One Step Too Far in Massachusetts
Jude Wanniski
November 20, 2003


Memo To: Rep. Barney Frank [D MA]
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Gay Marriage

The Massachusetts Supreme Court decision that struck down the state ban on gay marriage is really “on the margin” as far as homosexual rights are concerned. I could fully support any civil unions giving gay or lesbian partners all the “rights” that any heterosexual couple has before the law. But not “marriage.” In your Monday debate on CNN’s Crossfire with the Rev. Jerry Falwell, I had to agree with him that “gay marriage” goes one step too far. It would confer the blessing of all of society on the idea that homosexuality is now as culturally acceptable as the norm.

My reasoning, though, is a bit different than the Rev. Falwell’s, who bases his objections entirely on Scripture while I generally think in terms of political economics. In that, my conclusions are not only coincident with Judeo-Christian Scripture, but with Islam’s, which technically permits a man to have multiple female spouses. As a Roman Catholic, I oppose polygamy in principle, but at least it does not imply, in the extreme, the extinction of the human race.

It may help to put the argument in the extreme, Barney, which is one of the methods common to behavioral analytics. (The Laffer Curve says that when tax rates are 100%, revenues will be zero, for example.) In this instance, if all marriages were gay or lesbian, there would be no progeny and a quick end to all of mankind. I think of the British 19th century economist Thomas Malthus who gave us the Malthusian idea that mankind was doomed because its population growth would soon outrun the ability of the planet to sustain mankind. I’ve made the argument for three decades that economic contraction leads to changes in cultural mores, as a fixed number of people must make do with a shrinking amount of calories, those they eat and those consume as fuel. When there is a shortfall, men make up the difference with wars, to reduce the number of demands of the shrinking pool of resources. They permit abortion or, in earlier times, the infanticide of female births, to cut down on population growth. And society will also accept the “idea” of homosexuality, which cuts society’s population growth drastically.

On this same thinking, I must reject the idea that homosexuality has anything to do with genetics. A homosexual “gene” must per force lead to the extinction of homosexuals. It is conceivable that such a “gene” would appear now and then, but logically it would then extinguish itself. I don’t know if you believe you are gay because you have a gay gene. I never asked you. You do know that I am not a “homophobe,” I think, as I did invite you and your “lover,” as you termed him, to my Polyconomics conference a few years back. And you are aware I have frequently cited you as being the most intelligent of the members of the House Banking Committee. I’ve known gay men throughout my life and even shared an apartment one semester with a gay man when I was at student at UCLA (with separate bedrooms), and at Polyconomics I have in the past employed homosexuals. I’m not with the Rev. Falwell in all particulars, even though I side with his views on gay marriage.

In Genesis [1:20-24], even before God created man, he created “every living and moving thing, and when He saw that “it was good, said “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” In Genesis [6-8], God finds that as humankind multiplies, evil overtakes it: “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the Lord said, ‘I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air – for I am grieved that I have made them. But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”

You see what I am getting at, I think, as Noah is instructed to build an ark, and “to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you.” The intent, of course, is that each pair would be in a position to procreate when the flood recedes. And when it does, God tells Noah to “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you – the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground – so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it.” In Genesis [9], “Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.’”

As a political economist, my guess is that the practice of homosexuality expands and contracts over time in much the same way that cultural mores change regarding the social acceptability of abortion and divorce. The people of the United States, it does appear, are now more accepting of abortion, divorce and homosexuality, in the latter case prepared to accept one form or civil union or another, but not marriage. There is now great social distress in the nation, more so than at any time of my recollection, which may be why the issue of gay marriage has come to this point in Massachusetts. It will be added to the political conversations and debate before the electorate and test the envelope being pushed by the gay and lesbian community. I’d wish it would leave well enough alone and stop short of asking the blessing of society in addition to the civil rights, but I also understand it is in the nature of things that the community has to see how far it can get.