The article:

'Born This Way': What do scientists say about the origins of being gay?

By Louis Jacobson
Published on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 at 1:22 p.m.

During a July 10, 2011, appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, host David Gregory asked Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty about his views on the origins of homosexuality.

The debate over gay rights has been gaining increasing attention in the GOP primary, including news accounts about secret tapes made of counseling sessions inside the clinic run by the husband of fellow Republican candidate Michele Bachmann.

So we decided to check Pawlenty’s comments on whether there’s a scientific consensus on the origins of being gay.

We looked at two related, but distinct, comments made by Pawlenty during his interview with host David Gregory.

One statement was that "there's no scientific conclusion that (being gay) is genetic."

We found that Pawlenty’s word choice -- "genetic" -- was pivotal. The way he phrased it, he’s pretty close to accurate. But if he’d said instead that "there's no scientific conclusion that (being gay) is biological," he would have been incorrect. On balance, we rated the claim Mostly True.

The other statement was that scientists are "in dispute" over whether being gay is a choice.

This comment hinges on the difference between sexual orientation and sexual behavior. Scientists don’t doubt that it’s possible for someone who’s gay to choose, through sheer willpower, to ignore sexual impulses and abstain from homosexual activity. But scientists add that for such people, those sexual impulses don’t go away.
So, scientists argue, even if sexual behavior is a choice, sexual orientation -- the state of being gay or heterosexual or bisexual and the impulses one feels -- is not a choice. For that reason, we rated this statement False.

About this article:


See original Truth-O-Meter items.

Researchers: Louis Jacobson

Names in this article: Tim Pawlenty

How to contact us:

We want to hear your suggestions and comments.

For tips or comments on our Obameter and our GOP-Pledge-O-Meter promise databases, please e-mail the Obameter. If you are commenting on a specific promise, please include the wording of the promise.

For comments about our Truth-O-Meter or Flip-O-Meter items, please e-mail the Truth-O-Meter. We’re especially interested in seeing any chain e-mails you receive that you would like us to check out. If you send us a comment, we'll assume you don't mind us publishing it unless you tell us otherwise.

Browse The Truth-O-MeterTM: