The Rise and Fall of the National Organization for Marriage

NOM promotes anti-gay essay, backs discriminatory Boy Scouts

April 24, 2013, by Jeremy Hooper

Boys are only boys if they grow up to marry women:

He is a boy: vir futurus, a going-to-be man. Meaning: He will join other men, brothers fighting to attain or defend the common good. Greater meaning: He is made for a self-giving that is categorically impossible among his male friends. He is made for a woman. It is the orientation of his body, in its sexual form. It is the orientation of his masculine being, developing in a natural and healthy way.

None of this should be controversial, no more than claiming that the noonday sky is blue. Should someone protest, “It isn’t so! I saw it green once, when a tornado was coming,” we’d look askance, and wonder whether he had lost the capacity for normal communication. A boy is not a girl. A boy grows up to be a man. A man marries a woman, for love and for a family: That goal is stamped upon his body. Even savages without a doctorate in philosophy can figure it out.

Fathers want their sons to grow up straight, just like they don't want them to have scury or rickets:

Every normal and healthy and responsible father wants this for his son. It’s not like wanting the boy to go to Princeton. Such things may happen or not, and are extrinsic to the boy’s nature. It’s rather like wanting that the boy should not suffer scurvy or rickets. The father wants Luke’s bones to grow straight. He wants his soul to grow straight, too.

Gay people are confused, do "unnatural things with their bodies," and are "prone to terrible diseases":

What about aberrations? When Luke asks about them, because of things he’s heard at school, the father says that certain people are confused, and do bad and unnatural things with their bodies. They become prone to terrible diseases. But when he catches Luke in a tiff calling another boy a sissy, he reprimands him severely. Since he would not complicate Luke’s passage to manhood, he grants other men’s sons the same courtesy, especially when those boys are walking a more difficult path.

Gay people who "make [their] predilections public" and seem "as moral as eating" will confuse the poor straight boys:

Luke’s father now asks what should happen if one of the troubled boys makes his predilections public. He remembers the tumult of puberty all too well. He remembers the confusion of feelings, the longing to be one of the boys, the fear of embarrassment, and the strangeness of girls, many of them for a brief time taller than Luke will be.

He does not want any word, or suggestion, or tale, or touch, to make Luke’s passage through the straits any more troublesome than it must inevitably be. Most especially does he not want a young scoutmaster with an eye for young men to drop a casual hint about his life, as if it were as moral as eating.

Gay people are "(en)snared," and "prone to an array of terrible diseases, both physical and moral," and teachers are wrong for "cheering" a gay person's "entry into the bizarre and self-destructive":

Luke’s father has a right to expect that people will not obtrude themselves into his son’s normal growth to manhood. It is wrong to lay a snare in the boy’s path. It is downright wicked to do so, when the life held forth not only frustrates the natural aims of Luke’s parents and the natural fulfillment of the boy’s masculinity, but also leaves those who are snared prone to an array of terrible diseases, both physical and moral.

He notes with wry irritation that Luke’s teachers are apt to wag their fingers at perfectly innocent things, like cupcakes in a lunchbox, but will cheer when a boy publicizes his entry into the bizarre and self-destructive.

A Boy Scouts that accepts gay boys is no longer focused on boys, the implication being that gay boys are another breed entirely:

In other words, Luke’s father is being asked to enroll his son in a group specifically limited to boys, but one that does not recognize the nature of boyhood and its progress to manhood. Thus there is no real justification for the group; that its membership is male is accidental and not of the essence. He and they do not see the same being in Luke. He sees his boy, and the man-to-be; they see a neuter. He sees a father-in-training; they see an immature human thing, a bundle of appetites that are not in themselves subject to moral judgment.

But in a "better" past, potential gay boys were able to "weather the storms" and not become gay:

What is the father supposed to do? He can recall that better time, that healthier time, and can name several boys he knew who, if they were boys today, would inevitably be enticed, by loneliness or a trick of the lewd or boredom or a desperate need to be noticed or a despair that they could ever become true men, into the life of the male forever seeking the male.

He knows that most of them weathered the storms, precisely because the assumption that a boy is a boy gave them protection, some breathing space, some time to sort out their feelings and to grow up. He wants for Luke some small survival of that better time.


The above snippets are just some of the key attack lines from an essay that a man named Anthony Esolen wrote for the Public Discourse website.  Any fair-minded person would say that Mr. Esolen's piece against an inclusive Boy Scouts is discriminatory, at best.  His work is also obviously directed at gay people ourselves and not just a political issue like marriage.  Mr. Esolen has an obvious agenda—one that is determined to make gay people look any number of things ("bizarre," "diseased," "self-destructive," etc.) besides normal.

But as for NOM, an organization that always denies that its cause is an anti-gay?  Well, they call Mr. Esolen's piece "evocative."  And in fact, the special interest group that is supposedly concenred only with marriage is today promoting this anti–inclusive scouting article on its blog: 

[NOM Blog]

Evocative indeed, NOM.  Your link to it evokes the image of an organization that was once pragmatically focused on its stated issue but that has since drifted into the territory of generalized anti-LGBT animus.