MSNBC host Chris Matthews moderated a debate Thursday between Family Research Council president Tony Perkins and gay Democratic Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank about the roots of homosexuality and government-sponsored gay marriage.
First, Matthews challenged Perkins on his theory of what causes a person to be gay. Perkins said it wasn’t “a choice,” but the result of a person’s “environment.”
“When you look at the social science research, there is not conclusive evidence that this is genetic or biological,” Perkins said. “It is a complex mix of environmental factors.”
“And when you can control many of those environmental factors, you can teach your kids certain ways, you can protect them from certain experiences and certain things that could happen to them that could lead them down a certain path. What the evidence suggests is, it’s environment that drives a lot of this, not a choice.”
Frank interpreted Perkins’ remarks as an attack on the parenting of gay and lesbian parents — and used former Vice President Dick Cheney, who has a lesbian daughter, as a counter-example.
“Let me come to Dick Cheney’s defense here, Chris — according to Mr. Perkins, it’s Dick and Lynne Cheney’s fault that his daughter was a lesbian,” Frank responded. “First of all, I don’t think there’s anything the matter with it. But secondly, the notion that Dick and Lynne Cheney parented in an inferior way to Mr. Perkins is just one more absurdity.”
“No, I don’t think the Cheneys’ failures in some way to teach their daughter how to interact properly led to her being a lesbian,” he continued.
“I know of no such evidence that the parents have an effect one way or another. I don’t know anybody for whom their sexual orientation wasn’t involuntary, whether people are straight or gay. But you know, there are a lot of very conservative people who have had gay and lesbian children.”
Perkins denied that was his argument, saying it was a more than just one single factor in a child’s upbringing — parenting being just one of many.
The two continued their argument along the lines as to what the purpose of marriage is, what the Bible’s Old and New Testaments say about marriage and what sorts of rights and privilege gay marriage should include.