Graham Wood asks whether it will bring stability or disaster
In Sweden, where same-sex marriage is legal, family life is slowly dying.
According to Stanley Kurtz, Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Policy Center in the US, ‘Same-sex marriage (SSM) has locked in and reinforced an existing Scandinavian trend toward the separation of marriage and parenthood. The Nordic family pattern — including ‘gay’ marriage — is spreading across Europe. And by looking closely at it we can answer the key empirical question underlying the ‘gay’ marriage debate. Will same-sex marriage undermine the institution of marriage? It already has. More precisely, it has further undermined the institution. The separation of marriage from parenthood was increasing; ‘gay’ marriage has widened the separation. Out-of-wedlock birthrates were rising; ‘gay’ marriage has added to the factors pushing those rates higher. Instead of encouraging a society-wide return to marriage, Scandinavian ‘gay’ marriage has driven home the message that marriage itself is outdated, and that virtually any family form, including out-of-wedlock parenthood, is acceptable’.*
We in the UK should be warned. But the central problem with the government’s proposals for SSM lies with their irrelevance — to the institution of marriage, and also as a political issue for something like 98% of the British electorate as opposed to the tiny minority of ‘gay’ activists. The real debate is about the nature of marriage itself, and whether it should be redefined.
Firstly, and as it has been pointed out, when the Attlee Government legislated to regulate marriage, ‘it simply presupposed that it could only ever be the union of one man and one woman. No one said anything, because it was so obvious’.
Secondly, as others have noted, the SSM proposals are essentially deviations away from all long-held and universal understanding of marriage. The whole ethos of marriage beginning with the process of friendship, to courtship, engagement, to normal heterosexual marriage, sex and the gift of children, cannot by definition be extended to the artificial concept of a same-sex couple. Thus, on the basis of biological compatibility alone, it must be wrongheaded. At best, the minute proportion of potential SSM marriages, even within the ‘gay’ community, will be so small as to be statistically negligible. Why then this massive political, social, legal (and costly) revolution, when there is already civil partnership available?
Other kinds of ‘marriage’
Mr. Cameron has the impossible self-inflicted task of trying to explain away the normality of traditional marriage — one man, one woman for life, in order to attempt forcing into it a fictional meaning that will make little sense or relevance to the great majority of men and women who habitually marry in the traditional way.
In doing so, he will attempt to smuggle into Parliament and then the nation the Trojan Horse of SSM, telling us that it really is a very normal sort of a horse. But be warned, it may well give birth to some strange and unwanted creatures in years to come, as polygamists, bigamists, bisexuals, polyamorists (multiple sexual partners) and others clamour to be recognised as eligible for ‘marriage’. Toleration of these would be entirely destructive of the family values which this and all governments profess to support. That is the inescapable logic of legalised SSM and the hypocrisy behind the proposed legislation.
However, what is more alarming is the failure by government to understand the impact of this upon the most vulnerable of all, namely children. For them there are all manner of complications in store if SSM is legalised — not least that they may well be separated from their own biological parents through a complex minefield of legal interpretations of new marriage laws.
This potential plight of children in a sexual free-for-all appears to be the very important but missing element in the government’s thinking. So the central and natural place of children in a normal marriage would be replaced by the unnatural and artificial rights of the homosexual community in a new state-created concept of marriage.
To think about
Fortunately, many opponents of SSM have thought through the issues rather more clearly than the government, and prominent among these is Dr. Jennifer Morse of the Ruth Institute (USA). Dr. Morse gives some sound reasons why SSM is both irrelevant to real marriage, and particularly, as she reasons, for its largely forgotten and potential child victims. Here are a few of some excellent points made by Dr. Morse and edited for application in the UK context in the light of these proposals. These might be useful to readers as they meet with or write to their MPs on the issue.
She states first of all the basic and foundational premise:
* The essential public purpose of marriage is to attach a mother and a father to their children and to one another. Given this, then every child is entitled to know and be known by both parents.
* Adult society must protect the child’s right to affiliation with both parents. Without man/woman marriage there will be no institution specifically protecting the rights of children to be in relation with both parents.
* Research shows that children have the best life chances when they are raised by their biological married parents.
* Man/woman marriage provides children with access to their genetic, cultural and social heritage. By contrast SSM changes marriage from a child-centred institution to an adult-centred institution.
* SSM is a creation of the state. Man/woman marriage is an organic institution built into nature and specifically ordained by God.
* SSM, once instituted as legal, affects everybody because the legal definition applies to everyone with all the immense changes implied, not just the tiny minority of homosexuals.
* SSM amounts to a hostile take-over of civil society by the state on ideological grounds. But we do not vote MPs into office for them to impose their own private ideological beliefs on the majority of the population.
* SSM leads to relational chaos and opens the door to children having more than two legal parents.
* SSM and the redefining of marriage will be an extremely difficult concept for children themselves to grasp, and especially for the very young. Why should they be made to grapple with such newly-created problems of adult making? And why muddy the clear waters of the familiar ‘mum and dad’ figures, which for them are normal and natural — well established in our Christian based culture?
Further, why should parents and children be forced to abandon a traditional view of marriage, and children be indoctrinated into an alien SSM ideology, when their parents may wish to teach them according to their own values and worldview? Is there a single sound reason why our Christian, or for that matter traditional secular, or educational cultures should all be abandoned at the whim of politicians?
Finally, SSM is yet another frivolous, unnecessary and expensive piece of social engineering for which the government has been given no mandate by the electorate.
* Published by the Catholic Education Resource Centre
Acknowledgements to Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse and the Ruth Institute, USA, http://www.ruthinstitute.org