MIAMI (Christian Examiner) -- Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio tackled the question of gay marriage and sexual preference last week, possibly catching some conservatives off guard with his statement that homosexuals are born that way.
Florida's junior senator sparked an influx of questions about his beliefs following an interview on "America with Jorge Ramos." In the interview, Ramos asked Rubio if he would attend a same-sex wedding. Rubio prefaced his response by establishing that he is "a member of the Catholic faith" who supported traditional marriage, but said he had no problem attending a gay wedding despite his personal faith and beliefs.
"If there's somebody that I love that's in my life, I don't necessarily have to agree with their decisions or the decisions they've made to continue to love them and participate in important events," Rubio said.
"Ultimately how you treat a person that you care for and love is different from what your opinion is or what your faith teaches marriage should be."
At that point Rubio stated the current marriage debate should not be occurring in federal courts but instead should be left to state legislation.
"If people want to change the definition of marriage they should petition their state legislature and they could have that debate in the political arena. Who I don't think should be redefining marriage is the court system."
In a subsequent interview on the CBS news program "Face the Nation" Rubio broached the subject more plainly.
"I don't believe same-sex marriage is a Constitutional right," Rubio told host Bob Shieffer.
"I also don't believe that your sexual preferences are a choice for the vast and enormous majority of people," Rubio added. "In fact...I believe that sexual preference is something that people are born with."
NO GENETIC LINK
Despite nearly 25 years of research attempting to prove a biological origin for homosexual behavior, none has been found.
Homosexual neuroscientist Siman LeVay made international headlines in 1991 when he purported to to find that the hypothalamus in the brains of straight men were bigger than those of gay men, whom he said were more similar to women in this grey matter region.
However, LeVay later admitted that all 19 of his homosexual subjects died of AIDS and the difference in their brains could have been caused by chemical changes due to AIDS.
Similarly, there were critical anomalies in his sample: Three homosexuals had larger clusters of neurons than the mean size for the heterosexuals, and three heterosexuals had clusters smaller than the mean size for the homosexuals.
On the heels of LeVay's attempt to prove a genetic cause for homosexuality, Dean Hamer, a homosexual activist and researcher for the National Institutes of Health, claimed in a 1993 study of brothers to have found a region on the male X chromosome, Xq28, where a "gay gene" supposedly resided.
But Hamer did not find a common genetic sequence among all the men as was reported. What he discovered was a unique commonality between brothers who were both homosexual. However, that commonality was individualized for each family and not across genetic makeups.
In later years, both LeVay and Hamer backtracked on their discoveries, admitting that genetics had a limited role in determining homosexuality and that environment was an important factor.
Earlier this year Christian Examiner communicated with Peter Sprigg, who is the senior fellow for family policy studies with the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., and Bob Stith, who previously served as the Southern Baptist Convention's national strategist for gender issues and currently directs the Family and Gender Issues Ministry in Southlake, Texas, about the issues of homosexual origins and change.
Sprigg said that "sexual orientation" continues to be problematic because of definitions. "It can be used to describe a person's sexual attractions, behavior, self-identification, or some combination of the three," he explained.
Sexual conduct and self-identification "are clearly choices (acts of 'will'), for which we can be held morally accountable," he said.
Clarifying that sexual attraction may not be a choice, he said it could be a "result from experiences of developmental forces in childhood" – meaning that it is "neither innate (i.e. genetic or biological) nor 'chosen.'"
Stith largely agreed with Sprigg's overall views, saying that "causes of homosexuality are not clear other than the fact that we're born into sin."
"I do not believe in sexual predetermination and I do believe in sexual predisposition—that comes by Paul saying we are all, by nature, children of wrath and it manifests itself in different ways," he told Christian Examiner. "But predisposition does not mean predetermination."
Stith stressed that—in his experience—same-sex attractions occur because of environmental factors. "The majority of testimonies I've heard, they acknowledge some type of sexual abuse."
But he cautioned that sexual abuse does not automatically lead to same-sex attractions, depending on the emotional makeup—or predisposition—of the person. For others, he said—such as a "sensitive child"—experiencing hard physical or verbal abuse, not sexual in nature, could trigger a response that develops into same-sex attractions. "That goes back to the nature, the disposition, and what that child's tendencies may be, and again, though, that does not excuse choice," he said.
"People can clearly change," according to Sprigg.
"There are many people who have testified to a significant change in one, two or all three elements of their sexual orientation (attractions, behavior and self-identification)," he explained.
"Some people change as a result of [reparative] therapy, some as a result of a spiritual transformation, some through a combination, and some spontaneously (such as Chirlane McCray, a former lesbian who is the wife of the current mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio). And clearly, celibacy is not the only option," he said.
Meanwhile, Stith said that "there is no question" that change happens, but the question should be "What does that change look like?"
"It's going to be different for different people," Stith continued. "I know guys and girls that when they came to Christ, they very quickly moved through whatever they needed to move through—whether it was group meetings, group meetings and therapy, therapy, or whatever—and they never looked back.
"I know others who said, 'Yeah, I still have that temptation sometimes, but I know that is not what I want. That is not who I am. So, I just turn and go on so it's not a big thing in my life,'" he said. "And then some of these, then, likely are also attracted to women, they grow an attraction for women, or in case of women, for men. I do know some who have married, not because they had a strong sexual desire, but because they loved a particular woman and they wanted to establish a home."
The bottom line, he said, is "whatever it looks like, it will free you from the power of domination from the same-sex attraction."
STRAIGHT ABOUT MARRIAGE?
Despite his belief about the innateness of homosexuality and his declaration, "It's not that I'm against gay marriage," Rubio insisted he was a traditionalist.
"I believe the definition of the institution of marriage should be between one man and one woman," he told Schieffer.
"States have always regulated marriage," he continued. "And if a state wants to have a different definition, you should petition the state legislature and have a political debate. I don't think courts should be making that decision, and I don't believe same-sex marriage is a Constitutional right."