Equal Marriage-An issue for liberals and conservatives to rally behind.

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There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation

Those words came from the Former Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, when he introduced a bill in Canada decriminalising homosexuality. While yes, three thousand miles away I think those words should matter to the issue that our MLAs are debating this week.

I am typically a conservative minded person, like most conservatives I like incremental, organic change. Over the past few years the lobbying for marriage equality has gained traction and like many people I have had to seriously think about whether this change’s time has really come. After all, if you’re a conservative, surely it is important to maintain traditional institutions? This for me seems to be where many people are coming from in regards to their opposition to this proposal. Yet, as Burke famously said

A state without the means of some change is without the means of its own conservation.

Since the creation of the Welfare state, conservatives regularly complain about the interference of government in their daily lives. However, we have before the assembly a proposal that will, in my view, get government out of the bedroom and amazingly some of our most conservative MLAs are opposing it. I appreciate the religious concerns and the other biblical fears that some have, but as Kevin Rudd illustrated last September, these arguments do not hold water in 2014.

I support Equal Marriage, because of my conservatism, not in spite of it. Those core values that the individual should have the right to pursue their own life, liberty and happiness without hindrance from the state underpin my thinking. If two individuals want to enter into a voluntary union, then why should the state stop them? Why should I have the right to judge them? I cannot see the infringement on any other person’s liberty in this scenario, nor can I see how society is being undermined.

Like Conservatives did with slavery, they should be championing this as the major civil rights issue of our generation. Conservatism should be about liberating the individual from state infringing on their liberties, not upholding injustice.

Marriage Equality’s time has come and should be backed by all thinking people from the liberal and conservative side of politics. If you’re an MLA, who prides themselves on these values and are planning to vote against, then you need to really sit back and ask yourself, why you are permitting the government to continue with this mission creep. The simple fact is, it is none of the state’s business, until the liberty of others is infringed. Conservative MLAs should be lining up in the Aye lobby tomorrow voting to bring equality to system and allow many deserving couples-the life, liberty and happiness that they have been denied for far too long.

 

 

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  • Turgon

    Let us be clear this is not equal marriage: this is discrimination in favour of certain homosexuals over and above all others. This may or may not be acceptable but is not “Equal” Marriage.

    Firstly homosexual marriage as it pertains in GB is not exactly equal to heterosexual marriage. The rules regarding non consummation as a grounds for annulment are different. The rules around divorce for infidelity are also different.

    That may be a minor and pedantic issue. However, greater inequality also exists.

    Currently in GB homosexual couples are able to avail of both civil partnerships and marriage. Heterosexual couples are only able to have marriage. That is discrimination against heterosexuals. Attempts were made to address this issue but failed centrally one suspects as the government did not want the potential loss of inheritance tax etc.

    Both marriage and civil partnerships (with the assorted tax advantages) are available to homosexual couples. This discriminates against non-romantically / sexually linked individuals who have built a life together. This pertains especially in farming communities where siblings may have worked together for decades, shared what little prosperity there has been yet after the death of one (usually the eldest male) the other ends up with tax liabilities.

    Turning to the issue of sexual love and relationships. Polygamous groups are excluded: this is an inequality. Marriage of one man to more than one woman is accepted in many cultures throughout the world and in a few marriage of one woman to several men. It is actually a criminal offence here. That is a clear inequality. It may not be culturally what we are used to but lack of provision for it and indeed criminalisation of it is a clear inequality.

    At least sex within polygamous relationships is not illegal. Sex between adult consenting biologically related individuals is a criminal offence. Not only can they not marry nor have civil partnerships but they are criminalised for sexual acts. Claims that this can be excused on the grounds of risk of deformity in children are perverse as by such token various couples who have children with genetic defects should be banned from sex lest they have children and certain individuals with autosomal domination conditions would have to be banned from sex as well.

    Once one decides that marriage should be equal – and I have made no comment on whether that is right or wrong- there are many other groups apart from non biologically related homosexual couples who need to be included along with non biologically related heterosexuals. Some may be regarded as gross, “icky” etc. but those are simply manifestations of people’s personal morality. That is not a grounds for lack of equality let alone criminalisation.

  • Newman

    This is not Burkean politics but post modern libertarianism, a phenomenon which elevates personal choice and so called autonomy as the supreme virtues of any western society. The fact is that marriage between homosexuals and heterosexuals is different if one includes within the definition of marriage the procreative as well as the unitive aspect appears to be glossed over. Words mean what I want them to mean. The main interest the state had in marriage was the protection and stability of children. Most societies believed that where possible kids did best with a mother and a father. They brought something different to the equation. This has now been reduced to being loving which fails to address the question..does a mother make any difference or is it equally valid to have 2 fathers. Frankly we are generations away from knowing the answer because the evidence of children raised in same sex relationships is not sufficiently commonplace to be objectively assessed. Unfortunately, we have now reached the stage with breathtaking speed where even to raise the question is to be viewed as a homophobe. To disagree with same sex marriage is equated as disagreeing with racism. Whatever else there is reasoned debate to be had. What we now face is not the evolving consensus of a society that has considered the issue but a fragile consensus built on the indignation and moral outrage of a metropolitan elite.

  • Coll Ciotach

    I agree with the above, I have not heard anything that is argued by proponents of SSM that cannot be turned back on it. Equality? nope, just allowing another subset into the club.. Love – nope, consanguinity.

    I would like to ask a broader question, why does the state do marriage at all? After all if you believe that the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation why are people trying to legislate for it?

    Is it time for the state to stay away from marriage but allow some sort of social contract to enable issues such as inheritance and taxation?

  • Turgon

    Coll Ciotach,
    I think that is a very fair point. Historically the state has discriminated heavily in favour of different sex non biologically related couples with benefits for what they have called marriage.

    If we are going to change that in the name of equality Newman’s points above are relevant. If, however, after that it is decided to change then the most equal and appropriate strategy would be for the state to allow any persons with the ability to give legal consent to form civil partnerships with any other person or persons also able to give legal consent. All those civil partnerships should the attract the same priviledges.

    This would then leave marriage as an issue for the assorted faith groups to mark as they saw fit between whichever persons they saw fit.

    That would be proper equality rather than the further change to but not reduction of discrimination.

  • Granni Trixie

    My immediate reaction to the issue as it arose in public discourse was why not? Live and let live.
    I was quite surprised at the sound and fury it evoked not least by political parties.

    Clearly accessibility to marriage matters for the contentment of some gay people just as it does for some heterosexuals so I readily agree to the necessary legal changes.

    I think you have to separate out the problems which this issue directs us to, for example, the anomalie of the tax disadvantages to unmarried couples or those who live together in non sexual relationships (siblings,friends etc). I would opt to have them treated as equals with married couples.

    When it comes to marriages of say three people, or man and animals I suppose I would be opposed on moral grounds even if this is not fair in their eyes (My culture,my rules) and I do not think it fruitful to use such cases in arguing for SSM (or even S&M).

  • Dec

    Right just so we’re clear, ‘certain homosexuals’ shouldn’t be favoured over those who wish to marry their sister or an alsation? Ok then.

  • Barnshee

    A storm in a tea cup

    Allow “same sex marriage”

    Allow Churchs to opt out

    End of

    “The main interest the state had in marriage was the protection and stability of children”

    Well up to a point the whole purpose of the White dress big day out – vows etc in front of a largist body /assembly has/had the prurpose of reminding the participants that this was a serious business

    AND

    The main interest the state had in marriage was that it shouls be maintained and the costs of children should not fall on the State

    Its all a conspiracy

  • Coll Ciotach

    Never liked those Alsatians – they fought on different sides in the world wars I heard – turncoats – bet Lundy’s people were Alsatians

  • Coll Ciotach

    If the costs of the children do/should fall on the state were does the responsibility/duty of care rest?

  • Turgon

    Granni Trixie,
    “When it comes to marriages of say three people, or man and animals I suppose I would be opposed on moral grounds even if this is not fair in their eyes (My culture,my rules) and I do not think it fruitful to use such cases in arguing for SSM (or even S&M).”

    Therein lies the problem. You are using personal morality: that is very variable within and between cultures. Some would regard all sex outwith marriage as immoral; some that homosexuality is moral but polygamy moral; some that all consensual sex is moral.

    If you are using morality fair enough but you must realise that that is extremely subjective and subject to change. Furthermore it is assuredly not equality and as such describing the proposed advantages for certain homosexuals as “equal marriage” is disingenuous.

    Dec,
    It is unclear why non biologically related homosexuals (or opposite sex non biologically related couples) have the right to equalities not granted to polygamous groups nor to biologically related partners whether they be same or different sex. Provided all are able to consent morality not equality, seems to be being used as the decision making strategy which as I stated above is not equality.

    Furthermore no one is proposing criminalisation of non biologically related homosexual relationships. Formalising polygamy in a marriage contract is illegal and sexual activity between biologically related first degree relatives is a criminal offence: I believe that applies to homosexual as well as heterosexual biologically related couples.

    Your and Granni Trixie’s comments about animals are also a straw man. An animal cannot provide valid consent so the equality principle is not relevant (though as an aside sexual activity with animals is legal in for example Germany and Russia).

    We are talking here about consensual adult human relationships. The initial quote stated “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation” If that is truly to apply then sexual realtionships between consenting adult brothers, sisters or parents is no business of the state. To suggest otherwise is grossly unequal.

  • Turgon

    Sorry above should read:
    Some would regard all sex outwith marriage as immoral; some that homosexuality is immoral but polygamy moral (others the opposite); some that all consensual sex is moral.

  • notimetoshine

    I would question why any gay man/woman would want to get married in Ni with the bigotry and outright hatred that permeates our society in regards gay people, but there are obviously some couples who are brave enough to withstand the nonsense and fair play to them.

    I think the whole argument is over analysed. They are consenting adults, not hurting anyone nor are the destroying the fabric of society (there aren’t that many gay people and even less who may want to marry) so just let them be happy.

    The arguments used against same sex marriage could easily apply to mixed race marriage as well, some people are just afraid of anything different, of anything that challenges their long standing fear of those who are born different to them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/northdownvoice NorthDownVoice

    There is very much a place for the State in the bedrooms of the nation, when what happens there is not between consenting Adults,

    However generally speaking what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own home (bedroom or playroom) where they are not harming themselves or others should be no one else’s businesses

    tomorrow we debate again marriage equality here and the DUP have laid a petition of concern.

    I have a concern that all gay people are looking for is parity of esteem and equality with peter Robinson, out 1st minister, and to fail to give that equality is perverse and an abomination.

    actually marriage is a lot more than betweeern a man and a woman,

    1st it is a voluntary union
    2nd its between a man and a woman (your point)
    3rd its for life.
    4th it’s to the exclusion of all others

    that is the legal definition laid down by James Plaisted Wilde, 1st Baron Penzance in 1866 case of Hyde-v-Hyde a polygamy case. 4 elements to the definition, note no mention of it being for the purpose of raising children.

    The DUP know that the party leaders marriage consists of only 3 of those 4 elements,s ince he told the tv audience about his wifes affair is still considered a marriage, and as 3 of those 4 are all that same sex couples need, a refusal to give equality on grounds of sexual orientation is the matter in hand

    its not about a man and a woman any more its about equality to live in equal relationships under a definition.

    The definition does not need to be complete as our first ministers marriages shows us for heterosexuals, demanding that it should be complete for same sex couples is perverse . This is the discrimination. .

    Canada, part of the British Commonwealth has had the legislation for 12 years, yet the moral fabric of that society is intact, no clambering for polygamous marriages, proving the claims by TUV’s Jim Allister and others to be scare mongering.

    Its going to come here sooner or later, why waste so much public money delaying it. More marriages = more cakes = more catering jobs

  • Charles_Gould

    I respect both sides point of view on this issue, but I think it’s wrong to use a petition of concern on a matter like this.

  • Dec

    Turgon

    Since you’re a fan of the bible I can understand your fascination with incest and polygamy. However, we’re talking about neither here, only the right of two people to have the right to marry each other irrespective of their gender.

  • GEF

    Dec,
    in a hetrosexual marriage there is a husband and a wife. In a gay marriage which one is the husband and which is the wife?

  • notimetoshine

    I doubt we will ever get equal marriage provisions, unless of course direct rule is implemented again, anyone got a handy crisis?

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    GEF,

    With all due respect, that’s a silly question. Have you ever heard the word “spouse”?

  • dodrade

    Given that Civil Partnerships are gay marriage in all but name, what is the point of them when gay marriage is introduced? They should either be opened up to hetrosexual couples or abolished (to new couples).

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’m in favour of deregulating marriage completely and having some sort of civil contract. Churches can do as they please, and can continue to exercise the right to decide who may or may not take part in their ceremonies – just as they currently do today.

  • GEF

    MisterJoe, Gays must have some problem with the terms `Husband & Wife, they want them removed altogether, but I don’t see the word “Spouse” used here in their place.

    Gay Marriage: Reforms Will Remove Words ‘Husband’ And ‘Wife’ From Official Documents

    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/03/16/gay-marriage-husband-wife-reform-same-sex_n_1352751.html

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    GEF,

    From the document you linked,
    “Instead of the gender specific terms husband and wife, official forms will feature the words partners or spouses. “

  • GEF

    Its become a bit of a joke, I see the words Bride and Bridegroom are also been deleted in this proposed reform paper. maybe the the gay movement should join the feminist movement who fought to have firemen referred to as firefighters, policemen as police officers, manhole as utility hole etc.

  • Coll Ciotach

    There my be a point in this husband and wife thingy. Their are legalities involved as you would expect. For example the wife owns the marriage cert as it confirms the husband did indeed marry her

  • http://www.wordpress.ianjamesparsley.com IJP

    Although I agree with the answer in the article, I fundamentally disagree with the working.

    The point is that it is for the State to determine who may get married – it’s a fundamentally State thing (although I’m actually with Comrade Stalin on this, ultimately).

    Because it is fundamentally a State thing, it should be liberalised free from church interference. It’s a Liberal argument, actually.

  • Newman

    And what limits if any IJP would you place on the State’s determination. What should inform that determination ? Is there any moral dimension to what the state determines? Is the Church not entitled to propose what it deems best for the common good?

  • notimetoshine

    @Newman

    You mention the common good, but I would suggest that gay marriage is not going to have a negative impact on society, in fact I doubt it would have much impact on society except hopefully making it a bit more tolerant of peoples differences (especially important in NI.

    Gay marriage is at worst a neutral influence at best a positive influence.

    But I do think that the whole issue is over complicated.