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article imageOp-Ed: The Link to Homosexuality and Biology

By Erin P. Capuano     May 24, 2013 in Science
Scientists have made the link between genetics and homosexuality. Can this finally be the validation that the LGBT community has been waiting for?
Are gays and lesbians finally getting the validity they've searched for that they've known since birth they are gay? Scientists said on Tuesday that yes there is a link between genetics and homosexuality, homosexuals get the trait from an opposite sex parent. A lesbian will acquire the trait from her father while a gay man will get it from their mother. While it's been well established throughout the scientific community that homosexuality is hereditary in some form they knew it wasn't strictly genetic because of identical twins, sometimes one twin is gay while the other is straight.
Scientists from the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis say homosexuality seems to have an epigenetic, not genetic link. Scientists suggest homosexuality is linked to epi-marks -- extra layers of information that control how certain genes are expressed. Epi-marks are typically, but not always erased between generations. In homosexuals, the epi-marks are not erased but instead passed on from father-to-daughter or mother-to-son, explains William Rice, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California Santa Barbara and the leading author of this study.
There is compelling evidence that epi-marks contribute to both the similarity and dissimilarity of family members, and can therefore feasibly contribute to the observed familial inheritance of homosexuality and its low concordance between [identical] twins, Rice notes.
Dr. Rice and his team of scientists have created a mathematical model that explains why homosexuality is passed through epi-marks, not genetics. It does make sense that if homosexuality was strictly genetic and went along with the theory of evolution the gene would have died out because homosexuals cannot reproduce. Since the epi-marks are not necessarily effected by evolution they can still be carried over from generation to generation. I guess this kind of blows the entire Conservative bible theory on gay marriage out of the water huh? Epi-marks actually are an evolutionary advantage to parents of homosexuals because they protect them from either an overload of testosterone or estrogen. They protect the father of homosexuals from underexposure to testosterone and mothers of homosexuals from overexposure to testosterone while they are in the womb.
These epi-marks protect fathers and mothers from excess or underexposure to testosterone — when they carry over to opposite-sex offspring, it can cause the masculinization of females or the feminization of males," Rice says, which can lead to a child becoming gay. Rice notes that these markers are "highly variable" and that only strong epi-marks will result in a homosexual offspring.
Unfortunately for many in the LGBT community there hasn't been enough focus or studies done on the biology of homosexuality.
Most mainstream biologists have shied away from studying it because of the social stigma," he says. "It's been swept under the rug, people are still stuck on this idea that it's unnatural. Well there are many examples of homosexuality in nature, it's very common." Homosexual behavior has been observed in black swans, penguins, sheep, and other animals, he says.
This model still needs to be tested on real life parents and their children but Rice says this epigenetic link makes more sense than any other explanation, and that this team of scientists has mapped out a way for other scientists to test their work.
We've found a story that looks really good," he says. "There's more verification needed, but we point out how we can easily do epigenetic profiles genome-wide. We predict where the epi-marks occur, we just need other studies to look at it empirically. This can be tested and proven within six months. It's easy to test. If it's a bad idea, we can throw it away in short order.
I'm not a scientist and I don't claim to be one, I had to look up what some of these rather large words meant but one thing I do know is how much this will benefit the LGBT community and it's youth. We know that ignorance plays such a large role in how children are treated they learn hate from their parents and carry that over to how they relate to friends and classmates. The same-marriage debate for the Conservative Right has rested solely on their stance that if two people cannot procreate it isn't natural and therefore not allowed to be recognized legally. We know of course that this would also apply to straight couples who are unable to conceive, older couples who biologically can no longer have children or single women who have children by In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).
This is a huge announcement for so many reasons but the main one is to finally have the recognition that our feelings are true and that we've always known since birth that we are gay. Some people choose to suppress their feelings to try to conform to what society deems, "normal" which is why they may not come out until later in life. However make no bones about it they were born that way and nothing society says or does or even anything they try to do themselves will change that.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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