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Press conference
Q&A with Alan Keyes on homosexual relationships
September 1, 2004
New York City

On the third day of the Republican National Convention in New York City, Alan Keyes spoke to reporters about homosexual relationships. Below is a transcript.

Q: Is Mary Cheney a selfish hedonist?

ALAN KEYES, ILLINOIS U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: The question that was asked of me was my position on gay marriage. I think the challenge is not the challenge of homosexuality, but the challenge of maintaining a proper understanding of marriage.

The heart of marriage is the commitment to procreation and childrearing. If we accept the idea that it is possible for two people who are [unintelligible] cannot procreate to marry, then we have removed procreation from the essential meaning of marriage.

That, of course, would destroy the underlying moral culture that is required to sustain the family. In order to understand that, you then have to look at the nature of the homosexual relationship. And it's just objectively the case that, in a homosexual relationship, there is nothing implied except the self-fulfillment, contentment, and satisfaction of the parties involved in the relationship. That means that it is a self-centered, self-fulfilling, selfish relationship that seeks to use the organs intended for procreation for purposes of pleasure.

The word "pleasure" in Greek is "hedone." And we get the word "hedonism" from that word. So, if you say that homosexuality is predicated on selfish hedonism, you mean, of course, that it is the pursuit of pleasure through the use of the organs intended for procreation in order to satisfy selfish and self-centered purposes.

That, by the way, is an objective fact.

I was then asked by a reporter in a polemical way--and here's what I was talking about yesterday. It's perfectly easy to understand what I just said, and it answers the question about my position on gay marriage. Then, as a warrior for the other side, I was asked the question, "Well, does this mean you're saying that the Cheneys' daughter, who is lesbian, is a selfish hedonist?" And I said that I had clearly stated my views, and that the objective facts could lead to a conclusion. And that means that insofar as individuals are in fact engaging in homosexual relations and they correspond to the archetype of homosexuality, then we should look it right in the eye, to give self-centered, selfish, self-oriented pursuit of pleasure [unintelligible], and that is different.

The heterosexual relationship--and this is acknowledged in the homosexual literature and everything else--the heterosexual relationship is haunted by the possibility of the child. And that possibility means, what? That possibility means that you have to commit yourself, somewhere in your head, to the possibility of a lifelong commitment that involves not only selfish pleasure, but sometimes sacrifice and burdensome grief.

These are the things that we must discuss if we are to have a rational discussion of how we preserve the institution of marriage. Trying to turn this issue into an issue of personality is again, as I have often said about the media, an effort to engage in polemics.

I think that the great error here would be to try to turn this into a question of personalities. But as I said to someone the other day, if my own daughter were a homosexual or a lesbian, I would love my daughter, but I would tell my daughter that she was in sin. And I would love her and pray for her and try to open her heart to the truth of God's intention for her life. That's what I would do.

Q: Many Republican leaders here today said that they think you need to stop talking about divisive social issues and start talking about real issues like jobs and the economy and health care.

INTERJECTION FROM ANOTHER REPORTER: Judy Baar Topinka called that statement about hedonism "idiotic."

KEYES: And I am sad, and I think one of the reasons that perhaps we are facing a situation in Illinois where the key elements of the Republican Party's platform are not properly understood is that there has not been before a leader and a leadership willing to stand before the people and in a common-sense way talk about these issues.

The people of Missouri just rejected gay marriage by an overwhelming majority. And we all know, don't we, that that has happened in every state where the issue has been put to the people. Why is this common-sense judgment of the American people well-founded? It is well-founded because of the very arguments I have just made. We cannot, as a society, embrace an understanding of marriage that misleads people into believing that it is about selfish pleasures, when marriage is in fact about the commitment . . .

INTERRUPTION

KEYES: You know what I find interesting? I'm making a statement, I'm getting to the main point of the statement, and someone tries to walk over that main point to make sure the public doesn't hear it. That is a tactic that is worthy of polemics. It's not worthy of the media.

I am not going anywhere. I will give you plenty of time to ask your questions, but you should give me the courtesy of letting me finish my answer. I will offer a common-sense understanding of what justifies the opinion of the overwhelming majority of people in America. And that opinion is we should not embrace the idea of gay marriage, because it is inconsistent with the culture of self-sacrifice and the responsibility to the future, not to ourselves, that is at the end of the day at the heart of married life.

I think people make sense about that. I think the people in Missouri are right. I think the overwhelming majority of people in Illinois are right. I think that a minority of judges and others trying dictatorially to impose their view on our society are wrong, and I will lend all of my intelligence and ability to justify the common sense of the people.

Q: You made the argument persuasively about gay marriage and the institutional problems that are going on. Why get into sexual organs and pleasure and that--you get into an inflammatory area where on the day Cheney is being renominated, you're essentially trashing his daughter?

KEYES: That's not true. You are again doing what I think media people like to do: pretending you didn't create the situation. You have intervened in order to try to personalize the discussion of an issue that I did not personalize. The people asking me the question did so, and if that's inappropriate, blame the media, don't blame me. I think that's clearly what happened in this case.

Second, you cannot understand this issue if you are not able to look at and discuss the nature of the homosexual relationship. To pretend that we're supposed to talk about this and not talk about the nature of that relationship is, again, an effort to prejudice the discussion in order to make people feel ashamed of their common sense. And I won't cooperate.

Q: Dr. Keyes, if your position is consistent then, heterosexual couples who don't want to procreate and just do have intercourse for pleasure but use birth control to prevent pregnancy, are they being selfish also?

KEYES: The interesting thing is that I phrase my statement quite carefully. When I said that you cannot include in the definition of marriage those who in principle cannot procreate--see, the "in principle" is very important because it means that, try as you might, we cannot imagine that Jack and Jim are going to procreate, that Mary and Jill are going to procreate. That means that the two of them cannot become one flesh in a new person. OK? And that being the case, you cannot change in principle the understanding of marriage.

The incidental fact that some people who are heterosexuals do not wish to procreate, that others, through incidental facts their own health, might not be able to procreate, this does not change what in principle marriage is about. But if you admit those who can in principle not procreate, then you have changed the understanding of marriage in principle.

The common sense of our people knows this. In other words, people respond to this question in a common sense way and they know what they believe, but I can provide them with a reasonable and rational justification for what they believe.

Q: The original question that I asked to you was, do you believe Mary Cheney is a selfish hedonist?

KEYES: In order for me to answer that question, I would have to know with personal certainty what is going on in the private life of the Cheneys' daughter. Because I have said that homosexual relations involve, and I think it's quite clear logically, self-oriented, self-oriented, selfish pursuit of pleasure--that is, hedonism--through the use of organs intended for procreation.

Do I know whether or not the daughter of the Cheneys is engaging in such acts? It is not for me to know. Do I look to somebody like God that I can look into people's lives and their hearts? I don't know. I only know the argument I have made. That is why it is reasonable, when you try to personalize it, for me to say, I have made the argument, it is for others to draw the conclusion in any particular case because I don't have the particular knowledge.

Q: Last night, did you say, "Of course she is," on the radio show?

KEYES: I said, insofar as she is a practicing homosexual, if that is what she is, then of course, it involves the principle of homosexuality.

Q: Dr. Keyes, a slightly different question. If a woman over the age of 50, past menopause, physically incapable of having children, wants to get married for the first time, is it moral and is it legal for her to do so?

KEYES: The thing that I find interesting is that in a courtroom, my attorney would look at you and say, "Asked and answered." The question has been asked, and in that description I gave to you I answered that question. You are asking me to repeat what you should already understand. Because the whole discussion I just gave of the difference between changing the definition of marriage in principle and not changing it in principle answers that question.

Q: You criticized the vice president's daughter in public. I'm wondering how you'd feel if someone said such things about your daughter?

KEYES: I have just explained what I would say to my daughter. If my daughter is committing a sin, and someone else looks at her and says that is a sin, I'm not going to argue with them, because the objective facts, if they bear that out, are the objective facts. It's like saying, well, if my daughter were to, I don't know, lie to somebody, would I feel badly if somebody pointed it out? If my daughter were to, I don't know, steal from the corner drugstore, would I feel badly if someone pointed it out?

Q: So you're comparing homosexuality to lying and stealing?

KEYES: Meaning no offense, ma'am, you asked me a question about my views, and I am stating an answer. Because I will state it frankly: I believe--and it is a requirement, in fact, of my faith that I believe--that homosexuality, the actions involved in it, are sinful actions. And for anybody to insist that I take some other view is to try to dictate my religious conscience, to tyrannically establish in this society the dictatorship of one view with respect to religious matters, and that is an issue over which, if I may say so, I will fight you as everyone has had to fight anyone who wishes to establish such a dictatorship in America.

I know in Canada they're doing this now. I know that they're passing laws forbidding people to say certain things about homosexuality, even from the pulpit. But we're not going to tolerate that in America. Those of us of Christian faith and belief and those of us of other religious belief that do not accept the notion that homosexuality is acceptable will not be subject to this tyranny.

Q: There is not a lot of talk at the convention on gay marriage, although it's been an important issue. The president put forth support for a constitutional amendment. So, in the context of what we've talked about, do you think that this is the type of topic that should be addressed by the convention speakers?

KEYES: Meaning no offense, the party has spent a good deal of time and effort, and gathered people from all over the country at the grassroots, to write a platform that reflects the mainstream views of the Republican Party. And in that platform, the view that I have just stated about gay marriage is the platform view.

I realize that there may be some on the other side, maybe even some in the press, who will blame me because I will make an objective and persuasive argument because I make a persuasive argument in support of the Republican platform. But that's my job, and I intend to do that job well.

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