Gattaca: Horrifying reality for Next Generation Of Gays

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    Mar 15, 2007 3:44 AM GMT
    Here is the link to the actual article, i strongly suggest you read it. Left me teary eyed and shaking....

    But to sum it up for the lazy ones, more than a few not so crazy scientists have found genetic markers for homosexuality that can be tested through a pregnant woman's amniotic fluid. They successfully tested gay male rams for said marker and are now testing it on humans, and are finding some gay babies. No problem, right?

    Wrong, they are now developing, well, they have already developed, a patch that releases hormones to changes the genetic make up of a baby before birth. Again, they tested this on gay male rams and successfully altered its sexual orientation with these patches. Now they are going to try it on some willing pregnant women.

    If we can alter the sexual orientation of a child, could the worlds homosexual population soon be wiped out? And will we eventually be changing the sex of our babies? Perhaps getting rid of any unfavorable genetic predisposition all together? Oh wait, that was just a movie...

    Feel free to discuss in horror.
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    Mar 15, 2007 10:54 AM GMT
    I doubt it would wipe out the world's gay population. Instead, gay people would become the offspring of the economic underclass, which will likely have less access to such testing and "treatment."

    That would mean the more "undeveloped" a culture is, the more gay offspring it would produce.

    Of course, the article says nothing about socialization and homosexuality. Do all gay people have the identified genetic predisposition?

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    Mar 15, 2007 1:25 PM GMT
    That's a double edged sword if you ask me. The outcome will definitely be a turning point in human society.
    But who's to say what will actually be the end result? What will be the overall effect on the child?? What's the side effect???
    Nowadays there's always a side effect.

    Issues such as this just make you wonder how far science is really going. Some things are not for anyone to decide, your changing someone's destiny who doesn't have the power to speak for themselves. Making decisions that in the long run aren't yours to make.

    There are so many things I could say right now, but I choose to gracefully bow out. Because I can already feel my anger building.
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    Mar 15, 2007 1:26 PM GMT

    I just read this article on the subject. How can anyone morally even consider this? They need to stop trying to fix things that aren't broken before they end up really screwing things up.
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    Mar 15, 2007 3:49 PM GMT
    This is very interesting, thanks for sharing with all of us. This is already happening with regards to women that are pregnant with a baby that has downs syndrome. If the parents decide they don't want a baby with downs they terminate the pregnancy. I seriously question the study involving "Rams." I would like to find out more information regarding "homesexual genes in humans." This topic will force people to reconsider some of their moral beliefs regarding genitics, abortion, and homesexuality. People that have generally not believed in terminating downs babies may be more willing to terminate or switch the orientation of gay babies. I want to reiterate my questions regarding the sexuality of Rams etc....
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    Mar 15, 2007 6:27 PM GMT
    The article is a bit frightening, but to me the problem is an inaccurate reporting of the science, not the scenario they paint. I have access to a university connection, which lets me read over old science articles fairly easily, as well as track down more recent articles which have cited them. The genetic region alleged to be involved in male homosexuality in humans in this article--Xq28--has not had consistent support for this from other researchers. A paper published in September 2006 by Sergey Gavrilets and William Rice in the Proceedings of the the Royal Society B (a moderately high-impact journal in biology) contains a quick literature review on the science of sexual orientation in humans. One of the paragraphs from that I quote here:

    "There have been a few attempts to localize the specific genes that influence male homosexuality. The complex nature of the occurrence of male homosexuality in human pedigrees indicates that its inheritance is not a simple Mendelian trait (Pillard et al 1981; Camperio-Ciani et al 2004), making the mapping of individual genes more difficult. A quantitative trait locus (QTL) for homosexuality (Xq28) has been localized to the X chromosome (Hamer et al 1993; Hu et al 1995), but the methodology used in these studies was questioned later (McKnight 1997), and the findings have been difficult to replicate (Bailey et al 1999; Rice et al 1999). Recently, a genome-wide QTL screen for male homosexuality (Mustanski et al 2005) found three 'nominally significant linkage peaks', indicating three autosomal genes that may influence male sexual orientation, as well as limited support for the previously reported X-linked QTL (Xq28). These initial results are only preliminary and require confirmation from additional genetic studies."

    The nominally significant linkage peaks means that these three genes had versions which were slightly more often associated with homosexual men than would be expected by random chance; however, in studies where you look at a lot of things at once (as in, say, all genomic studies) you expect that to happen a certain percentage of the time anyway, and you need to examine all individual results carefully to see if they're real or just an effect of looking at a whole bunch of things at once. (Incidentally, 2 of their three genes had less support than I was taught in my genetic analysis classes as the cut-off to warrant further investigation). The limited support for the Xq28 region is that this region didn't have any statistical support in their initial screening, but they went back and looked only at families which had previously been reported, and with these alone the region reached a level they think is significant (but which is still beneath the threshold I was taught as warranting further analysis). So, really, I say they have 1 gene which has a decent probability of being involved, but which needs significant further investigation, and two genes and one chromosomal region which are unlikely to be significantly involved, but which we might as well study in further detail anyway.

    Overall, there's no consistent evidence for a "gay gene" or genes in humans. The only reliable predictor for homosexuality is the number of previous male pregnancies his mother has had--more indicates a greater likelihood of him ending up gay. This doesn't appear to be a factor for lesbians, and it's still only a very weak predictor for gay men, but it is at least found in multiple different studies from different researchers. It's important to remember that things can be biological and inborn without being genetic

    Also, the whole gay sheep thing is being frequently misreported. I could go into it, but there's already a good analysis of what it's really about over at Slate ( For those who won't follow that link, highlights include that the researchers are lumping together rams which try to mate with other rams and rams which don't try to mate at all, and seeing if they can make them try to mate with females (whether or not they keep trying to mate with males being considered irrelevant to the farmers--they just want to ensure that their ewes will get pregnant). And, further, they're going about it not by trying to turn rams straight, but seeing if their theories on why rams don't try to mate with ewes (deprived estrogens during fetal development) hold up by doing so artificially and tracking the result. But, perhaps most importantly: the experiments are failing.

    In general, distrust mainstream media reports of scientific findings. Most of the reporters working on these things either don't really understand the scientific results, or phrase them in inaccurate ways which they think are more likely to gain public interest. One of the areas this is especially true is whenever "genes for" something are discussed. Add in homosexuality, and it's best to be really skeptical.
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    Mar 15, 2007 7:42 PM GMT
    MSU- thank you for the dissertation. j/k
    it's not the facts that are scary it's the thought that they will try. Mankind is man's greatest enemy. "What if" we start screwing with these kids, and end up giving rise to conscienceless, moral-less monsters, all in the name of finding a 'cure' to being gay? After seeing Gattaca, reading Brave New World, and the rest of the Literature that shows what the future may hold, I'd be very afriad to meddle with anything. Then put this "technology' in the hands of the Church, or a 'phobe. too much like Hitler to me.
    The way I see it, this is tantamount to taking a persons identity and uniqueness away from them. even to choose eye color, hair color, gender, whatever...seems like we are trying to play 'God'. things should be left alone, after all, humans have been reproducing for quite a long time without these choices, and we are still here as a race.
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    Mar 15, 2007 7:58 PM GMT
    The only people who think about homosexuality are homosexuals. If mankind is mankind's worse enemy, then gay people are gay people's worse enemy. Beware the man who protesteth too much.... And also beware the fool who screams "The sky is falling!!" If you heed his words, you will be sure to be dinner for some tyrant....
  • Gabriel

    Posts: 26

    Mar 15, 2007 7:59 PM GMT
    Sounds like the movie:

    Twilight of the Golds (1997)

    "The jumping-off point here is the scientific discovery that homosexuality is genetic--and that the gene can be detected in prenatal testing. This disrupts the Gold family, where Dad (Garry Marshall) barely tolerates the homosexuality of his son (Brendan Fraser). When pregnant daughter Jennifer Beals, who is married to a geneticist (Jon Tenney), has the test and discovers that her fetus will be gay, she triggers a family debate that pits parents (including mom Faye Dunaway) against son, raising the question of whether they would have aborted Fraser if they'd known he would be gay." - source:

    Disturbing film - was just a mater of time before it happens in real life.
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    Mar 15, 2007 8:50 PM GMT
    To quote a line from the article "Though he is gay himself, Hamer seems curiously unconcerned about the potential implications of his research"-(

    so yes,cutejockmasc, gays are gays worst enemy. but thats not the point. straight AND gay couples are making these choices, when there shouldn't BE a choice at all. Except whether or not to have a child. if a couple wants to pick and choose attributes they should adopt.
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    Mar 15, 2007 9:21 PM GMT
    Science moves forward.

    Loads of ethical questions will have to be answered.

    Course, if you have a cell phone, Big Brother already knows where you are. (GPS)

    Technology, though, in and of itself is empowering, and neither good, nor bad, in nature. How technology is applied is what makes a huge difference.

    The question is: just because we can, should we?
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    Mar 15, 2007 9:25 PM GMT
    I guess I have to add something else here.

    Having had the good fortune of growing up on a ranch in rural Nebraska, I've had the advantage of seeing nature as it truly is: queer dogs, cats, even cows. Go figure. :-)

    The Religious Right, and all it's false belief systems would have you saying it's an abomination. It's not. It just is. I realized that years ago.

    It's so sad, that folks are guilt-laden, self-loathing, low esteem, because of the malarky of organized religious. Running in fear, hiding, not being honest...just empowers them.
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    Mar 15, 2007 10:16 PM GMT
    Cisco said: "Therapeutic doses of testosterone do not normally exceed 400mg every 2 weeks (and range from 50-400mg every 2-4 weeks)."

    800 mg a month?? When I talked to a doctor about HRT, he said 400-500 mg a month was the only safe amount to prescribe without danger of shutting down the body's endogenous testosterone production.

    I have written several magazine pieces on steroid abuse, Cisco. I would very much like to see your sources on side effects, because I have never been able to document any of the radical claims that have produced so much hysteria. Could you post them or send them to me privately?
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    Mar 15, 2007 10:20 PM GMT
    Whoops, I pasted the wrong forum response above.

    Check out this report about gay fetuses:
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    Mar 15, 2007 10:44 PM GMT
    I have sometimes wondered, given some 40 million abortions since 1973, how many of those fetuses were gay kids? Let us assume it was ten percent. That would mean there are 4 million less gay people around today. That means 4 million less to vote, influence, pay taxes, etc. When breeders have the "right to choose" it ain't good for gays.
  • trebor965

    Posts: 200

    Mar 16, 2007 12:56 AM GMT
    more straight guys to fuck, thats what it comes down to.
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    Mar 16, 2007 2:04 AM GMT
    i'm sorry if i offend anyone but the real problem here is religion. its has caused nothing but hate, wars, enemies, and death and is all full of lies and a bunch of crap and its a direct link to wat these scientists r doing. in finding a gay gene in babies it should be celebrated that we r biologically "normal", but they're turning back the clock and changing the babies genetic makeup just so he/she becomes "straight". unfortunately, most socities feel homosexuality is immoral, and they feel this way because they were brainwashed with religion. the biggest enemy we face is not global warming, not terrorists, not homophobes, but RELIGION. we have to get rid of it.
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    Mar 16, 2007 4:37 AM GMT
    I admit in advance, this comment is largely as a devil's advocate.

    It is very common for deaf parents to find it extremely distressing to give birth to a hearing baby. While this seems odd, to those of us that hear and consciously see deaf people as disabled (rather than as members of a cultural and linguistic minority group), to those parents, the birth of a hearing child means that they will have a communication barrier from birth with their child. That child is an outsider to their cultural identity.

    I bring this up because I think it illustrates two points. First, while I think its highly debatable that a "gay culture" exists, having a child that belongs to a social group to which you are a non-member can be distressing. This runs both ways; straight parents (by and large) are distressed when their children come out. Likewise, and again, I am not sure this is generalizable, but my partner has said things to the effect of "I hope all our kids are gay."

    I think the idea of being able to know in advance that your child "belongs" to the same group as you has a very attractive allure to people.

    Personally, I think that prenatal diagnosis has a limited purpose for families that carry serious genetic diseases. If you knew your family carried huntington's disease (you basically get a rather extreme dementia around 40-ish), or familial adenomatous polyposis (colon cancer by 20, with prevantive total colon resection), the ability to screen out those diseases I think is an ethical use of the technology. You benefit the family, and ultimately society, by reducing the number of new carriers of a horrible disease. I also agree with it in older women you are at higher risk for trisomy 21 fetuses (down's syndrome), or pretty much any time you are trying to prevent or diagnose some congenital or genetic disease that is life-threatening or significant impacts the fetuses future potential to live independently.

    I think it crosses the line when you start making designer babies. That creates a whole new class, just like in Gattaca, of the haves who can make perfect children, and the have nots who can't and are locked out of opportunities by their inperfections. Whether its haircolor, gender, sexual orientation, whatever, I think it would be wrong.
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    Mar 16, 2007 2:27 PM GMT
    How many of you who are distressed over this article are actually pro-abortion? That's what I thought....
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    Mar 16, 2007 2:59 PM GMT
    latest adjunct to this topic:
    "Seminary president Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr. says gayness is probably biological and that in-utero "ex-gay" treatment would be justified."

    What is interesting here is if Gayness is genetic, why is it still a sin? Wouldn't genetics be considered the foundation of God's will in a human being?
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    Mar 16, 2007 3:13 PM GMT
    This just seems like crap to me. This sounds like that cult who said they cloned a human.

    I doubt there is such a thing as a gay gene. Is there one for taste too, how about the gene that causes people to wear khaki pants with navy blue shirts? Is gay so dangerous that they need to find the gene for it? What about the gene for male-pattern balding?

    We've made a religion of genetics, like phrenology before it, this new religion promises so much more than it can deliver.

    Why don't they fucking cure cancer? We do know that's genetic.
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    Mar 16, 2007 3:21 PM GMT
    Good point, Madapollo!
    Eugenics, anyone?
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    Mar 16, 2007 4:34 PM GMT
    I do think there are likely genetic factors associated with gayness, but I don't think its as simple as a gay gene.

    One thing that remains to be solved is how a "gay gene" would persist in the human genetic pool unless it has some beneficial effect on non-homosexual carriers. Afterall, it it fairly obvious that such a gene dramatically reduces the likelyhood of homosexual males producing offspring.

    This has been called the "Darwinian paradox," since one would expect Darwinian natural selection to naturally reduce the prevalence of a mutation that reduces fertility.

    One of the papers cited by MSUBioNerd, (Camperio-Ciani, A, et al. "Evidence for maternally inherited factors favouring male homosexuality and promoting female fecundity." Proc Biol Sci. 2004 November 7; 271(1554): 2217–2221. provides some evidence supporting the idea that genetic factors associated with homosexuality confer a benefit on non-homosexual carriers. Here is their abstract:

    "The Darwinian paradox of male homosexuality in humans is examined, i.e. if male homosexuality has a genetic component and homosexuals reproduce less than heterosexuals, then why is this trait maintained in the population? In a sample of 98 homosexual and 100 heterosexual men and their relatives (a total of over 4600 individuals), we found that female maternal relatives of homosexuals have higher fecundity than female maternal relatives of heterosexuals and that this difference is not found in female paternal relatives. The study confirms previous reports, in particular that homosexuals have more maternal than paternal male homosexual relatives, that homosexual males are more often later-born than first-born and that they have more older brothers than older sisters. We discuss the findings and their implications for current research on male homosexuality."

    So, the reduction in male fertility is balanced by an increase in female fertility. The don't identify a specific gene, and in fact acknowledge that in all likelyhood there are numerous genetic factors associated with homosexuality. However, this does highlight the idea that genes associated with homosexuality are not necessarily undesireable, even to non-homosexuals.
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    Mar 17, 2007 4:01 AM GMT
    Just a few random thoughts, since we are discussing several overlapping issues here.

    Anytime we feel the urge to 'correct' something in a potential human life, we are judging certain characteristics to be 'not OK.' We then need to ask ourselves what is not OK about it. Is physical deformity not OK? I ask because, very often, a decision is taken based on how compatible and thus successful the foetus will be if birth takes place.

    ... which leads to what I think is the origin of the fear and anger these reports have incited - the reminder that some people still consider homosexuality to be a disease/disorder/weakness that should be suppressed or eradicated, which translates to 'we don't want you here!'

    It may be a long while before we figure out what biological factors may influence sexuality. Anyway, what are we searching for? Scientific justification? If so, would it provide what is needed to combat deep-seated prejudice in various cultures and religions?
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    Mar 17, 2007 6:08 PM GMT
    Well, to respond to cutejockmasc, I don't think very many people at all are really pro abortion. But I am in favor of abortion rights, which is somewhat different. My own feelings go along the safe, legal, and rare line. And I do still find this distressing, in part because I can see the argument that thecicscokid's making as a devil's advocate actually happening in some cases.

    For the sake of argument, let's say that they develop some sort of reliable test for the probability that a given fetus will turn out gay, and that they come up with some way to alter this outcome--not brainwashing and denial, but some way to actually change the sexual urges, probably involving chemicals during pregnancy. Parents want what's best for their kids. In a lot of ways, it really is harder being gay than it would be being straight. I can easily see parents who would love their kids no matter what the child's orientation choosing to change it to straight for what they saw as the good of the kid. I don't really think I could bring myself to condemn them for it, either. I certainly don't think homosexuality is a disease, but you have to admit that it has a much more significant impact on someone's life than their hair color or eye color or height, even though tall people generally have an advantage in a lot of things. And the same way I don't condemn people for choosing to selectively implant embryos based on things like deafness--which has a strong impact on the life of the individual with it, but which certainly doesn't preclude the possibility of a happily ever after outcome--I don't think I could condemn someone for reaching a decision about homosexuality along those lines. I'm not in his or her shoes, and I don't think I can judge that action fairly from such a distance. But the consequences of people acting that way can still be scary.

    All of the discussion about whether sexual orientation is natural or artificial, inborn or learned, etc, generally misses the point. Those things are interesting from a scientific angle, but they say nothing about the morality of it, which is what most people care about. Just because something's natural doesn't mean it's right, and just because something's unnatural doesn't mean it's wrong. While I think it's foolish to think that we all chose to be gay, I think it's irrelevant whether we did when we're arguing for equal treatment. And constantly repeating as justification that we're born this way, I think, contributes to people viewing it as a medical condition to be treated. I feel we're better off focusing on the "what harm are we doing to anyone" argument, than the "it's not our choice" one. But that's just my opinion.