Hitherto, we have been led to believe that the consultation in Scotland on the introduction of ‘gay marriage’ was a matter for the Scots alone: no-one else in any corner of the UK was able to vote.
However, yesterday the pro-‘gay marriage’ groups let it slip that they are asking people outside Scotland to respond, suggesting that the Scottish Government will accept non-Scottish responses.
The consultation closes tomorrow. I strongly urge you to fill out this form and register your opinion.
I filled mine out earlier, with the following explanation of my position:
I believe that redrawing the institution of marriage around individual sexual agents is dangerous, jeopardising the common goods that are invested in the institution.
Marriage is a recognition of the centrality of the relationship between the sexes – the two halves of the human race – in the constitution of society. It is a recognition that sex is not a univocal reality, but that the bodies of males and females are ordered together in a manner that is intrinsic to their unique and specific phenomenology.
It is a recognition that a lifelong committed sexual relationship between a man and a woman is generally procreative. Society’s sanction and celebration of their sexual relationship recognises that their children are an extension of their marital union, expressed in the bodies that they pledged to each other in their wedding.
It is a recognition that the sexual relationship between a man and a woman is oriented, not merely to the good of bringing the sexes together, and expressing our natural sexual dimorphism, but also to the good of procreation. The sexual relationship between a man and a woman has potential public consequences on account of procreation that no same sex relationship can have. The two are not equal, and it is natural that marriage should be given a particular and especial status, as society has a peculiar vested interest in such sexual relationships that it does not have in the case of relationships between persons of the same sex.
The connection of marriage with procreation is one of the primary reasons for its institutional character, as society has a clear interest in surrounding marriage with a serious of social norms and expectations, as through procreation the ends of marriage powerfully transcend the mere interests of the sexual partners within it. Lacking this same means of rendering a private sexual relationship public through procreation, same sex marriage will hasten the redrawing of our understanding of marriage around partnerships completely detached from the end of procreation, and the deinstitutionalisation of the union.
Marriage is a recognition of the rights of children to be, when at all possible, raised by their biological parents, and that being raised and socialised by a parent of both sexes, exhibiting the loving and lifelong commitment and cooperation that should exist between the sexes, is in the best interests both of the child and of society more widely. It is a recognition of the irreplaceableness and gendered character of both fathers and mothers.
It is recognition of the importance of holding genetic, gestational, legal, and social parenthood together as closely as possible. Marriage idealises the fusion of all of these, as the various aspects of parenthood are integrated into a single institution. The redefinition of marriage that the admission of same sex couples to the institution involves no longer upholds this.
Marriage protects children’s rights to a lineage, simple origins and an assured paternity. The admission of same sex couples to the institution will hasten the normalisation and widespread use of reproductive technology, removing the origins of our relationship with our offspring from the intimate and aneconomic union of the marriage bed to economic and legal transactions in the marketplace. This encourages the depersonalisation of children, making abortion, for instance, considerably more conscionable.
Marriage protects the bonds of blood that constitute the wider life of the family, the bonds between siblings, generations, extended relations, etc. It involves the recognition that marriage is not merely ordered to serve the interests of the merely living, but also exists for the sake of generations past and future. Same sex marriage focuses the rationale of marriage too closely on the interests of the sexual partners. On account of its necessarily non-procreative character, same sex marriages cannot protect and extend the bonds of blood to the same extent.
Marriage is monogamous, but same sex marriage threatens the monogamous character of marriage, by undermining its rationale. Monogamy is not solely or primarily concerned with the inviolability and exclusivity of the romantic and companionate attachment to a single sexual partner, but is chiefly based upon the realities of gender difference, sexual dimorphism, reproductive pairing, and biological parenthood. Absent these realities, and monogamy loses most of its rationale. Recognising same-sex partnerships as marriages goes beyond marginalising these realities to undermine or deny their significance, attacking the very things that monogamy seeks to protect. It opens the door to the watering down of the concept of monogamy as lifelong sexual exclusivity in an ordinarily procreative partnership between a man and a woman, or to the recognition of polyamorous partnerships and the social countenancing of open marriages.
The real question here is whether committed same sex partnerships should be recognised as marriages, or whether they should be seen as sui generis, with a distinct character of their own, unlike that of marriage.
Although my convictions on this matter are deeply informed by my Christian faith, I believe that a clear understanding of what is involved in such redefinitions of marriage will reveal that this is a matter that Christian and non-Christian, religious and non-religious, and, dare I say, even gay and straight, can find common cause on. Once again, the form to fill out is here.