Making Gay Okay: A Review (6)

Chapter four of Making Gay Okay is titled “The Argument From Justice.” In it Reilly attempts to make the case that homosexuality is intrinsically unjust. The chapter is full of his characteristic compassion and kindness toward gay people, in which he compares them to dogs (46), implies that support of gay marriage is a “termination of justice” resulting in linguistic nihilism that will result in the end of music and art (47), and describes it as a “descent into tyranny” (49). Much like in the last chapter when he used an analogy comparing gay people to cancer (37).

There actually isn’t anything really pertaining to justice in the chapter. He briefly defines justice as “giving to things what is their due according to what they are” (45), but this leads him into a rant against animal rights (46), talks about the supposed collapse of language (47-49), and then spends the rest of the chapter ranting against gay adoption (49-51). Nevermind that repeated studies have shown no problematic effects of gay parenting.

Along the way he makes some very strange claims. For example, he argues that Plato and Socrates saw a chaste friendship between men as morally superior to sexual relationships, and then claims that accepting gay marriage puts it on a “higher moral plane than chastity,” thus “reversing this moral judgment” (47). Guilty as charged, one might admit, but why should we care about this moral claim by ancient Greek philosophers. What authority or binding moral judgment does Plato have over me or any modern person? This moral judgment certainly runs counter to the NNL claim that heterosexual marriage is the highest form of human relationship. An argument from convenience, to be sure, and one that strongly suggests that for NNL opponents of gay marriage, any argument that supports their position is a good argument.

Most bizarrely, Reilly claims that natural law supports the end of slavery (46). This would certainly come as a surprise to his beloved Greek philosophers, the inventors of natural law, who had no qualms about slavery at all. It would likewise come to a surprise to most Christian philosophers until about the late 1700s. In fact, this entire section on slavery undercuts Reilly’s argument. He claims that “no feeling can justify the enslavement of another human being, because a human being has the inalienable right to consent to his rule” (46). But this claim places the authority on the governed to decide or consent to who rules over him and how, not on objective natural law. So why is it that when it comes to slavery, the human being by nature of being a human being, can decide how he is treated, but when it comes to homosexuality, the human being cannot decide how he is treated, or seen, or addressed, or understood, or who he will love on the basis of their being a human person?

His argument against gay adoption is also strange and self-defeated, by virtue of proving too much. He writes that same-sex families are “broken by definition because in no instance will both parents be present. Such ‘families’ are made to be broken, or rather broken to be made, by design. … This is a grotesque act of injustice to the children who are misused in this way and for this purpose. They are deliberately denied the possibility of being with both parents. They are made rootless, or rather made to be rootless in the essential aspect of the missing parent – an intentionally truncated genealogy” (50). Reilly proves too much. These words might equally well be used to deny divorce, or eliminating adoption. If having both heterosexual parents present is the definition of justice, than any deviation from this must be gross injustice toward the child. So parents cannot get divorced because it would be a gross injustice to the kids.

The further we go in this book, the less it actually makes sense.


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