Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Send in the Clones

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Send in the Clones

Article excerpt

For years Randolfe Wicker, a founder of the Mattachine Society, an early gay rights group, has longed to leave a legacy without having children. During the 1960s he became fascinated with cryonics, the practice of freezing the dead in hopes of bringing them back to life in the future. So when Wicker learned that President Clinton had issued a temporary ban on federal funding for human cloning research, the 59-year-old antiques dealer leaped into action, setting up an ad hoc pro-cloning group at his New York City store, organizing a protest, and going on the radio--talk-show circuit. "I realize my clone would be my identical twin," Wicker told reporters, "and my identical twin has a right to be born."

But cloning as a means of gay parenting faces many obstacles, not least among scientists. "Anyone who thinks they are so perfect that they should have a clone of themselves has--how should I say this?--something of a personality quirk," says Dean Hamer, who, as chief of the National Cancer Institute's gene structure and regulation section in 1993, identified a genetic marker for homosexuality. "Raising a clone would be like raising yourself, only with a generational difference. It would be a very odd way of raising a child because you would know a little more than might be healthy about your child."

Such questions, previously relegated to science fiction, became a matter of practical concern last month when Keith Campbell and Ian Wilmut of the Roslin Institute in Scotland reported that they had produced a sheep from the DNA of a ewe. Oregon scientists subsequently announced that they had cloned two rhesus monkeys. A human clone would require the genes of just one parent, which could be extracted from a donor and implanted in a woman's egg, causing fertilization. However, according to Campbell, human cloning is at least a decade away from reality.

Citing concerns that the technology would undermine traditional parenting, lawmakers in Congress and state legislatures across the nation introduced bills to ban all research into the cloning of humans. "We ought not permit a cottage industry in the God business," said John Marchi, a New York Republican state senator.

Some gay activists, however, have argued that gays and lesbians have a stake in the advancement of cloning technology, which they believe could one day simplify nonsexual reproduction. To some lesbians, cloning represents the ultimate liberation from men, since it could mean reproduction without male participation. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.