In a Renew America column Saturday, Alan Keyes attacked Wyoming Senate candidate Liz Cheney for not denouncing marriage equality strongly enough, claiming that her opposition is so weak that it will only help the gay rights movement. Keyes, like Cheney, has an openly gay family member: He disowned his daughter after she came out of the closet.
During his 2004 campaign for Senate against then-state senator Barack Obama, Keyes derided Liz Cheney’s openly gay sister Mary as a “selfish hedonist”; at the time, Liz said she would not “dignify [the remark] with a comment.”
Keyes insists that gays and lesbians do not have the right to marry because marriage is based on procreation. He slams marriage equality as a “capital injustice” as well as “a social weapon of mass destruction aimed at dissolving the existential foundation of human society, while bringing down the ideas of higher law and natural right that are the hallmarks, in particular, of the American way of life.”
Procreation is self-evidently one of those obligations. When individuals voluntarily choose to follow their natural inclination to fulfill this obligation, they do what is right, not just for themselves or their offspring, but for the species as a whole. Certain special qualities of human nature result in a capacity for self-conscious individual choice. Accordingly, for individuals who deliberately take responsibility for the consequences of procreation, what they do is not just an attribute of their species as a whole. It is their personal belonging, engendered in consequence of their personal decision to conform their way of living to the requirements of survival for the species as a whole.
But this decision is not just an invisible inner determination of their intangible will. It is expressed concretely, through the voluntarily use of their primordial natural possession: the individual physical body, insofar as it informs and is responsive to their will. The traceable connection between their will, their physical actions, and the new instance of human life that results, gives this belonging a concrete certainty that becomes the implicit paradigm for all the severable forms of human property that are grounded in natural right.
The institution of marriage is thus rooted in the natural belonging that arises in connection with accepting the obligation to perpetuate the species. The claims of natural right connected with marriage are logically connected with voluntarily fulfilling this obligation. To be sure, a variety of customs, traditions, and religious disciplines have overlaid this natural right with all kinds of conventional and legal trappings.
But what natural obligation is involved in homosexual relations? Even if, for argument’s sake, one accepts the absurd view that the human individual’s natural desire for sensual pleasure constitutes a law of nature, humanly speaking, by what reasoning could we reach the conclusion that this imperative of individual pleasure is equal or superior to the natural obligation of procreation? The latter serves and preserves helpless individual humans in their infancy. It also cultivates a capacity for self-sacrifice that contributes to the preservation of the species in innumerable ways, like providing the emotional touchstone of respect for the requirements of human social life. All of this tends to preserve humanity, in the moral as well as physical sense, from extinction.
To be sure, individual human beings who identify themselves as homosexuals may wish to take advantage of opportunities like adoption, available in today’s society, to indulge the experience of “parenting.” But to harness the force of law, so that this indulgence is poised to usurp the name and rights of the natural family; to abuse the respect for law in order to denigrate the choice that accepts, as a natural obligation, the God-ordained vocation of procreation; and withal to pervert the enforcement of law in order to persecute those who oppose this capital injustice – all this is worse than folly and sly selfishness. It is the deployment of a social weapon of mass destruction aimed at dissolving the existential foundation of human society, while bringing down the ideas of higher law and natural right that are the hallmarks, in particular, of the American way of life.
Too bad Liz Cheney and other such GOP candidates, who seem so determined to exploit conservative voters for political gain, only do so as a matter of personal sentiment and self-justification. Their pose would be more credible if they took the time to digest and articulate the powerful arguments that reasonably justify the decent, thoroughly American common sense of the people they are offering to represent. After all, isn’t this one of the services a truly capable representative is supposed to provide?