Guess we should have learned our lesson by now. We thought the Trump administration had pretty much scraped rock bottom when it came to its views and policies on the LGBTQ+ community. And then Sam Clovis came along! Clovis is President Donald Trump's nominee for chief scientist for the Department of Agriculture. Not only is he not a scientist, but he believes the following: any LGBTQ+ identity is a choice. In Clovis's scientifically and ethically unsound opinion, legalizing anything that would grant rights to LGBTQ+ individuals will inevitably lead to public acceptance of pedophilia, polyamorous relationships, and other "fetishes."
The damning evidence comes from various comments Clovis made between the years of 2012 and 2014, when his primary daily duties included acting as a talk radio host, political activist, and short-lived US Senate candidate in Iowa. CNN unearthed the most cringe-worthy of Clovis's words.
The troubling root of Clovis's views stems back to his refusal to believe that sexual identity is something we're born with. In a blog post with his byline from April 2013, he discusses how the 14th Amendment protects six classes of Americans. Religion and military "have long been established in the traditions of the nation." The other four — race, gender, disability, and age — are, he claims, based on "primary" characteristics we can "generally discern by visual examination." He goes on to say, "Following this logic, the only way to extend 14th Amendment protections to those in the LGBT lifestyles is if these behaviors are genetically mapped or otherwise discernible. The science on this issue seems to be uncertain."
While on the Iowa campaign trail, he says in a video that "someone who engages in LGBT behavior — I don't know what the science is on this, I think it's still out — but as far as we know, LGBT behavior is a choice they make." Then, he goes deeper.
"So we're being asked to provide Constitutional protections for behavior, a choice in behavior as opposed to a primary characteristic. There's no equivalency there between the civil rights issue associated between those protected classes and the civil rights of someone who engages in a particular behavior. Follow the logic, if you engage in a particular behavior, what also becomes protected? If we protect LGBT behavior, what other behaviors are we going to protect? Are we going to protect pedophilia? Are we going to protect polyamorous marriage relationships? Are we going to protect people who have fetishes? What's the logical extension of this? It can't be that we're going to protect LGBT and then we'll pull up the ladder. That's not going to happen, it defies logic. We're not thinking the consequences of these decisions through . . . I don't think it's extreme. I think it's a logical extension of thought. And if you cannot follow the logic, then you're denying you're in denial."
Clovis claims those that who cannot follow his faulty, rambling logic are in denial, but Clovis himself is in denial about the science behind homosexuality and other sexual identities. According to the American Psychological Association, lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientations were not considered mental illnesses dating back to 1975. The current APA website states that sexual orientation cannot be boiled down to "choice":
"There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation."
It's unclear how much Clovis has changed his views in the time since his failed campaign in Iowa. One thing's for sure, though: he publicly and outwardly expressed these views less than five years ago, and now Donald Trump wants him to be a lead scientist in his administration — even in spite of the fact that he doubts widely accepted science and has harmful views about many of the Americans he'd be dutifully obligated to serve.