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Gays and the Political Psychology of Disgust

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

disgustWhen Michael Sam kissed his boyfriend on television to celebrate his successful draft into the NFL, some viewers were disgusted. The charged comments that followed demonstrated that when it comes to public displays of gay affection, some people have a gut reaction to recoil. But why? The answer to that question is not fully known, but scientists are beginning to establish an understanding of how biology and the environment may interact to form such reactions.

First, it’s important to understand that disgust in humans can be good. We should recoil from the truly gross things that can harm us–festering wounds, rancid meat, and feces, to name a few examples, are dangerous incubators of infection. “Disgust is apart of what is referred to as the behavioral immune system, which protects us from dealing with items and individuals that might make us sick, that might kill us,” says Patrick Stewart, a political scientist at the University of Arkansas (and not of X-Men, Star Trek fame).

But it’s not adaptive when healthy groups of people are reacted to in the exact same way as if they were pathogens. Here’s the state of the science of disgust right now.

Authored By Brian Resnick – See the Full Story at the National Journal

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New Evidence for the Gay Gene

Friday, June 6th, 2014

gay-geneNew research says there are probably several gay genes.

Queerty reports:

Now, the Washington Post reports new research finds that, despite what some naysayers would like to believe, Dean Hamer was right all along. A gay gene does exist. In fact, there are two of them. Maybe — in fact, probably — even more than two.

Researchers at the Human Genome Project, an international scientific research group that examines human DNA, conducted a study on several pairs of gay brothers. “Sexual orientation has nothing to do with choice,” Michael Bailey of Northwestern University, who carried out the research, said. “Our findings suggest there may be genes at play, and we found evidence for two sets that affect whether a man is gay or straight.” The study drew blood from 409 gay brothers and their heterosexual family members. Analysis confirmed that an area on the X chromosome does, indeed, have some impact on sexual orientation. It also confirmed another stretch of DNA on chromosome 8, which affects male sexual behavior.

So it turns out that Lady Gaga was right – I was born this way. 🙂

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New Studies: Many Straights Think Gays Choose Orientation; Many Think Gays Are Dirty

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

titleA couple interesting new studies out this week on how straight people view gays.

First off, a new Gallup poll shows that 37% still believe being gay is a choice.

Queerty reports:

According to Gallup’s latest results, posted on Wednesday, 37 percent of Americans “believe people become gay as a result of factors such as their upbringing and environment,” while 42 percent are siding with Lady Gaga — people are born gay, y’all. What’s surprising is that people in the “born gay” camp are on the decline, if these stats are to be taken literally. The same poll conducted in 2013 showed that 47 percent of those participating believed people were born gay, which is a a full 5 percent drop that “halted the trend” of “born gay” beliefs on the rise for the first time since 2001.

Is the drop in people believing gays are born that way a fluke? We’ll have to wait until next year to see.

In a study out of Portugal, researchers found that many straight people want to wash their hands after having contact with gays.

Gay Star News reports:

Straight people still think gay men are ‘dirty’, according to new research. According to experiments undertaken across the world, the participants felt the need to ‘physically cleanse’ themselves after imagining contact with a gay person. Researchers believe it proves some people think gay men can ‘contaminate’ them in their subconscious mind. If the participant considered themselves to be conservative in their social views, then they were far more likely to need to consider gay men to be ‘dirty’.

So, taken together, these reports show that we still have a lot of work to do.

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Study: Nasty Odors Make People Less Supportive of Marriage Equality

Monday, May 19th, 2014

titleGotta love this one – turns out, when you put people in a room that smells like vomit and then ask them questions about marriage equality, they go negative.

The New Republic reports:

A team of psychologists and political scientists from the University of Arkansas have found that people are less likely to support gay marriage if they’re in an odorous environment. For a study whose results were published this month in the journal PLOS ONE, political science professor Patrick Stewart and his colleagues recruited 57 participants and assigned them to take questionnaires on their social and political views in either an odorless room or a disgusting-smelling one. For the unlucky volunteers assigned to the “disgusting odor” group, the researchers added drops of butyric acid–the chemical best known for giving human vomit its smell–on cotton pads and hid them around the room.

OK, you gotta wonder if this article is a spoof – but it was way too funny not to share. Do you think people would respond do anything more positively if they were smelling something awful at the same time?

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Transgender Updates 4/24/14

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Transgender FlagA lot of news on the transgender rights front today.

Bahrain: Two transgender prostitutes have lost an appeal on their 6 month jail sentence. full story

Canada: An Alberta judge ruled that a provincial law that requires gender reassignment surgery before gender can be changed on a birth certificate is unconstitutional. full story

USA: A new study looks at health disparities between transgender people and the population as a while. full story

USA, Illinois: A lawsuit filed last week says a health care services group improperly denied a transgender woman hormone therapy. full story

USA, Oregon: UCLA Says Marriage Equality Would Add $47.3 Million to State Economy

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Oregon Gay MarriageAllowing same-sex couples to marry would boost Oregon’s economy by $47.3 million over the first three years and generate 468 new jobs in the state, according to an independent research report conducted by UCLA’s Williams Institute.

The study released today uses data from sources such as the 2010 Census and the American Community Survey. It estimates that 5,887 Oregton gay and lesbian couples will marry in the first three years of marriage becoming legal and that couples will on average spend $6,399 on their weddings.

Next week, a federal judge in Eugene will hear final arguments in a legal case challenging the constitutionality of Oregon’s law that excludes gay and lesbian couples from marriage. Since the Supreme Court struck down part of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act last year, 11 of 11 federal judges have ruled in favor of the freedom to marry and 61 federal cases are pending around the country.

The researchers who conducted the study are independent of the marriage campaign.

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Malta: Prime Minister Stands Firm on Civil Unions Bill As Opposition Party Tries to Remove Adoptions Clause

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Malta - Google Maps

From Google Maps

Malta’s opposition party is trying to kill the gay adoptions part of the proposed civil unions bill with an unnecessary study. The Prime Minister is opposed to the change.

Gay Star News reports:

Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has said he will never compromise on equality for gay couples, promising to fight for civil unions. The Labour leader has said, in the fight for gay couples to be given similar rights to married straight couples, he said he will not negotiate on human rights… Muscat has found an idea of a study ridiculous, considering the majority of credited worldwide studies into the subject have discovered children are actually happier and healthier after being adopted by gay couples.

We’re starting to see this fight play out more and more, as same-sex couples win marriage rights while still being denied adoption rights.

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Ireland: Average Civil Union Participant’s Age is 44

Monday, September 30th, 2013

irelandA new survey shows the average age of same sex couples entering into civil unions in Ireland.

Pink News reports:

According to Ireland’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) the average age of partners in the 536 couples entering civil partnership was 44.3, (44.7 for men and 43.8 for women). This compares with 34.6 years for a groom entering marriage and 32.5 years for a bride. 536 couples entered into civil partnerships in 2011, the first year they became available in the Republic. In total since then, 1,088 lesbian and gay couples had entered civil partnerships across every county in Ireland. A further 250 couples had given notice by the end of June 2013 that they will enter civil partnerships later this year.

The higher age for same sex couples is not surprising, given what a backlog there must have been…

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USA: One Third of College Students Still Oppose LGBT Rights

Friday, September 20th, 2013

titleA new study shows a large minority of college students are still opposed to LGBT rights in the US.

Dot429 reports:

Although popular culture may cultivate the perception that all young people everywhere are in support of gay rights, a recent University of Michigan study shows that one-third still do not. While I’d like to focus on the uplifting seventy-five percent that support LGBT civil rights, one-third is still far too large a fraction–especially among our population’s future leaders. The findings of the study, which appear in the current issue of the Journal of Community Practice, came from a sample of 2,568 heterosexual-identified sophomores, juniors, and graduate students. Participants were asked to provide their views on contemporary LGBT civil rights issues including marriage laws and employment protection rights.

The study shows there’s still work to do, even among the younger generations.

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USA: Businesses Want Clarification On Defense of Marriage Act Ruling

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

DOMA OverA new study has found that the US Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act left widespread confusion in the business community.

Pink News reports:

Two-thirds of US employers are in need of clarification and guidance on the impact of a Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) from earlier this year, a new study has found. The survey, conducted by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, asked employers following the Supreme Court ruling which struck down a key part of DOMA, potentially opening up 1,100 employee benefits to same-sex couples married in states which legally recognise equal marriage.

The study also showed that about a quarter of employers surveyed plan to extend benefits to all married same-sex couples, regardless of which state they live in. But another 40% are waiting for some kind of guidance before taking such a step.

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