These words, spoken by Ronald Reagan in 1991, are framed on the wall above my desk. As a gay man, I’ve adopted them as my own, as I’ve entered the national discussion on same-sex marriage. I wholeheartedly support civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, but I am opposed to same-sex marriage. Because activists have made marriage, rather than civil unions, their goal, I am viewed by many as a self-loathing, traitorous gay. I prefer to think of myself as a reasoning, intellectually honest human being. The notion of same-sex marriage is implausible, yet political correctness has made stating the obvious a risky business.
Genderless marriage is not marriage at all. I’ve always been careful to avoid using religion or appeals to tradition as I’ve approached this topic. And with good reason: Neither religion nor tradition has played a significant role in forming my stance. But reason and experience certainly have. As a young man, I wasn’t strongly inclined toward marriage or fatherhood, because I knew only homosexual desire. I first recognized my strong yearning for men at age eight, when my parents took me to see The Sound of Music.
While others marveled at the splendor of the Swiss Alps displayed on the huge Cinerama screen, I marveled at the uniformed, blond-haired Rolfe, who was seventeen going on eighteen. That proclivity, once awakened, never faded. During college and throughout my twenties, I had many close friends who were handsome, athletic, and intelligent, with terrific personalities. I longed to have an intimate relationship with any and all of them. I wouldn’t have traded the quality of my relationships with any of these guys for an opportunity to engage in sex. In fact, I always felt like the luckiest man on the planet.
Denial didn’t diminish or impoverish my life. It made my life experience richer. Philia love between men is far better, far stronger, and far more fulfilling than erotic love can ever be. But society now promotes the lowest form of love between men while sabotaging the higher forms. When all my friends began to marry, I began to seriously consider marriage for the first time. The motive of avoiding social isolation may not have been the best, but it was the catalyst that changed the trajectory of my life. Even though I had to repress certain sexual desires, I found marriage to be extremely rewarding.