Robert P. George


There can be no compromise on same-sex ‘marriage’

Robert P. George
By Robert George

August 2, 2012 ( - It was only yesterday, was it not, that we were being assured that the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex partnerships would have no impact on persons and institutions that hold to the traditional view of marriage as a conjugal union? Such persons and institutions would simply be untouched by the change. It won’t affect your marriage or your life, we were told, if the law recognizes Henry and Herman or Sally and Sheila as “married.”

Those offering these assurances were also claiming that the redefinition of marriage would have no impact on the public understanding of marriage as a monogamous and sexually exclusive partnership. No one, they insisted, wanted to alter those traditional marital norms. On the contrary, the redefinition of marriage would promote and spread those norms more broadly.

When some of us warned that all of this was nonsense, and pointed out the myriad ways that Catholics, Evangelicals, Mormons, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and others would be affected, and their opportunities and liberties restricted, the proponents of marriage redefinition accused us of “fearmongering.” When we observed that reducing marriage to a merely emotional union (which is what happens when sexual reproductive complementarity is banished from the definition) removes all principled grounds for understanding marriage as a sexually exclusive and faithful union of two persons, and not an “open” partnership or a relationship of three or more persons in a polyamorous sexual ensemble, we were charged with invalid slippery-slope reasoning. Remember?

No one, they assured us, would require Catholic or other foster care and adoption services to place children in same-sex headed households. No one, they said, would require religiously affiliated schools and social-service agencies to treat same-sex partners as spouses, or impose penalties or disabilities on those that dissent. No one would be fired from his or her job (or suffer employment discrimination) for voicing support for conjugal marriage or criticizing same-sex sexual conduct and relationships. And no one was proposing to recognize polyamorous relationships or normalize “open marriages,” nor would redefinition undermine the norms of sexual exclusivity and monogamy in theory or practice.

That was then; this is now.

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I must say, though, that I still can’t fathom why anybody believed any of it — even then. The whole argument was and is that the idea of marriage as the union of husband and wife lacks a rational basis and amounts to nothing more than “bigotry.” Therefore, no reasonable person of goodwill can dissent from the liberal position on sex and marriage, any more than a reasonable person of goodwill could support racial segregation and subordination. And this, because marriage, according to the redefiners, consists principally of the emotional union of people committed to mutual affection and care. Any distinctions beyond this one they condemn as baseless.

Since most liberals and even some conservatives, it seems, apparently have no understanding at all of the conjugal conception of marriage as a one-flesh union — not even enough of a grasp to consciously consider and reject it — they uncritically conceive marriage as sexual-romantic domestic partnership, as if it just couldn’t possibly be anything else. This is despite the fact that the conjugal conception has historically been embodied in our marriage laws, and explains their content (not just the requirement of spousal sexual complementarity, but also rules concerning consummation and annulability, norms of monogamy and sexual exclusivity, and the pledge of permanence of commitment) in ways that the sexual-romantic domestic partnership conception simply cannot. Still, having adopted the sexual-romantic domestic partnership idea, and seeing no alternative possible conception of marriage, they assume — and it is just that, an assumption, and a gratuitous one — that no actual reason exists for regarding sexual reproductive complementarity as integral to marriage. After all, two men or two women can have a romantic interest in each other, live together in a sexual partnership, care for each other, and so forth. So why can’t they be married? Those who think otherwise, having no rational basis, discriminate invidiously. By the same token, if two men or two women can be married, why can’t three or more people, irrespective of sex, in polyamorous “triads,” “quadrads,” etc.? Since no reason supports the idea of marriage as a male-female union or a partnership of two persons and not more, the motive of those insisting on these other “traditional” norms must also be a dark and irrational one.

Thus, advocates of redefinition are increasingly open in saying that they do not see these disputes about sex and marriage as honest disagreements among reasonable people of goodwill. They are, rather, battles between the forces of reason, enlightenment, and equality — those who would “expand the circle of inclusion” — on one side, and those of ignorance, bigotry, and discrimination — those who would exclude people out of “animus” — on the other. The “excluders” are to be treated just as racists are treated — since they are the equivalent of racists. Of course, we (in the United States, at least) don’t put racists in jail for expressing their opinions — we respect the First Amendment; but we don’t hesitate to stigmatize them and impose various forms of social and even civil disability upon them and their institutions. In the name of “marriage equality” and “non-discrimination,” liberty — especially religious liberty and the liberty of conscience — and genuine equality are undermined.

The fundamental error made by some supporters of conjugal marriage was and is, I believe, to imagine that a grand bargain could be struck with their opponents: “We will accept the legal redefinition of marriage; you will respect our right to act on our consciences without penalty, discrimination, or civil disabilities of any type. Same-sex partners will get marriage licenses, but no one will be forced for any reason to recognize those marriages or suffer discrimination or disabilities for declining to recognize them.” There was never any hope of such a bargain being accepted. Perhaps parts of such a bargain would be accepted by liberal forces temporarily for strategic or tactical reasons, as part of the political project of getting marriage redefined; but guarantees of religious liberty and non-discrimination for people who cannot in conscience accept same-sex marriage could then be eroded and eventually removed. After all, “full equality” requires that no quarter be given to the “bigots” who want to engage in “discrimination” (people with a “separate but equal” mindset) in the name of their retrograde religious beliefs. “Dignitarian” harm must be opposed as resolutely as more palpable forms of harm.

As legal scholar Robert Vischer has observed, “The tension between religious liberty and gay rights is a thorny problem that will continue to crop up in our policy debates for the foreseeable future. Dismissing religious liberty concerns as the progeny of a ‘separate but equal’ mindset does not bode well for the future course of those debates.” But there is, in my opinion, no chance — no chance — of persuading champions of sexual liberation (and it should be clear by now that this is the cause they serve), that they should respect, or permit the law to respect, the conscience rights of those with whom they disagree. Look at it from their point of view: Why should we permit “full equality” to be trumped by bigotry? Why should we respect religions and religious institutions that are “incubators of homophobia”? Bigotry, religiously based or not, must be smashed and eradicated. The law should certainly not give it recognition or lend it any standing or dignity.

The lesson, it seems to me, for those of us who believe that the conjugal conception of marriage is true and good, and who wish to protect the rights of our faithful and of our institutions to honor that belief in carrying out their vocations and missions, is that there is no alternative to winning the battle in the public square over the legal definition of marriage. The “grand bargain” is an illusion we should dismiss from our minds.

Of course, with sexual liberalism now so powerfully entrenched in the established institutions of the elite sector of our culture (and, let us not kid ourselves, fully embraced by the President of the United States and the leadership of the Democratic Party), some view the defense of marriage as a lost cause. I think that is another mistake — one that sexual liberals have every reason to encourage their opponents to make, and ample resources to promote. We’ve all heard the argument (or taunt): “The acceptance of same-sex marriage on a national scale is inevitable. It’s a done deal. You had better get on the right side of history, lest you be remembered in the company of Orval Faubus.”

Of course, this is what we were told about a “woman’s right” to abortion in the mid-’70s. But it didn’t turn out that way. A greater percentage of Americans are pro-life today than in the 1970s, and young people are more pro-life than people of their parents’ generation. The idea promoted by the abortion lobby when their cause seemed to be a juggernaut — that “the American people will inevitably accept abortion as a matter of women’s rights and social hygiene” — proved spectacularly false.

Or, speaking of “social hygiene,” think back to the 1920s and ’30s when eugenics was embraced by the elite institutions of American society — from the wealthy philanthropic foundations, to the mainline Protestant denominations, to the Supreme Court of the United States. Affluent, sophisticated, “right-minded” people were all on board with the eugenics program. It, too, seemed like a juggernaut. Only those retrograde Catholics, joined by some other backward religious folk, resisted; and the thought was that the back of their resistance would soon be broken by the sheer rationality of the eugenics idea. The eugenicists were certain that their adversaries were on “the wrong side of history.” The full acceptance of eugenics was “inevitable.” But, of course, things didn’t quite turn out that way.

Note that my point here is not to say or imply that redefining marriage is morally equivalent to abortion or eugenics. There are obvious and important differences. My point is about the claim by progressives and some others in each case that the triumph of the cause was “inevitable,” and that those who declined to go along were “against progress” and had placed themselves on the “wrong side of history.”

Does that mean that the reverse is true, that the conjugal conception of marriage will inevitably prevail in law and culture? No. There is nothing inevitable in this domain. As the left-wing — but anti-Hegelian — Brazilian legal theorist Roberto Unger used to preach to us in courses at Harvard Law School, the future will be the fruit of human deliberation, judgment, and choice; it is not subject to fixed laws of history and forces of social determinism. As the Marxists learned the hard way, the reality of human freedom is the permanent foiler of “inevitability” theses. Same-sex marriage and the assaults on liberty and equality that follow in its wake are “inevitable” only if defenders of marriage make their adversaries’ prophecies self-fulfilling ones, by buying into them.

Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University. Republished with permission from


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Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent


Paris climate summit kicks off with Prince Charles bemoaning our ‘crowded planet’

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

PARIS, December 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- The COP21 – or 21st edition of the Conference of Parties on “climate change” – got off to a spectacular start on Monday with 150 heads of state joining to speak of the “urgency” of the fight against “anthropogenic” global warming. Even though many scientists disagree with the theory that man’s carbon emissions are causing the planet to heat up, and a good number believe that there has been at least a “pause” in global warming for over 18 years, an overwhelming majority of politicians at the helm of their respective countries are touting emergency measures to keep carbon emissions down. Underlying all this is the Malthusian idea that the Earth’s population is no longer “sustainable.” If man is to blame, that means there are too many human beings on the planet.

That was in fact one of the first points made on Monday, when the 150 heads of state took turns to make 6-minute speeches fraught with urgency and alarm. So many had accepted French President François Hollande’s invitation they had to be separated into two groups in parallel events. As a special guest, the Prince of Wales was one of the first to speak.

jeann“On an increasingly crowded planet,” he said, “humanity faces many threats – but none is greater than climate change.” Prince Charles named several challenges linked to global warming: “our ability to feed ourselves; to remain healthy and safe from extreme weather; to manage the natural resources that support our economies, and to avert the humanitarian disaster of mass migration and increasing conflict.”

What with the Paris terrorist attacks on November 13, the rise of the Islamic State and the spectacle of thousands of migrants crossing the southern borders of Europe all summer, this was an obvious play on people’s feelings of fear and desire for security. The operative words are of course “an increasingly crowded planet.”

Now the participants at the COP21 are, in the main, not using the words “overpopulation,” “population control,” or “family planning,” if we can go by press releases at least. But the idea is very much under the surface. The choice of Prince Charles as one of the first keynote speakers at the very opening of the Paris conference makes the point: he has long been making it clear that there are too many human beings around and that it is high time traditional respect for human life adjusts itself to reality.

In 1992, he was already discreetly accusing the Vatican of being part of “certain delegations” who are “determined to prevent discussion of population growth.” In June 2010, during a lecture marking the 25th anniversary of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies of which he is a patron, Prince Charles said the population of Lagos in Nigeria has risen from 300,000 to 20 million in his lifetime: “I could have chosen Mumbai, Cairo or Mexico City; wherever you look, the world’s population is increasing fast. It goes up by the equivalent of the entire population of the United Kingdom every year. Which means that this poor planet of ours, which already struggles to sustain 6.8 billion people, will somehow have to support over 9 billion people within 50 years.”

Speaking of the “very difficult moral questions” raised in this context, he added that we should come to a view that balances “the traditional attitude to the sacred nature of life” with religious teachings that urge humans to “keep within the limits of Nature’s benevolence and bounty.”

This is in obvious defiance towards traditional condemnation of contraception and might even be construed as justifying abortion.

Three years later, in 2013, the Prince of Wales published an official endorsement of Paul and Anne Ehrlich’s (authors of The Population Bomb) latest report on overpopulation, which pleads for universal access to (chosen) contraception and “legal and safe” abortion, on his official website.

All this was left unsaid at the COP21 but it does enter the logic of the talks, as confirmed by international bodies such as the United Nations and its agencies that promote population control in exchange for development aid.

In another noteworthy event, this time on the side of COP21’s first day official meetings, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, met with Barack Obama and François Hollande on Monday afternoon to discuss his “Breakthrough Energy Coalition,” an initiative he is taking together with Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook) and his wife, Dr Priscilla Chan, as well as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, and Xavier Nell, the French founder of Free, an internet provider, who made his first fortune with a pioneering French information network Minitel, where he “sold” erotic services in the 1980s.

Bill Gates and his billionaire counterparts are aiming to invest millions in “clean” energy, together with widespread public investment, in order to make the field attractive to investors.

But “philanthropist” Bill Gates and his wife Melinda are also well known for their action in favor of population control and the distribution of contraceptives in poor countries. All the major companies involved in the initiatives are proponents of LGBT rights as are many sponsors of the COP21 in France.

At least one advisor to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is officially taking part in the COP21 on the chapter of “green agriculture.”

Pope Francis himself has reiterated his support for the COP21, hoping together with François Hollande that the talks will lead to a “binding” agreement where rich countries will help poor ones, both technically and financially, to go ahead with the “ecological revolution.” On Monday, the pope called on the international community to realize that global warming is driving the world “to the brink of suicide.”

Saying he was “unsure” of the COP21’s outcome, he added: “All I can say is that it’s now or never.” He was speaking to the press in the airplane that was bringing him back to Rome from his African journey.

As the major anti-global warming demonstration that was to have taken place on Sunday in Paris was canceled because of the November terrorist attacks, the French authorities suggested would-be demonstrators send a pair of shoes to the “Place de la République” to represent them there. Pope Francis agreed to “sign” one of the pairs with the inscription Laudato si’. They were placed there together with two pairs of shoes bearing the cards of Cardinal Peter Turkson and Cardinal Claudio Hummes who personally presented a petition by 800,000 Catholics from 130 countries in support of the COP21 at an interreligious event in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, last Saturday.

Cardinal Turkson, who will be representing the Holy See during the second phase of the climate conference, has taken advantage of his position as president of the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice to encourage 5,100 bishops and 413,000 priests to commit themselves in favor of the Paris summit, asking them to check out demonstrations and other events in their dioceses in favor of fighting climate change.

A new “Advent”?


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Saying abortion is ‘killing babies’ is not hateful, it’s the truth: Ben Carson (video)

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By Ben Johnson

December 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - Dr. Ben Carson is walking back statements he made over the weekend that seemed to accuse the pro-life movement of spewing "hateful rhetoric."

Dr. Carson told "Face the Nation" on Sunday that there was "no question" that overheated words on "both sides" of the abortion debate may have frayed our social discourse and contributed to Robert Lewis Dear's decision to open fire inside a Planned Parenthood last Friday.

Police have not yet determined Dear's motive, though his mental state has been questioned.

Members of the pro-life community recoiled at the notion that they had engaged in hate speech. "Dr. Carson is sorely misinformed," Lauren Muzyka, the executive director of Sidewalk Advocates for Life, told LifeSiteNews. He "must reacquaint himself with the pro-life movement he loves and claims" as his own.

“Doctor Carson just ended his presidential candidacy," Operation Rescue President Troy Newman told Breitbart News.

On Monday night, Carson appeared on "The Kelly File" on Fox News to address the controversy touched off just 36 hours earlier.

All pro-life leaders "need to do is look at my record," he said.

"I've spent my whole life as a pro-life advocate, trying to save lives" as a surgeon, including operating on premature babies. Carson, a frequent speaker at women's pregnancy centers, added, "I don't think any candidate has been as involved in raising as much money for pro-life issues as I have."

"So, when something is said that someone might try to interpret as anti-pro-life, that's just silly," he said.

When asked what pro-life statements rose to the level of "hateful rhetoric," Carson said he had in mind anyone who would say he "can understand why somebody would come abortion clinic and shoot it up."

Saying that abortionists are "killing babies" does not count, though. "I say that myself," he said. "I don't think that's hateful rhetoric; that's just the truth."

On the other side of the debate, those who favor abortion "engage in such hateful rhetoric by saying that anybody who doesn't want a woman to have an abortion is anti-woman," he said.

Dr. Carson, speaking in his usually low and measured cadences, called for a calm discussion of the rights proper to unborn children to replace shouting.

"Somebody has to be the mature one," he said. "I think the appropriate people to do that are gonna be the pro-life people, because they have much better arguments."

"It's very difficult for somebody who is pro-abortion to sit down and explain why it's OK to take this little baby who has features that we can all recognize – eyes and ears and hearts – and pull them apart," he said. "They have to be able to explain that."

Before switching to another topic, Megyn Kelly wondered if the Planned Parenthood feeding frenzy provided "evidence of the bias in some of these reporters...who are on the pro-choice side" and "think any expression of...the pro-life stance is angry rhetoric.”

Dr. Carson had just completed a tour of Syrian refugee camps in Jordan. He said the displaced persons he spoke to did not want to come to the United States but wanted to return to their homes.

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Fr. Mark Hodges

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Man threatened surrogate with financial ruin if she refused to abort his triplets

Fr. Mark Hodges
By Fr. Mark Hodges

WOODLAND HILLS, California, December 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – While pro-abortion "Catholic" New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to legalize commercial surrogacy, a case in point demonstrates the ludicrousness of the loveless practice.

A Georgia man hired a California woman to carry his child in her womb, via in vitro fertilization, for $33,000. Practitioners fertilized a 20-year-old donor's three eggs with the rich man's sperm and implanted the conceived humans in Melissa Cook's womb earlier this year, in the hopes that one might survive.

Melissa Cook has never met the father of the children she carries.

It is normal practice, with in vitro fertilization, to implant more than one conceptus, because in most cases, most or all of the babies die.  "Extras" are discarded to die as well.

But all three of the babies implanted in Cook defied the odds. Instead of carrying the Georgia man's baby, Cook was found to be carrying three of his and the 20-year-old stranger's babies – triplets.

Overwhelmed by the thought of fathering triplets, the Georgia man sent Cook a letter demanding that she abort one extra baby. He called it a "selection reduction" and commanded her to kill the child per their surrogate contract.

Cook balked. "They are human beings. I bonded with these kids. This is just not right," she told The Post.

The Georgia man's lawyer threatened Cook with financial ruin. "His remedies where you refuse to abide by the terms of the agreement, are immense" the lawyer's letter reads, enumerating "loss of all benefits under the agreement, damages in relation to future care of the children [and] medical costs associated with any extraordinary care the children may need."

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He further demanded that Cook get an abortion in less than 24 hours of receipt of his letter. Cook, who is a mother of four and a surrogate to a fifth child previously, is now 17 weeks pregnant.

"I have to reduce. I'm scared. I don't want to suffer," Cook, who is separated from her husband, fretted.

"This sad story highlights the fact that surrogacy is based in the sick idea that a human being is a commodity that can be bought and sold, threatened and killed, all at the whim of the powerful," Stephen Phelan, director of mission communications for Human Life International, told LifeSiteNews.

"Here, a mother is threatened by being held to a contract that she mistakenly signed, understanding too late that she signed away her own freedom and risked the life of her unborn child," Phelan said.

Director Phelan noted, "These cases are not anomalies. They perfectly follow the logic of slavery and abuse that underlie the life-as-commodity view, even when these practices are sold as affirming life."

"We pray that those who currently see in vitro fertilization and surrogate motherhood as 'pro-life, pro-woman and pro-child' will reconsider and fight any law that allows or encourages the practices," Phelan concluded.

Jennifer Lahl, head of the Center for Bioethics and Culture, commented, "Why on Earth would Cuomo want to set up a system like this in New York? It's parent breeding."


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