In the currently raging debate on homosexuality, there is a lot of spilled ink and emotional strife from multiple sides of the fence that are engaging these important issues. I say “multiple” because I do not think the issue is reducible to merely the Left and the Right, the Revisionists and the Progressives, or what have you. Quite frankly, the Right is disagreeing with the Right and the Left is disagreeing with the Left. As notable journalist Andrew Sullivan (himself a homosexual) wrote, “There are as many politics of homosexuality as there words for it, and not all of them contain reason” (Sullivan 19). In this article I simply wish to address only two key positions on this debate that are very particular with respect to their sociological as well as philosophical approach (among other elements).
On the one hand, you have what has been called the “personalist” position (or conjugal view); containing its most famed formulation in Karol Wojtyla’s Love and Responsibility which argues for a personalistic defense of traditional norms and draws upon the moral philosophical/theological thought of Thomas Aquinas (1224/5-1274). As Alexander Pruss has written, “A dominant methodological approach has been to distance oneself from biological considerations, such as those connected with reproduction, and to focus on us as persons instead, looking at the interaction between our subjectivity and our sexuality, and focusing on human dignity and not to trample on the autonomy of others” (Pruss 2). This is largely the approach of Wojtyla, and I offer a brief defense of this view in my article Marriage: A Personalist Defense over at Hellenistic Christendom.
On the other hand, you have what has been called the “revisionist” position, which in my opinion has its best defense in philosopher John Corvino’s essay in Debating Same-Sex Marriage. According to Robert P. George’s essay with Ryan Anderson and Sherif Girgis, the revisionist view can be defined as follows:
Marriage is the union of two people (whether of the same sex or of opposite sexes) who commit to romantically loving and caring for each other and to sharing the burdens and benefits of domestic life. It is essentially a union of hearts and minds, enhanced by whatever forms of sexual intimacy both partner find agreeable. The state should recognize and regulate marriage because it has an interest in stable romantic partnerships and in the concrete needs of spouses and any children they may choose to rear (George, Anderson, Girgis 2010: 246). Continue reading