GAY MARRIAGE: Republican Minn. Rep. flubs 'gay gene' facts - FOX 35 News Orlando

GAY MARRIAGE: Republican Minn. Rep. flubs 'gay gene' facts

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  • GAY MARRIAGE: Republican Minn. Rep. flubs 'gay gene' factsMore>>

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

The reasons for and against same-sex marriage have been hashed and re-hashed across Minnesota, but on Wednesday, an old argument against opened up a new can of scientific worms.

In light of the recently defeated amendment that would have banned gay marriage in the state, most Minnesotans have heard all the arguments on both sides of the issue. Yet, while Republican support for same-sex marriage grows, the narrative seems to have taken a step back.

There's no doubt the positions are getting more extreme, whether it's the result of a genuine philosophical change of heart or pure strategy. Some Republicans are certainly changing their position on gay marriage nationally and here in Minnesota, but it's also clear that some old arguments die hard -- very hard.

After all the rallies and the historic defeat of a statewide referendum, there is now a bill to legalize gay marriage in Minnesota.

"It's just time," said Rep. Steve Simon at the announcement of the Freedom to Marry bill. "It's simply time."

Yet, for some Republicans, there's nothing inevitable about gay marriage.

At a press conference following the announcement of the bipartisan law, Republican Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen trotted out one of the oldest arguments around to defend his opposition.

"The human genome map was completed in 2003, and there is no gay gene," he said. 

Except that's not exactly true. The latest research into a "gay gene" points to what is known as epigenetics, throwaway DNA that triggers hormone production in fetuses. Furthermore, although scientists haven't found a "gay gene," they haven't found a straight one either.

Dr. Katie Spencer, of the University of Minnesota's program in human sexuality, says it's more complicated than just genetics -- and she wonders if it's even a relevant question.

"Gay, lesbian and bisexual people have existed throughout all time and all cultures throughout history," she said. "So, psychologists are not even interested in that question anymore. What we're interested in is the impact of discrimination on gay, lesbian and bisexual peoples' lives."

According to Spencer, that's where the research is clear. The toxic debate over gay marriage makes gays and lesbians feel marginalized, and that's something Spencer sees in her own clients.

"They're really distressed about all the stuff that just recently happened in Minnesota," she said. "It bothers them that people are afraid about what message that sends to their families."

Gruenhagen is in the insurance business, so how he suddenly became an expert in genetics is unclear.

"The concept that you're born that way and it's an immutable characteristic is an unscientific lie," he said.

It's even less clear to the real experts, especially when they don't believe it should matter at all.

"We don't care if it's a gene or not because that doesn't mean anything," Spencer said. "Whether something is a choice or gene doesn't matter because your rights aren't based on that."

This isn't the first time Gruenhagen has come up with his own special facts. A few years ago, he claimed alcoholism and drug addiction is not a disease despite a consensus of medical opinion and evidence showing a physiological dependence.

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