Princeton's Robert P. George on New York's new gay marriage law. Interviewed by National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez:
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: What’s your reaction to what New York did to marriage on Friday night?
ROBERT P. GEORGE: Let’s examine the matter from a philosophical and historical perspective.
The vote in New York to redefine marriage advances the cause of loosening norms of sexual ethics, and promoting as innocent — and even “liberating” — forms of sexual conduct that were traditionally regarded in the West and many other places as beneath the dignity of human beings as free and rational creatures. Early advocates of this cause, such as Margaret Sanger, Alfred Kinsey, and Hugh Hefner, proposed to “liberate” people from “repressive” moral standards that pointlessly deprived individuals of what they insisted were harmless pleasures, and impeded the free development of their personalities. They attacked and ridiculed traditional norms of sexual conduct as mere “hangups” that it was long past time for sophisticated people to get over. By the early 1970s, their basic outlook had become the mainstream view among cultural elites in the U.S. and elsewhere in the West. Although Sanger was a racist and a eugenicist, though Kinsey was a liar and a fraud, though Hefner was a buffoon, the liberationist view they had championed eventually hardened into something very close to a matter of orthodoxy in elite circles, and liberalism as a political movement went for it hook, line, and sinker...
For people who have absorbed the central premises of sexual liberation (whether formally and explicitly, as liberals tend to do, or merely implicitly as those conservatives who have gone in for it tend to do), marriage simply cannot function as the central principle or standard of rectitude in sexual conduct, as it has in Western philosophy, theology, and law for centuries. The idea that sexual intercourse (the behavioral component of reproduction) consummates and actualizes marriage as a one-flesh union of sexually complementary spouses naturally ordered to the good of procreation loses its force and even its sense. The moral belief that sex belongs in (and only in) marriage, where it is of unitive as well as procreative significance, and where the unitive and procreative dimensions are intrinsically connected (though not in a mere relationship of means to end), begins to seem baseless — the sort of thing that can be believed, if at all, only on the authority of revealed religion. As a result, to the extent that one is in the grip of sexual-liberationist ideology, one will find no reason of moral principle why people oughtn’t to engage in sexual relations prior to marriage, cohabit in non-marital sexual partnerships, form same-sex sexual partnerships, or confine their sexual partnerships to two persons, rather than three or more in polyamorous sexual ensembles.
Moreover, one will come to regard one’s allegiance to sexual liberalism as a mark of urbanity and sophistication, and will likely find oneself looking down on those “ignorant,” “intolerant,” “bigoted” people — those hicks and rubes — who refuse to get “on the right side of history.” One will perceive people who wish to engage in conduct rejected by traditional morality (especially where such conduct is sought in satisfaction of desires that can be redescribed or labeled as an “orientation,” such as “gay” or “bisexual,” or “polyamorist”) as belonging to the category of “sexual minorities” whose “civil rights” are violated by laws embodying the historic understanding of marriage and sexual ethics. One will begin congratulating oneself for one’s “open-mindedness” and “tolerance” in holding that marriage should be redefined to accommodate the interests of these minorities, and one will likely lose any real regard for the rights of, say, parents who do not wish to have their children indoctrinated into the ideology of sexual liberalism in public schools. “Why,” one will ask, “should fundamentalist parents be free to rear their children as little bigots?” Heather’s two mommies or Billy’s two mommies and three daddies are the keys to freeing children from parental “homophobia” and “polyphobia.”The legislation's faux-protections for dissenters not withstanding (the judiciary will interpret those protections for churches narrowly and effectively gut them), the conferring of legal marital status on homosexual relations will lead to widespread indoctrination in public schools. Parents who take exception to the new dogma will have little choice but to take their kids out of the public system-- the system they will continue to support with their exorbitant taxes.
George notes the narrow perspective of the elites who have embraced the bacchanalia:
For them, it is all a matter of “us urbane, sophisticated, tolerant, open-minded, defenders of civil rights, against those ignorant, intolerant, hateful homophobes.”
These are the same folks who censor public prayer and threaten schools with financial ruin for asking questions about evolution. There is a strong totalitarian streak in these folks. They have no intention of giving you a say in anything once they get the power to silence you.
They will teach the new morality to your children in school, with legal imprimatur, and you will get as much say about it as you now get when you mention God in a graduation ceremony or ask a question about evolution.