Arkes Denounces Same-Sex Marriage, Abortion at BC Republicans Event

Conservative political scientist Hadley Arkes said at an event hosted by Boston College Republicans on Monday that stories of successful conversion therapy for homosexual individuals suggest that being gay goes against natural law.

“We’ve had many people who, with therapy and conversion, just have come out away from that life,” said Arkes, who converted to Catholicism. 

In a lecture that came just two weeks after the Vatican released a statement saying the church does not have the power to bless same-sex unions, Arkes—who said he has “friends who are gay who are reserved about same-sex marriage”—argued that natural law only permits marriages between men and women.

An audience of nearly 40 BC faculty and students tuned into the Zoom lecture by the Amherst College professor emeritus of political science, who also delved into topics such as abortion and conservatism. 

Conversion therapy, which the American Journal of Public Health found leads to an increased risk of suicide for LGBTQ+ individuals, has never been scientifically proven to change sexual orientation and is currently banned in 20 U.S. states. 

Jameson Lehrer, MCAS ’22, challenged Arkes’s career-long focus on LGBTQ+ issues.

“I mean I don’t get why it would matter to you, like, if a man and a man got married,” Lehrer said. “I don’t see all that. Like why … has so much of your career been focused on that?”

Arkes responded that just as individuals concern themselves with drug users and prostitution laws, they have a right to care about same-sex marriage, as it goes against what he considers to be natural law.

“There are many kinds of things: the person who shoots heroin into his own arm, he’s making a decision about his own body,” he said. “We made decisions not to let people rent out their bodies to other people with their own consent.”

Arkes’ response left Lehrer dissatisfied. 

“Alright, but with all due respect, I don’t understand how shooting up heroin is the same as me being in a consensual relationship with my boyfriend for the last eight months,” Lehrer said.

Arkes also presented his unwavering stance against abortion. The death of any life, he said, no matter the size or age, is the same. 

“We don’t take the killing of an older, larger male to be more serious murder than the killing of a small child,” he said.

According to Arkes, humans contain all their potential as they lay as a zygote—a single cell—in their mother’s womb. 

“It’s a human being from its first moments, nothing other, and the line that made a deep impression on me years ago was Paul Ramsay’s line that, ‘Everything we have genetically now, we had when we were that embryo—that zygote no larger than the period at the end of the sentence,’” Arkes said. 

Arkes also discussed the state of the Republican Party. In 2016, he, alongside over 100 other conservative academics, signed a letter of support for the election of former President Donald Trump.

Arkes said the party is not shattered, but rather in a very good condition, united against an opposition that is destructive to the economy and families.

Arkes also claimed that Democrats are trying to alter elections to eliminate Republicans altogether.

“But the problem now is that the left is not really out to win elections, but to drive the Republicans out of existence, and do that by altering elections with mail ballots, adding another state or two, allowing an influx at the border,” he said.

Allowing more immigrants in at the southern border, Arkes said, would tip election results in New Mexico and Arizona—two states President Joe Biden won in November of last year.

Arkes also said that conservative judges are too closely tethered to the constitution, which he thought of as secondary to the Declaration of Independence in creating the United States’ system of governance. This prevents them from ruling on issues like same-sex marriage and abortion, he said. 

Arkes, late into the two-hour-long lecture, made it clear that he was aware of the impact of his words.

“I think I’ve said enough to offend everybody tonight,” he said. 

Featured Image by Victor Stefanescu / Heights Editor

March 31, 2021