to cluster in families, though that doesn't prove genetics is involved. Extended families may share similar child-rearing practices, religion and other beliefs that could also influence sexual orientation.

Research involving identical twins, often used to study genetics since they share the same DNA, has had mixed results.

One widely cited study in the 1990s found that if one member of a pair of identical twins was gay, the other had a 52 percent chance of being gay. In contrast, the result for pairs of non-twin brothers, was 9 percent. A 2000 study of Australian identical twins found a much lower chance.

Dr. Alan Sanders of Evanston Northwestern Healthcare Research Institute, the lead researcher of the new study, said he suspects there isn't one so-called ''gay gene.''

It is more likely there are several genes that interact with nongenetic factors, including psychological and social influences, to determine sexual orientation, said Sanders, a psychiatrist.

Still, he said, ''If there's one gene that makes a sizable contribution, we have a pretty good chance'' of finding it.

Many gays fear that if gay genes are identified, it could result in discrimination, prenatal testing and even abortions to eliminate homosexuals, said Joel Ginsberg of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association.

However, he added, ''If we confirm that sexual orientation is an immutable characteristic, we are much more likely to get the courts to rule against discrimination.'''

Many of the predominant reasons given for not striking down laws regarding prohibition of same-sex marriage for example rely upon the fact that the LGBTQ segment of our population are not protected under strict scrutiny which requires that the law be "narrowly tailored" and have a "compelling interest." Right now, at best, LGBTQ are protected under a degree of scrutiny called "rational basis." All this analysis requires for a law to pass constitutional muster is that it be reasonably related to an important governmental objective. In the case of same-sex marriage, this "important governmental objective" has been said to be a concern for the proper environment in which to rear children (with a mother and father).

1 comment:

Matthew said...

One minor correction here: Under rational basis review, the standard invoked to justify prohibiting same-sex marriage is a "legitimate governmental interest" rather than an "important governmental objective."

"Legitimate governmental interest" is a far easier standard for a state to meet than "important governmental objective," thus making it even easier to discriminate.