December 4, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Advocates of the gay agenda hit a home run against pro-family forces on November 6, winning four out of four statewide referenda permitting homosexual ‘marriage’ or even establishing it.  Now pro-family activists must answer the question: “why?” What we’re hearing from them is not encouraging.

Although questions of tactics are always relevant to the postmortem analysis following an election loss, they ultimately cannot address the essence of the problem these defeats represent: a grave sexual perversion, one rightly denounced by virtually every society that has ever existed, is being converted in the mind of the public from a vice into a public institution, with associated privileges and rights, including access to infants and small children.

In short, the losses experienced in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington State could never have happened in a healthy society that upholds basic standards of sexual morality.  The very fact that they were on the ballot at all, that the subversion of the institution of marriage has become a topic of polite conversation, is an indication of a level of moral confusion and decadence that borders on the apocalyptic.

The question that should be on the minds of pro-family activists should not be “how did we fail in our tactics,” but rather, “how did we arrive at this late stage of social breakdown in the first place?”  The answer, sadly, will be staring us back in the mirror.

Although millions of dollars have been spent on massive campaigns to counteract the homosexual lobby’s well-financed propaganda machine, and numerous dedicated individuals have committed many hours of labor to the cause of defending marriage, pro-family activists have made the catastrophic mistake of accepting many of the false premises upon which homosexual activists base their claims in the hope of appearing moderate and reasonable, while fatally weakening their own position.

Ceding the moral high ground

A public letter written by three eminent Catholics in Washington State prior to to the vote and published as an op-ed in the Seattle Times is a useful if lamentable example of this doomed strategy of moral compromise. Entitled, “We are Catholics and we oppose Referendum 74 to legalize same-sex marriage,” the letter sought to appear gracious and reasonable by speaking positively about the immoral, unnatural relationships that constitute the “gay lifestyle.”

Instead of denouncing sodomy as a socially-harmful vice, the letter appears to treat it with respect, stating that “No one denies the close and intimate bond experienced by same-sex couples. However, it simply is not the same thing as marriage because by its very nature it cannot produce children.”

In reality, homosexual relationships do not represent an authentic intimacy, but rather involve mutual exploitation for the sake of satisfying an unnatural lust.  Such behavior harms bodies and minds, causing physical damage and spreading diseases, and leading often to depression, drug abuse, domestic violence, and even suicide. Numerous studies have documented the destructive consequences of the “gay lifestyle,” although they should be hardly necessary if one merely considers the physical and psychological incompatibility of same-sex relationships, which substitute the natural complementarity of an opposite-sex companion in favor of a narcissistic parody of the same.

Confining one’s objections to homosexual marriage to the fact that gay relationships cannot produce offspring undermines the case for traditional marriage with a reductionist, functionalistic understanding of a relationship that is also profoundly psychological and spiritual.  Many heterosexual couples suffer from sterility and cannot produce children, but this does not deprive their relationships of validity nor the title of marriage.  Moreover, homosexuals have already anticipated this objection by adopting children, or using technology to create their own. If the reproductive element in heterosexual unions is the only basis for rejecting homosexual “marriage,” then we have already lost the battle.

Faulty principles produce long-run defeat

As Brian Camenker of Mass Resistance points out in his incisive post-electoral analysis, such losing strategies characterized virtually the entire effort on the part of pro-family activists, led by groups such as the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), in the four states.

“In sharp contrast to the homosexual lobby’s slick, sophisticated propaganda machine, the pro-family overall approach was largely the same moderate, inoffensive, often logically incoherent approach that they’ve coasted on until now,” writes Camenker, who notes that “most of the pro-family message was some variation of: Every child needs a father and a mother; the word ‘marriage’ is special; marriage is about procreation; marriage is a timeless institution; gays already have all the rights marriage brings; etc.”

However, Camenker adds, “At its root, ‘gay marriage’ is really about the forced acceptance of homosexuality as a normal part of society. But both NOM and the state pro-family groups went to great lengths not to criticize homosexual behavior. They were very fearful of being perceived as ‘anti-gay’ or ‘homophobic’ especially in the liberal press.”  Some smaller groups that did point out the objectionable nature of homosexual behavior were pilloried by the the larger groups, Camenker notes.

Two erroneous principles underlie the losing strategy of many marriage advocates.  The first, and worst, is a concession to a vague indfferentism regarding human sexuality, implying that sexual activity is a morally neutral question of personal preference, and that sexual morality is at most a matter of opinion. The second, which carries into effect the moral subjectivism of the first, is the notion that everyone has a right to control their own bodies, as long as their relationships are consensual. This transforms sodomy from a vice into a “right,” which ironically is the whole essence of the attack on marriage.

The latter principle is captured in the NOM’s number one talking point, given in italics on their own website: “Gays and Lesbians have a right to live as they choose, they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us.”  Another way of wording this is the following: “We accept that homosexual sodomy is a right. We’re just don’t want to call it ‘marriage.’”

However, if homosexual sodomy is a right, that is, if it is a legitimate expression of human sexuality, it is difficult to understand why it should not be subsumed under the category of marriage. Marriage is, after all, a perpetual union between two people who share a sexual life, which in most but not all cases has the potential of bringing forth offspring.  NOM would (rightly) add that marriage is not just between two people who share a sexual life, but rather between a man and a woman who share a sexual life. However, they have no way to explain why the definition should be exclusive in this way, if homosexual sodomy is a legitimate form of sexual activity, and indeed a “right.”

Illustrating this point is a common argument made by defenders of marriage: that homosexuals can already receive all of the same rights and legal effects of marriage, but under the aegis of a “civil union” or other package of legal benefits. This attitude is also reflected on the NOM website, which concedes a wide range of benefits to homosexual couples that are customarily given to married couples. Homosexual adoption is never explicitly rejected, and NOM only occasionally opposes civil unions as stepping stones to homosexual “marriage.” In other words, the battle over marriage for NOM is almost entirely nominal; it is not about the essence of the institution, which protects a vital type of human relationship, but only the name we attach to it.

Rational arguments or incoherent slogans?

I must respectfully disagree with those pro-family activists who defended their organizations’ losing strategy following the elections.  If the only feasible approach is one that reinforces the foundation of the gay subculture by legitimizing homosexual relationships, and that isolates the defense of marriage from related issues, we have already lost the battle for marriage, both morally and politically. Sacrificing foundational principles may have given a superficial rhetorical advantage and helped to deliver short-run victories, but the ultimate fruits of this flawed approach are now becoming evident.  Poll numbers indicate that Americans are embracing homosexual “marriage” in ever-greater numbers.

The battle over marriage cannot be won by technocrats who think of human beings as Pavlov’s dog, responding to superficial slogans and emotionalistic advertising spots in proportion to the frequency of repetition and modeling votes as a function of dollars spent.  Although sloganeering has its role, in the long run, coherent and principled arguments win the day. Ultimately man is a rational animal, and ideas have consequences.

If we really wish to make the case for marriage, we must take a comprehensive natural-law approach to human sexuality that does not evade the more politically difficult aspects of the question, one that affirms the integral nature of sexual relationships and the corresponding duty of the state to defend sexual morality and repress vice. That is the approach laid out by then Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, in an instruction issued by the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith during his leadership of the same.  While affirming the goodness of natural marriage, Ratzinger also noted that homosexual unions, without qualification, must always be explicitly opposed, and that governments should act to “contain the phenomenon” of homosexuality.

Although such an approach will entail short-run difficulties and will not yield immediate victories, it is the only long-run solution to America’s terrible moral decline, which is not isolated to the definition of marriage, but includes an almost total corruption of the nation’s understanding of human sexuality, reproduction, and the value of human life. It is also the only truly charitable approach towards homosexuals themselves, who are the greatest victims of the “gay lifestyle,” and are in desperate need of the truth. Until and unless pro-family activists adopt a comprehensive and coherent answer to the ideology of the culture of death, we will continue to suffer defeat after defeat, until the institution of marriage is completely destroyed.