Thursday, May 3, 2012

Back to the Future

Let’s talk about … homosexuality.  Very early in my legal career I became involved in litigation revolving around the administration of massive amount of a synthetic female hormone, DES, to hundreds of thousands of pregnant women from the late 1940s through the mid-1960s.  A chance discussion in an elevator in early 1970 between two physicians, overheard by a third, resulted in an astounding scientific study demonstrating unequivocally that this hormone-like drug caused vaginal cancer in the female offspring of those exposed pregnant women.  News of this study swept through the scientific world and, eventually, the public as it was confirmed by study after study that not only did the drug cause cancer, but significant damage to the reproductive tracts of nearly every young woman whose mother ingested the drug during pregnancy.  It should also be noted that by the early 1950s, DES was administered routinely to beef cattle and poultry to fatten the animals up for slaughter and human consumption.  In the late 1950s, DES was declared a human carcinogen and farmers were forced, after considerable delay, to discontinue the use of DES in animals for several days before slaughter on the assumption that the drug would be cleared from the animal tissues before being slaughtered and sold to millions upon millions of unsuspecting consumers.  The questionable value of this bandaid attempt to keep the entire meating-eating population of the United States from being exposed to this carcinogen was underscored when Canada placed an embargo on U.S. imported beef during Nixon’s presidency causing Tricky Dick to consider treating that Canadian gesture as an act of war.  (No, I am not making this stuff up). Throughout this hoopla, there was very little thought about what the impact of DES, whether in the massive doses used by pregnant women or the continuous daily exposure in meat-eaters (including pregnant women), might be on male embryos and fetuses, most particularly when exposed during critical periods of development.

In preparing for a DES trial for a young woman with vaginal cancer in 1985, John-Gunnar Forsberg, an internationally acclaimed physician and scientist from Sweden, told me how he had demonstrated in his animal studies why cancer had occurred in the young women whose mothers took the drug.  Quite simply, he stated, the offspring of animals whose mothers were exposed to synthetic estrogens developed cancer because the drug damaged and drastically reduced T-cell lymphocyte levels.  Both in animals and humans, T-cells serve as a major component of the body’s immune system.  If T-cells are depleted, the individual is at risk for infection and/or cancer.  Forsberg gave me examples of individuals who suffered from T-cell depletion;  young gay males who suffered from AIDS (the definition of AIDS is a person with a T-cell population lower than 200/ and died from an infection (pneumonia) secondary to cancer (Kaposi’s sarcoma).

By that time in 1985 I had interviewed nearly a thousand DES-daughters and taken more than four hundred of these women into litigation.  I had also interviewed about fifty young men who were also DES-babies, so to speak.  The science was sparse then on any damage the males had suffered from DES exposure.  There was very little litigation.  A young lawyer in Los Angeles filed suit against a DES manufacturer contending that his testicular cancer was caused by the drug.  I was asked to be involved with the case but turned it down because the science, unlike the scientific confirmation in women, seemed insufficient to justify litigation against drug companies.  Then too, I must regrettably admit, there was another reason lurking beneath the surface for my rejecting of these mens’ cases.  The first few guys I interviewed were either admittedly gay or acted like they were.  In my own god-like manner as an imperious trial lawyer, I decided that, unlike the DES-daughters, these men would not arouse the sympathy of jurors. It must be remembered that at the time most of our country, including me, was homophobic.  Outings were not a major factor in our society unless occurring to destroy a person’s reputation or career.  (More about that in a moment). Following these experiences and my conversation with Doctor Forsberg, I began considering the possibility that something (DES) in our environment may be a factor in causing some persons to be gay.  Stated perhaps more scientifically, were there any environmental factors that may influence gender selection in genetically susceptible individuals?   Because the role of DES in this possibility, I researched the issue and wrote a novel “Rx for Mass Murder” based on the supposition that both AIDS and homosexuality were caused by hormonal influences during pregnancy.  There is a remarkable volume of animal literature supporting the hypothesis that gender selection is mediated through hormonal influence during gestation.  While  certainly not 100% proof, the evidence is strong enough, in my judgment, to conclude that many gay men are gay because of exposure to high amounts of estrogen to their mothers during pregnancy.

To put it another way, contrary to the teaching of religious fundamentalists throughout this great country of ours, it is my belief that homosexuality is not a mortal sin or moral degradation, but the result of a intrauterine experience of chemicals floating through the blood stream shaping the hearts and minds of developing innocent babies.   The transformation of my thinking since 1985 has gone from simply thinking about this as a possibility to firmly believing that it is so.  

Ric Grenell, until yesterday, was the foreign policy advisor to Mitt Romney.  He is gay and notified the Romney team about his gayness prior to his appointment.  He was told, to Romney’s credit, that his gayness was not an issue.  Grenell had an impressive resume and, as reported in today’s New York Times, received “sterling recommendations from Bush-era foreign policy figures.  He had served as a United States spokesman at the United Nations under four ambassadors during the Bush administration.”  Additionally, the Times reported that “Mr. Grenell’s hiring three weeks ago, prompted an outcry from some Christian conservatives, and it became clear that the appointment of the former Bush administration official with pristine Republican credentials had become entangled in the unforgiving churn of election-year politics, leading to his resignation on Tuesday.”  The anti-science, anti-evolution, anti-global warming crowd is already having its say in what kind of presidency Romney will offer us.

We are going back to the future, just saying . . .

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