Saturday, 25 February 2012

In which I agree with the Coalition for Marriage...

On their website, right above where you can sign their petition supporting "the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others [and] opposing any attempt to redefine it" they have a section of text which says this:
"People should not feel pressurised to go along with same-sex marriage just because of political correctness. They should be free to express their views. The Government will be launching a public consultation on proposals to redefine marriage. This will provide an opportunity for members of the public to make their views known."
I agree. People shouldn't feel pressurised to go along with it, particularly not if that is due to "Political Correctness". People should be free to express their views. The Government is launching a public consultation and there will be a chance for the public - and groups like "C4M" - to make their views known.

So, there you have it, I agree with the Coalition for Marriage... That, though, is pretty much as far as my agreement goes.

Under a headline that says "Marriage is Unique", the coalition then proceed to argue that it is, in fact, common: 
"Throughout history and in virtually all human societies marriage has always been the union of a man and a woman. Marriage reflects the complementary natures of men and women. Although death and divorce may prevent it, the evidence shows that children do best with a married mother and a father."
I don't have enough knowledge to argue whether children do do best in a married household - I believe this is questionable, especially in those households where parents resist divorce for religious or moral reasons, or stay together "for the sake of the children". And I believe that non-married households can also provide good environments for children. I know for a fact, though, that there will be very little data comparing married heterosexual couples with children and married homosexual couples with children and determining whether there is a difference in level of care and love.

Marriage, apparently, reflects the complementary natures of men and women - does this mean that woman are well suited to housework? And do they think that couples in a homosexual relation cannot have complementary natures too... I'd suggest that most relationships, regardless of the gender of the people involved, rely on the parties being complementary.

It is true that in most societies marriage has been between Men and Women but this is a comment on those societies and the historic prejudice against homosexuals rather than on the virtues of heterosexual marriage itself. The argument that this is the way it's always been is an argument for belief in a flat Earth or for the Earth being the centre of the Universe - and it neglects the fact that many societies have arrangements for real, or defacto, polygamy including many of those in the Old Testament.

This appeal to a questionable tradition of monogamous marriage is interesting - as the next section on the website warns of the "profound consequences" of broadening a definition of marriage to same-sex couples is the slippery slope argument. Have a guess where C4M believe we may end up...
"If marriage is redefined, those who believe in traditional marriage will be sidelined. People's careers could be harmed, couples seeking to adopt or foster could be excluded, and schools would inevitably have to teach the new definition to children. If marriage is redefined once, what is to stop it being redefined to allow polygamy?"
No doubt, if that isn't scary enough, Bestiality and Necrophilia will be hot on it's heals.

I don't understand how broadening the definition and scope of marriage will sideline "traditional marriage". Do they believe that such a move will put off heterosexual couples from getting married themselves? And, whilst it would be sad if people felt they couldn't adopt or foster in such a situation (not sure how or why in this context) or that they couldn't in conscience perform their jobs, this is not a reason for society not change and develop. At the end of the day, this consultation is about Civil Marriage and the council officials responsible need to be able to exercise the law without letting their personal views get in the way - or leave.

Finally, C4M claim that there is "no need to redefine" marriage as:
"Civil partnerships already provide all the legal benefits of marriage so there's no need to redefine marriage. It's not discriminatory to support traditional marriage. Same-sex couples may choose to have a civil partnership but no one has the right to redefine marriage for the rest of us."
Perhaps Civil Partnerships do have all those benefits... but, at the end of the day they are not marriage. No-one has a right to redefine marriage but society does. Those in  favour of this move are not seeking to redefine marriage in any case - merely to open it up to many more people. To change the legal definition, not the institution itself.

So perhaps I don't agree with the Coalition for Marriage after all...


You can read a piece by Liberal Democrat Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone here and I anticipate returning to this topic soon.

1 comment:

Lois said...

Excellent article, Andrew.