I begin this review with a glance at the “Introduction.” It is here that Reilly foreshadows his argument and the sweep of the book, as well as set up the issue the book addresses.
He starts by asking why we should care. After all, if LGBTQ people represent less than 2% of the population, and an even smaller fraction of them will get married, this seems a bit of a non-issue, really (xi). His answer to this rhetorical question is to claim that everything depends upon denying gay rights, even the future itself. “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,” (xii). So, for Reilly, the stakes are high–gay people mess with the very fabric of reality.
In fact, Reilly sees LGBTQ rights as the end-game of a long culture war that began, in fact, with the acceptance of contraception: “The foundation stone of this false reality, as we shall see particularly in terms of Supreme Court decisions, was contraception, and the capstone is same-sex marriage. The progression from the one to the other was logically inescapable” (xi). Thus, Reilly identifies a logical train that begins with any acceptance of contraception, passes through abortion, and ends with same-sex marriage. The difficulty with this is that, like so many things in this book, his argument depends upon a false choice. His choice demands we choose medieval Catholic natural law theory or modernist secular relativism, but I happily disagree with both philosophical constructs. In point of fact, Scripture itself avoids these choices.
The structure of the book is that Reilly will argue for the Greek and medieval construct of natural law, which he sees as able to grant us access to objective reality, and then argue that Rousseau started us on a trajectory denying objective reality, instead situating reality with the individual. More on this later, but let us at least note that this dichotomy is foundationally simplistic, as though these are our only choices.
Finally, Reilly is at pains to establish that the book is “not an attack upon homosexuals, nor is it generated by any animus against them” (xiii), a reassuring comment until one remembers that he has already described their identity as a “false reality” that imperils the fabric of reality. His statement is also further undercut by this comment about a former classmate of his that died of AIDS: “Put bluntly, he denied the principle of noncontradiction, and the principle of noncontradiction denied him,” adding that “this is what is going to happen to us as a society” (xi). One can feel the love radiating from the page.
He then concludes his introduction by briefly discussing his use of terms. Among them is this little gem, which seems to me illustrative of his whole approach: “I do not surrender the word [gender] to those who use it to mean that the masculine and the feminine are artificial constructs socially or politically engineered for men and women” (xiv). Nothing like a bit of blind, dogged refusal to deal with the central issue under discussion to give off the appearance of scholarly reasonableness.