Why “gay marriage” isn’t

One keeps seeing such stories: Syphilis spikes among New York gay men. Officials suggest that the situation “‘reflects increased sexual risk-taking behavior … possibly due to factors including the availability of effective treatment, prevention burnout, misperceptions of risk and the impact of other health problems such as depression and substance abuse.’” Such things are no doubt present. “Prevention burnout,” for example, means that homosexuals get tired of being goody-goodies, which sounds about right. It seems to me though that what’s behind the factors officially recognized is that homosexuality, despite recent efforts like the decision of the Boston Glob to publish homosexual unions, stubbornly resists normalization. It’s intrinsically anarchic and transgressive.

To be normal, after all, is to be part of a stable pattern of productive human life. Sexual impulses are deeply rooted, powerful and protean. Bringing them into stable relation with normal human functioning has its difficulties, but it’s necessary if a way of life is to be tolerable. Within the bonds of marriage normal sexual relations between a man and a woman become part of an integrated biological, interpersonal, social and legal scheme of things that deprives sex of its radically self-seeking quality and gives it a settled function and significance at the basis of human life in all its aspects. Homosexuality, in contrast, has no biological function, and any interpersonal significance it may have is a matter of personal interpretation. The attempt to stabilize it through recognition of homosexual couplings as marriages is an attempt to bring about the triumph of social artifice over overwhelming impulse with no aid from instinct, biology, the social necessity of stable home life for the rearing of children, or even social attitudes that give social artifice any particular authority. The attempt is bound to flop. Its main effect will be to disorder social understandings of marriage yet further, and it is important to resist it for that reason.
Posted by Jim Kalb at September 30, 2002 11:29 AM | Send


We’re raising a generation that will no doubt be remembered for the total confusion and perversion of their sexual proclivities. Because of hedonistic left-wingers, chief among them the angry militant sodomites, our children don’t know what to resist, what to pursue and what to embrace.

The sodomite movement is the single biggest threat to traditional Americana. If we could cut the head off this serpent, we would inevitably crush every other alternative, green, anti-capitalist, antiChrist, anti-marriage, feminazi pocket existing today.

These sick, twisted perverts are destroying what took centuries to build. When we wake up and realize that, we’ll be the better for it.

Posted by: Jeff Brewer on September 30, 2002 11:41 AM

While one sympathizes with Mr. Brewer’s feelings in this matter, it seems that the ultimate cause of the problem is not “hedonistic leftwingers” and “militant sodomites,” but, rather, liberalism itself. If the liberal belief in the equal freedom of all persons is the ruling idea of society, and if that idea is applied CONSISTENTLY, then the demand for gay marriage is inevitable. There is no reason, within the logic of liberalism itself, to say that gay marriage is wrong. The only reason that some liberals (which includes conservatives, since all Americans are basically liberals) have not yet accepted the idea of gay marriage is that they are still holding to religious and culturally inherited non-liberal notions that no longer have any public legitimacy.

See my post “The demand for homosexual marriage is a logical and necessary outcome of liberalism,”


Posted by: Lawrence Auster on September 30, 2002 1:27 PM

Don’t our rulers wish to enforce this same liberalism in Iraq? Why export it?

Posted by: Alex Sleighback on September 30, 2002 1:55 PM

To Jeff Brewer: I didn’t mean to downplay the evil of the militant sodomites. What I mean is that the militant sodomites could not exist without liberalism. They are simply the active, cutting edge of liberalism. They demand, angrily, the consistent application of the same principles that ordinary mainstream liberals also endorse, though less aggressively and less consistently. Without the mainstream liberalism that discounts all values except the liberal values of equality, freedom, tolerance, and diversity, the militant sodomites would never have been given a hearing. They would be non-persons in American society.

To believe that the militant sodomites are the problem is like believing that Al Sharpton is the problem. Without the white liberalism that legitimizes him, an Al Sharpton would never have been heard from, or he would quickly have become persona non grata.

To Mr. Sleighback: I may post an exchange I had with a proponent of large-scale U.S. intrusion in the Mideast (not a neocon) who advocates, in its most extreme form, the scenario you fear: deliberately exporting our decadent culture to the Mideast as a means of destroying those societies and lowering their birthrates, and thus removing the danger the Muslims pose to the rest of the world.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on September 30, 2002 2:24 PM

Mr. Auster: By all means post the exchange about exporting our decadent culture to the mideast. It will be a very interesting read, if nothing else!

Posted by: Carl on September 30, 2002 7:48 PM

Lawrence Auster makes a good point that it was likely that homosexuality would become normative as liberal principles unfolded in society.

For instance, homosexuality is unlikely to be accepted easily in a society in which masculinity in men and femininity in women are valued and promoted. However, liberalism can’t easily accept the idea of an inborn manhood and womanhood, as these qualities are inherited rather than being rationally chosen by the individual.

Therefore, for much of the mid-twentieth century, the emphasis was on the idea that gender identity was merely socialised, and could theoretically be re-socialised. Once liberalism had reached this point, homosexuals could be viewed not as offending against gender norms but as being liberated from them and leading the way forward.

Posted by: Mark Richardson on September 30, 2002 8:26 PM

Please, please send missionaries to the Middle East, not decadence. Sick people need physicians, not poisoners!

BTW, do you guys notice the Freudian slip above: “Boston Glob?”

Posted by: Jim Carver on October 1, 2002 12:19 AM

I assumed “Boston Glob” was deliberate; it is certainly accurate. HRS

Posted by: Howard Sutherland on October 1, 2002 11:44 AM

It was indeed intentional.

Posted by: Jim Kalb on October 1, 2002 11:51 AM

A question for Mark Richardson, would you say that the ancient Greeks had a society where masculinity in men and femininity in women was suppressed? It is also curious that one would consider homosexuality “nominative” even in liberal America. Clearly homosexuality is not practiced by a large majority of Americans so in that sense homosexuality is not “nominative”. Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that homosexuality in America in not universally condemned?

Posted by: Rick DeMent on October 4, 2002 1:18 PM

I find it hard to accept Mr. Kalb’s assertion that heterosexual sex is not of a “radically self-seeking quality” and that heterosexual marriage has “a settled function and significance at the basis of human life in all its aspects.” That’s what I hope for, but isn’t the fact that our society is awash in pornography and extramarital affairs and divorce proof that this simply isn’t so? On the contrary, I know of two couples, one gay, one lesbian, who, despite all society has to throw against them, have stayed together - happily - for more than 25 years. In other words, “marriage” depends on the intention of the partners, their hard work and commitment, their faith and the same bit of luck that we all need to survive. Gays have no corner on the market when it comes to promiscuity…look at Bill Clinton.

Posted by: Robin on December 9, 2003 2:40 AM

To the extent Robin’s point is that sexual relations between a man and a woman can be radically self-seeking I of course agree with it. I also agree that a huge variety of arrangements might last 25 years.To the extent his point is that something so expressive, and so fundamental in human life, as sexual relations has no intrinsic function and significance, so by work we can cause them to have any meaning we choose, I don’t agree.

Posted by: Jim Kalb on December 9, 2003 7:35 AM

I think that gay marriage is really bad and that it should be banned!!

James Brown

Posted by: James Brown on March 2, 2004 5:13 PM

“Fellas, things done got too far gone… “


Posted by: Reg Cæsar on March 3, 2004 12:16 AM

I think gay marriage is fine it is their chose to get marryed

Posted by: Robin R. on March 17, 2004 8:07 PM

Why this sudden alarm over the topic of so-called ‘gay marriages’?Does not the Bible predict that in these end times wickedness shall be great in the earth. And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the end. We can, as rational human beings, rebel against the darkness come upon us. But whatever light we shed against the whoredoms of this generation,the moral climate will continue to fade out until only despair will remain. A hard fact to accept in a time when we want everything jolly good. But that’s the reality of it.

Posted by: Edwin Vogt on March 18, 2004 7:50 AM
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