The inequalities of same sex marriage

21 views

Gerry Lynch has had a couple of contributions recently on the subject of extending marriage to homosexual couples. The coalition’s legislation has often been called “Equal Marriage”. Historically the marriage of a man and a woman has been heavily discriminated in favour of by legislation. This has been justified by moral and religious positions, discussion of the benefits of marriage between a man and a woman as a building block for society, a platform for the bringing up of children etc.

Morality as a guide in these matters is favoured by many but is problematic in the extreme as on this subject the moral views of various people who would perceive themselves (and be perceived by others) as moral differ. Some regard homosexuality as immoral, some that it is moral: equally some regard premarital sex as moral, some as immoral. Morality also of course extends to all manner of things completely unrelated to sexuality where once again there are at times divergent views between “moral” people.

Equality has been promoted as a better method of reasoning to allow same sex marriage. After all if society legislates for (and even encourages) heterosexual marriage the theory follows that it is inequitous to fail to do likewise for same sex marriage.

The new law, however, will leave a number of inequalities and creates a new set of inequalities some of which even more glaring than the previous inequality of only permitting marriage between a man and a woman.

Most of these inequalities have been extant since civil partnerships were created: a few, however, will be exacerbated by same sex marriage.

A homosexual couple will be able to avail themselves of a civil partnership or a marriage. This is in stark contrast to a heterosexual couple who only have the option of marriage if they wish to have a formal legal arrangement: a clear inequality against heterosexual couples.

The next set of inequalities relates to the financial advantages of both marriages and civil partnership. People who are not sexually / romantically linked are unable to avail themselves of these financial advantages. This means that a pair of siblings or any other non sexually / romantically couple who have lived together for decades cannot avoid inheritance tax when one of the pair dies. This is a particular problem in many rural areas where farming siblings may have lived together for years and shared in the work and whatever prosperity they may have achieved. Usually, however, the property is in the name of one of the pair (usually the eldest male) and the other could end up with inheritance tax forcing them to sell their property which is their only major asset. Such siblings are surely an example of a civil partnership (albeit non sexual / romantic) yet they are discriminated against by the old civil partnerships law.

Polygamous relationships are legal (and moral) in Islam and in a number of African cultures. (Polyandry was practiced in Tibet but banned after the Chinese invasion). However, UK law provides no rights to the second simultaneous or subsequent wife (or husband). As such if a Muslim man wishes to have a second wife she will fail to gain the property rights etc. applicable under UK law. A polygamous family are unable to avail of the advantages of either civil partnership or marriage. In actual fact the situation is much worse for polygamists: Polygamy is a criminal offence in the UK and one which is at times prosecuted.

At least sexual relations with two different women (or men) are not illegal. However, UK law still criminalises incest between consenting adults. This is the most clear example of inequality. Consenting homosexual activity (initially between over 21 years old and more recently from age 16) is entirely legal: incest is, however, illegal even between adults. Any attempted justification relating to the risk of deformed children is of course utter nonsense as by that logic a couple who had a child with cystic fibrosis (and hence, a 1 in 4 risk of an affected infant with each subsequent child) would be banned from sexual activity.

Many of the above options (polygamy / polyandry and consenting incest) may be regarded as “gross”, “icky” or whatever. In reality that means that people regard them as immoral. However, for many years exactly those sorts of views were held towards homosexuality (and still are in some quarters). In reality the civil partnership law and the proposed same sex marriage law does not produce equality. It simply changes the situation from discrimination against all except heterosexual marriage into discrimination in which it could be argued that same sex couples have the most rights (civil partnership and same sex marriage). Heterosexual couples have the next most rights (marriage but not civil partnerships). Next come non sexually / romantically linked couples with no specific rights. Then polygamous (and polyandrous) groups who not only have no specific rights but are in danger of legal sanction if they try to obtain such. Then finally are biologically related sexually linked adult couples for whom the very act of sex is a criminal offence.

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  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Well, Turgon the Wise, you really had to sweat that one.

    That neat, but unfair and unconvincing glissando from same-sex relationships to incest etc was particularly off-piste.

    It really comes down to just two considerations:

    Is it not a social “good” to recognise and register life partnerships, regardless of the genders involved?

    Does there not need to be some constraints on and disincentives against potentially-exploitative relationships?

  • Turgon

    Malcolm Redfellow,

    “Is it not a social “good” to recognise and register life partnerships, regardless of the genders involved?”

    Firstly we are not discussing “life partnerships”. No where in the legislation nor in my discussion is contained any suggestion that marriage or civil partnerships or anything else need be for life. The same sex marriage legislation does not make gay marriage for life any more than any other marriage is for life. Marriage or civil partnerships can be dissolved prior to the end of life. That has been the case for many years. Try to deal with facts and not your prejudices.

    The issue is the inequity for heterosexual couples, non sexually / romantically linked couples, polygamous (and polyandrous) groups and biologically related couples.

    Currently all “life partnerships” are far from equal. Homosexual ones attract more benefits than any others and some attract criminalisation.

    As to “constraints on and disincentives against potentially-exploitative relationships?”

    Exactly that logic was applied against homosexuality and against the equalisation of the age of consent for homosexuality.

    Finally your opening:

    “Well, Turgon the Wise, you really had to sweat that one.”

    Address the topic. Try to avoid man playing. The issue is the inequalities in the same sex marriage proposals.

  • claudius

    Get rid of civil partnerships and allow same sex couples to marry. Would that address your fears of inequality etc

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Firstly we are not discussing “life partnerships”. No where in the legislation nor in my discussion is contained any suggestion that marriage or civil partnerships or anything else need be for life.

    Specious. I have yet to come across a marriage or a civil partnership that was contracted for a term other than life. That some of these relationships fail is a very different discussion.

    Equally, since you object to my introduction, note it evidently refers to your argument, which I found contrived. Anything else you read into it is your problem, not mine.

  • hugodecat

    As a Gay man in a civil partnership let me be very very clear any comparison, to an incestuous couple, poly amorous couple or family members who want to avoid inheritance tax is deeply offensive

    Turgon if you wish people to play the argument not the man please avoid being so deeply offensive

    secondly if you are so terribly worried about all those straight couples who will be discriminated against by the introduction of Equal marriage write to your MP asking for Civil partnership rights

    why do I want the right to marriage ?
    1) id like the same pension rights as straight couples
    2) id like the same adoption rights as straight couples
    3) id like to not have to “out” myself every time i tick a box on a form
    4) id like the right to refer to my partner as my husband with some stuck up smart arse know it all correcting me
    5) Marriage is a very special contract, it comes with vows and is intended for life – a civil partnership is a contract designed to be de-solved it has no vows and does not even have to be signed by both people at the same time.
    6) no one has yet explained to me how me having the right to marriage takes anything from their marriage or removes any of their rights.. the people who do claim this have been strangely silent regarding the appalling state of straight marriage within this country, caused by straight people and not lgbt people
    7) a big deal is made in this little corner of the globe about religious freedom, although when it comes to lgbt people it appears to be freedom to force the will of ones own church upon everyone elses… if you don’t want a “gay marriage” Simple answer don’t have one but please do not lecture me about my rights and do not ever compare my relationship to incest .

  • claudius

    Well said Hugodecat

  • Turgon

    claudius,
    Of course getting rid of civil partnerships would not address the inequalities. It would remove the inequality for one group: heterosexual couples. It would not help non sexually / romantically linked siblings. They are unable to avail of marriage. At the momnent a life partnership of two siblings provides no financial security.

    Removing civil partnerships also does nothing for polygamous or polyandrous groups and nothing at all for the currently criminalised biologically relates romatically / sexually linked couples.

    Malcolm Redfellow,
    So complete failure to address the inequalities created by same sex marriage (and different sex marriage).

    My argument is far from contrived. It is based on equality. You are the one throwing in specious comments about potentially expliotative relationships. Try dealing with the issue at hand. If you are unable to deal with it simply refrain from commenting.

  • Granni Trixie

    I consider that a couple (including siblings) who live together long term in fairness ought to have the same inheritance rules/rights as those who are married.
    Hugodecat:this is not tax avoidance but equality and only a matter of time before it is rectified.also, I can readily see see why anyone would object at an incest reference but why would you object to equality with the cause of full rights for people who live together?

  • Turgon

    hugodecat,
    You may be offended by comment on polygamous or polyandrous groups. Many in Africa would be offended by comparing homosexuality to polygamy. Your offence is of no importance: equality is the issue at stake.

    The list of things you want:

    “id like the same pension rights as straight couples”
    Denied to sibling partnerships and polygamous / polyandrous groups.

    ” id like the same adoption rights as straight couples”
    Same answer as above

    ” id like to not have to “out” myself every time i tick a box on a form”
    I agree entirely

    ” id like the right to refer to my partner as my husband with some stuck up smart arse know it all correcting me”
    Exactly the same argument pertains to polygamous (and polyandrous) marriage.

    “Marriage is a very special contract, it comes with vows and is intended for life – a civil partnership is a contract designed to be de-solved it has no vows and does not even have to be signed by both people at the same time”

    Exactly the same argument pertains to polygamous (and polyandrous) marriage.

    “no one has yet explained to me how me having the right to marriage takes anything from their marriage or removes any of their rights.. the people who do claim this have been strangely silent regarding the appalling state of straight marriage within this country, caused by straight people and not lgbt people”

    I made no comment on straight marriage losing anything: I merely pointed out the inequalities. Your point may have relevance on other same sex marriage threads: it is irrelevant here.

    “a big deal is made in this little corner of the globe about religious freedom, although when it comes to lgbt people it appears to be freedom to force the will of ones own church upon everyone elses… if you don’t want a “gay marriage” Simple answer don’t have one but please do not lecture me about my rights and do not ever compare my relationship to incest .”

    I am making no comment on my view on gay marriage. I merely point out the right you are going to have (same sex marriage) which is denied to polygamous / polyandrous groups. Furthermore I never called for biologically related marriage to be legalised. I merely pointed out that consensual, adult biologically related sexual activity is in actual fact a criminal offense. That demonstrates a gross inequality as compared to everyone else.

  • hugodecat

    i have no issues with anyone campaign for their own equality i take deep offence at any comparisons being made to my relationship other than that of life long sexual relationships of two people

    and not sharing a house with your cousin, shagging your sibling, falling in love with the family goat, or fiddling with the neighbours children,

    if your marriages are that miserable and devoid of fulfilment – don’t take it out on me!

    if you want to campaign for marriage rights for farming sisters go right ahead – but leave me and other lgbt people out of it.. the stupid laws that exist do so because other straight people wrote the legislation o and by the way dissolutions of civil partnerships sit at around 10% Us lot getting married would have a dramatically positive effect on the divorce rate which under you lot has come very close to 50%

    if you lot want to marry your parents, your chickens or you wife’s sisters, that’s up to you – go an campaign for it yourselves and don’t bring lgbt people into it .
    While you are at it, quit coming up with a hierarchy of what offensive S*&^t you can mention in the same paragraph as gay people and think we will all sit and take it? because I for one am sick of straight people looking praise for tolerating my existence, I’m sick of the stupid thoughtless comparisons to bestiality, incest and paedophilia that lgbt people experience on a daily basis, I’m sick of putting up with your children using gay as a derogatory term. I’m sick of being a novelty, I’m sick of people thinking my relationship is something that they should have an opinion on. and one which they can express as clumsily as they like ..before any of you choose to pass judgement on my marriage please submit evidence as to the validity of your marriage and your expertise on the subject and let the rest of us judge you.

  • Granni Trixie

    Hugo

    Wow! I can only imagine that you have been very hurt in life to be so bitter …not to say unreasonable. …not to say narrow minded.

    For example, although I am married myself,I am married because it matters to my partner, not because I value marriage. What does matter to me is the quality of commitment and the living up to that in practice. So, on grounds that marriage does not matter to me but matters to some people, I not only thought but spoke out in public in favour of “gay marriage”. Your “have yew own campaign” remarks is not appreciated by me ..can’t you see it’s selfish? Have you not a broader sense of your fellow man?

  • hugodecat

    your marriage isn’t the one being compared to Turgon’s desire to marry his sister and his dog

    he’s choosing a piece of legislation that is designed to remove discrimination of lgbt people to campaign for his rights to his very own Charlie Sheen sex family and he’s choosing to be offensive as he likes about it -as my (and other LGBT peoples )feelings are “irrelevant” but while fantasising about the inclusion of his grandchildren in his poly-amorous wedded bliss he has the cheek to demand that people play the argument and not the man. if you want to talk about straight peoples rights to procreate with their siblings don’t bring gay people into it . They are two different arguments and to bring them both up in the same thread is about the same as if someone shouted pervert or paedophile at you every time you opened your mouth -mud sticks so any argument you wish to make about different sorts of marriage relationships for straight people should be framed as such

  • http://sammymorse.livejournal.com Gerry Lynch

    Boy is there a lot of inaccuracy in that post from Turgon!

    Let’s start with polygamy – no, it’s not illegal in the UK. Even polygamous marriages are not strictly speaking illegal in the UK, and currently attract a degree of recognition from the benefits system if they have been contracted in a country where they are legal (that old messy legacy of the British Raj raising its head again!)

    I’m not sure this is a positive for the polygamous households involved as the benefits system pays second and subsequent wives less in income support than it would to an unrelated non-dependent woman living in the same household . That will change with the introduction of Universal Credit, with the thousand or so people with legally recognised polygamous marriages contracted in Muslim countries set to be the big winners, as their second and subsequent wives will be treated as ‘single’ for the purposes of the benefits system.

    In any event, living in a polygamous relationship is absolutely legal – the state won’t let you contract marriage to more than one person but that’s different from saying polygamy is illegal. If I want to live with Suzie, Mary and Joan as my three common-law wives, and there’s no coercion or deceit involved, then the law has nothing to say on the matter.

    People are prosecuted for bigamy from time to time but, while I’m open to correction, that only happens in practice when a man deceives a woman into marrying while he’s already married to another woman somewhere else that he hasn’t told her about (and it very much tends to be that way around). As far as I’m concerned, yes, that definitely should be against the law. Call me old fashioned.

    Should people have the right to form incestuous relationships? Patrick Stübing and Susan Karolewski from Leipzig took a case to the European Court of Human Rights on that very subject, which was heard last year. The Court found that Germany’s prohibition of incest did not breach the couple’s right to a private life, partly because of the elevated risk of congenital abnormality involved, demonstrated by two out of four of Stübing and Karolewski’s children being severely disabled. I’m inclined to agree with the Court.

    However, Stübing had a vasectomy 8 years ago, no more children will be forthcoming, the pair continue to live together as a common-law couple, and one of their four children even lives with them. The authorities in Saxony seem to have decided as long as there aren’t any more severely disabled babies in the offing, there is no public interest in a prosecution. I’ve no doubt the authorities in most parts of the UK (NI possibly excepted) would take the same view and, again, I’m inclined to agree with the authorities.

    But not only would I prosecute people who marry siblings and have children, I would prosecute anyone marrying illegally close relations. Communities with high levels of first- and second-cousin marriage in the UK also have exceptionally high levels of congenital birth defects. But you go out and fly the flag for incest rights if you want.

    As for the siblings sharing a house – I agree this is a problem, and wonder whether something like the French PACS might be a solution? In London, it’s pretty common for two married couples or other groups of unrelated adults to buy a house together given the extreme costs of housing.

    I remember these cases being wheeled out by religious conservatives when Civil Partnerships’ legislation was going through the Lords 10 years ago, because they wanted to destroy any state recognition that being in a same-sex partnership might be something good and worth supporting.

    In the 10 years since, I have never heard a politician or cleric who was a Christian conservative bring the unmarried siblings cases up. All those people ever were to Christian conservatives were a stalking horse to have a go at gay relationships. Not one of the big Catholic or Evangelical campaigning organisations even mentions this issue on its website.

    Am I wrong to draw the conclusion that it’s because they don’t actually care about people in this sort of situation? All they care about is bashing the queers.

  • Charles_Gould

    I think that to argue that we should now let gays marry because it might lead to threesomes getting married is a commonly used objection. But the thing is that it seems unfair on gay people to use it as a reason, because we should treat that as a separate debate (and it is not a debate any threesomes seem interested in putting forward anyway).

  • sonofstrongbow

    It is an affront to the gay community for someone to introduce “fiddling with the neighbours children” [sic] into the debate. ‘Opening the door paedophilia’ has often been shamefully used against the gay community as an attack on their lifestyle. For an individual who claims to be gay to bring it up is truly offensive.

  • Granni Trixie

    Gerry

    Two wrongs do not Make a right. “Bashing the queers” (your terms) wrong, siblings living in same dwelling (or an unmarried couple,come to think of it) ought not to have to sell their home to pay inheritance duty. (Married couples can pass on to each other without paying tax).

    Or like Hugo, do you not care about anyone but LGBT?

  • Turgon

    hugodecat,

    “i have no issues with anyone campaign for their own equality i take deep offence at any comparisons being made to my relationship other than that of life long sexual relationships of two people “

    Many in different sex marriages may take offence at their relationship being compared to yours. Many in polygamous / polyadrous relationships may also take offence at their relationships being compared to yours. Many non sexually linked siblings may be offended by their relationship being compared to yours. Biologically related sexual relationship couples may also be offended at their relationship being compared to yours.

    All these people’s offenses: yours and the ones I mentioned are of no import. The issue here is equality.

    You seem to be raising two person non biologically related sexual relationships above those of multiple person sexual relationships, sibling sexual relationships and sibling non sexual relationships.

    It appears you would rage against the African condemning homosexuality: yet you rage against polygamy which is entirely acceptable in certain African cultures. You also rage against adult biologically related sexual relationships.

    That sounds remarkably like making moral judgements. Morality is different at different times and in different places. Equality is the issue here not morality.

    Incidentally I have not mentioned beastiality: the problem there is that the animal is not able to consent / with hold consent in a meaningful way. That said beastiality is legal in Germany and Russia. However, I am not arguing about morality but equality. An animal is not able to own property and as such it cannot be disadvantaged by not being alowed to enter into a civil partnership or marriage with a human. Try to stick to equality and leave out your personal morality.

    Gerry Lynch,
    The issue of polygamy is relevant as it is illegal to marry a second person in the UK.

    “If I want to live with Suzie, Mary and Joan as my three common-law wives, and there’s no coercion or deceit involved, then the law has nothing to say on the matter.”

    Multiple sexual partners are not illegal but why should at most only one of them enjoy the legal protections of marriage. Again it is simple equality.

    “But not only would I prosecute people who marry siblings and have children, I would prosecute anyone marrying illegally close relations. Communities with high levels of first- and second-cousin marriage in the UK also have exceptionally high levels of congenital birth defects.”

    You are simply factually incorrect there. Actually the risk of the children of first cousin marriages having major defects is about 2-3%. That is much lower than the risk of a couple who already have a child with an autosomal recessive abnormality (such as cystic fibrosis) having a further affected child (25%). If a parent has an autosomal dominant condition the risk to any of their offspring is 50%.

    The risk with siblings will undoubtedly be higher than first cousins (or unrelated couples). However, you are using the risk of malformed children to ban sexual activity and as I noted above the risk for individuals with certain illnesses is 50%. By your logic you would ban such people getting married. That is a eugenics nightmare.

    Not prosecuting biologically related couples if they do not have children is completely inequitous as well. That seems to hark back to exactly the position whereby homosexuality was illegal but the police would not bother to prosecute it. From a proponent of same sex marriage that sounds somewhat hypocritical.

    Again Gerry I suggest you use equality and facts in your argument rather than trying to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that homosexual couples have rights not afforded to other couples (civil partnerships) and will soon have a right currently only afforded to heterosexual couples (marriage). That leaves sibling non sexual relationships disadvantaged. Greater disadvantage accrues to polygamous and polyandrous groups and even more disadvantage to biologically related sexual couples.

    You it would seem would additionally ban first cousin marriages in spite of evidence that the risk of children with genetic abnormalities is lower than that for certain unrelated couples. Holding such a position in opposition to the evidence and in opposition to equality is unfair.

  • http://sammymorse.livejournal.com Gerry Lynch

    Sorry Granni, but if you read what I said, I did actually write that I supported provision for people in that position.

  • Joey

    Bit shocked to read this kind of thing on Slugger. Glad some commenting tackles the false equivalences (which also brings in cultures and religions they haven’t grown up with or believe in yet all the while wearing their values and views as their own) to shore up what seems to be an attempt to attack equal marriage rights for two unrelated loving committed partners in an ovlery smug attempt at turning the intellectual debate back on those who support gay people in their attempts to overturn that inequality.
    Very strange.
    At least the legislation is moving ahead, and in a few months it’ll finally be done and only Northern Ireland will stand alone in the past. And even then it too will come to pass here. And it’ll be a wonderful milestone, that will quickly pass as the economy or horse meat or whatever will REALLY affect other peoples lives, straight and gay, makes us forget about the debates and the wails of “won’t anyone think of the siblings?!”
    ;-)
    :-)

  • Charles_Gould

    Yes Joey it will come to pass in NI too. It feels as though NI takes a bit longer to get there – feels like it is aways a number of years behind England when it comes to attitudes to homosexuality. But young people are definitely changing their views rather rapidly on this.

  • Charles_Gould

    It will be interesting to see if SF is willing to push for this in the Assembly – they could easily make this one of their demands in negotiations.

  • Joey

    It’ll be even more interesting if the Alliance party will stop abstaining and stand up for what they believe in

  • Charles_Gould

    Joey – aren’t Alliance agnostic on gay union?

    Seriously, Alliance don’t have a power block. If SF decided they wanted gay marriage then they could make it part of a deal with the DUP. DUP would then vote for it on the grounds that some other trade off had been achieved. Would SF put enough importance on a non-nationalist issue?

  • Harry Flashman

    Ah yes the old “I find that offensive, so you’re not allowed to say it” argument, the great debate closer de nos jours. Whether you find some perfectly logical point offensive (or pretend to be offended) is irrelevant, the point is valid.

    Are gay people saying “let us in, but rest assured after we’re in we’ll pull up the drawbridge and no one else will get what we successfully demanded”?

    That is specious in the extreme, if you believe that marriage is an elastic term that no longer means what it has actually meant since the beginning of recorded history then you cannot say ‘thus far and no further’.

    There is absolutely no reason whatsoever that adult consenting polygamy should not be permitted on precisely the same grounds as gay marriage, the same applies to adult consenting incest.

    No. Difference. At. All.

    The same reasons for refusing polygamy and consenting adult incest are precisely the same reasons people have used to block gay marriage.

    Either marriage means a legally binding relationship between a man and a woman or it means whatever anyone wants it to mean.

    Simple peeps.

  • USA

    People on here attempting to link gay marriage rights to incest strike me as backward looking christian fundamentalist bigots who are desperately clutching at straw men arguements. Totally blinkered, shameful and pathetic commentary. Sooner their outdated obnoxious utterings are confined to the trash the better.

  • Granni Trixie

    For the record, Alliance are not ‘agnostic’on gay marriage in that internally it debated and passed a policy in favour. That two of its MLAs abstained in the vote is atypical of the views of the majority.

  • Harry Flashman

    “People on here attempting to link gay marriage rights to incest strike me as backward looking christian fundamentalist bigots who are desperately clutching at straw men arguements. Totally blinkered, shameful and pathetic commentary. Sooner their outdated obnoxious utterings are confined to the trash the better.”

    Wow USA, that really addressed the points raised didn’t it? If you can’t beat someone’s logic abuse and insult them, that’ll work.

    Care to explain why polygamous marriage which has actually a very long pedigree in history and is legally valid in many jurisdictions should be illegal while homosexual marriage which up until five years ago had never existed should be sacrosanct?

    As soon as gay marriage is passed how long do you think it will be before someone in a polygamous marriage puts in a legal appeal demanding recognition of their partnership? What valid reason could their appeal be denied other than on the same “specious” reasons which proponents of gay marriage have already overthrown?

    No, debating would mean you have to engage your logical faculties and that’s too much like hard work, just throw out a load of ad hominem utterly unsubstantiated abuse and insults.

    That’s so much easier.

  • PaddyReilly

    The proper function of government is to regulate what is already happening, and not attempt to issue rules which will not be obeyed. As certain men have decided that they want to marry other men, and certain women other women, then a democratic government has no choice but to capitulate to this state of affairs.

    Men who want to marry dogs, or rocks, or their sisters, have not yet sufficiently organised themselves into a viable constituency which can make such demands.

    What worries me is not gay marriage but gay divorce. I have known barristers who were quite happy to work with the most despicable of crimes, who were reduced to tears by the divorce courts. This despite it being the most profitable of activities, with the wealth of the divorced disproportionately ending up in the pockets of the divorce lawyers.

    As with every type of marriage, the ‘happily ever after’ brigade need to be balanced by the cynics and the pessimists.

  • babyface finlayson

    Hugodecat
    Broadly speaking,in principle there is no reason why consenting adults in long term relationships should not have the same rights as married couples.
    There are issues with the issue if we are talking about siblings, which would need to be properly aired and debated.
    I don’t believe Turgon is advocating in favour of equality for polygamous relationships, he is just throwing them in the mix to dilute the argument for homosexual marriage.
    If equality for same sex couples does highlight inequalities for other types of relationship,that is surely an argument for going on to address those inequalities,after addressing the issue of same sex couples.
    And if a new law inadvertently gives extra rights to same sex couples over heterosexual couples, well it is surely not beyond us to make the necessary amendments.

  • abucs

    The more I see of equality legislation the more I am inclined to reject both the legislation and the term ‘equality’ in favour of ‘fairness’.

    The problem as Turgon has alluded to in his post is that secular humanists believe fairness is a relative term and ultimately only a human cultural construction which is hard to have universal agreement on. This means issues of fairness are rejected in favour of ‘equality’ and for secular humanists equality then becomes synonymous with (and a substitute for) fairness.

    But then for Christians ‘equality’ is definitely a loaded term which through secular education (brain-washing) has pursued a secular humanist agenda and worldview to the detriment of other world views which are thus deemed ‘unfair’.

    In the secular humanist pursuit of their worldview to be underwritten by the state, other world-views are not just unfair, they become illegal when they are actively lived out.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Charles Gould :

    If SF decided they wanted gay marriage then they could make it part of a deal with the DUP. DUP would then vote for it on the grounds that some other trade off had been achieved.

    You must be new here.

  • Harry Flashman

    You know perhaps the most galling aspect of this debate is exemplified by the holier-than-thou attitude displayed by posters like hugodecat above.

    It’s hard to know whether to laugh or gasp in astonishment at the bare-faced hypocrisy of his pompous assertion that his particular sexual proclivities are so much morally superior to those of others.

    A man whose own sexual preferences were regarded as a deviant crime well into my adulthood (and is still a crime where I live today whilst polygamy is perfectly legal) deems that any comparison between his consenting, adult sexual partnership and another form of consenting, adult sexual partnership is, yes obviously, “offensive”!

    I mean what the fu…? So the idea that what consenting adults choose to do in the privacy of their own bedrooms only applies to gays now does it? Gay suddenly went all mainstream and Daily Mail on us did it?

    Get over yourselves folks, if it’s ok for the consenting adult gays then it’s ok for the consenting adult polygamous and incestuous partnerships.

    You can’t have it both ways, if you’ll pardon the expression.

    Some of us would like to hold out for a traditional, sensible, normal, rational, English-language definition of what marriage means but if you want to smash down the gates then don’t complain when others come charging in behind you.

  • http://sammymorse.livejournal.com Gerry Lynch

    Some of us would like to hold out for a traditional, sensible, normal, rational, English-language definition of what marriage means but if you want to smash down the gates then don’t complain when others come charging in behind you.

    I don’t see anyone charging in behind me. What I see is a bunch of homophobes inventing straw men because their central argument is so weak that even they don’t make it anymore.

  • Harry Flashman

    Gerry I’m not a homophobe, ok? So drop the ad hominem insults, it seems that such abuse is the only fall back that the pro-gay marriage lobby has in its arsenal. Try debating the specific facts, it would suit you better.

    If you and others so confidently dismiss the logical points I make as “straw men” and “offensive” (yawn), then punch holes in them.

    If you abolish traditional, normal marriage in favour of gay marriage what is to stop further extensions? Is the basis of marriage the sacred number of two? If you abolish the absolute fundamental, rock-solid basis of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, what is so special about the number of partners?

    What ethically is the difference between polygamous marriage, already practised in many societies, and gay marriage, a relatively new invention? Why is one to be sacrosanct in the west and the other to be regarded as an abhorrent aberration?

    Try debating the points raised, stop the personal abuse of those who choose to disagree with you.

  • Keithbelfast

    Harry, PaddyReilly made a point which I have to agree with.

    “The proper function of government is to regulate what is already happening, and not attempt to issue rules which will not be obeyed. As certain men have decided that they want to marry other men, and certain women other women, then a democratic government has no choice but to capitulate to this state of affairs.

    “Men who want to marry dogs, or rocks, or their sisters, have not yet sufficiently organised themselves into a viable constituency which can make such demands.”

  • Joey

    Well said Gerry :)

    It’s a weird mixing up of the separate debates and issues of; religious marriage vs civil marriage, government vs church, western culture vs eastern culture, couples vs less “traditional” family units, and catch all exasperated what-if arguments vs acknowledgment a right finally being won*

    Regarding the idea of SF/DUP trading off on this thing; as Sherlock would say “What a tender world that would be”. :P

    Seeing them speak on Spotlight last week I don’t see Unionists getting past their religious objections. And it was weird seeing that one lady didn’t even know the current state of the law regarding civil partnerships regarding religious symbols.

    It may have to be through European courts, or some such mechanism, that they’ll be forced to allow civil marriage for all. Hopefully not. Hopefully it’ll be through the other elected officials supporting it and pushing it through.

    Either way it iust adds another feather in their cap for a regressive stance on civil rights (the other being for women’s rights over abortion).

    Glad when it’s all over and it can go the way of interracial marriages; by becoming unexceptional and mundane :)

    *well in a few months time, or right now in Canada, South Africa, Spain… etc

  • http://sammymorse.livejournal.com Gerry Lynch

    If you abolish the absolute fundamental, rock-solid basis of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, what is so special about the number of partners?

    This is a red herring. The only people talking about legalising polygamous marriage are people opposed to same-sex marriage.

  • BarneyT

    I managed to struggle through about 30% of this over-intellectualised article before feeling the urge to decapitate myself as a result of boredom.

  • Harry Flashman

    Simply saying “red herring”, “straw man”, “offensive” does not actually rebut a statement of fact Gerry.

    It’s the debating equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and saying “Nya! Nya! Not listening”.

    The only people who are bringing up the obvious elephant in the corner of polygamous marriage may be people opposed to gay marriage for now but do you seriously believe that won’t change?

    You may not be aware of it but there is a very sizable demographic in the United Kingdom for whom polygamy is an acceptable societal norm.

    Currently such marital arrangements are illegal in the UK, how long do you think after the passing of gay marriages do you think it would be before someone from that community issued an appeal to the court of human rights on the right to have his polygamous marriage officially recognized?

    It’s not a red herring, it’s a massive issue regarding society’s position on inheritance rights, women’s rights, welfare, immigration and so many important issues.

    To state the bleedin’ obvious does not make one a homophobe Gerry.

  • Harry Flashman

    Actually Keith the state does not simply regulate what is already happening, if it chooses to do so it can outlaw or seriously restrict what is already happening or encourage it if it wants to.

    If this wasn’t the case we’d all still be smoking when visiting hospitals and driving home drunk when we felt like it.

    PaddyReilly is the only person who has brought up marrying rocks or dogs, no one else has. That is what Gerry might refer to as a red herring.

  • PaddyReilly

    No, Hugodecat mentioned goats (which are admittedly not dogs) and siblings on 24 February 2013 at 7:29 pm. I added rocks, because there are two famous rocks in the sea off Malaya (or is it Japan) which the locals felt had been together so long they should be married, and attached a nuptial rope between them.

  • PaddyReilly

    This was not in fact a red herring, but a refutation of a red herring.

  • Kevsterino

    The fact is that traditional marriage, ie lifelong commitment between a man an a woman, has been in decline for a hundred years or more. So now the gays want to make a go of it?

    When I was young I had more gay friends than I do now. AIDS had a lot to do with that. But back then, they spoke of marriage like it was a peculiar form of human bondage they had no desire to emulate, and they celebrated their rejection of such things. Things appear to have changed considerably. And my understanding of the gay community diminished accordingly.

  • John Ó Néill

    Turgon – I’ve read that two or three times now and I still cannot think of how you managed to plough a route from gay marriage through polygamy to incest, linking those subjects in a way that couldn’t not be offensive to gay people.

    I thought the proposal, such as was made, was for UK civil partnership legislation to be replaced by legislation allowing same-sex marriage. That idealised civil partnership legislation you describe that would with the needs of society in the north (as opposed to what exists in Britain), is actually in force a short drive from you in the south.

  • Newman

    I think the problem is that in the name of equality we are formalising an emotional bond between 2 people in an equivalent way to that which is traditionally confined to marriage. Historically marriage as an institution was much more focused on the raising and begetting of children. If it is to be confined to an emotional bond then the question is legitimately asked-“well why not other types of emotional bond”. I think the question is more…Does a mother and a father contribute something different to the development of a child which is worth protecting or does it not really matter? We are still at the beginning of this social experiment and the jury is out on the longer term effects of raising children with 2 mums or 2 dads. Of course 2 parents displaying selfless love towards a child is bound to.be a better environment than a broken home, but the question remains as to whether there should be legal equivalence legally between traditional marriage and same sex marriage. I think it is reasonable to ask the question. You cannot redefine morality based on a fragile social consensus and this is where the issue differs so fundamentally from racism where there is an overwhelming moral and social consensus.

  • USA

    Harry,
    See Babyface Finlayson above (8:35) for my response.

  • Joey

    Marriages sometimes are without children. It’s can be just as much an emotional bond as an environment for raising a family for straight couples.

    So I guess as it exists at the moment it’s already this ‘experimental’ bond.

    The common denominator is partnership and love. That’s marriage. It’s what has been around before books or prophets or gods.

    The questions asked about right environment for children with same sex parents has been answered in dozens of interesting articles from, or about gay family life. Recently read one on Huffington Post, worth a Google.

    The idea it’s all some transitory social curiosity is how lots of racial equality must have been looked at. And now it’s seen as the obvious moral and social consensus it’s a shame it didn’t happen sooner, or indeed at all.

  • Newman

    I think your comparison with racism is not accurate. From time immemorial the argument that all peoples tribes and nations had equal dignity was a moral impulse which although resisted in many societies was eventually accepted. There is no such equivalence with sexual orientation. Granted there is growing liberal consensus based on Freud which emphasises the importance of sexual expression but though Freud may have won the sexual PR war the new idea has not had universal currency because it has failed to move religion which for all its faults is still at the core of our civilisation

    Secondly as much as the Huffington post may have conducted various polls and vox pops we are several gererations from seeing how this brave new world has materialised

  • abucs

    My position is the state should get out of marriage altogether.

    I refer to the previously stated danger of having one section of society try to use the state to underwrite their worldview. If we are moving to a more pluralist position, then the state needs to remove itself as an enforcer of what constitutes marriage.

    If someone, anyone, wants to call themself married and have whatever ceremony they wish, i don’t really care.

    I start to care when the state underwrites that view with legal consequences of not agreeing with that view.

    The state has to be careful in not forcing an unwanted and un-agreed morality on people. Those people will turn around and then become enemies of that state.

    We should know in Northern Ireland that such a situation is not a good position.

  • Joey

    The enormity of one groups freedom versus the other is the biggest difference for sure. It’s a freedom still, from any laws holding back, or keeping separate, a minority group to live like the rest of us.

    None of it is based on Freud. His assumptions and hypothesis may he the go-to theory for laymen on Sex but it’s nowhere near as important or influential in modern psychology and psychiatry. At most a simplification of one corner of the wonderfully complex work that is our drive for intimacy and playing out desires. And way too obsessed with the anus in general anyway! Jeez, that man was obsessed with it!

    Saying Liberals are running with his theories then is close to … Conspiracy theory? Certainly old Freud hadn’t crossed this mind recently. Do want to watch that film with Fassbender playing him though, don’t know if it’s any good.

    The family structures and the children who’ve grown up in them have materialised. And they’re no different, there’s no reinvention of the wheel. There’s the two persons who love each other and children, begotten or adopted. All under one roof. Familiar? Why of course!

    Again the experiences are there to read today (or tomorrow as it is quite late). The grown up children of the first waves of gay families are off to raise families and have careers none the worse for their two mums or two dads. No need to wait a vague number of generations to come back for consultation. Look how quick we can see the effects of other social barriers coming down or changing; say like first generation immigrant families settling in, and being made welcome.

    When we have equal marriage here in a few years there’ll remain a, hopefully, dwindling minority citing morality and primacy of religion, a certain religion as reasons to still rail and wail against it. But just like in Canada or whatever country passes it the reality sets in, that it’s just normal families, getting on with it. And anyone still grumbling or talking conspiratorially of effects on morals or the like will presumably just look ridiculous when society hasn’t come crashing down around our ears.

    Basically, we’re an adaptable species. Sure we can manage :-) And we certainly now don’t need to wait long for the moment when it changes from something variously heralded or foreboded, to something we can focus on, well, forgetting to fuss over :-D

  • Joey

    It is wanted by persons who want to be married but can’t because of their same sex. It won’t be forced by simple virtue of the fact you don’t want gay marriage? Don’t get gay married.

  • Joey

    Hi abacus

    Do you feel religion should stay out of marriage too? Should it just be a civil arrangement but like you say without the government or churches, mosques, etc?

  • Harry Flashman

    @Kevsterino

    “back then, they spoke of marriage like it was a peculiar form of human bondage they had no desire to emulate, and they celebrated their rejection of such things.”

    I too am gobsmacked by this massive volte face, I recall my gay friends who thought life was one wild ride of hedonistic pleasure, they scorned conventional morality and sneered with derision at the bourgeois concept of marriage. “Breeders” was the contemptuous term they had for such saddos.

    I alluded to this change in my “mainstream and Daily Mail” comment. Suddenly gays are absolute moral prudes desiring marriage and a nice little suburban life, and steadfastly defending family values against incestuous and polygamous partnerships; consenting adult sexual relationships that they condemn from their high moral standpoint as (of course) “offensive”.

    The gays are the new Colonel Blimps, who’da guessed it?

    @Newman

    “I think the question is more…Does a mother and a father contribute something different to the development of a child which is worth protecting or does it not really matter?”

    To which the answer is an absolute and unequivocal “Yes!”

    Time out of number (no matter how much the social engineers of the Left try to massage the figures) it has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the overwhelmingly favourable basic social unit is the family based on Mum and Dad married to each other in a long term committed relationship.

    Is every such family perfect? Of course not. Do many of these families fail? Of course they do. But we are not talking about individual families but the greater society, the interests of which government is supposed to be protecting.

    The social engineering of the Left (while all the time pretending they are just reacting to a situation which has already occurred) for the past half century has devastated families and wrecked whole swathes of society. To pretend that this further hollowing out of traditional families is just a response to an urgent need for justice and equality in a sorely put upon community is nonsense and an insult to anyone’s intelligence.

    No one ever demanded gay marriage until five or ten years ago. The concept, especially among gays was laughable. To pretend now that this latest Fabian assault on traditional families is simply a matter of justice and equality is unadulterated nonsense and hogwash.

    Be assured as soon as gay marriage is on the books the Fabian social “reformers” with their salami tactics will be back again with another further attack on traditional families.

    Maybe it will be polygamous marriage, maybe even legalizing consenting adult incest, the logical corollary of which has been pointed out by me and which none of the gay marriage advocates has actually been able to rebut (shrieking ” that’s offensive!” like a Victorian maiden aunt doesn’t count as successful rebuttal).

  • abucs

    Hello Joey.

    We have come from a shared view of society that is Christian. Hence the sense that the state could underwrite shared values. There is no longer a strong united shared value in the west and thus the idea of the state deciding what marriage is, is no longer is a good one, nor does it make sense.

    In my model if the Church decides what a marriage is, nobody is compelled to agree with them or live by their standard.

    What i have warned though in the current proposed model is that if the state decides to normalise gay relations then in whole suite of fields from schools to adoptions to stated ideas on homosexuality to business services to professional counselling and more, it becomes a matter of legal enforcement of a certain viewpoint. That is not a good thing.

    To the poster who says everything will just settle down in a few years when we see that society is not falling down – society in my opinion is actually failing. Most western countries can’t even replace themself and the standard of family strength and stability is crashing on many indices. This is causing lots of problems in my field, which is education with poor school results mainly due to poor behaviour because of family breakdown. Society in my opinion is failing. We have simply come from an entrenched rich base where we can temporarily survive on poor ideologies that we have mistakenly thought progressive.

    I keep going back to the communist experience where most of this secular humanist rubbish comes from. Take God out of society and try to build community around the state and progressive ideas and the place falls apart not by any external threat but by the incoherence and forced morality of the Godless state.

    If we are not going to go down that same road then secular humanists have to look at their insistence on the state underwriting their views and their arrogance in imagining when we all become better people we will agree with them.

  • Comrade Stalin

    abucs,

    If we are not going to go down that same road then secular humanists have to look at their insistence on the state underwriting their views and their arrogance in imagining when we all become better people we will agree with them.

    I’m confused. Do you want the state to define marriage, or not ? If not then aren’t you suggesting that it should be disestablished completely as a piece of civil law ?

  • Harry Flashman

    CS

    That of course is the logical outworking of this social engineering, “marriage” will be an elastic term used to define any partnership that the current batch of social engineers approve that week (and as I keep pointing out and no one has been able to gainsay my point, there is a much bigger market for polygamous marriage in the UK than the absolutely infinitesimal number of gays who want to get “married”) .

    Clearly men and women who wish to have what they regard as a real marriage will go about their own business and create their own institution, probably based on their religion called “holy matrimony” or some such, entirely separate from the mish-mash of social feelgooderism created by the state.

    And good luck with the apartheid state you have then created, the left’s social engineers simply never know when to stop do they?

  • Joey

    Success of society these days (or centuries) is more about the wonderfully godless ideas and principles of making money rather than One True Religion steering it.

    (Not to mention developments like soap! And penicillin! And science!)

    It smells of conspiracy theory to point to (godless?) Commies for starting secular humanist ideals (Wait, so Carl Sagan was a sympathizer?!).

    Think many people over the Millennia would like the Church to have been less all-powerful and more progressive and open to new ideas. Early Mathematicians and Astrologers for example ;)

    Hey, we’re talking about equal marriage for same-sex couples. How come we’re on the theme of Downfall Of Society? Are you saying they’re linked??

    (The financial and social fallout from simply flying, or not flying, a flag in a city fits that narrative better than acknowledging gay people want families legally recognized in the same way as straight people).

    One last thing I would like to share; let’s turn to Wikipedia….

    Wait, wait, I know! I know it’s a dodgy place for knowledge (but a Fantastic place to learn about 80s children’s shows).

    What can be useful are the links and citations.

    On the same-sex marriage entry there’s an interesting section; Studies and Polling. It’s worth looking through to read the various linked studies and polls; they are full of data and analysis (with no talk of morals or crumbling societies helmed by wreckless godless liberals ;) In other words, a bit of science and fact based research. :D )

    Worth a look. It may not convince you, but as God says in all major ‘western’ religions, Knowledge is good. (Muslims are urged to read the Bible and Torah for example). Consider it canon fodder for future discussions. From what I saw there’s no negative, detrimental, effect on families brought up in a same-sex household. Canada and America mental health groups also speak highly in favour of it.

    Wish I was more eloquent (and concise) like other commenters here!
    Anyway, time to sit back and await the equality / fall of society. Anyone taking bets?!

  • Kevsterino

    Harry, there has always been a distinction between a church wedding and a civil ceremony. No guarantees in this modern world, of course, but for those who subscribe to religious ideals, getting God involved is something they find helpful.

    As for what civil society calls same sex unions, to me that is a matter for the community to decide. I can see no right to be married in my own country’s basic law, so I leave it to my state, or to the people. At least that way I stay within the bounds of the Constitution. As for you guys, it seems it could get decided in London for folks who live outside of England. I think I would have a problem with that, if I lived there.

  • http://andrewg.wordpress.com Andrew Gallagher

    I’m confused. Do you want the state to define marriage, or not ? If not then aren’t you suggesting that it should be disestablished completely as a piece of civil law ?

    An interesting question. I would err towards the latter – marriage is at root a private contract between two people (note to the naysayers above: dogs and stones cannot sign contracts). However, the state does have a role to play as the arbiter of contract law. Any inheritance rights or parental duties can be formulated in terms of either the marriage contract or the legal responsibilities of parents and guardians regardless of marital status.

  • abucs

    Hello Comrade,

    sorry it’s taken so long. Yes you are correct. We are no longer a united society. There is no reason why the state should arbitrate on social conventions such as marriage and force its citizens to accept the ‘cultural morality’ that has come from a small section of society from early and middle 20th century academia.

    Hello Joey.

    You talk about the Godless ideas of society driving progress. This is not true. Again here is an example where the invented morality of equality has done us wrong.

    If we think it is moral to treat all religions the same then we can get into trouble. If we have Christianity which is front and centre in the Western drive in medicine, science, charity, education, arts etc etc then to fulfil what we now define as ‘moral’ our education systems cannot teach this connection.

    In fact our education systems can be places where we actively invent and distort history in order to discredit Christianity and make it low.

    It is much easier to treat all religions the same if you think they are the same.

    In academia there is a fuzzy line between treating all religions the same, thinking all religions are the same and then making all religions the same.

    I am constantly amazed that people have gone through secular education (which can include sister Irene and brother Michael) and come out thinking Christianity is no more important than any other religion and religion really not important at all. In fact many think it is a problem and immoral and unsubstantiated arrogance to suggest Christianity is special / true. In short people have been radicalised and pointed to march in an aggressive secular humanist ideology in the name of what is progress.

    Very few stop to think that they have simply come out of an education system that set out to make them that way in the first place and what has been defined to be ‘modern’ progress needs to be questioned very strongly and whose results need to be viewed against those countries who last century went down that same modern ‘progressive’ path.