Sunday, April 22, 2012

Gay opposition to same-sex marriage

There is no homogeneity among gays about same-sex marriage.  Some support it because they see it as a good for individuals and society and believe same-sex couples should have equal access to it.  Others support it because they see marriage as harmful for individuals and society and believe that extending marriage to gays undermines marriage as a social institution.  Some apparently smaller number oppose same-sex marriage because they see the arguments for it as contradictory and in principle misguided (e.g., if favorable public opinion is an argument for same -sex marriage, was public opposition to the idea until a decade or two ago a good argument against it throughout history?).  

They oppose it for the same reason that some advocates of SSM support it, that the whole concept of same-sex "marriage" negates marriage as it has been understood traditionally.  In that traditionally and, until yesterday, universally agreed definition understands marriage as socially approved sexual intercourse between a man and a woman such that any children that result from those conjugal relations belong - legally, emotionally, socially - to the two parents who made them.  From this perspective, the importance of marriage - and the state's interest in it as a public institution - is that it acknowledges the right of all children where possible to the care, support, and love of the two parents who made them.  Marriage is thus, and was always understood as society's most pro-child institution, deserving the recognition, support, and protection of the state for that reason.  It creates and sustains fatherhood as a social role with socially and legally recognized rights and responsibilities.  (Look at the plight of children and their mothers in communities where marriage has collapsed.)  It protects the best environment for children to grow up in - as evidenced by a mass of findings about educational and life prospects, health, mental health, delinquency, etc., even controlling for income and other selection effects.  And it respects the fundamental natural right of children to their own parents, as recognized in the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child.  

Marriage rests, as the above definition indicates, on a particular sexual act and was understood as not being valid unless and until consummated.  The point was understood to be that only one sexual act has in principle the capacity - not realized for contingent reasons every time or in every couple - to generate new life.  Not every sexual act or even every marriage produces a child, even though the necessary conjugal act is performed, but every child has two parents who did perform that act and generated new life thereby.  (Yes, there are cases of IVF and children deliberately deprived of their fathers by use of anonymous sperm donation, but these are outliers, not the central case that defines the institution.)

The column below, from MercatorNet's Conjugality site, does not make all these arguments, but it does recognize the fundamental move involved in same-sex "marriage" as in the sexual revolution more generally - the subordination of the interests and rights of children to the desires and freedoms of adults.  It is a recognition of truth that requires courage and integrity in face of the forward "march of an increasingly cavalier and triumphalist liberalism."

At risk: the right of a child to both a mother and a father

Intellectual dishonesty and shallowness in the arguments for bringing gay civil unions within the legal definition of marriage were laid bare last week in Dublin’s Irish Times by an opinion writer who professes same-sex orientation himself.  RichardGay opposition to same-sex marriage Waghorne, who also writes for the Daily Mail, took issue with “a number of self-contradictory or inaccurate arguments” advanced earlier in the week by Irish gay-campaigner, Kieran Rose. All of Ireland's main political parties have now adopted plans to legislatie for a redefinition of marriage laws to facilitate gay unions being recognised as such. However, the hurdle of Ireland's written constitution would have to be overcome by the legislature before any such changes could be enacted.

The first fallacy exposed by Waghorne was the resort to public opinion data showing majority support for the introduction of gay marriage. While he did not question the accuracy of the data he pointed out that public opinion is, however, no more conclusive a reason to legislate for gay marriage today than hostile opinion was good reason to delay law reform concerning homosexuality decades ago.

“Gay activists retrospectively give false legitimacy to the criminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland until 1993 by adducing opinion polling to a debate requiring resolution by reference to the common good. If majority opinion today is good cause to introduce gay marriage, it must have been similarly good cause for the profound imprudence of the law until two decades ago.
“That this is absurd betrays not only a shallowness discernible in the case for gay marriage but also what has to be identified as a degree of intellectual dishonesty.”

He also exposes the self-contradictory weakness in the gay lobby’s argument that the Irish public desires the introduction of gay marriage while at the same time moaning about the Irish public harbouring a dangerous degree of homophobia.

Waghorne adds his voice to a growing list of people with same-sex orientation – Ben Bradshaw and Matthew Parris in Britain, for example – who do not support this campaign. “As for claims raised in the name of the gay community,” he says, “I would prefer if someone with whom I share nothing but sexual orientation did not use that rather uninteresting fact to raise in my name political claims I and others do not share.”

The gay lobby, Waghorne says, is arguing the case for the right to marry on the basis of it being a “human right”. This is for him no more than an assertion - and a weak one at that.  He points out that  France’s supreme court has found that no discrimination is implied in the distinction between marriage and partnership provisions and that the European Court of Human Rights has found there is no right to gay marriage in the European Convention on Human Rights and this does not amount to discrimination.

“In considering gay marriage, it is essential to see treating different situations differently in no way constitutes discrimination”, he says. He then points out that the natural right of children far out-trumps, the recently invented rights of the liberal establishment.

“What is more fundamental here,” he writes, “is the co-option of human rights language by an increasingly hegemonic strain of intolerant liberalism. Whereas the ‘right to marriage’ as pertaining to couples of the same sex is a recent invention, the right of a child to both a mother and a father where possible is not.

“The reason for opposing the unnecessary elevation of civil partnerships to the notional status of marriage is that marriage then loses its nature as the one institution supported by society because it is the family form which on average gives a child the most advantageous upbringing.

“It is agreed by most that civil partnerships mostly suffice in practical terms for same-sex couples. Altering the focus of marriage from children to relationships disadvantages future generations to no more necessary end than the further march of an increasingly cavalier and triumphalist liberalism.”

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