22 March 2012

On Misunderstanding the Arguments Against Same-Sex Marriage

There's a blog of which I'm fond which is currently running a hugely disheartening post, setting forth the arguments -- as the blog's author understands them -- against same-sex marriage.

It's a puzzling post, and a disappointing one, cluttered by at least two substantial asides and marked by a complete failure to engage with what's being said by those who are speaking up in defence of marriage.

That may well be our fault. Our arguments shouldn't be so easily misunderstood, or misconstrued, or misrepresented. We may have to make the case all the more clearly.

I agree with the author an immense amount of the time, not least by virtue of likewise being politically centre-left, ardently europhile, and a big fan of both Germany and dogs. I'd very much like to meet him in person, as I think he'd be fun, interesting, and thoughtful; he comes across that way. I've also -- one distressing and I think deeply unfair episode aside -- long thought him an absolute model of how people should conduct themselves on the internet, and have directed people to his blog many a time for guidance in that regard.

Not this time. Having at one point thought same-sex marriage wouldn't be that big a deal, I've come to change my mind on this, and I'm astounded by this caricature of views such as mine, not to mention flagrantly wrong and deeply offensive claims that all arguments against same-sex marriage being legalised come down to homophobia.

Yes, I know that on his blog he says that it's discrimination rather than homophobia, but that explains nothing; discrimination is a term that denotes action, not what lies behind an action, and on Twitter it seems he's pretty clear on what lies behind opposition to legislation for same-sex marriage.

Summing up the arguments against the redefinition of marriage, someone earlier today said to him, 'It's simple: gays are an abomination. That's their only argument. The rest is window-dressing.'

The reply?
'Yes. Nail on head. Rest depends on how "reasonable" they're trying to appear.'
Sigh. We've reached a very bad point in our discourse when decent, sensible people are willing to condemn everyone who disagrees with them as homophobes and hypocrites.

Allowing for the fact that the civil partnership scheme gives same-sex couples equal rights to married ones in English law, it seems there are one or two areas where gay couples feel they are discriminated against in terms of not being allowed to marry, just as -- as Peter Tatchell and Nelson Jones argue -- straight couples are discriminated against in terms of not being allowed to enter into civil partnerships.

Though hardly tangible things, I've come to agree that these are valid concerns, as it happens, albeit not ones that it's beyond our wit to find ways to resolve.

Ways, I mean, that won't necessitate abolishing marriage as currently understood, that won't impose restrictions on already recognised rights to freedom of conscience, belief, and religion, and ways that won't require us as a society to abandon the only institution we have that exists to promote and protect the principle that ideally every child would be raised by his or her mother and father.

I'm currently wondering whether Julie Bindel has a point, and whether we might want to think in terms of something like the French system if we want to resolve this and ensure everyone feels fully equal in the eyes of the State. It seems I'm not the only one thinking along those lines. I don't think such concerns can be put down to homophobia. I think this is a 'gay' issue even less than it's a 'religious' one.

Anyway, to go back to the post that troubled me, what does the blogger regard as the arguments being deployed against the government's proposal to legislate for same-sex marriage?

1) This isn't civil marriage, it will be forced on churches
The government has expressly said that the proposed change relates to civil marriage and churches will not be forced to marry same sex couples (just as for example divorcees cannot marry in the Catholic Church: they set their own rules on this).
And onwards then into a lengthy digression about some dodgy reporting on the part of the Mail.

Ignore that, and focus on the key point -- which the blog, like the government consultation, passes over -- that there's no such thing in law as 'civil marriage', just as there's no such thing as 'religious marriage'. 

There is only 'marriage'. Anybody who tries to make out that there are two types of marriage in English law either doesn't understand what marriage is in English law, or doesn't care. I'll leave it to you to decide which category the Government falls into. This matters. We can't conduct an honest and reasonable discussion of whether marriage should be changed unless we recognise what marriage is.

Yes, there are religious marriage ceremonies and civil marriage ceremonies, but it's the ceremonies that are deemed religious or civil, not the marriages themselves. To assume that a marriage ceremony is the same thing as a marriage is to mistake a doorway for a room. This misunderstanding cuts to the heart of the Government's same-sex marriage consultation document.

I'm far from convinced by government claims that religious organisations would not be forced to celebrate same-sex marriage ceremonies, and not just because I don't trust this government, with its confusion of weddings and marriages and its pretense that there's a legal distinction between civil and religious marriages, and its questionable approach to university fees, the NHS, pension schemes, workers' rights, and the European Union.

Given that there's no legal distinction between religious and civil marriage, such that there is only one thing the law recognises as marriage, surely it would be unfair discrimination to limit the ways in which people could enter that institution on the grounds -- it would be argued -- of their sexuality?

I think it must have been with reference to this fact, rather than with reference to the substance of the European Court of Human Rights' recent Gas and Dubois ruling, that Neil Addison has been quoted as saying,
'Once same-sex marriage has been legalised then the partners to such a marriage are entitled to exactly the same rights as partners in a heterosexual marriage. This means that if same-sex marriage is legalised in the UK it will be illegal for the Government to prevent such marriages happening in religious premises.'
In any case, the government gives no assurance that the the conscience rights of people will be respected with regard to the question of whether or not they shall be compelled to accept that  same-sex unions can be marriages. The consultation is particularly slippery on this point, blurring words in section 2.12 in a decidedly worrying manner, taking us right into the heart of Orwell country.

It's only prudent to be concerned about that now; you cannot parry a blow after it has been struck.

2) This is an Attack on Tradition
So was the ending of slavery, giving women the vote, decriminalising homosexuality and any number of other positive legislative changes that conservatives fought tooth and nail against.  This is the weakest of arguments: society changes and tradition per se cannot be a valid reason to discriminate. Marriage has constantly been redefined: a point I make in my original blog at some length.
Well, I basically agree with the blog on this, though if I were making a religious argument -- and I'm not -- I'd distinguish between Tradition and traditions. I might also point out that the Catholic Church welcomed the Wolfenden Report in the 1950s, which advocated the decriminalisation of homosexual acts, and to be fair to conservatives, I'd probably add that William Wilberforce, the key figure in Britain's abolition of the slave trade, was deeply conservative, while Emmeline Pankhurst died a member of the Conservative party.

That aside, though, I take the point; as my Dad has often pointed out, we used to send small children up chimneys, so it doesn't work to argue that we used to do things, so we should keep on doing them.

Not, of course, that the (functionally non-existent) gap between civil partnerships and marriages is any way comparable to that between slavery and freedom, disenfranchisement and enfranchisement, or criminalisation and decriminalisation. It is, frankly, risible to put the redefinition of marriage in the same category as those acts of basic social justice.

But then, I've not argued this, whereas I have argued the following point, which the blog spectacularly misrepresents and describes as disingenuous and nasty. 

3) This is About the Protection of Children
This is actually quite a disingenuous and nasty argument.  By bringing in children, as Cardinal O'Brien did, he sought to muddy the water and appeal to age old prejudices that gay people are somehow not to be trusted around children.
And so on. Of course, Cardinal O'Brien did no such thing, and I'd be pretty confident that he was most certainly not seeking to muddy the water. It's only possible to hold to that view if you think children are basically irrelevant to marriage. The Cardinal may well have used deeply inflammatory language, but he did so while cutting to the heart of the matter, and he's far from the first to have made the point he did.

Take Richard Waghorne, for instance, who made exactly the same argument as Cardinal O'Brien almost a year ago, albeit in measured and sensible language. It's not a 'religious' argument, in that it's not faith-based in any sense, but is one focused on what the point of marriage is, and what it contributes to society. And, for those tempted to hurl words such as 'bigot' or 'homophobe' at anyone with the temerity to disagree with them, it's worth bearing in mind that Waghorne is himself gay.

Let's get down to brass tacks. What is marriage? We could talk about primate pair-bonding, and about anthropology, and we could trawl through history, but that'd require trips to the library for books I've long ago read at home. More to the point, that would take me off-topic without adding anything to my argument, the multiplication of examples beyond necessity only ever cluttering things up; wherever it's found, the basic purpose of marriage invariably comes down to the same thing, which is that it's an institution that exists so each child can be reared by his or her mother and father.

To focus on England in particular, since at least the seventeenth century marriage has been explicitly recognised by Parliament as the union of a man and a woman, with such unions being ordained for three purposes, the first of which is the procreation and rearing of children. This matters. While we can argue about what we think marriage could or should be, from a legal point of view, it's nonsense for me or for anyone else to say what we think marriage is. In British law that's already established.

Yes, it's about love and commitment, but it's not just about that. Why on earth would the State care whether two people love each other? Why would anyone want the State to care? Julie Bindel's right on this, at any rate; nobody should need the State's approval for who they love.

What's more, neither the Universal Declaration of Human Rights nor the European Convention on Human Rights recognise a right to same-sex marriage; both documents distinguish between men and women only in their articles on marriage, and explicitly associate the right to marry with the right to found a family, described by the UDHR as the 'natural and fundamental group unit of society'. What's being recognised here is that marriage as an institution reflects a basic biological reality.

Children are utterly central to marriage as a concept. Cardinal O'Brien wasn't being remotely disingenuous when he pointed this out, and as I've said, he's far from the first to have made this point. Richard Waghorne said it a year ago. Parliament said it three hundred and fifty years ago.

There is those who'll counter by asking why is it that old people or those otherwise incapable of having children are allowed to marry, if marriage is essentially about children.  Fair question, and one which has been addressed elsewhere, including by Waghorne in his 'responses to responses', but for now I'll just say two things:
  • Obviously, marriage is an institution, as I've said, and not a mere ceremony. As such, complementary couples can marry when young in the hope of having children; regardless of whether or not that comes to pass, they can grow old together, such that old people can be married. As complementary couples incapable of having children can be married, it stands to reason that complementary couples incapable of having children can get married.
  • The State only cares about marriage because it's essentially about children. Can you think of one other reason why the State would care about what two people get up to together? That's a case I've yet to see made by anybody advocating the redefinition of marriage: why should the State care whether two people love each other?
Now, nobody that I know is saying that gay people aren't to be trusted about children, and if they're thinking it they're keeping their thoughts to themselves. No, if anybody genuinely thinks this is what's being said they should get over their paranoia and start listening more carefully. Time and again I've heard people saying that plenty of gay people do a fine job of bringing up children -- indeed, I've said so myself and will doubtless say so again -- but that the State supports marriage to promote the position that children should ideally be raised by a mother and a father.

This isn't a binary argument, where people are saying that only one way of raising children is good and all others are bad; it's saying that only one way is rooted in our nature, and that it is an ideal for which we should hope.

As Matthew Parris said last October, in a Spectator column which was sympathetic to the idea of institutionalising same-sex marriage, 
'I’m glad I had both a mother and father, and that as after childhood I was to spend my life among both men and women, and as men and women are not the same, I would have missed something if I had not learned first about the world from, and with, both a woman and a man, and in the love of both.'
Like Waghorne, Parris is gay, which lends extra weight to his uncertainty on the wisdom of jettisoning so universal and natural a societal ideal. That all children, as much as possible, should have such opportunities is, I think, something that we should all champion. Marriage is the only public institution that our society uses to champion this ideal. Do people really want to cast this aside?

4)  This is God's Sacrament
Marriage does not stem from the Bible, it predates it and extends around the world to countries of many different faiths.  Few serious voices would argue it is uniquely Christian: it demonstrably is not. Moreover the Church does not make the laws in this country.  Parliament does.  The leaders of every political party support same-sex marriage and it was in the Conservative Party manifesto.  The Church does have the right to be heard, but it does not have the right to dictate.
It's weird that this should be wheeled out, as I've yet to hear even one Catholic or Orthodox Christian take to the airwaves to make this argument; and yes, it's relevant that I say 'Catholic' and 'Orthodox', because Protestants -- Anglicans included -- do not regard marriage as being a sacrament.

Indeed, Catholics don't regard marriage as being a sacrament in itself; rather, they recognise marriage as something natural to us, with Christian marriage alone being a sacrament. I doubt any Catholic would describe as sacramental a freely-contracted marriage between a Muslim woman and an atheist man, but it'd be an odd Catholic who denied that it was a marriage. If any Catholic is arguing that the State shouldn't change the law regarding marriage because marriage is a sacrament, said Catholic could do with sitting down with his or her catechism for a bit.

That's why you'll hardly ever find any Catholics arguing against the law being redefined on the basis that it's contrary to his or her religion. Catholics don't regard marriage, in the broad sense, as a religious issue. We accept it as a natural thing, an institutional reflection, as I've said, of our biological reality. It's brutally Darwinian, when you get down to it.

For what it's worth, the churches are not seeking to dictate anything to society -- another canard in the post -- but are merely seeking to contribute to the debate. Parliament will decide what happens. We all know that. It's melodramatic nonsense to claim otherwise.

I'd also point out that it's simply false to claim that the proposal to institute same-sex marriage was in the Conservative manifesto. It wasn't. It was undeniably and blatantly absent from the manifesto, which mentions marriages and civil partnerships just twice in its 131 pages, both times only with reference to tax breaks.

Sure, there's a line in the little-noticed and almost wilfully obscure Contract for Equalities that says the Tories would be willing to 'consider the case for changing the law to allow civil partnerships to be called and classified as marriage', but that document is not the Conservative manifesto, and lest anyone claim otherwise, I'd like them to explain to me why the word 'manifesto' doesn't appear once in its 29 pages.

It's worth remembering too that after the Contract for Equalities was published, David Cameron made it very clear that the Conservatives had no intention of renaming civil partnerships. Rather, he said, the Conservatives might look into the possibility of doing that.

There is, I think every reasonable person should agree, a substantial difference between promising to consider the case for something -- which sounds like a long and thoughtful process -- and announcing that the redefinition of marriage was going to be railroaded through parliament, irrespective of what people might think, and with complete disregard for the usual careful system of compiling a green paper, perhaps issuing a white paper, and then maybe introducing legislation.

It wasn't in the Liberal Democrats' manifesto either, despite Evan Harris falsely claiming otherwise*. The people have never been consulted as to whether this should happen, and the Government is adamant that the current 'consultation' isn't interested in that question.**

On balance, far from opponents of marital redefinition seeking to 'dictate', it's proponents of marital redefinition who appear to believe that they should be allowed impose their wishes upon society without such wishes being subjected to the normal process of democratic scrutiny, and regardless of the fact that such wishes thus far lack any democratic legitimacy or popular mandate.

5) It's Ours, You're Not Allowed It
How refreshingly honest it would be to hear this argument articulated.  It is in fact, as far as I can tell, at the base of every argument against same-sex marriage, no matter how it is dressed up.  This is a matter of discrimination per se: opponents believe they have the right to marry, but the state should be allowed to discriminate to withhold this right from others.
At this point I basically want to throw my hands in the air in frustration, not least because it assumes there's a crude 'us and them' dynamic at work, such that it's impossible for anybody who's gay -- such as Matthew Parris as cited above -- to have any doubts about whether the state should be institutionalising same-sex unions and calling them marriages.

It's eminently possible. Yes, I know the likes of Waghorne will be dismissed as self-hating gays for entertaining such reservations, but then we're into 'No True Scotsman' territory, and we all know that's a silly country, policed by the kind of absolutist fanatics Camille Paglia angrily refers to as Stalinists.

That aside, the European Court of Human Rights has already recognised that while men and women have the right to marry, men and women do not have a right to marry whoever they'd like. Individual countries can allow men to marry other men, and women to marry other women, but that's quite different from there being a right to such a thing. No rights are being withheld; the court recognises that the Convention identifies marriage as having a nature -- a specific meaning -- and it's not discrimination for that meaning to be respected.

Keep that in mind. According to the European Court of Human Rights, it is not discrimination for marriage to remain a complementary and conjugal institution.  Of course, the Court might change its mind tomorrow, but as things stand, that's the situation.

Take a look at the government consultation on same-sex marriage involves. It bypasses the fact that Parliament has defined marriage for centuries in such a way that it can't be shared without being redefined, or, if you like, it can't be opened up to others without ceasing to be what it has previously been.

Look at section 1.10 of that consultation, and then think about this. The Government says that it wants to make same-sex couples identical to different-sex couples in terms of marriage. Identical, mind, not merely equal.

There are a small number of important differences between marriages and civil partnerships; the Government is proposing to remove these differences.
  • Marriage should henceforth be defined as being between two people of the either sex, rather than as hitherto between a man and a woman.
  • Marriage shall henceforth be reduced to a public institution that recognises people's love for each other; the interests of children will no longer be recognised as central to the purposes of marriage.
  • Marital vows shall no longer be necessary for marriages to be valid, as some people will be able to contract marriages through a bit of paperwork.
  • Marriages shall no longer be dependent on sexual consummation, at least as the word has always hitherto been understood, for their validity; as same-sex couples cannot engage in the procreative-unitive act, consummation will have to be given a new meaning, which it'll be for the courts to decide and apply to everyone on a uniform basis, regardless of sexuality.
Or, putting it another way, the Government is saying that almost any adult couple can get married, but that in order for that to happen, it'll be necessary to tear marriage from its biological moorings, abolish it as currently and historically understood, and create something quite new -- which we'll call marriage -- in its place. And that something new, it seems to me, is pretty much what civil partnership would be were it open to everybody.

Let's not pretend this is about opening up marriage to gay couples; it's about abolishing marriage as it stands and supplanting it with a new institution, functionally identical to civil partnership, which would be called 'marriage' and would be open to everyone.

You might think that's a good idea, or you might not, but surely we can at least all admit that that's what's on the agenda.

I don't blame the blogger for not giving any of the arguments he lists any credence whatsoever. I wouldn't either, if they were being made, but they're not.

The most important of the arguments being made for maintaining the status quo is completely misunderstood, and the ultimate question of what marriage is and why the State should care about it is wholly disregarded.

And no, I'm not happy about writing this, but when somebody who I've long rated as a blogger and who I've long hoped to meet as a person basically says that I'm a homophobe who's merely trying to look reasonable, and that all those who agree with me are also homophobes who are likewise masking their hatred beneath a veneer of reason, then it's clear that the debate has moved into very nasty territory.

Because if someone who's surely sensible, reasonable, and nice will make these kind of assumptions, what are those who are none of those things likely to be doing? Because such people are of every persuasion.

We all have to live together. Most of us would probably get on with each other. There's a fair chance that the majority of us like tea, and that we'd happily while away an afternoon or an evening having a pint or three of something stronger together. We need to accept the fact that honest and intelligent people of good will can sometimes find themselves on opposite sides of a debate, and that sometimes people mean what they say.

Update: Originally I linked to the blog, and named its author, but I amended this shortly afterwards, as on reflection I didn't think it was fair. I'm trying to make the point that this debate's gotten absurdly polarised when decent people are assuming the worst of people who sincerely disagree with them; it's not about the blogger in question, save to say that he seems a good example of a decent person who's become convinced that all those who disagree with him are doing so because they think he's an abomination.
* No really. Have a listen. He says it at the 5:37 point, or thereabouts.
** The rest of this section deals with a wholly unrelated topic which every Catholic I know responded to when the story broke on Saturday with a mixture of horror and caution. It was obvious that whatever had happened in the Netherlands in the 1950s was abominable, but there seemed to be very few facts in the story; given how so many stories about the Church tend to be badly reported, most Catholics have learned to wait, gloomily, and see how the dust settles; since then the story has been somewhat clarified. Much more remains to be explained, of course, and I hope whatever investigation the Dutch establish gets to the bottom of this, but for now it seems clear that the only people screaming about Catholic perversion on this one are those who are utterly in thrall to an irrational and ingrained hatred of the Church. And, for what it's worth, I don't for a moment count any bloggers I admire among them.


PME200 said...

I found it quite hard to wade through this as it is quite rambling and unclear in places. Some points:

- you rehash the slippery slope argument which I said in my piece is one of the key arguments used by opponents. This brings in supposition/fear, particularly with the references to Orwell. Isn't that rather emotional and confirming exactly what I said your camp is doing?

- you agree tradition means little and quote the example of children up chimneys. You then go on to say British law has recognised marriage for 300 years in a particular way, ergo shouldn't change as it's "already established". This is completely contradictory.

- you say it's risible to describe this as a basic act of social justice. No, you don't get to judge that. You are not the minority group who is denied a basic right that others in society are allowed. You may marry the person I love; I may not. Try putting yourself in my shoes and imagine your were denied this by the State because you are Catholic, for example.

- The commitment is on page 14 of the Conservative Contract for Equality "which will be central to what we do in government" (Theresa May) launched in May 2010 and widely reported at the time http://www.conservatives.com/News/News_stories/2010/05/Our_contract_for_equality.aspx

- you say your case is being misunderstood, but forward no positive case at all other than marriage is "it's an institution that exists so a child can be reared by its father and mother".

This may indeed be one of its central purposes, but I disagree that it exists solely for this. I no more see the State allowing same sex couples the opportunity to marry as a threat to this than I do allowing infertile ones to marry. If you can explain to me *how* 2 men or 2 women marrying (perhaps 50,000 of them total in the UK) threaten this core existence and purpose I am willing to listen.

- you say the debate has become nasty. My blog was not aimed at you and I have in fact seen every one of the arguments I set out and attempt to refute. By making out that I am calling you a homophobe, I am the one who is disappointed in you.

The Thirsty Gargoyle said...

If this is rambling, I'm afraid that's just because it follows your structure. Still...

1. Where's this slippery slope argument I supposedly rehash? Is Orwell scary? I don't know. I tend to only use the term with reference to Newspeak and linguistic engineering.

2. I don't say the law shouldn't change as it's "already established". Lots of laws are established, and are regularly changed. Rather, I say that the law as it stands can't be changed without serious repercussions, not the least of which is that for marriage to be opened up as proposed would necessitate the abolition of marriage as it stands and the redefinition of the marriages of everybody currently married. Now you might think that's a fair objective. Fine. That's fair enough. Then own that.

3. I don't say it's risible to describe the campaign to redefine marriage as a basic act of social justice; I say it's risible to put the redefinition of marriage in the same category as liberation of slaves, enfranchisement of women, or decriminalisation of homosexual acts. And I still say that. You've said yourself that same-sex couples in the UK have the same rights as opposite-sex ones. Your basic argument for why marriage should be redefined -- specious comparisons to American miscegenation laws aside -- came down to you not being happy ticking a box.

Leaving aside the fact that I'll not get to tick the box marked 'civil partnership', do you really think that feeling uncomfortable is comparable to slavery, or being a criminal, or not being able to vote? Really?

4. Yes, I've seen where the commitment to consider changing civil partnerships was made. It was in a document that wasn't the Conservative Manifesto. In fact, I've linked to it in the text. And lest you think that was tantamount to a manifesto commitment, despite not being in the manifesto, it's worth pointing out that Cameron specifically said at the time that the Tories were not planning on introducing same-sex marriage.

The Thirsty Gargoyle said...

5. I don't think the case is being misunderstood save by those who are wilfully determined to misunderstand it. You, for instance, are convinced that my view is ultimately a religious one, despite my insisting that it's nothing of the sort. But in potted form:
a) Any benefit gay people might gain from redefining marriage is purely cosmetic; as you accept, same-sex couples have equal rights to opposite-sex ones.
b) If gay couples cannot enter into a marriage, neither can opposite-sex ones enter into a civil partnership; both groups are equally limited
c) Any redefinition of marriage would require the abolition of marriage as currently understood; you have yet to make a case for doing that, other than not liking ticking boxes, and the onus is surely on you to persuade people as to why marriage as it stands should be abolished.
d) It is true that marriage as an institution is essentially ordered towards the bearing and rearing of children. That's a matter of anthropological and sociological fact, and is reflected in English law. This doesn't mean that all marriages involve children, but the institution, as a whole, is oriented towards them. And I have never said that it exists solely for that purpose, but that this is its primary purpose as an institution.
e) There are substantial concerns regarding freedom of belief and conscience, as I've said. I've yet to see you address those concerns, other than to indicate -- which I doubt you'd do in many other contexts -- that you trust the government. Given that your cosmetic gain would be others' substantial loss, I think the onus is on you to justify why the country should dance so you can tick a box.

6. You've agreed that every body who is opposed to redefining marriage such that its current meaning is abolished thinks gays are abominations. It would take some impressively illogical contortions to argue that that wasn't a claim that all those who are in favour of retaining the current definition of marriages are homophobes. As for arguments that aren't nakedly homophobic? You agree that that's 'window dressing', a mere attempt at 'appearing reasonable'. It seems that I must either, by your definition, be a homophobe or be a hypocritical homophobe.

And you're disappointed in me?

Mr Integrity said...

I understand your concern towards the hostile approach of some that are opposed to marriage redefinition. Bitterness and hatred are not attributes of Christians and should not be used. However I understand the frustration of many that the opinions of the majority of this nation have consistently been ignored. First there was the sexual equality issue where Christians often found themselves on the wrong side of the law by merely expressing God's opinion on the subject. Then we had the Civil Ceremony imposed on society. Something that may help a vulnerable partner despite homosexuals being notoriously promiscuous.
Tony Blair assured everyone eight years ago that this would never go further on to marriage. What a liar he was. Now it is going to marriage, again despite the fact that the number of individuals who would want take up this relationship title is extremely small and the cost to the nation will be enormous. The next lie is that Religious groups need not fear as the Gay Weddings will not be allowed on their premises. This has just been shown to be untrue by the ECHR.
You write above that this has nothing to do with equality. You are so right. It is all to do with destroying religion, family Life, our education system and society at large where it contradicts the opinions of a few well connected proponents of all things homosexual.
My head, my heart and my mind say Parliament should not attempt to fulfil the wishes of this group of people who do not conform to what traditionally has been known as normal sexual relations. The historical perspective of marriage should be given more credence. Time does dose always mean that we should change things. A liberal society would have us believe that we can do what we want. Well some can more than others.
Ultimately I believe there is no case for marriage re-definition.
Parliament, do not re-define Marriage.

Lazarus said...

Having just blogged about a similar claim by a Scottish politician (and pointed him to Richard Waghorne's arguments) I'm not surprised to find you engaged in a similar discussion here. I've argued about many issues on which there are sharp disagreements (abortion, euthanasia etc) both in combox exchanges and in more academic contexts, yet I can't think of any other issue where the simple denial that good faith arguments exist on 'my' side is so regularly made. I suspect that it's something to do with a dominant and highly emotionally charged narrative of liberation (first blacks, then women, now gays) being misapplied -but I'm really not sure.

The Thirsty Gargoyle said...

In this case I was just pointing to an example of someone who I'd always regarded as fair on stuff, saying that it showed we were in a bad place if he was of the view that all opponents of the redefining marriage are homophobes.

This disappoints me not because of the blogger himself, but mainly because I think others will be far more ardent in such views. I'm trying to resist the urge to think that this is simply about putting some of the Government's most natural opponents at each others' throats while the Government dismantles the country.

For the record, I'm all in favour of sexual equality and I've already taken a few brickbats for speaking up for civil partnerships, which I see as a basic matter of social justice and human rights. Sorry.

As for the rest? I don't know if Blair was a liar when he said civil partnerships wouldn't evolve into same-sex marriage; I don't see that he could have known either way. That said, given that I'm no fan of Blair, I'd best keep my thoughts to myself. I think it's best if I do that, all told.

Obviously, you'll know why I don't think parliament should redefine marriage. I'm not convinced there's an agenda at work, though. I think people just do stuff, basically, shuffling forward while looking at their feet.

I'm a bit worried about what direction comments are going to go in now, tbh, so I'm going to seal them off after this. Just for safety, and because I don't have time to be moderating.