Last updated on: 1/17/2012 | Author:

William N. Eskridge, Jr., PhD Biography

John A. Garver Professor of Jurisprudence at Yale Law School
Not Clearly Pro or Con to the question "Is Sexual Orientation Determined at Birth?"

“Although some scientists believe they have isolated a ‘gay gene’ that causes or contributes to a homosexual orientation, they have not offered strong evidence to support this view. Many Americans have been persuaded that sexual orientation must be hereditary, because so many identical twins share a homosexual orientation. This kind of ‘evidence’ is far from conclusive, especially in light of the fact that many identical twins have different sexual orientations; this remains a mystery for various theories that sexual orientation is hard-wired into each of us.

Let me be clear: it is possible that sexual orientation is determined at birth. It is more likely that sexual orientation, or orientational possibilities, become firm early in life. But it is also possible that sexual orientation is more malleable. It also strikes me as reasonable, but also unproven, that the genesis of one’s sexual orientation might be different for the average man than for the average woman.

The one thing that respected scientists tend to agree on is that sexual orientation is not a ‘choice,’ like selecting a pair of jeans at Walmart. One’s sexual orientation comes from deep within each of us, more like our taste for certain foods or our religious faith.”

Email to on Mar. 16, 2012

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • John A. Garver Professor of Jurisprudence at Yale Law School, 1998-present
  • Scholar in Residence, Columbia, 2011 and 2005
  • Scholar in Residence, Fordham, 2008
  • Simon A. Guggenheim Fellow, 1995
  • Full Professor, Georgetown University, 1990-1998
  • Associate Professor, Georgetown University, 1987-1990
  • Attorney, Shea & Gardner, 1979-1982
  • Law Clerk, The Honorable Edward Weinfeld, Southern District of New York, 1978-1979
  • Note & Topics Editor, The Yale Law Journal, 1977-1978
  • JD, Yale Law School, 1978
  • MA, History, Harvard University, 1974
  • BA, Davidson College, 1973
  • According to Eskridge’s webpage, “The historical materials in his book on Gaylaw formed the basis for an amicus brief he drafted for the Cato Institute and for much of the Court’s (and the dissenting opinion’s) analysis in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which invalidated consensual sodomy laws.”
  • From 1990-1995, he represented a gay couple suing for recognition of their same-sex marriage.