Few societal changes have rivaled the rapidity with which homosexuality has been mainstreamed in America! When the nation’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of “same-sex marriage,” when Attorney General, Eric Holder, accused the Boy Scouts of bigotry for denying openly gay men positions as leaders in the organization, and when President Barack Obama issued edicts insuring special protections for homosexuals in companies granted contracts by the government, it became obvious that one of the most ancient moral standards had been breached. To grasp the nature and enormity of such decisions, Robert R. Reilly’s Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, c. 2014) merits close attention. “The love whose name dare not be spoken (once upon a time) is being shouted, if not from the rooftops, at least from the streets in demonstrations and parades, from the platforms in political rallies, and from the pages of various popular and intellectual journals. And from the White House” (#91 in Kindle).
The great philosopher and Holocaust victim Edith Stein (in a declaration at the book’s inception that discloses much of its message) said: “Do not accept anything as love which lacks truth.” What’s important when we address homosexual behavior is, above all, discerning truth regarding reality, for no one, as Plato said, wants to “lie in his soul about the most important things.” Says Reilly: “My thesis is very simple. There are two fundamental views of reality. One is that things have a Nature that is teleologically ordered to ends that inhere in their essence and make them what they are. In other words, things have inbuilt purposes. The other is that things do not have a Nature with ends: things are nothing in themselves, but are only what we make them to be according to our wills and desires. Therefore, we can make everything, including ourselves, anything that we wish and that we have the power to do. The first view leads to the primacy of reason in human affairs; the second leads to the primacy of the will. The first does not allow for sodomitical marriage, while the second does. Indeed, the problem is that the second allows for anything. This is what the same-sex marriage debate is really about—the Nature of reality itself. Since the meaning of our lives is dependent upon the Nature of reality, it too hangs in the balance” (#47).
But denying the nature of things pervades the gay community and explains its many illogical rationalizations. Conscience-stricken homosexual activists think that by forcing everyone else to approve their behavior they will finally feel themselves righteous. As Aristotle rightly said: “Men start revolutionary changes for reasons connected with their private lives.” Or, as Reilly says, “If you are going to center your public life on the private act of sodomy, you had better transform sodomy into a highly moral act.” It must be more than tolerated—it must be approved, applauded, normalized. Anyone daring to disapprove must be publically rebuked, chastised for hate speech, and punished. Gay rights activists persuade themselves that they are highly moral people intent on universalizing their morality. “Ironically,” however, “the logic behind this process of legitimization of homosexual behavior undercuts any objective standards by which we could judge the moral legitimacy of anything” (#267). Severed from the Natural Law, gay apologists glide into an inescapably nihilistic maelstrom.
The Natural Law (as understood by the great architects of the Western Tradition such as Aristotle, Cicero, Augustine and Aquinas) prescribes correct behavior in accord with the given nature of things. There is a Logos, an understandable, ingrained purpose to all that is. Acting rightly means following right reason, moving toward a good goal, pursuing true happiness. With Aristotle, advocates of the Natural Law believe that “Nature ever seeks an end.” Thus we live well by acting in accord with our design—thinking rationally, eating wisely, and nurturing the absolutely necessary prepolitical institution of the family, touted by Aristotle as the absolutely essential foundation for the state. That our genitals are not suited for sodomy, and that dire health consequences (far more deleterious than smoking tobacco or becoming obese) invariably accompany the same, cannot be denied. And yet precisely such truths are denied by homosexual activists. Reilly, however, leads his readers through a mass of details regarding the truly unnatural and harmful nature of homosexual activity. “One might say with Professor Harry Jaffa that ‘nature itself seems to reward chastity with health, and punish promiscuity with disease. . . . It would certainly seem that nature has an interest in the morality that is conducive to the family, and punishes behavior inimical to it’” (#1201).
Contrary to assertions frequently made by gay activists, the greatest Greek philosophers (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle) considered homosexual behavior unnatural and thus immoral. “In the Laws, Plato’s last book, the Athenian speaker says, ‘I think that the pleasure is to be deemed natural which arises out of the intercourse between men and women; but that the intercourse of men with men, or of women with women, is contrary to nature, and that the bold attempt was originally due to unbridled lust’” (#449). “So what is sex for?” asks Reilly. “The end of sex . . . is to make ‘one flesh’. Two becoming ‘one flesh’ encompasses both the generative and unitive Nature of sex. By Nature only men and women are physically capable of becoming ‘one flesh’. (Otherwise the pieces don’t fit.)” (#715).
During the past two centuries, however, this classical notion of man’s nature has been challenged by devotees of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who insisted that there is no given, essential human nature. He denied that man is a rational, political animal needing social structures. Lacking a given (i.e. divinely-designed) nature we are free to become whatever we desire to be. The solitary individual, the autonomous self, following his own designs, need not consider anything else. To live freely, we must shun social bonds such as marriage and follow our inner hungers. Thus the family, he declared, is an artificial thing that “can be changed and rearranged in any way the state or others may desire” (#597). Rousseau certainly wrote oft-and-eloquently about Virtue—as did his disciple Robespierre in the midst of the French Revolution’s Terror—but to him “virtue becomes whatever you choose. Virtue is not conforming your behavior to the rational ends of Nature, but conforming things to your desires. Reason becomes the instrument for doing this; it rationalizes for you” #610). As Reilly persuasively shows, gay-rights activists are, philosophically, followers of Rousseau, denying the Natural Law, inventing their own morality. And inasmuch as 20th century jurists have discarded the Natural Law, casting “aside millennia of moral teaching,” the gains made by homosexuals have been largely won through the courts.
And indeed the courts, whose decisions Reilly examines in depth, have acceded to the homosexual agenda. In the Supreme Court’s decision endorsing sodomy—Lawrence v. Texas—Justice Anthony Kennedy cited a passage from an earlier decision (Casey) defending abortion rights. At “the heart of liberty,” he intoned, is “the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” Following that prescription, Kennedy declared that “persons in a homosexual relationship may seek autonomy for these purposes, just as heterosexual persons do.” If one inserts persons in other kinds of relationships (e.g. polygamy, bestiality, adult incest) into Kennedy’s decision, the illogic of the Lawrence decision become instantly evident. If, however, the court actually meant that a homosexual is free to rationalize his “sodomitical behavior, even after a one-night stand, into something more pleasing and acceptable to your conscience—and you can not only do that but also seek to enforce your rationalization upon other people and the state of Texas by revoking their laws—then it all becomes clear” (#1662).
Following his careful examination of the rationalizing process basic to the justification of sodomy, Reilly persuasively details how it has successfully marched through our institutions. Psychiatrists, intimidated by militant gay activists, have redefined homosexuality, transforming what was once considered a perversion into an acceptable and inescapable orientation. Adoption agencies have been forced to equate same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Schools now normalize homosexual behavior, verbally pummeling students who dare condemn it. Inasmuch as educators significantly shape the thinking of a nation, they have been primary targets for homosexual activists, who have almost totally achieved their goals. Insisting we talk about “gender” (a construct) rather than “sex” (a biological given), demanding we use refer to “partners” rather than husbands and wives, homosexuals have successfully changed much of the language used in the schools. The Boy Scouts and the military have also suffered repeated attacks (what Reilly calls “the unremitting drum roll for allowing open homosexuality”) from the homosexual community. Gradually these institutions have shifted their positions, clearly normalizing same-sex activity.
“If life is sacred,” Reilly concludes, “then the means of generating it must also be sacred. If generation is intrinsic to the Nature of sex, then sex possesses immense significance. It is not a toy, or simply an amusement, or an item for sale. It is profoundly oriented to creation—creation emanating from union. It has a telos. As Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse said: ‘The human person is meant for love, and the human body cries out to be fruitful.’ As stated earlier, the fruit is the incarnation of the love. If generation is artificially separated from it, sex lapses into insignificance and triviality. This denial leads to its desecration and is contemptuous of what human beings are meant to be” (#3711).
Making Gay Okay is a solidly-researched, finely-reasoned treatise. Anyone concerned with the health of our culture and the direction of our nation should carefully consider its message.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The struggle to make gay okay first surfaced, for many of us, in the state of Colorado when concerned citizens passed a constitutional amendment designed to prevent gays and lesbians from receiving preferential treatment from the government. Steven Bransford, a Texan who arrived in Colorado Springs as the struggle began, found himself involved first as an observer, then a participant, and finally a chronicler, writing Gay Politics vs. Colorado and America: The Inside Story of Amendment 2 (Cascade, CO: Sardis Press , c. 1994). Two decades have passed, but the strategies described and the consequences envisioned have proliferated and altered the social landscape of America as well as Colorado. The battle began in Colorado in the early ‘90s when the “cities of Aspen, Boulder, and Denver had granted gays protected class status in citywide ordinances” (p. 9). As Bransford learned—and we all should indelibly remember—“to homosexual, laws against wrongful firing, violence, and harassment have never been enough. These laws merely make them equal, giving them no special advantage to force society to affirm their lifestyle. Forced affirmation requires going beyond policing actions. It requires the power to punish people for their thoughts, motives, attitudes, prejudices, hatreds, private biases—even their moral convictions” (p. 102). Thus gay activists in the “mountain state” determined to impose their agenda on the state as well as selected cities drafted “H.B. 1095, a sweeping gay rights law disguised under the nice sounding title, ‘The Ethnic Harassment Bill’” (p. 9). The homosexual agenda was strongly endorsed by the state’s political and cultural elite, including Governor Roy Romer and Denver’s Mayor Wellington Webb. In particular, Wilma Webb (the mayor’s wife and a representative in the state’s legislature) championed it. But a couple of concerned women read with alarm the bill’s fine print and marshaled a modest but effective movement to oppose it. Once exposed to the light of day in a congressional committee, the bill failed.
Thus awakened to the intent of homosexual activists, a small group of concerned citizens (encouraged by former Senator Bill Armstrong, Colorado University’s football coach Bill McCartney, and Colorado Springs automotive dealer Will Perkins) organized themselves as “Colorado for Family Values” (CFV) and determined to use an initiative to add an amendment to the state constitution that would prevent preferential treatment for gays. Carefully worded, the amendment stated that no branch of government “‘shall enact, adopt or enforce any statute, regulation, ordinance or policy whereby homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual orientation, conduct, practices or relationships shall . . . entitle any person or class of persons to have or claim any minority status, quota preferences, protected status, or claim of discrimination’” (p. 43).
CFV’s first challenge was to solicit sufficient numbers of signatures on petitions to place the proposal (Amendment #2) on the ballot for the November, 1992 election. As the volunteers began their work, however, they learned to guard against assaults from homosexual activists. Some would, for example, volunteer to gather petitions and then destroy them. For endorsing the amendment, Coach McCartney’s job was jeopardized as his university openly censured him. Congressman Pat Schroeder labeled the coach a “self-appointed ayatollah.” The state’s newspapers snidely smeared McCartney and Bill Armstrong. To Denver Post columnist Ken Hamblin: “When shallow people like Armstrong and McCartney are permitted to float like scum on top of a sea of knowledge, they take us back to the 14th century’’ (p. 56). After the signed petitions were collected, Will Perkins tried to hire various armored car agencies to haul them to Denver—but their fears of homosexual retaliation kept them from doing so. In Boulder, gay rights activists started a Sunday morning fire in the basement of the First Presbyterian Church, which had a few months earlier removed a lesbian choirmaster. Following the amendment’s passage, vandals desecrated the statue of the Virgin Mary in Denver’s Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Such intimidation and violence routinely characterized opponents of the amendment. And their behavior logically followed their ethical nihilism—if there are no standards for sexual conduct there are, similarly, no standards regulating any activity.
But the biggest opponent CFV faced, as the election neared, was the press. “All naive notions of journalistic integrity” quickly dissolved, for, as Will Perkins noted, “‘Language doesn’t shape the campaign—it is the campaign’” (p. 89). Rather than truthfully describing the amendment, the press routinely referred to it as an “anti-gay” effort to punish, to “legalize discrimination” against a long-suffering minority. Homosexuals were constantly compared to racial minorities who simply wanted their basic civil rights protected. Headlines skewed the factual content of the news stories. Scores of politicians were quoted as opposing it whereas only a dozen could be found with something favorable to say about it. TV stations in Denver refused to air advertisements supporting of the proposal—revenue apparently meant less than accommodating homosexuals. As a nationally recognized columnist, Joseph Sobran, observed: “‘The old journalists had a sense of duty; the new ones have a sense of mission. There’s a big difference’” (p. 94). Only talk radio hosts such as Dennis Prager and Mike Rosen provided the public with pro-Amendment 2 information.
Though the gay-rights activists frequently denounced the “religious right,” there were in fact remarkably few pastors (evangelical or otherwise) who openly supported Amendment 2. “Letters sent to pastors seemed to fall off their desks and into the round file. Out of 400 initially contacted, only two pastor’s assistants bothered to reply at all. This became a major source of disappointment within the ranks of CFV. They were in the public square alone, being shot at by the most powerful media guns in the state. It would have been nice to have had these voices of moral support behind them, but they were unable to rally the troops” (p. 135). Said Will Perkins, a devout Presbyterian layman, “‘I knew how Custer felt the day he modeled the first arrow shirt’” (p. 136). Nor did Colorado’s Catholic hierarchy assist them. With his customary clarity, Dennis Prager said: “‘The Greeks assaulted the family in the name of beauty and Eros. The Marxists assaulted the family in the name of progress. And today, gay liberation assaults in the name of compassion and equality. I understand why gays would do this. . . . What I have not understood was why Jews or Christian would join the assault’” (p. 138).
Anti-amendment religious spokesmen, however, abounded. The American Academy of Religion and The Society of Biblical Literature (the most prestigious of scholarly associations for professors of religion) supported gay rights. Evangelicals Concerned (renowned for its superstars Ron Sider and Tony Campolo) pushed for its defeat. A Methodist bishop urged 290 of his clergy to oppose it. The National council of Churches intoned: “‘It is blasphemy to invoke the infinite and holy God to assert the moral superiority of one people over another’” (p. 139). Only the Vatican, belatedly but powerfully, came to the amendment’s defense, declaring: “‘Sexual orientation does not constitute a quality comparable to race [or] ethnic background’ but ‘homosexual orientation is an objective disorder’” (p. 139).
As November neared, amendment proponents tended to despair. Polls predicted it would fail badly, and it seemed that CFV found vitriol and hostility everywhere. Yet on election day, Colorado’s voters, while giving Bill Clinton an easy victory, resoundingly endorsed Amendment 2. Many of them, apparently, when earlier questioned by pollsters, had feared to look bigoted and thus claimed to oppose the amendment. But in the privacy of the voting booth, they showed their true convictions. And one would think, in a democratic society, that the people had spoken and their desires would be implemented. But Democrats in Denver on election night began crying out to “Boycott” and “Punish the State of Hate.” The next night 7,000 protesters, encouraged by Governor Romer (who within a week called a secret meeting to plan how to reverse the people’s decision) and Mayor Webb vowed to annul the amendment.
Thus began a well-orchestrated boycott Colorado movement. Hollywood celebrities urged people to avoid the state. A host of cities, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Berkeley, New York, Boston, and Detroit forbade city council members to conduct official business in Colorado. Various groups cancelled scheduled conventions, possibly costing the state 39 million in lost revenue. But here too the gay activists ultimately failed. Good snow motivated serious skiers to ignore the boycott! Tourists came in great numbers. And the bottom line revealed that the following year “Colorado posted more rapid economic gains than any other state during the past year” (p. 182).
But while the public was not molded to the homosexual agenda the courts, with their commitment to the ever “evolving standards” of society rather than the text of the Constitution, proved hospitable. Days after the election gay activists (following the ACLU script) filed a lawsuit, Romer v. Evans, and found a friendly judge, Jeffrey Bayless, to grant an injunction ordering the state to not enforce amendment. He listened for days “to every conceivable ranting from the homosexual plaintiffs” while the state’s Attorney General did little to effectively uphold the amendment (p. 190). Six months later, the Colorado Supreme Court, arrogating to itself power supposedly reserved to the federal courts, upheld Bayless’ judgment, allegedly defending “‘the right for gays to participate equally in the political process’” (p. 197).
Bransford finished his book while Romer v. Evans was winding its way through the judicial system, headed for the Supreme Court of the United States. He rather naively assumed Colorado’s Amendment 2 and the will of the people in Colorado would be upheld and that what had taken place in Colorado could be duplicated in other states, thus rolling back the gay rights agenda. But in 1996 the Supreme Court annulled Amendment 2 and provided a crucial legal precedent for the multiplied court decisions granting virtually every demand, including “same sex marriage,” of the homosexual community.