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Sex, Sexual Orientation, and the Separation of Powers

In three cases to be argued today, the Supreme Court will hear an attempt, encouraged by various amici corporations, professional associations, and other dominant institutions in society, as well as the media, of course, to demand that the Court amend Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include “sexual orientation” as a classification in the workplace. The equally momentous issue before the Court will be when and how the federal judiciary can take over the legislative power and amend federal law

The cases set for oral argument are Zarda v. Altitude Express (2d Cir.), Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia (11th Cir.), and Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC (6th Cir.).

Sky-diving, a Funeral Home, and a County

In the Zarda case, a gay sky-diving instructor was fired after a complaint from a woman with whom, strapped together, he had jumped out of an airplane.  She complained that the instructor had touched her inappropriately. The federal district court and a panel of the Second Circuit found that he had failed to prove the link between his firing and “gender stereotypes.”  But the Second Circuit then re-heard the case en banc and decided that “sexual orientation” is a “function” of sex discrimination and is a violation of Title VII; that discrimination based on sexual orientation involves an assumption about which of the sexes a person can be attracted to; and that discrimination based on sexual orientation is “associational discrimination.”

In Harris, a funeral home had a sex-specific dress code for its employees that required men to wear suits and women dresses or skirts. After six years of employment, a male employee told the home that he identified as female and intended to have sex reassignment surgery and wear female attire at work.  The funeral home fired him for his intention to wear female clothing, and prominent in the decision was the owner’s Christian faith.  The employee filed a Title VII complaint with the EEOC.  The 6th Circuit ruled that “sex” included gender-identity, that the funeral home had engaged in sex stereotyping with its dress code because it had denied a professed female the right to dress as a female,  and that the funeral home owner’s free exercise of religion had not been “substantially” burdened.

In Bostock, a gay public employee of a Georgia county was fired for “conduct unbecoming of a county employee,” but he claimed that he was fired because he was openly gay.  The federal district court found that the county had not made its decision based on gender stereotyping, and that sexual orientation was not cognizable under Title VII.  The Eleventh Circuit agreed saying that it had recently re-affirmed a prior decision that sexual orientation was not covered under Title VII.

The Meaning of “sex” in Title VII

Since its enactment into law in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII has made it “unlawful” for an employer to “discriminate against any individual” because of “such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” 42 U.S.C. 2002-2(a)(1).  The wording has never changed in the 54 years since.  Title VII does not define the word “sex.”  The purpose and clear meaning of Title VII is to prohibit employment decisions based solely on whether the employee is either a man or a woman.

The standard rule of statutory construction is that words not defined in statutes are given their every-day meaning at the time of the statute’s enactment.  “Unless otherwise defined, words will be interpreted as taking their ordinary, contemporary, common meaning.” Perrin v. United States, 444 U. S. 37, 42 (1979).  (unanimous decision about the definition of the word “bribery”), quoted in Sandifer v. United States Steel Corp. 571 U.S. 220, 227 (2014).  In Sandifer, an unanimous decision of the Court dealing with union working conditions, the dispute was about the definition of workplace “clothes.”

Legislative proposals to include sexual orientation as a protected employment category in Title VII have never succeeded.  As far back as 1974, the flamboyant New York member of the House Bella Abzug – the AOC of her day – introduced legislation to add “sexual orientation” to Title VII.  It failed to make it out of committee in the House.  In the 44 years since, subsequent proposals have not fared any better.  However, earlier this year the Democratic majority in the House broke that string when they passed their Equality Act, an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  The purported need for such an act might seem itself to be a proof that the Civil Rights Act does not currently include those classifications.  No vote on the Act was taken in the Senate.

In the Civil Rights Act of 1991, Congress passed an amendment to Title VII concerning the terms “job related” and “business necessity.  105 Stat. at 1071.  The amendment included no attempt to define “sex” or add sexual orientation to Title VII.

Completely aside from Title VII, Congress has in recent years legislated about sexual orientation on three restricted occasions. It has established the “hate crime” of causing bodily injury “because of . . . actual or perceived . . . sexual orientation . . . gender identity.” 18 U.S.C. 249(a)(2)(A).  The statute goes on to explicitly define “gender identity” as “actual or perceived gender related characteristics.” (c)(4).  And in a separate statute, Congress has provided federal funding for state, local, and tribal criminal investigations of crimes involving “gender, sexual orientation, gender identity . . .” 34 U.S.C. 30503(a)(1)(C).  And, again, in clearly making a definitional distinction between “sex” and “sexual orientation” in the funding of programs under the Violence Against Women Act, Congress has prohibited the denial of funding on account of “sex, gender identity, sexual orientation.” 34 U.S.C. 12291(b)(13)(A).  That statute makes the same definitional reference for “gender identity” just cited.

By 2017, all eleven of the federal courts of appeal had ruled that Title VII does not include sexual orientation as “sex.” In 2017, the Seventh Circuit reversed itself, and the Second Circuit has done so in the present Zarda case in the Court.

In Frontierio v.Richardson, 411 U.S. 677, 686 (1973), the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional an Air Force policy that distinguished among husband and wife dependents.  The Court said that the policy’s “dissimilar treatment for men and women” had created a disability about which men and women had no control, for “sex, like race and national origin, is an immutable characteristic determined solely by the accident of birth.”

Simply as a matter of fact, all federal and state laws having anything to do with sex are based on that immutable, fixed meaning.  For, how could such laws be administered or litigated upon if both the subject and object of the laws were in question or constantly in flux?  Nowhere in federal law is there a definition of “sex.” With its “common, ordinary,” understood-by-everyone biological meaning that there are two sexes, male and female, there has never been any reason or need to do so.  Until now.

How to Amend Title VII Anyway

The best means to consider why these three cases are in the Supreme Court now is to consider the Second Circuit’s decision to amend the meaning of “sex” in Zarda,  which in the Supreme Court has been cross-pleaded with Bostock. In the en banc Zarda decision, only six of the sitting thirteen judges joined the majority opinion, four judges filed concurring opinions, and three judges filed separate dissents.

Zarda’s majority opinion attacked the meaning of “sex” in four ways. It decided that the sexual orientation is a “function and subset” of sex. Second, it ruled on the basis of sexual stereotyping, that is, “that sexual orientation discrimination is almost invariably rooted in stereotypes about men and women.”  Third, it held that discrimination based on sexual orientation is a form of what it described as  “associational discrimination.”  Fourth, it found that the decades of affirmation and re-affirmation of the common, ordinary meaning of “sex” was not dispositive and could be overcome.

First, the Second Circuit concluded that sexual orientation is a “function” of sex basically because you can’t think of sexual orientation without thinking of sex. That declaration includes the prior assumption, however, that sexual orientation is something to think about as a legal matter in an employment decision under Title VII.  If it is not, then the “functional” connection is irrelevant.  The Circuit purports to make the definition of “sexual orientation” in Black’s Law Dictionary  – to wit, “sexual activity or behavior” concerning “heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality” – of authoritative relevance, as if it were citing some ancient, technical term from the common law. In truth, there can be no authoritative definition of sexual orientation because it is not only new as a legal term but as a term in society as well. And how does homosexual or bisexual “activity or behavior” define or limit the term “sexual orientation? What are those behaviors and activities? “Sex” in the statute refers to the two sexes, male and female, not to their alleged orientations. A Title VII civil-rights lawsuit needs only to allege discrimination based on either of the two sexes, orientations notwithstanding.

The Second Circuit attempts to use the decision of the Supreme Court in Oncale v. Sundowner, 523 U.S. 75 (1998), a case that is referenced in all the briefs of the three cases, to attempt to show that the Court has already broadened the scope of Title VII to include different “forms” of discrimination.  In Oncale, a man charged that he had been sexually harassed by male co-workers.  The Supreme Court held that such harassment is a means by which sex discrimination can occur.  But the central holding of Oncale was that Title VII “protects men as well as women” and “the critical issue is whether member of one sex are exposed to disadvantageous terms or conditions of employment to which member of the other sex are not exposed.” At 78, 80 (quoting Harris v. Forklift Systems, 510 U.S. 17 (1993).  Oncale was not about the “forms” or subjects of discrimination but about the means by which it can be carried out.

Second, the Circuit concluded that sexual orientation is a “subset” of sex because it is rooted in “stereotypes about men and women.” But such stereotypes are not the concern of Title VII which by its key word is limited to unlawful employment “practice.”  It really does not matter what stereotypes about men or women an employer holds as long as he treats men and women equally.  And it can hardly be denied that “stereotypes” are by definition subjective. A law based on stereotypes? In addition, inquiring into so-called stereotypes – which obviously can include moral and religious views about men, women, and sexuality – carries the risk of governmental policing of those views.

Third, the Second Circuit said that sexual orientation is a subset of sex when looked at “through the lens of associational discrimination.”  The Circuit attempted to make a comparison to a few cases whereby an employee had been subjected to racial discrimination because a member of his family was of a different race.  But in such cases, the word ‘race” was not being defined.  And the discrimination, again, occurred in the workplace.  It was not based on some outside relationship.  And regardless of what associations employees are engaged in outside of work, it is only a Title VII issue if an employer treats such-associated men different from such-associated women.

Fourth and finally, the Second Circuit was not impressed with the legislative history and refrain-from-legislation history of Title VII.  The Circuit said that it was not sure whether “Congress was aware of, much less relied upon, the handful of Title VII cases discussing sexual discrimination” when it amended Title VII in 1991.  This is despite the fact that, as various briefs in the three cases show, that four of the federal circuits had already ruled by 1991 that sexual orientation was not included in the definition of sex.  Concerning the fact that Congress has used the phrase “sexual orientation” in other statutes, like the hate-crime statute described above, the Circuit responded that “when drafting separate statutes, Congress is far less likely to use terms consistently,” thereby overlooking the reality that Congress has not used the phrase “sexual orientation” at all with respect to Title VII, so there is no “consistency comparison” possible concerning that statute.

Amici Briefs Sending a Message

A host of elite society-controlling institutions have filed briefs indicating their approval of amending Title VII. Major American  corporations, 206 of them, have joined together to lobby and indicate to the Supreme Court that amending Title VII will have a beneficial economic impact.  Their number includes such glamorous corporations as Amazon, Nike, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and the  San Francisco Giants.  In another supporting brief, 81 “professors of philosophy” have helpfully defined the “social meaning” of sex.  Also filing in support of amending the law are the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, American Bar Association, and National Education Association.

Numerous educational and religious organizations have filed briefs defending the biological basis of sex. Defending the uniqueness of womanhood in their brief, the feminist organization, Women’s Liberation Front, has filed a brief in the Harris case in which it contends that “Legally redefining ‘female’  as anyone who claims to be female results in the erasure of female people as a class. If, as a matter of law, anyone can be a woman, then no one is a woman.”

As for the interest of those who actually legislate, 39 of the 45 Democratic Senators, including presidential candidates Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren, have together and with 114 Democrat members of the House, filed a brief in favor of amending Title VII.  Only eight of the 53 Republican senators, along with only 40 Republican members of the House, filed a brief against. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have filed in favor of sexual orientation, while 14 states have filed against.

The Consequences

As stated in the brief by Harris Funeral Homes in the Harris case:

By replacing “sex” with “gender identity” and denouncing sex as a stereotype , the Sixth Circuit [would bring] about a seismic shift in the law.  While “sex” views the status of male and female as an objective fact based in reproductive anatomy and physiology, “gender identity” treats it as a subjective belief determined by internal perceptions without “a fixed external referent.”

As for the constitutional separation of powers, what is being proposed in these three cases that deal with a powerful federal law pervasive in its influence is the takeover by the federal courts of the legislative power.

Reader Discussion

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on October 08, 2019 at 13:07:12 pm

It is my understanding that many state legislatures have revised their own laws to positively include sexual orientation under their civil rights laws. Why can't the Court just point to that fact and say Congress is capable of doing the same thing, case dismissed? It really should be that simple. Just as with gay marriage, which would have followed the same path as no-fault divorce had the Court just left it alone. But unfortunately our modern liberal Justices (and Circuit and District judges, too) seem far more intent on getting their own Brown v Board or Obergefell moments. A judicial culture of narcissism, indeed.

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QET
on October 08, 2019 at 13:35:36 pm

“As stated in the brief by Harris Funeral Homes in the Harris case:
[. . . ] While “sex” views the status of male and female as an objective fact based in reproductive anatomy and physiology, “gender identity” treats it as a subjective belief determined by internal perceptions without “a fixed external referent.”
"As for the constitutional separation of powers, what is being proposed in these three cases that deal with a powerful federal law pervasive in its influence is the takeover by the federal courts of the legislative power.”

Thomas Ascik’s analysis, in concludes with the quote from the Harris case, which I interpret: erroneously taking the law from the-objective-truth to subjective beliefs.

The Court already exposed its arrogance against the-literal-truth in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015). The-objective-truth is that human life begins with the viable ovum, and its dignity and equality must be protected by the woman whose body produced the ovum and the man who supplies the spermatozoon for conception. This is so, because it takes about 2 to 3 decades for the human being to transition from feral infant to young adult with the comprehension and intention to live a responsible human life, perhaps 80 years pursuing integrity. The human cannot make this fantastic transition on his or her own, and no one else can assume the mother and father’s caretaking. Furthermore, no one else can feel obligated to the ovum’s potential offspring beginning with the parents’ grandchildren. Supreme Court opinion that refutes the-objective-truth begs woe.

The-objective-truth is discovered as the ineluctable evidence that is established by objective research. Research designed to prove a belief begs woe. Sometimes new discovery, often facilitated by advanced research instruments, requires revision of the-objective-truth. Thereby, the-literal-truth or perfect knowledge may be asymptotically approached. Acceptance of a-subjective-truth lessens the power of research.

These principles apply in psychology as certainly as in physics. For example, objective individuals do not lie to each other, because eventually the-literal-truth will emerge. We may be learning that when a liar approaches the President of the United States, the President’s obligation is to protect the pearls (Matthew 7:6, CJB, “Don’t give to dogs what is holy, and don’t throw your pearls to the pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, then turn and attack you.”)

The final sentence in Ascik’s essay could accelerate an achievable better future by promoting a neglected constitutional power: the transcendent society We the People of the United States. That entity, the civic citizens, is proposed in the U.S. Preamble, the preamble to the U.S. Constitution. Every citizen may accept or reject the U.S. Preamble’s proposition, and acceptance is advantageous for the individual who interprets it so as to order his or her civic, civil, and legal lifetime. This principle holds for justices.

My interpretation of the U.S. Preamble today is: The U.S. transcendent society we call “We the People of the United States” communicate, collaborate, and connect to aid five domestic institutions---integrity, justice, peace, strength, and prosperity---so as to encourage responsible human liberty to living citizens now and in the future. I interpret the six nouns---the five domestic institutions to secure responsible human liberty---together imply that the performance standard is the-literal-truth rather than the mystery of whatever-God-is.

It is a wonderful time for the U.S. Supreme Court justices to each consider: Am I a member of We the People of the United States or a dissident to the U.S. Preamble’s proposition? What is my personal interpretation of those 52 words? Does my interpretation apply to me and my children and grandchildren or must I be true to dead citizens? Must I adhere to popular opinion?

We the People of the United States is aware and ultimately holds government officials responsible to the U.S. Preamble’s proposition.

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Phillip Beaver
on October 08, 2019 at 14:29:15 pm

I found this very informative. Thank you, Thomas Ascik. I await informed comments in support and opposition to your viewpoint.

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Mark Brady
on October 09, 2019 at 10:30:52 am

QED:
So, to paraphrase...If you just wait long enough, you'll be equal under the law too?! Waiting for Congress is like waiting for the second coming of god. Not going to happen.
Why are you so easy to dismiss other citizen's desire to be a full citizen?

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Robin Smith
on October 09, 2019 at 10:52:03 am

"in concludes" should be "concludes"

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Phillip Beaver
on October 09, 2019 at 12:32:54 pm

Seems like there is no "congress is not acting soon enough" exception to separation of powers.

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Joe
on October 09, 2019 at 14:02:21 pm

Some honest questions:

1. What to make of sexual orientations that do not involve humans, for example pyrophilia, which is defined as the deriving of sexual pleasure from starting fires?

2. Is is it reasonable to assume that there are is an expanding number of recognized orientations, e.g. LGBQTP, where "P" stands for "pending," without considering that there are innumerable causes for such expansion, some of which are legally favored, and some of which are not? Are claims of sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. to be treated as conclusive presumptions immune from inquiry, or as any other consideration offered to support a particular claim or grievance?

3. Does limiting the conversation of people, because its sexual, or perceived sexual, content makes people uncomfortable apply to all people, regardless of how they view their own sexuality? Is any sexual reference or innuendo, regardless of the sexual or gender self-identity of the speaker actionable if it makes anyone uncomfortable?

4. Is it possible to have a functional statutory scheme that requires identification of classes, if those classes cannot be consistently ascertained, or can be enlarged or contracted according to judicial sentiment?

5. The original complainant in the Zarda case alleged that the plaintiff touched her inappropriately and used the claim of sexual orientation to excuse the behavior. Is this a legitimate matter for inquiry? Does the claim of inconsistent sexual orientation excuse otherwise objectionable sexual conduct, or even raise a presumption that the offensive conduct could not have been sexual?

6. What evidence is necessary to show that a particular action by an employer was based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or for that matter, religion? Does the issue of whether a given employment decision is actionable under Title VII require adoption of stereotypes regarding the motives of the employer? If a gay employee is fired by a "Christian" employer, does the complainant enjoy the benefit of stereotypes about Christians?

7. Being that matters of sexual attraction and behavior contain a limitless spectrum of subjects and objects, is it possible that virtually anything or anyone can be made the basis of a Title VII complaint, by artful pleading?

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z9z99
on October 09, 2019 at 16:36:36 pm

"What to make of sexual orientations that do not involve humans, for example pyrophilia, which is defined as the deriving of sexual pleasure from starting fires?"

This might be more relevant if you deal with a code that explicitly protects "sexual orientation." But those codes often define such as limited to "heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual."

The fact that we deal here with the shorter "sex" term in the original Title VII code would suggest limiting the issue to which sex you are attracted to which would eliminate your concerns.

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Jon Rowe
on October 09, 2019 at 17:03:02 pm

Your second sentence -"orientation" actually covers the claim you made in the third sentence -"attraction" BUT the assertion that the word, and its' usage covers "orientation is not supported by either your third sentence of the text of the law. Rather, the assertion in the thrid sentence is typical of the rather "expansive" mode of interpretation preferred by activists and, regrettably, far too many members of the Judicial Departments.

If one wants to protect "orientation", then DO IT!
And do it the old fashioned way - PASS A DANG LAW to that effect.

Judicial Law is inconsistent with a republican form of government as it eventually ends up eliminating "debate" and discussion.

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gabe
on October 09, 2019 at 17:45:07 pm

The entire idea that one can discriminate against another person based on "gender identity" seems more akin to religious discrimination than anything else. Gender identity is entirely internal (that's why you need to ASK someone or be TOLD "their" pronouns)--like religion.

Adding to the problem is that assertion by some that gender identity is malleable or flexible--one thing today, another tomorrow. So my discriminatory behavior today may not be, tomorrow?

Slippery business to put the law in between a person and their beliefs--or the beliefs of others.

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Jimmy Johnny
on October 09, 2019 at 17:52:51 pm

The fact that we deal here with the shorter “sex” term in the original Title VII code would suggest limiting the issue to which sex you are attracted to which would eliminate your concerns.

This is unpersuasive. The reason that the issue is before the Supreme Court is that certain Circuit Courts changed the boundary between what the term "sex" did and did not mean. The Second Circuit rejected an established interpretation of Title VII that had "suggest[ed] limiting the issue." Being that one definition of the word "sex" is "sexually motivated phenomena or behavior," assertion that use of the term "would suggest limiting the issue to which sex your are attracted to," is tenuous at best. If a Court wished to use the Merriam-Webster definition of "sex" rather than the Black's Law Dictionary version, what reason is there to reject the one and uphold the other?

The issue, as I see it, is not comforting assumptions about how Courts will limit the issues according to statutory text, it is instead, as Gabe points out, whether they will effectively rewrite statutes by finding new meanings for words that are more convenient to other agendas.

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z9z99
on October 10, 2019 at 10:14:11 am

Orientations are just that - orientations. They are changeable. They are "feelings" based and feelings are not permanent, they are changeable. Ergo, orientation should not be a legally protected classification.
Writing as one who has dealt with same-sex attraction, I say that LGBTQ are designations of sexual ABNORMALITIES - they are NOT identities, and government should never recognize them as such.

Where in the Constitution do you find the word "discrimination"? (No where?) Then it is not a constitutional principle. The relevant principle is Liberty (declared an unalienable, Creator-endowed, not government-given right). "We, the People ... in order to secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity (did) ordain and establish this Constitution ..." Liberty is the preeminent principle - NOT discrimination. Liberty is our constitutional right as individuals (persons and entities such as a business, church, etc.) TO discriminate - to make our own decision without government coercion - whether others like it or not. EXAMPLE: A restaurant declines to serve me because I'm an "old guy" (age/sex discrimination). As long as I can readily find another restaurant that will serve me, I'm not being denied my Liberty (to eat at public facilities). But for government to compel that restaurant to serve me IS a denial of it's Liberty. Any government prohibition of "individual" Liberty to make decisions is inherently anti-Liberty and unconstitutional.

I believe the 1964 Civil Rights Act was where matters constitutionally went off the rails. That law was just and right because it gave Black People the Liberty they had been denied, not by mere "individual" discrimination, but by "government" discrimination (e.g. Jim Crow/segregation laws). Unfortunately, the language of the law focused on (preventing) discrimination rather than Liberty. In addition to prohibiting "discrimination" based on race, other categories were age (age, sex, religion, etc.). For over 50 years now the legal focus was on "discrimination" rather than Liberty. This wrong focus on discrimination must be corrected before Liberty is destroyed by illegitimate "non-discrimination" laws which need to be repealed.

Until this unconstitutional focus on discrimination rather than Liberty is corrected, a lot of time, energy, and money will be wasted.
Now, therefore, ask not "Is this person/group being discriminated against?"
Rather ask "Is this person/group being denied their Liberty?"

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Charles H. Walkup, Jr.
on October 10, 2019 at 16:25:53 pm

When courts do this with the Constitution, it seems like a much bigger concern because the only three options are: 1. Amendment the Constitution; 2. Have a subsequent Court reverse the decision; or 3. A Constitutional crises where other branches of government don't respect SCOTUS' decision.

If Congress doesn't like what SCOTUS does with their statutes they can always amend their statutes. And courts currently let administrative agencies play games with the meaning of statutes and defer to their understanding. I understand that's what got us here.

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Jonathan Rowe
on October 10, 2019 at 16:29:28 pm

There is not a shred of evidence that "orientations" are changeable by the force of will, prayer or therapy. Though some, by no means all people, do report fluidity in their sexual orientation.

So I'm assuming you have a "sexual orientation," which is your business. The only personal point I would make is that you didn't choose and you can't by force of will, prayer or therapy, change it. If it ends up being fluid, which it probably won't be, that's something that occurs rather spontaneously.

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Jonathan Rowe
on October 10, 2019 at 16:37:44 pm

"If one wants to protect “orientation”, then DO IT!
And do it the old fashioned way – PASS A DANG LAW to that effect."

I kind of agree here, but note that laws that protect sexual orientation under anti-discrimination codes are by no means uncommon at the state and local level. There are actually many of them. And they are all passed by legislatures. Are you trying to tempt them?

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Jonathan Rowe
on October 10, 2019 at 19:53:56 pm

Evidence? You simply haven't read testimonies of those who have changed. Read the amicus brief of 8 former transgenders that is part of the current case before the Supreme Court. You can't change what you don't first acknowledge. Heterosexuality is the norm. Any other "orientation" (addiction) is abnormal. Sexual relations within a covenant marriage (man/woman) are the only healthy sexual expressions . All others are ultimately self-destructive. though that may not be readily apparent. The self-destructive form is called lust.

Lust is very addictive because strong feelings are involved. Like other addictions/bad habits, there must first be an acknowledgment that this is not healthy. Then a desire/decision to kill off unhealthy desires is needed. Effort is required. Just like smoking, e.g.. When you've become addicted, it is often difficult to give it up. The same for lust. It comes down to this: whether it's smoking, drug addiction, lust, etc., you are dealing with powerful emotions. The decision is: Are you going to be enslaved to unhealthy emotions? Or are you going to control those emotions rather than them controlling you? It's your choice. Consequences follow.

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Charles H. Walkup, Jr.
on October 11, 2019 at 09:31:38 am

I'm going to ignore the transgender issue for now and focus on sexual orientation as gay-bi-straight continuum. There is no evidence that it can change by force of will, prayer or therapy. All of the professional associations have reached this conclusion. Though I would agree with you that it can be sublimated.

The "ex-gay" types have a defection rate akin Cuban baseball players.

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Jonathan Rowe
on October 11, 2019 at 10:01:11 am

Then we agree that it is a feeling - and that it can be controlled (stronger word than sublimated).
My point is that any unhealthy, self-destructive feeling/emotion must be controlled, or else it enslaves /controls you.
Sequence: 1. Become conscious of a desire/feeling. 2. Discern if it is healthy/unhealthy long-term. 3. Make a choice to either control it or let it control you..
Feelings, especially anger and lust, are very powerful. You might find Daniel Goleberg's 2006 book Social Intelligence interesting. It is a summary of current brain research. In the intro he says that all these studies show our brains are wired for relationship. (That is a human emotional/spiritual need. But we often try to fill this "hole in our soul" with false substitutes that will ultimately never satisfy. Powerful emotions, like sex, give us only temporary highs.). He uses the term "emotional contagion". Example: If you are in the presence of someone who is raging, the unconscious/emotional portion of your brain is contaminated by the rage before your conscious brain (frontal lobe) is even aware of it. (So , we are easily contaminated by powerful, pleasurable and otherwise emotions before we become aware of them. Hence, the need to become conscious of this and then use the word-processing portion of our brain to critically analyze, discern, and take control of our lives by choosing, however difficult, to control our emotions, rather than letting them control us.

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Charles Walkup Jr
on October 11, 2019 at 14:54:38 pm

Actually I think sublimated is a better term. The term "feelings" I think is quite weak. Passions in human nature, especially that which relates to eros are quite powerful and no mere thing. I also agree that anger as a passion is almost always useless and destructive.

But the argument is that homosexually oriented people OUGHT to be given a healthy outlet for their same sex eros. Promiscuity is not a healthy outlet.

Where I object is the notion through the right kind of either prayer or therapy a homosexual orientation can be removed and replaced with a fully functioning heterosexual one. I think that's been soundly debunked.

Even if someone does successfully sublimate their same sex eros, there is also the issue of perceived sexual orientation. For instance Pope Benedict has been perceived as such. I don't believe there is any evidence that he ever practiced. Or if he did, that's his business.

But people do make adverse judgments against others based on these perceptions.

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Jonathan Rowe
on October 13, 2019 at 11:25:17 am

There is no such thing as sexual "orientation." In truth, there is only sexual behavior.

There is no such thing as a sex "identity." In truth, there is only the mental disorder where a person has a delusion that he is of the opposite sex; notwithstanding the fact that same is literally impossible. And that explains why "delusion" is the most accurate description of the issue.

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B. Love
on October 13, 2019 at 23:46:10 pm

The practice of homosexuality is unhealthy and the challenge is to master that passion, rather than let it master you.

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Charles H. Walkup, Jr.
on October 14, 2019 at 00:18:22 am

One who experiences same-sex attraction (an abnormality) needs help in dealing with it. They need to come to an understanding of what factor(s) has shaped them to this abnormality. They do NOT need to adopt it as an identity.
My younger brother committed suicide at age 20 from unwanted SS attraction and and sexual molestation by an older man. I did not possess the understanding myself at that point to help him. I never sought professional help. As a teenager I decided that this was up to God and me to work out. Over the years I did a lot of reading and decided that my lack of an emotional connection with my father was a significant factor and that I needed a spiritual/emotional connection (not sexual) with other men to fill that "hole in my soul." So I began to look for healthy opportunities to do that. In college I had one brief homosexual experience that led me to make a decision that the sex is a "temporary high" (like smoking, drugs,, alcohol) and that I was not going to lead that kind of life. I wanted to married and have children, and I did. When dating got serious, I told my future wife of my SS attraction, because I was not going to enter a marriage with that secret. Expecting rejection, I was surprised, and we got married 9 months later. I only told our 2 grown children a few years ago when I felt God calling me to speak out publicly. God's word was and still is my life's foundation. His child is my true identity - not LGBT. Battling sexual urges (especially in younger years) is definitely difficult. I decided that, biologically, I needed to have physical release , so I pleasured myself at times. Unfortunately I also used pornography - a huge mistake. In early years I prayed to God to remove the urge, but He didn't. Some years ago after indulging 4 or 5 times in online homosexual sites and then asking God' s forgiveness, I truly got honest and added 'but I really wanted to." The next opportunity to indulge, I discovered the urge was gone. When I honestly acknowledged my desire to God, then He did act. Then I decided that in providing physical release, I had to not indulge sexual images in my imagination. Whether viewing pornography or imagining it, it is treating another human being made in God's likeness as an object of my selfish pleasure. Self-centeredness (ego) is a violation of relationship with God and others.

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Image of Charles H. Walkup, Jr.
Charles H. Walkup, Jr.

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