Jeremy Irons says in a post on his website that he isn't antigay at all. His argument last week against same-sex marriage during an online interview was "valid," Irons says, but presented "perhaps rather too flippantly."
The Oscar-winning actor responded to the uproar he ignited by theorizing that letting gays and lesbians marry would "debase" marriage, that gays are just after the name "marriage," and that changing the law could create confusion that invites fathers to marry their sons in an effort to avoid estate taxes.
"I am deeply concerned that from my on line discussion with the Huffington Post, it has been understood that I hold a position that is anti gay," he wrote. "This is as far from the truth of me as to say that I believe the earth is flat."
As he did during the interview itself, when Irons repeatedly claimed he didn't "have a strong feeling either way" on the issue, the actor wrote that he was only making "a mischievous argument."
"I was taking part in a short discussion around the practical meaning of Marriage, and how that institution might be altered by it becoming available to same-sex partners. 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, by raising the possibility of future marriage between same sex family members for tax reasons, (incest being illegal primarily in order to prevent inbreeding, and therefore an irrelevance in non reproductive relationships). Clearly this was a mischievous argument, but nonetheless valid."
And once again, as he did in the Huffington Post interview, when Irons wished gay couples "the best of luck," the actor had qualified support for same-sex relationships. He said the government should figure out some way of recognizing them.
"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."
Irons blamed the Internet for interpreting his words the wrong way. Newspapers in the United States and the United Kingdom, where he lives and where a marriage equality law is being debated, reported the comments. Comedian Stephen Colbert, on television, was particularly cutting in his evaluation of Irons' logic.
"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," Irons 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."
Watch the original interview below.