From the standpoint of the liberal public philosophy now generally accepted, the question of homosexuality has an obvious answer—treat it on a par with any configuration of sexual habit and impulse, as something people say they find rewarding and in any case are very reluctant to give up.
The opinion to the contrary that has been all-but-universal elsewhere and in the past suggests rather strongly that in this connection, as in others, the accepted liberal philosophy is missing something important. In fact, those who favor “gay rights” know little and understand less of the arguments against their position. Recent judicial decisions that extend “gay rights” on the grounds that there is no legitimate reason not to do so demonstrate as much.
The following questions and answers, supplemented and explained by the other pages in this section, are put forward in hopes of making it more readily apparent what is at stake in the dispute over “gay rights.”
- Why do you hate gays?
Why assume I hate anyone? Is that the way you look at things?
- You call this the “Anti-gay FAQ.”
Sure. People use the term “anti-gay” to refer to the view that there’s something amiss with sexual relations between two men or two women. That’s the view taken by the FAQ.
- So what do you have against two men loving each other?
Nothing. I think that fathers, sons and brothers should love each other. So should friends. It’s even good when teachers and students love each other. Ditto for other leaders, followers, comrades and fellow citizens.
- And if the love is romantic?
Like a small boy who adores his hero through a romantic haze? I think romantic adoration from a distance is mostly a good thing in the young. It’s rather Platonic and promotes lofty ideals. As the boy grows older or comes into contact with his hero he should of course come to a more sober—I hope not cynical—view.
- I mean like the love between a man and his wife.
Married love is more realistic than romantic. Marriage is an institution and enterprise, so function is primary and feelings consequent. Romantic trimmings are helpful, but there’s no hazy distance and not a lot of idealization.
- So why can’t two men share that kind of relationship?
The same reason Civil War re-enactors aren’t the same as Civil War veterans. The basic features of the situation are different. The physical union of man and woman creates new life by natural function. That means it characteristically ties the the parties to responsibilities that go beyond their intentions, interests and even lives. The same is not true of an attempted physical union between two men. Since the two situations don’t work the same way, they can’t be viewed the same way, and it’s not at all likely they’ll be felt the same way. People respond to realities.
- But the reality is that some male-female couples are sterile or avoid having children, and some male-male couples adopt.
Sure. And some Civil War veterans deserted, held staff positions or otherwise avoided combat, some re-enactors get injured or killed in fights, accidents or defense of others, and some orphanages try to take on all the functions of a family. That doesn’t make it irrational to distinguish among such things. Human beings deal with things in accordance with what they think they are, and settled expectations as to armies, families, orphanages and groups of re-enactors depend on characteristic features and modes of functioning. That’s part of what it means to say that armies, families, orphanages and re-enactor clubs are social institutions. If you try to change one into the other just by trying to think about it differently you’re not going to succeed.
- You’re saying that the traditional family has special features that justify special recognition. Assuming that’s right, and it’s OK to discriminate against gays who want to marry each other, what reason is there to say that their relationships are anything but good and deserving of support? Why not at least have civil unions for gays?
The traditional family isn’t a self-contained artifact that becomes whatever the authorities intend it to become. It’s able to carry on its functions because it’s part of settled social understandings of what men are, what women are, and what sex is. If you give honor and support to arrangements radically at odds with that understanding you destroy the family as a routinely reliable institution. Feminism and other modern tendencies do just that, and the “gay rights” movement brings the tendency to perfection by making it impossible to conceive of the family as a definite institution with a necessary natural function. A social system that accepts such developments isn’t going to last, since reliable human connections, the rearing of children, and transmission of culture depend on stable and reliable family ties. Those who see the issues and care about human well-being therefore reject them.
That, of course, is only a sketch of the position, and I know perfectly well what the objections are going to be. Those interested can find a fuller development and answers to objections in the appended pages. They can also consult the resources on homosexuality in the Sexual Morality FAQ.