Jeremy “The Borgias” Irons worries that gay marriage “debases” marriage, permits incest

Actor Jeremy Irons of “The Borgias” fame said yesterday, during an interview on HuffPost Live, that gay marriage “debases” real marriage, and that it might permit men to marry their sons to get out of paying taxes, and that incest laws wouldn’t prevent it.

He then mentioned that he loves his dog.

Somewhere in Hollywood a publicist just had a fatal asthma attack.

I really like Jeremy Irons, and he’s brilliant in the Borgias, but wtf? I read his quotes and thought, hmm. Then I watched the video, below, and it’s far worse.

JEREMY IRONS: It seems to me that now they’re fighting for the name. And I worry that it means somehow we debase, or we change, what marriage is. I just worry about that. I mean, tax-wise is an interesting one. You see, could a father not marry his son?

HUFFPO’s JOSH ZEPPS: There are laws against incest.

jeremy-ironsIRONS: It’s not incest between men. Incest is there to protect us from having, from interbreeding. But men don’t breed, so incest wouldn’t cover that. Now if that was so, then if I wanted to pass on my estate without death duties [estate taxes] I could marry my son and pass on my estate to him.

HUFFPO: That sounds like a total red herring, I’m sure incest laws would still cover same-sex marriages.

IRONS: Really, why? … I think the lawyers are going to have a field day with same-sex “marriage.” [Irons says the word marriage in a way that, to me, sounded like it was in scare quotes.]

Then Irons goes on to talk about loving his dog.

I don’t know how the Huffington Post interviewer Josh Zepps kept his cool throughout this. And Zepps also did a good job countering Irons.

This is a disaster for Jeremy Irons and the Borgias.  He ends the interview trying to sort of say everything’s okay, he doesn’t care, but doing that by talking about how he loves his dog.  Ugh.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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60 Responses to “Jeremy “The Borgias” Irons worries that gay marriage “debases” marriage, permits incest”

  1. Ave says:

    His role as pope has really gone to his head, shame I really like Irons.

  2. rounder says:

    Funny how so many “outraged” posters cannot counter Irons’ arguments. So many polyphobes and incestophobes who want to declare homosexuality “normal” yet rail against other perverted ‘alternative lifestyles’. Q: What’s worse than bigots? A: Hypocritical bigots.

  3. Butch1 says:

    I would agree; there was a recent video done on him taking up the fiddle again playing Irish music. He had an Irish fiddler come to his castle near Cork, ( I think it is where he resides in Ireland ) and was working with him on traditional playing. He played violin as a lad but was interested in traditional fiddle playing and wanted to learn. This documentary followed them through their lessons and around the castle and him playing at some session, I think it was. So, his mind is quite in tact and there is nothing organically wrong with him as far as one can tell.

  4. Butch1 says:

    He obviously doesn’t understand the definition the definition of incest.

  5. Butch1 says:

    I just lost a lot of respect and admiration for this man. I didn’t realize he was so obtuse when it came to this subject.

    Irons: ” It’s not incest between men. Incest is there to protect us from having, from interbreeding. But men don’t breed, so incest wouldn’t cover that. . . ”

    What in the world is the matter with this fellow? Of course, it is incest. Having sex with a member of one’s family member, no matter what sex they are, is the definition of incest! Does he not know that? Just how dense is he on this?

  6. JimTreacher says:

    Why are you a person so prone to leading questions?

  7. JimTreacher says:


  8. Jan Civil says:

    yet another utter fallacy in arguing, characterizing the other person as angry or upset.
    We can see right through your point, you have an obvious slippery slope in mind. Itself a lapse in reasoning capacity. I can say what you said could only be said by a very obtuse person and be quite relaxed in doing so.

  9. Jan Civil says:

    why are you a person so resistant to simple reasoning or common sense?

  10. David Powell says:

    He has had a big enough career he can be honest about his opinions. In The Arts community, one has to ask how much of the pro-Gay-marriage opinion one hears is legitimate and how much is “Pro-Gay-for-Pay” from people who think it will help them career-wise. People who are more established are always more honest about their politics and opinions either way, whether you are talking about Sean Penn or Tom Selleck.

    I also think it is a generational thing, people are hating him here for his age, but everyone wants to get older as it beats the alternative. The thing is, in time it probably will reach the tipping point, but it is again a generational thing. Which is why I think pushing it in courts is silly, in 10 years or so it will probably be voted in, if it is to be.

  11. David Powell says:

    The irony is a lot of gay folks I have known love the guy and his work. However one has to realize that his take on this is the dominant attitude.

  12. I had once liked Jeffrey Irons, but this interview did something quite difficult for an actor to do. He simply destroyed any chance of me ever watching him again with his asinine views. I usually give someone a pass on their interviews, but this was beyond the pale. Shocking!

  13. 1jetpackangel says:

    He’d make a very handsome throw rug.

  14. sb says:

    howbout u all don’t get your panties ina bunch,he just spoke a thought u queerbo’s

  15. Jim says:

    This guy got his big break playing gay in Brideshead Revisited, and now he’s spewing this drivel! I’m ashamed to say he is being honored by the enviornmental group, Heal the Bay in Los Angeles soon.

  16. Badgerite says:

    Let me put the poor man’s mind to rest. Yes. Incest laws would still cover same-sex marriage. Why? Because the state has a rational basis to outlaw incest as harmful to individuals and therefore to the community at large. All one would need to do is refer to Darrel Hammond’s autobiography which details the kind of psychological problems that he suffered from his whole life due to his mother’s incestuous actions with respect to her own son. And that is just one documented instance. There is tons of data to support the criminalization of incest. So, no. Lawyers or no lawyers ( he makes them sound like evil soccerors who can materialize something out of nothing) , the State will have no problem outlawing a man marrying his son for tax purposes or any other purpose. Ain’t even a possibility. It is nice to hear that he loves his dog. But, again, the State would have no problem preventing him from marrying his dog because his dog is not a human. That is rational basis enough. With respect to multiple spouses ( polygamy), well, the exact same rational basis that the State would rely on to outlaw polygamy with respect to heterosexual couples would apply as well to same-sex couples. There would be no change here. If there is a rational basis for outlawing polygamy, the State can rely on this whether or not its laws provide for same-sex marriage. And if there isn’t a rational basis for outlawing polygamy, then the State CANNOT RELY ON IT WITH RESPECT TO HETEROSEXUAL COUPLES either. What matters is that the State has a rational basis to limit marriage to one spouse only. Whether the State recognizes a right to same-sex marriage or not will not affect that one way or another.

    What is really at issue here is whether Justice Scalia’s vaunted ‘moral opprobrium’ provides a sufficient rational basis for the State to discriminate against those seeking to have their same-sex marriages recognized by law. I would say it does not absent some objective showing of actual harm to the individuals involved or the community beyond ‘the Bible says’. Jeremy Irons proffers that it would make him feel like his own marriage was debased. Frankly, I don’t see how. It does not affect the respect that the law or society accords his heterosexual marriage at all. And just so we are clear what the term ‘moral opprobrium’ can encompass, the Taliban looks with moral opprobrium upon the following:
    – women who don’t wear a burque
    – women who get an education
    – music
    – any political system that lets you openly express your true religious beliefs (unless that belief is Islam)
    – any Muslim who seeks to convert to any other religion

    To me, this seems the true slippery slope. That we as a people allow the law to express ‘moral opprobrium’ when it is not based on any objective, truthful showing of actual harm to an individual or to the community at large. Especially so, when the law proposes to deprive a group of people of rights which are deemed, for all others ,as fundamental. Now, maybe this would be a change in the law. But America has been at the forefront of change since its inception. Like Hilary Clinton says, this is who we are. If America is exceptional in the world. It is exceptional for that reason, Civil Liberties is a phrase we take seriously.

  17. DetroitSam says:

    Let me see if I understand this “gay marriage “debases” real marriage”.

    Newt Gingrich, John McCain, Mark Sanford, David Vitter, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Herman Cain, Rudy Giuliani, Rush Limbaugh, Larry Craig, Todd Palin, Bob Barr, John Ensign, Henry Hyde, Mitch McConnell, Phil Gramm, George Bush I, Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole, Bob Livingston, Helen Chenoweth, Robert Packwood, Strom Thurmond, to name a few, do no/have not debased “real” marriage?

    Who knew!

  18. Sweetie says:

    I’m not a big fan of dogs (too whiny/needy/barking/walking). So, does that mean I’m neither gay nor hetero?

    After all, if a hetero guy equates the relationship he has with his dog to a same-sex intimate relationship, that leaves me out completely.

  19. JimTreacher says:

    That was my point, Sweetie. Why are you so touchy?

  20. Sweetie says:

    Any law can be changed. Next asinine question…

  21. Joneses says:

    Well the so called straight ones that claim that GAWD said one women to one man although during Christian history it was one man to many women and in Italy many many many years ago the Cathloic priest had sexual relationships with young men (boys) and when it was time for these young men to marry a women mainly for precreation the women had to dress like men so that they would not frighten these young men.

  22. Jafafa Hots says:

    His role in the Cronenberg film Dead Ringers just got even creepier.

  23. karmanot says:

    You must be a Woody Allan fan.

  24. BeccaM says:

    He kinda did, when he essentially said the love between two men was the same as love between a man and his dog.

    Irons: “Living with another animal, whether it be a husband or a dog, is great,” he said. “It’s lovely to have someone to love. I don’t think sex matters at all. What it’s called doesn’t matter at all.”

  25. BeccaM says:

    The kicker for me came later in the exchange when he equated a committed loving relationship between two men with loving one’s dog.

  26. Toma03 says:

    Ridiculous….incest also occurs with heterosexuals…..why didn’t the interviewer remind him of this? I was waiting for Irons to bring up bestiality next.

  27. Zorba says:

    No kidding, Becca. He’s 64 years old. A bit young for Alzheimer’s, but there is early-onset.
    Or he’s on some kind of drugs. Or he’s just a disgusting homophobe.
    Fuck him.

  28. LarryMcD says:

    As would any effort from immediate family members to marry (anywhere but Mississippi, anyway).

  29. JimTreacher says:

    Why are you a bigot?

  30. bayhuntr says:

    Because they aren’t the same things. If it was just the procreation, then why can’t a father, under existing law, just get a vasectomy before he marries his daughter?
    Your slipper slope comparison is silly, it’s like saying, if we allow black and whites to marry, what will stop people from marrying their goat. … because there is no comparison between the two!

  31. usagi says:

    You like the Borgais? I tried to watch it on a flight last week and gave up.

  32. Ariel says:

    he fucks his dog, this is what i could understand…

  33. SkippyFlipjack says:

    It makes some sense; it’s related to the idea that two married people are partners in an enterprise of running their household to which they both contribute. The surviving spouse isn’t really inheriting, they’re just continuing to own. It’s not about the “ritual” but about the family organization.

  34. SkippyFlipjack says:

    I kind of agree with this — he seems a little like someone who somehow missed the whole political debate and is considering it for the first time. At first I thought he was saying that gay marriage would “debase the institution” for the standard reason — hateful bigotry — but he actually seems to be considering the question as if someone had asked “What if two business partners were to get married to simplify preparation of their tax return?” It’s like he’s having a conversation with his accountant. As you say, a bit odd.

  35. SkippyFlipjack says:

    Ironic (no pun intended) because of the complex relationship his Charles Ryder had with the gay members of the Marchmain clan in Brideshead Revisited.

    Regardless, what a douche.

  36. nicho says:

    But at least he tried.

  37. loona_c says:

    And just had it ruled against him.

  38. karmanot says:

    It must be the Missionary Method.

  39. BiteMeBoy says:

    Don’t you think he’s a crazy old junkie who’s fucked everything that wasn’t nailed down…including his dog?

  40. JimTreacher says:

    If we can change marriage laws, why can’t we change that law too?

  41. The spirit of Irons’ absolutely horrible comments aside, why should inheritance between partners in a marriage get taxed differently than inheritance between blood relatives? It’s this huge complicated clusterfuck of privileges and tax breaks that we’ve made out of marriage which has made discrimination in marriage impossible to uphold in court. We literally have a better form of citizenship set aside for people who have participated in the correct ritual. It’s barbarism.

  42. Indigo says:

    Stupid Borgias!

  43. BeccaM says:

    Judging from the international media coverage, I’d say no, not likely.

  44. Drew2u says:

    U still mad over “Eragon”, bro?

  45. caphillprof says:

    The cult of celebrity has reached its nadir

  46. MyrddinWilt says:

    Are we sure he wasn’t doing a Colbert here and responding in character?

    If someone like Jeremy Clarkson had said it then it would just be casual bigotry. Given his previous support for progressive causes, including being one of the first actors to put their name on AIDS awareness when that was still stigmatized, have to wonder if there isn’t something medical going on there.

  47. cslib says:

    Someone wasn’t able to get out of Pope character. Next he will be raping altar boys or covering up for those raping children.

  48. karmanot says:

    Could be he plays what he is.

  49. karmanot says:

    We’ll have to pry father/son marriage from his cold dead Borgia hands.

  50. Chris Vogel says:

    Whether criminal incest, or not, father-son relationships violate–and preclude
    marriage in–the standard degree-of-relationship prohibitions present in all
    canon and civil law about marriage (of every kind). Irons just doesn’t know
    what he is talking about, which probably becomes from being an actor.

  51. LarryMcD says:

    Mr. Irons is apparently ignorant of the Florida millionaire who’s been trying to adopt his mistress to avoid paying off a wrongful death judgement.

  52. Naja pallida says:

    Maybe he’s method acting, and he’s in character?

  53. rerutled says:

    Given the history he has of movies and his roles as rather deviant characters, I’m pretty confident in concluding: he’s fucking with you.

  54. Yay, a reason to hate Jeremy Irons! What was the last good film he did anyway? M. Butterfly? (A bit of irony there. Pun unintentional.)

    The rationale that gay marriage is bad for potential tax reasons is just weird. So a gay couple marrying can lead to fraud while a straight marriage is immune to such exploitation…why, exactly?

  55. MrFitzroyOBE says:

    Borgia, on Netflix, is a FAR superior show anyway….and you don’t have to think about asshole homophobic screeds while watching that series!

  56. BeccaM says:

    Wow. That is some pure, distilled homophobic bigotry. Not to mention breathtaking ignorance.

    No way could I have kept my cool.

  57. ronbo says:

    When the center of the universe is your ego, then there is no other opinion considered. Period.
    May Irons’ nurse allow him to rot in his own feces. To him, it will be a bed of roses.

  58. The entire thing was a bit odd. As if he wasn’t even aware that what he was saying was a bit, nasty.

  59. scottrose says:

    OMG! Jeremy Irons is as asshole heterosupremacist!

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