Oscar winning British actor Jeremy Irons said he should have stayed quiet over same-sex marriage after controversy erupted over comments he made regarding marriage equality this month. He now says that he doesn’t understand the difference between same-sex marriage and civil partnerships.
It comes on the heels of England and Wales passing marriage equality for all its citizens.
“I felt I should have buttoned my lip, I was just flying a kite,” Irons told Stephen Sackur, regarding his previous comments to the Huffington Post.
“I didn’t have any opinion about gay marriage … I don’t actually have much opinion about heterosexual marriage, except I possibly think it might protect children and make it easier for children, that’s why I married my wife,” Irons said. “Gay marriage is not something I have any feelings about at all; I’m quite interested in what it does to marriage, which is why we were having this rather bizarre conversation.”
Irons made a statement regarding marriage equality earlier this month, suggesting that same-sex marriage might lead to fathers marrying their sons. He then took to his website to explain his comments, claiming they had been taken out of context and the internet masses were wrong to portray him as anti-gay.
“I am deeply concerned that from my online discussion with the Huffington Post, it has been understood that I hold a position that is anti gay,” wrote the actor. “This is as far from the truth of me as to say that I believe the earth is flat.”
In the original Huffington Post interview, Irons had asked his interviewer, “Could a father not marry his son?”
When informed that bans on incest would continue regardless of same-sex marriage, Irons responded: “It’s not incest between two men.”
“Incest is there to protect us from inbreeding, but men don’t breed. Incest doesn’t cover that,” he said. “If that was so, if I wanted to pass my estate without death duties, I could marry my son and pass it on to him.”
LGBT activists and allies responded in anger. A spokesman for Stonewall said, “Few people will agree with Jeremy Irons’ bizarre ‘concerns’ about equal marriage.”
In his letter, Irons stood by his incest argument, saying, “Perhaps rather too flippantly I flew the kite of an example of the legal quagmire that might occur if same sex marriage entered the statute books…Clearly this was a mischievous argument, but nonetheless valid.”
On the use of the word “marriage,” Irons had originally feared that ascribing the word to same-sex unions would mean, “we somehow debase, or we change, what marriage is.”
In his letter, Irons backtracks, saying, “I am clearly aware that many gay relationships are more long term, responsible and even healthier in their role of raising children, than their hetero equivalents, and that love often creates the desire to mark itself in a formal way, as Marriage would do. Clearly society should find a way of doing this.”
Finally, Irons blames the internet for being mean.
“I had hoped that even on such a subject as this, where passions run high, the internet was a forum where ideas could be freely discussed without descending into name-calling,” he wrote. “I believe that is what it could be, but it depends on all of us behaving, even behind our aliases, in a humane, intelligent and open way.”