Why the government is wrong on same-sex “marriage”

The Coalition government, apparently with the personal support of the Prime Minister, wants to introduce a bill to allow same-sex marriage.  I think it is wrong.

There.  I’ve said it.  And because any comment on homosexuality, at least from the right-hand-side of the house, attracts a storm of vituperation from the monstrous regiment of the politically-correct, I’d better get my rebuttal in first.

I don’t approach this as a question of morality.  Indeed I take a broadly libertarian approach.  I am content, subject to the usual caveats on consenting adults, for people to do pretty much as they please, though in some cases I’d be grateful if they could avoid doing it in the street and frightening the horses.

Of course I know that some people find the idea of homosexual behaviour repugnant.  Maybe some homosexuals find the idea of heterosexual behaviour repugnant.  And as a libertarian, I support the right of people to hold those opinions, just as I support the right of individuals to behave as they choose — though it seems that in these politically-correct times, it is no longer acceptable to voice such views.  It is worth adding that these opinions may be intrinsic, and not a matter of choice.  I did not (for example) choose to like ice-cream and to dislike foie gras.  It’s just the way I feel.

But how we feel about one behaviour or another is beside the point.  My opposition to “gay marriage” is based not on the moral status or æsthetic appeal of homosexuality, but on quite different considerations.

First, a pedantic point.  While legislators may occasionally need to define some technical term in the context of a piece of legislation, it is not the business of government to legislate to change the meaning of a common and well-established word, and least of all a word that describes such a key institution in society.  The government doesn’t own the English language: the people do.

Second, and to rebut the point in the photo: Yes, marriage is a right, but marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.  Everyone should have the right to marry, and no one seeks to deny that right to anyone else.  And if they choose for personal reasons not to marry, that’s up to them.  The question is whether a vocal lobby group can change the meaning of the word to suit an entirely different relationship.  Everyone should have the right to procreate, but that doesn’t mean that a man can or should get pregnant.  There are certain things that people can and cannot do because of their gender.  It’s a limit placed on us by nature and biology, not by law.

Thirdly (and it cannot be stressed too often) marriage is a relationship between three parties: a woman, a man and society.  Society down the ages has recognised marriage, and offered married couples recognition, respect and often financial benefits in terms of taxation and inheritance, because society recognises the importance of the institution.  The expectation is that marriage will generally lead to procreation and children, and that the resultant nuclear family will promote stability in society, replenish the population, and provide the ideal circumstances in which children can be raised and socialised.

A same-sex partnership is a relationship between two parties, not three, and there is no reason why society should treat it in the same way as marriage, because it does not offer the same broad benefits to society as a whole.  It is an entirely private matter between two individuals.  It is their own affair, and there is no reason why it should be of interest or concern to anyone else.

Finally (and a key point): any attempt to broaden the definition of marriage to include other relationships can only be seen as a deliberate device to dilute, demean and diminish the institution of marriage as it is generally understood.  If marriage becomes broader, it becomes shallower, and the vital importance of marriage in our society will be further eroded.

Various Conservative politicians, not least Iain Duncan Smith, have argued passionately that marriage and the family are the bedrock on which our society is built, that children raised in a conventional family do better on a host of measures than those raised elsewhere, and that many of the problems our society faces are created or exacerbated by the widespread break-down of marriage as an institution.  I believe that IDS is right, and it is clear that this proposal to recognise “same-sex marriage” further undermines this vital institution, and is a move in precisely the wrong direction.

I shall have to add this Coalition initiative to the long and growing list of government policies which I am unable to support.

This article first appeared on ConservativeHome

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5 Responses to Why the government is wrong on same-sex “marriage”

  1. Alovera says:

    It’s pathetic that the level of explanation the right-wing have to offer is twice that of the left. All they have to do is say it’s fair or equal or some such bilge and that’s it.

    I feel sick when I see two men kissing, yet not too women, don’t know why, but that’s the way it is, it’s my problem, and I can handle that.

    But what I can’t handle is all this equality nonsense, on everything. I just want someone to come in and slaughter the left and reverse everything, everything that’s been done for the last fifty years, that’s just how I feel, I hate the left so bloody much!

  2. Lazarus says:

    After reading you post I’m still at a loss to what you are actually saying. You think same sex marriage is wrong and I still have no idea why. It seems that you just don’t like the M word applying to same sex couples but then you suggest marriage is also a contract with society and a same sex partnership isn’t.

    But isn’t the whole point of a gay couples wanting to marry to give them exactly the same contract with society? All they seem to be looking for is equality in legal status as married couples no matter what you call it – and it does seem pedantic to refuse to call it a marriage citing that the word can only apply to a man and a woman.

    So I reject you ‘key point’ about dilution of the meaning. Among the definitions in any dictionary will simply be ‘union’ or ‘intimate association’ without a condition that it must be a man and a woman.

  3. Alfred says:

    You do have some Conservative support for your article. Michael Gove put marriage in its proper context very well, IMO, in 2009. It is not about self gratification, or fiddling around with definitions, but is about constraint. If two people or more, of the same sex want some sort of legal acceptance of some sort of commitment, then society seems ready to give that too them, however, marriage it is not. Let’s not marginalise marriage in this way.

    “But if no one points out the consequences of the marginalisation of marriage, then some of the most vulnerable in our society will be voiceless. For the drift away from marital commitment is part of a broader flight from responsibility which is weakening our society and hitting the poorest, hardest.

    Marriage is a constraint, it is a restriction on freedom, a corset or corral in which passions which would otherwise run free are subject to disciplines, and personal satisfaction is subordinated to social expectations. But the reason marriage imposes those constraints is to ensure that selfish adults, especially pleasure-seeking males, are placed within a structure which forces them to live up to their responsibilities towards the next generation. A society which expects men to stay married to the mother of their children is a society which places a premium on providing young boys with male role models who embody the virtues of responsibility, restraint and consideration for others.”

    From “Who says the decline of marriage is bad for us all? I do” by Michael Gove, ScotlandonSunday 25 January 2009″

    http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/12700/Michael-Gove-Who-says-the.4911000.jp

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