Jeremy Irons (again) on gay marriage: ‘Marriage is about procreation, historically’

Several weeks ago, Jeremy Irons caused a major kerfuffle during an interview with HuffPo. He was asked about his thoughts on the gay marriage debate (which was being discussed a lot at the time because of the Supreme Court cases). Irons went off, mid-interview, on some insane tangent about property rights and incest, and when all was said and done he basically said that it’s only incest if someone gets pregnant and if you allow gay marriage, fathers will marry their sons to protect their assets. So… it was weird. Jeremy later tried to clarify his statements in a blog post and he totally made it worse by continuing to insist that that it’s only incest if someone gets pregnant.

So, Jeremy sat down for yet another interview, this time with the BBC. It was fascinating and creepy! I do think that in the original HuffPo interview, Jeremy was slightly off-guard and he really doesn’t “get” many American laws and controversies and such. But on his home turf with a BBC reporter, he was only mildly less offensive. To be fair, Jeremy is trying to roll back some of the controversy, but he still manages to say some offensive stuff. Here’s the video:

When they get to the gay marriage part, Jeremy is confronted by his own statements once again and he says:

“I didn’t have an opinion on gay marriage… I don’t actually have much of an opinion on heterosexual marriage except I think it sort of might possible protect children, make it easier. That’s why I married my wife. 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 were we having this very bizarre conversation.”

When presented with his own quotes, Jeremy doubles-down again and says, “Well, it [gay marriage] changes it, doesn’t it? Marriage is about procreation. That’s how, historically, it’s always been.”

“But I’m very badly informed and I actually don’t know the difference between a civil partnership, which we have in this country, and marriage, which is what the government just voted on. I don’t know what the difference is. I know the Church has problems with historically and I don’t know that those problems will go away. In America I think it’s different because in some states you can marry… same-sex partners and some you can’t… I was just rather amused by the idea that I put forward, it had nothing to do with my feelings. But… I think gay marriage is wonderful. I think any reason that holds anybody together in a relationship is great. If it works as glue, if it makes you feel better, if it makes you feel you love your partner more, then great. I felt I should’ve buttoned my lip. I was just flying a kite.”

[Transcribed from the video]

This “marriage is about procreation” thing needs to stop. Some marriages are about procreation. Some aren’t. And the ones that aren’t about procreation aren’t any less valid, gay or straight. And I bet Jeremy’s wife is feeling pretty good about his “I only married my wife for our children” thing. Yikes. Such a charmer.

If you watch the whole video, you see the BBC interviewer ask Jeremy at the end about his statements – a few years ago – about how he loves to put his hands “on a woman’s buttom” just to be all friendly like. Jeremy insists in this interview that if the women don’t like it, they’ll say so. The BBC guy is like, “Um, but shouldn’t you just keep your hands to yourself in the first place and not expect the ladies to tell you to bugger off?” To which Jeremy disagrees, saying: “We need to touch, we need to love each other we need to communicate, it’s all part of that.” I just can’t even start with Jeremy anymore.

Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet and WENN.

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89 Responses to “Jeremy Irons (again) on gay marriage: ‘Marriage is about procreation, historically’”

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  1. Eleonor says:

    He could say he is against homosexual marriage instead of all this mess “I am not against but…”
    It would be more honest.

  2. T.Fanty says:

    There is a movement in gay community to reject gay marriage on the grounds that it is heteronormative. That is to say, that traditional marriage, which is to protect the family unit, preserves traditional power structures and instead of celebrating difference and qu&erness, gay marriage places same sex people in an oppressive, “straight” paradigm. Plus, it discriminates against single people.

    • genevieve says:

      Fair enough, but straight marriage isn’t going away, and neither are the various benefits/rights that come with it. Heteronormative or not, if marriage is the way for gay couples to be equally entitled (and they personally want to go for it), they should have equal legal access to the institution.

      The benefits of marriage may be denied to single people, but heterosexual single people are not legally prevented from marrying – it’s not the same kind of discrimination.

      • T.Fanty says:

        Oh, yes, absolutely. Religion aside, this kind equality is a basic constitutional right, and marriage is the only acceptable instutuion to guarantee such liberrties. I know that plenty of people *do* aspire to marriage and require it’s socio-economic protection for themselves and their families.

        That said, there are a million shades of grey on the issue and Irons, no matter how poorly, is attempting to speak to that. I think it’s worth unpacking what he has to say.

    • Evadstructn says:

      Yep. I have a few queer friends who are politically against gay marriage, for the reasons you stated. Irons is quite right when he says marriage is historically about procreation. And property. It doesn’t make it right, or mean that marriage in its modern form is always about those things(its obviously evolved), but thats what the institution of marriage is founded on. Childless and “love” marriages are a relatively recent phenomenon

  3. nnire says:

    if marriage were about procreation, then i guess no one over the age of 50 should get married.

    • doofus says:


      This is such a bogus reason to argue against gay marriage.

      This means that, not only if you’re (as you said) “above 50″ you shouldn’t be able to marry, but any hetero couple where one of the two is infertile should not be allowed to get married, either.

      which means fertility testing before you’re allowed a marriage license. I’m sure that would go over REALLY well with the “less government” crowd…however, they do agree with the idea of “trans-vaginal” ultrasounds if you want an abortion, so…why not?

  4. Lucy2 says:

    This guy just needs to stop talking. Every time he does, it makes him sound insane.

    • Stacy says:

      You took the words right out of my mouth.

      He just needs to shut up on this issue and stop talking about it. Every time he tries to “clarify” his remarks he digs himself deeper.

      Now with all the controversy, this is all he’ll be asked about and he’ll probably say something even more asinine.

  5. E says:

    I am kind of tired of all the bullying against anyone who won’t say what the ‘political-correctness-of-the-day’ impose.

    • judyjudy says:

      I’ll make sure to fully embrace any person or group who feels that you aren’t deserving of equal rights based on your race, religion, gender, origin, or orientation. Will that make you feel better?

    • RIP Chrissie Amphlett says:

      I wonder when greed is going to become politically incorrect? I won’t hold my breath waiting.

    • SydneySpy says:

      Same here, E. He did say, “Marriage is about procreation. That’s how, historically,it’s always been.” I think the operative word is “historically” . And this has been true, historically, even though things are vastly different nowadays. Perhaps he has not yet formulated firm opinions on the subject, but I don’t see that there’s anything wrong with that.

      Last week I saw a very well-known and experienced journalist being interviewed. He was asked about New Zealand (his birthplace) having just legalised gay marriage. He replied, “Until 3 or 4 years ago, I was against gay marriage. Then I examined the reasons why I thought it shouldn’t be legalised, and I thought **These reasons are stupid. Really stupid. Really ignorant. It’s not like they want to make it compulsory………** I worked through that, and now I think, just do it. Pass legislation for gay marriage.”

      There’s nothing wrong with having a differing opinion and/or changing your viewpoint at some stage.

      • Irishae says:

        I agree with your point that the context of his statement revolves around “historically.”

        Now, I’m aware of his previous comments on the subject and have tried to be offended by them as well. Not that he hasn’t ruffled my feathers on occasion for a couple things he said about women, but I’m just not seeing anything here warranting such negative reactions from people. And I’m very sensitive to commentary and policies that threaten equal rights.

        He doesn’t take ownership of every statement he makes, he is having a discussion of a volatile subject. Where does he connect his personal beliefs to his musings? To me he seems more like someone who thinks out loud, about all sorts of things, which doesn’t work in text form at all. I don’t believe he’s harboring ill will towards anyone or pushing political beliefs…he’s just kind of like my kooky studio art teacher who offends everyone equally with philosophical pandering and bad coffee breath.

    • Crumpets and Crotchshots says:

      i think “politically correct” is a useless canned phrase that people pull out when they don’t like something but don’t have a good argument, and it’s time to retire it. The implication is that our thoughts on a given issue are made by a committee and issued via memo rather than being heartfelt, passionate, and real and can thus be dismissed put of hand. This is not acceptable.

      Questioning or challenging someone’s position on any topic is *not* bullying. If Irons is going to open his yap, he should be prepared for criticism from thinking people. Nobody is owed silence.

      • RIP Chrissie Amphlett says:

        True. Freedom of speech does equal freedom of response.

      • doofus says:

        thank you for saying that.

        I hate it when people say “hey, freedom of speech!” as if that gives them carte blanche to say whatever they want without repercussions.

        Yeah, I have freedom of speech too, and I’ll exercise it responding to your idiotic comments. just because you have freedom of speech doesn’t mean that people aren’t allowed to react to said speech. Say whatever the hell you want, but you better be prepared for a reaction.

      • Crumpets and Crotchshots says:

        Freedom of speech applies to everyone– including those who will vigorously and mercilessly criticize you.

        It does not include freedom from criticism or repercussions. Quite to the contrary, I think it implies a responsibility to buck up and learn how to live with what others have to say.

    • Kim says:

      +1. People need to realize everyone is entitled to their opinion on gay marriage whether you agree with it or not. Bullying someone because they dont agree with you just makes one a major hypocrite & a moron to boot.

    • videli says:

      E, there’s no reason to feel pre-bullied, before the bullying even happened. Make an argument. I like to listen to arguments, not to tantrums.
      And to the idea of freedom of speech above: we have this freedom only in relation to our government, not in relation to each other. You put something out there, the government is obliged not to send you to the Gulag for it. But the rest of us can respond as we please, hedged only by our morals and manners (mine are bad, BTW).

  6. Bolivar86 says:

    Whether he meant it or not, Jeremy is offensive. Surely he realizes his words reach many. If he were some unfortunate homeless man, ranting this crap on a street corner,no one would be quoting him. One commentor on Jeremy’s last public “riff” on marriage equality said something to the effect that controversy can magically be avoided by sandwiching offensive commments between “I don’t really have an opinion” and ” but really, ‘___’ is wonderful!”

    No, Jeremy, you DO have an opinion, and it’s poorly reasoned and your “logic” is a total failure.

    And, strangely, I’d give you more props if you were just honest about it all and owned your opinions. You would be less likeable as a person, but have more credibility.

    And as far as giving him flak for thinking aloud – no, moral “brainteasers” are something you toss around with friends, you don’t play devils advocate with someone who sticks a microphone in front of your face. Again, it’s not as if he were just some anonymous shmoe, whose comments would disappear into the ether.

    His comments about touching womens butts annoys me too – why the h*ll should you put a woman in the position of having to defend herself, probably not for the first time in her life, or even that day – isn’t it just common decency to keep your stupid hands to yourself? If you want to “touch, love, and communicate” you do what the rest of us do, and foster loving relationships with family and friends to provide emotional comforts, not forcing it out of strangers.

    At least he did not mention his poor dog again.

    • Hakura says:

      @Bolivar86 – “If you want to “touch, love, and communicate” you do what the rest of us do, and foster loving relationships with family and friends to provide emotional comforts…

      Or, you know, check the corners on the streets of the city at midnight.

  7. Happyhat says:

    “But I’m very badly informed” – at least he got that right

    • gefeylich says:

      Right. He’s misinformed, and his flutey British accent will not cover that up.

      Down through the ages marriage has been primarily about economics, not love or procreation. People married for status, for a good family name and connections, for money, for protection, for land, for power and sometimes for free labor (that’s where the children usually came in). Don’t you guys watch Game of Thrones? I know Irons doesn’t.

      And the issue of gay marriage is basically down to economics, too. They want the financial perks and protections of marriage, and why the hell shouldn’t they get them if everyone else has them? We’re talking about CIVIL marriage here, the kind you have in a courthouse. No one wants to hold guns to the heads of some idiot fundamentalists (and I include ALL religions in that label) and force them to hold gay marriages in their places of worship. Religious freedom will not be harmed if Steve and Jerry want to marry. Your religion can still be as prejudiced and exclusionary as it wants.

      Jeezy creezy. Get real.

  8. Maria says:

    Blargh. As a young, married woman, I’m tired of hearing other people define what my marriage is/should be. My husband and I have *no* intention to ever, EVER have children, so obviously procreation was not our goal. Historically speaking, marriage was all about the transference of property — namely, the girl/woman as well as her father’s land — from one man (her father) to another (her husband). Any offspring of that union would therefore ensure that the property would stay in the family. THAT is the original purpose of marriage as we, the western world, know it today — a greedy system of ownership developed by white men, where the woman is just another bargaining chip and baby machine. Things have obviously changed. So yeah, excuse me for not going on about the merits of “traditional marriage.” Jeremy Irons is talented, but a wanker nonetheless.

  9. elceibeno08 says:

    His teeth look worse than Lindsey Lohan’s. How come nobody has suggested that he goes to a dentist for a three-hour bleaching visit? his teeth are so gross!

  10. T.Fanty says:

    On a slightly different note, can we take a moment to appreciate the brilliance of that last outfit. All it’s missing is some aviator goggles and a wind blown scarf.

  11. Ann says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You can’t trust people with thin lips. Science.

  12. Eleonor says:

    Now I want to say something nice I like his boots in the last picture.

  13. Annie says:

    Actually, historically marriage was about protecting and increasing one’s assets. The upper classes married for political or material gain. F*kcing was about procreation.

    As to gay marriage… I see it essentially as a means of allowing same sex couples to benefit from the same protections as heterosexual couples. Particularly concerning pensions etc reverting to the surviving spouse and regarding inheritance laws. It’s grossly unfair that should one partner die intestate, his family are the heirs rather than the surviving partner. Can you imagine being partners with someone for 30 years, losing them and then having his/her family take everything you had together out from underneath you? That should NOT be allowed to happen, anymore than it can’t happen to a surviving spouse in a legally recognized marriage.

  14. fabgrrl says:

    Ew to the touching thing! So Jeremy Irons is staying he’s fine with strangers touching HIS butt? Not that anyone would want to….

  15. linlin says:

    Nope. Historically marriage is mostly about getting in-laws (making alliances trough marriage) and improving the family labour force.

  16. Miffy says:

    I like you, but just apologise or shutup if you want to maintain a career.
    It’s not even just gay marriage he’s bemusedly insulting, I’m sure there are many victims of incest who aren’t impressed here either. Just ‘shhhh’!!!

  17. LondonLou says:

    I’m a die-hard Irons fan, but he’s just making me feel very sorry for Sinead (His wife) at this point!

  18. Garvels says:

    Let’s just lose the word marriage and use the term civil unions for everyone, if this whole thing is about property rights. If polygamists partners wish to form a civil union ….go for it. If sisters wish to form a civil union fine……marriage is a religious term so since everyone wants separation of church and state….then drop the term marriage. Problem solved.

    • Maria says:

      Marriage is not a religious term at all. People may argue about the definition, but what it boils down to is a *lawful contract* that affords certain rights to two people joined in wedlock. A civil union by its current definition simply doesn’t afford the same rights as a marriage. (See: BTW, I was married at the County Clerk’s office — no god need apply.

      • Garvels says:

        A civil union would provide the same benefits as marriage if the terms are stated within the contract. Both heterosexual and homosexual couples would have a civil union contract…plain and simple. So what is not fair about this? Isn’t everything about being FAIR?

        I firmly believe the only reason why the left insists on using the word marriage is so they can use it as a weapon against the church. That is why there are strong views on using the word marriage for a homosexual union.

      • fabgrrl says:

        Maria, me to with the city clerk.

        “Marriage” is a social union and/or legal contract. “Holy matrimony” is the religious/God approved part.

      • garvels says:

        Then why does my prayer book only contains blessings for Marriage not Matrimony?

        Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage
        The blessing of a civil Marriage
        An order for Marriage.

        Again this whole issue could be resolved by moving away from Marriage and to Civil Unions.The government should not be involved in the marriage business.

      • Sweet Dee says:

        Because your bible and everything related to it has been changed about 1000 times to fit current wording. It used to say “booty” quite a bit in the bible as well, but they changed it to other words that mean “money.” This of course also translates to your prayer book and any other materials you may have received from your church.

        If they didn’t do that, it would read like Shakespeare or Chaucer, very difficult to get through, only worse. Ever tried reading Beowulf in it’s original form? The spelling and wording is almost unrecognizable as English. It would be similar to that.

    • Crumpets and Crotchshots says:

      This has been my argument all along. Let’s ditch the whole thing. If people want to make alliances and protect property, let them do so as partners and not make it about who is boinking who, which is nobody’s business anyway.

    • Sweet Dee says:

      You’re thinking of “matrimony” or “holy matrimony,” which is what it was called before it became a legal contract.

      Matrimony is religious, marriage is not.

  19. yeahright says:

    Historically, marriage was about procreation in legal terms. He isnt commenting on marriage in terms of love and personal motivations… the gay marriage issue IS about changing the legal definition of marriage so I dont understand why anyone is taking what he has to say offensively?

  20. Hakura says:

    And I bet Jeremy’s wife is feeling pretty good about his “I only married my wife for our children” thing. Yikes. Such a charmer.

    I’m sure his warped opinions on life are nothing new to his wife, the person stupid enough to marry this creep. She dug her own grave on that one.

  21. mar says:

    his statement is not false, but marriage has evolved since then.

    I am for gay marriage because of the legalities of it, but not everyone has to agree.

  22. Feebee says:

    Uh oh not again with the ‘historical’ perspective. Lots of things happened historically that we now know are at best irrelevant to way we live our lives in 2013 and at worst just really baaaaaaaaaad calls.

    I love the way people pull the children card. He may be right about it being primarily to protect the children but let’s face it, a lot of the time the poor children in times of divorce when they really should be being protected are often used as pawns for money, emotional power or whatever.

    Jeremy, STOP TALKING!

  23. paranormalgirl says:

    I kind of want him to just shut up and move on.

  24. apsutter says:

    This guy doesn’t know shit about history. Yes, people got married to have children to continue the human race. But “historically” there weren’t 6 billion people on the planet all needing the same resource and destroying our environment. People also only lived to be in their 40′s and 50′s, if they were very lucky. Also marriage really started as a way to transfer power and land ownership between families and people and to give women some sense of stability. But his point is moot because people have been marrying for love for the past century anyways.

  25. Ravensdaughter says:

    Someone buy Jeremy a lifetime supply of duct tape (for his mouth, of course…)

  26. Sweet Dee says:

    Oh this schtick again. This is one of the last argument against gay marriage…it’s supposed to be about procreation or it’s supposed to be about religion. Sorry, but NO. In this secular nation of ours, it’s actually about taxes and assets.

    Matrimony is about those things. If you want a sacred, religious marriage that you think stabilizes your household, you get it done in a church. If you want the legal benefits that go with it, you go to the courthouse. That’s how it works.

    Otherwise, my atheistic, childfree-by-choice marriage wouldn’t count, would it?

  27. Isabelle says:

    Marriage has been predominately throughout history a business arrangement. Still is in a lot of cultures. Even in some Western relationships. This dude needs to stop talking.

  28. EllaM says:

    Dear Jeremy Irons,

    people were procreating without any problems before marriage was established, so why establish something you don’t need? I give you a hint: In medieval times in Europe only those were allowed to marry (and therefore to procreate), who could provide for a family moneywise. So even then marriage was all about the money ;)

  29. Team Six says:

    Extraordinarily moronic on his part …

  30. Agnes says:

    Omg, what the hell is wrong with this guy. Go away, you old creep.

  31. chioma says:

    My Bible tells me that Marriage is between a man and a woman period!people are now saying u can’t help whom u love!Americans get ready,grown men will soon start falling in love with ur children and claim they can’t help it!people will start romancing trees and animals!get ready to wed them too!!!d time is coming,so get ready!cause dey can’t help wanting to be married to d ones whom dey love,be it toddlers or trees or animals!what matters is that they love dem right? And it makes them happy!yeahhhh!

  32. Mira says:

    Jeremy is not wrong about the historical evolution of the institution of marriage’ However, the social contract that marriage is hasn’t stayed the same since its origin. Norms evolve and change. While it’s worth unpacking what he’s trying to say, he should study the evolution of marriage more than just how it was historically.

  33. Emily says:

    I am not sure why it is at all relevant what marriage was historically…
    Things change and evolve.

    Marriage used to be about a father selling his daughter to (often) a stranger. Does that mean any marriage that is not this way is incorrect?
    Some races used to be kept as slaves.. is this right too?
    Should we also get rid of a woman’s right to vote because it didnt used to be that way?

    The argument makes no sense… can someone explain?

    The origins of marriage are not something to be admired or idolised. I am glad of the changes. Do people not ‘believe’ in slavery being a horrific thing these days? No. Things changed for thr better and everyone can see how bad it was. In the future the same will happen with gay marriage. The times they are a changing. Get out of the way and let progression happen for the benefit of everyone

  34. Isa says:

    Huh. I thought it was about money. Sell your daughter to the man that offers the most sheep. Having a dowry. Stuff like that.

  35. Emily says:

    He’s an ignorant and disgusting individual and I wish people would stop interviewing him. I also wish he would end up in jail for sexual assault, which is what he’s doing when he’s touching women that way and does not have their prior consent. And none of his bullcrap is excused by his not being American; it is not considered okay to paw women in Britain, nor is it considered okay to sleep with your child so long as a pregnancy doesn’t result, wtf! He just needs to stop. Everything.

  36. Ann says:

    This is what happens when actors say words that haven’t been written by someone else.

  37. Lee says:

    Careful Mr. Irons. All the people that accidentally forgot about you ten years ago will forget you again, but this time on purpose!

  38. HoustonGrl says:

    I always knew he was a major creeper after I saw Lolita. Aside from all his nonsense, I disagree with his main point that marriage is about procreation. Historically, marriage is an economic institution.

  39. Ally8 says:

    Well, he’s been cheating on his wife for decades, so he is well placed to comment on the sanctity of marriage.

    Here’s one of his recent gal pals:

    To give him the benefit of the doubt, he may be referring to establishing paternity and inheritance rights, but the law has addressed that in ways other than marriage in recent years. Or he’s sliding into senility, getting more battily conservative (for others, not himself) as he goes.

  40. Mian says:

    He looks really old now….has he been ill?

  41. Kristine says:

    I don’t think he is against gay marriage. I think he’s just a bit insane. He seems to really like to play with ideas and doesn’t care who he spouts them out to. He’s like a creepy old uncle that spends too much time alone reading weird books.