The Slatest

Scalia’s Son Headlines Anti-Gay, Ex-Gay Conference

Marchers at Pride celebrate their “intrinsically disordered homosexual acts,” as Antonin Scalia’s son would put it.

Photo by MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images

It seems homophobia, like homosexuality, runs in the family. Courage, a Roman Catholic organization dedicated to promoting abstinence for people with “same-sex attractions,” just announced its 2013 Courage Conference headliners. Saturday’s star speaker? Rev. Paul Scalia, son of Antonin, founder of Arlington’s Courage chapter and chair of Courage’s board of directors. Scalia is scheduled to give a speech entitled “Fearing the Lord … and Not Being Afraid.” It will probably run along the lines of Scalia’s previous pronouncements on the matter:

[H]omosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. The word disordered means that such acts fail to observe the design and purpose of human sexuality. They lack the natural ordering to procreation. They also lack the complementarity necessary to achieve the union of two persons in one flesh. The word intrinsically means that the disorder is in the nature of the acts themselves. They are always and at all times immoral. No situation, circumstance or affection can make them moral…[H]omosexual inclination is [also] objectively disordered.

Scalia and Courage, however, contend there’s “hope” for people with “same-sex attractions.” Courage rejects the notion of sexual orientation—reducing homosexuality to a “disordered” impulse toward “unchaste actions” and says gay people should simply ignore their gayness:

We must always distinguish the person from the attractions. Most errors in this area come from the reduction of the person to the attractions: to say, “A person who has homosexual attractions must be homosexual.” This reduces the human person to the sum total of his sexual inclinations…[T]he homosexual culture contends that those with same-sex attractions are “gay” or “lesbian” and therefore ought to live the lifestyle — that they harm themselves by not acting out.

Another myth: sexual orientations. Although our culture speaks about various “orientations,” there is really only one: heterosexual. This is simply another way of expressing the truth that human sexuality is ordered and designed for a purpose. It is oriented toward heterosexual union for procreation and marital bonding. Anything apart from that is a dis-orientation — meaning it is not oriented to the proper purposes of sexuality.

If gay people remain single and celibate all their lives, then, they can presumably avoid eternal damnation. This should be easy, Scalia claims, since homosexuality is really just a disorder that arises from sexual abuse or childhood trauma:

[N]o scientific research has established that homosexuality is genetic. Contrary to popular belief, there is no “gay gene” — nor a hormonal or chromosomal explanation. Science tells us only that certain biological factors (e.g. temperament) can predispose someone to homosexual attractions. But that is a far cry from saying that people are “born that way.” The origin of homosexual inclinations is too complex to reduce to one cause, but certain patterns do emerge among those with same-sex attractions: sexual trauma, emotional wounds, poor father or mother relationships, poor body image, etc.

Another myth: People cannot change. This myth is the necessary consequence of the mistaken belief that people are “born that way.” In many cases the homosexual inclinations are so powerful and deep-seated that an individual may not be able to understand that they do not define him as a person. He may not be able to understand himself in any other way. Nevertheless, research and experience indicate that, with effort and dedication, a person can achieve a greater or lesser degree of freedom from the attractions and at times even the development of heterosexual attractions.

Of course, Scalia is absolutely, completely, positively, indubitably wrong on the science here. Scientists have overwhelming evidence that homosexuality is usually inborn, determined by some combination of genetics and conditions during fetal development. For instance, men with older biological (but not adopted) brothers are much likelier to be gay. But for Scalia, the third-born of Antonin and Maureen Scalia’s sons and a priest, such scientific evidence is irrelevant to his own religious beliefs. Those convictions may well be inherited from his famous father, who has compared homosexuality to murder, polygamy, drug addiction, prostitution, and incest.