THE CLAIMS OF those who support gay marriage rest entirely on the idea that science has proved several things:

1. Gays have no choice whatsoever. Genes or hormones make them gay, and it is unreasonable to expect them to control or limit their behavior in any way.

2. Even if there is an element of choice (or preventable environmental influence), there is no reason to ask gays to control or limit their behavior, because homosexuality causes no harm to anyone.

3. Because the first two points have been "scientifically proved," it is unfair to give any kind of legal or social preference to the actions and relationships of heterosexuals. Any such preference is like telling gays to "sit in the back of the bus."

After a lifetime spent in theater and the arts, of course, I am well-acquainted with many homosexuals; and because of who they are and who I am, I am close friends with several.

They have never directly harmed me, nor I them. Many have helped me in my life — and I them. We get along just fine.

So what's the big deal? If science says that homosexuality is natural, uncontrollable and harmless, why would any decent person — especially one who knows and likes, or even loves, a number of homosexuals — wish to deprive them of something they desire so much?

Here's why:

1. Science does not say that gays have no choice whatsoever.

2. Science does not say that homosexuality harms no one, and that homosexual liaisons are as valuable to society as marriage.

3. It is not unfair to give unique preference to monogamous heterosexual relationships, if that preference and those marriages benefit all of society — including homosexuals or potential homosexuals.

Many people believe that because the American Psychiatric Association voted in 1973 to stop treating homosexuality as a disorder, this means that the science is settled — homosexuality is as normal as heterosexuality.

But science is not done by majority vote — particularly not by majority vote that was intensely pressured and cajoled by homosexual activists.

"Normal." The leading scientific studies in support of this change were highly questionable. Evelyn Hooker's study, for instance, which purported to show that homosexuals were perfectly normal, studied a group of homosexuals who were members of organizations "extremely anxious to provide their most admirable members," and "she removed from the sample anyone who struck her as obviously pathological" (Rosenberg, P.. 37).

Given the way she stacked the deck, the surprise was that she didn't find that homosexuality was better than heterosexuality.

In another study, Laud Humphreys interviewed homosexuals taking part in the bathhouse culture. Using only questionnaires, and starting with his own strong bias in favor of finding even the most promiscuous and dangerous sexual activity to be normal, it is no surprise that he reached, as his conclusion, the opinion he had when he started — that the only problem was the way society reacts to homosexuality.

Twin studies. Then there are the studies of twins who were adopted and raised apart, comparing identical twins, who share all the same genes; fraternal twins, who are no more alike than ordinary siblings; and non-twin siblings raised apart. The numbers deal with how often a gay adoptee has a gay sibling.

Most scientists agree that twin studies suggest that social influences play a significant role, alongside physical ones, in determining which people become identified as homosexuals in adulthood. Which means that homosexuality, while influenced by prebirth events, is not necessarily inevitable, but varies from case to case in its cause or in the strength of the impulse.

The bisexual problem. Ever since 1973, the homosexuality normalizers have done their best to avoid pointing out the prevalence of what is called "bisexuality," but which might just as easily be called "indeterminacy." A large number of men and women marry and conceive children before (at the age of a normal midlife crisis) they discover or reveal that they "were always" homosexual.

Obviously, whether or not they were fantasizing a different partner, they successfully mated and reproduced. This makes hash of the doctrines of inevitability.

Variety. The picture that emerges from a dispassionate view of the existing science, as well as the biographies of hundreds and thousands of actual homosexuals, is that homosexuality is not just one thing. It does not manifest itself the same way in all persons identified as homosexuals. It does not follow one unalterable course.

Many people have homosexual experiences or desires and fantasies in adolescence, yet grow up to be fully functional, at least for a time, in heterosexual relationships.

Every homosexual reading this essay, no matter how enraged they might be at my deviance from the party line, will recognize that I am speaking nothing but the truth that is obvious to all participants in the homosexual community: Homosexuals are not exactly alike, and neither is their degree of homosexual exclusivity.

Orson Scott Card is a writer of nonfiction and fiction, from LDS works to popular fiction. "In the Village" appears Thursdays in the Deseret News. A longer version of this column is available at Leave feedback for Card online at www