Most Princetonians treat the Anscombe Society with a sort of bemused indifference. We see Anscombers as anachronistic and perhaps a bit quixotic, longing for the days before the crass commercialization of sexuality. Yet, in the two years since the Anscombe Society was officially recognized by the University, it has had a surprising amount of influence. The Anscombe Society has been written about in The New York Times and USA Today, it has organized a national conference, and imitation groups have sprung up at other colleges across America. The Anscombe Society deserves a closer look, and what one uncovers isn't pretty.
I spent a few hours browsing through the Anscombe Society's website and reading the "Articles of the Week" distributed to their listserv. I found much more than benevolent admonitions to wait until marriage. Instead, the Anscombe Society has taken a strong stance against equal rights for gays and lesbians and is in favor of a return to "traditional gender roles."
I have a problem with any campus group that promotes discrimination against fellow Princetonians, and the Anscombe Society does exactly that. They oppose gay marriage and even drafted an amicus brief against gay rights for a recent case heard by the New Jersey Supreme Court. This is a hugely important issue with profound consequences. Though many Princetonians graduate and get married, some are left in an endless limbo, living with loving partners but deprived of the protection of the law. These men and women are often denied the benefits of their partners' health or life insurance, are unable to make medical decisions for their partners in an emergency, and are blocked from adopting children at every turn. The current law treats gays and lesbians as second-class citizens, and no morally conscious human being should be satisfied with this status quo.
Yet, the literature from the Anscombe Society serves only to reinforce anti-gay bigotry. One "Article of the Week" distributed to members assailed "Sex on a Saturday Night" for including "coming-out scenes" and "gay kisses," incidents that were described as "nonsense that some students don't want to be forced to sit through." Another article, linked to from the Anscombe Society's website, is entitled "The Health Risks of Gay Sex." Seeking to correct the "media portrayal of gay and lesbian relationships" as being "as healthy, stable and loving as heterosexual marriages," the author links homosexuality to mental illness and asserts that it leads to uncontrollable promiscuity. Lest one think that these articles don't reflect the Anscombe Society's true beliefs, we can turn to their own "Position Statements." We're told that "sex ... is unifying, beautiful, and joyful," but only "within the context of marriage." At the same time, the Anscombe Society "cannot support ... the proposition for same sex-marriage." Without marriage, how do gay people get to experience this unity, beauty and joy? I guess they're just out of luck, stuck forever as second-class citizens.
The Anscombe Society's take on gender is just as misguided. On one hand, Anscombers assert that they support "true feminism" and "equal rights for women." On the other hand, they invite speakers to campus who advocate a return to "traditional gender roles," and their collection of "feminist" articles is full of religious propaganda and horror stories about how working mothers are ruining the country. As one article puts it, "if our society is to be revitalized, the committed, religious, stay-at-home mother will have to be at the forefront." I guess it's too bad that women like President Tilghman are standing in the way of this glorious revolution.
In the end, I'm left wondering: Why does the Anscombe Society preach these wrongheaded notions? Jason Sheltzer is a molecular biology major from St. Davids, Pa. He can be reached at email@example.com.