Defining marriage

A human rights challenge for recognition of a Canadian gay marriage of a Yorkshire lesbian couple has been rejected in the High Court. The ruling defined marriage as “an age old institution” that was “a means to encourage monogomy and the procreation of children, to be nurtured in a family unit with both maternal and paternal influences.”

  • Jo

    A marriage of 2 lesbian women or 2 gay men isn’t a contradiction in terms. Its definition will become more flexible as reality intercedes.

    The union of two women in marriage can and does nurture monogamy – its rather offensive to assume that women are less likely to practice mongamy in this union than heterosexuals – 50% of whom diossolve their their marriage over time, due more often than not to a failure to maintain monogamous relations.

    The procreation of children in a same-sex marriage is entirely possible without breaching monogamy and the nurturing of such children is without paternal input isn’t, by definition, a bad thing. In short lesbian marriage both encourages both of the qualities and the terms of which this ruling defended marriage between heterosexuals. The law once again resembles the proverbial ass.

  • Keith M

    I look at this from a very different standpoint. I do not believe that the state should have any role is reconising the relationship between two people. Everyone should be treated as an individual.

    Things like interheritance tax etc., should be based on the value of the estate and not the relationship of those involved.

  • Animus

    Being age old isn’t much of an incentive is it? Wife-beating may be age old and encourage monogamy, but most of us wouldn’t call it a winner. And just because ‘most people’ argue for something doesn’t make it right. Most people might choose to bring back hanging, but that’s not really a legitimate argument for doing so.

    Marriage doesn’t encourage people to have children, although people who want children often marry, in part because of the stigma and the penalties which arise from being unmarried (for example, an unmarried father cannot register the birth of his child by himself, whereas a married father can).

    Having read the article though, I can see a difficulty between the differences between marriage and civil partnership. Marriage Jo’s right, it will change. I am married but the ceremony was identical to what is offered to civil partnerships. So is it a matter of semantics? I decided on monogamy well before marriage and with no intention of procreating. Being married has had no influence on keeping me monogamous (I am monogamous through choice, not because I suddendly remember I am married).

    The high rate of divorce and relationship breakdown attests to the fact that marriage isn’t working for a large number of people, so holding onto these quaint idealised notions of what it should be is woefully out of step with reality.

  • Jo


    It is the legal equivalent of “It is old but it is beautiful”? 😉

    Marriage may have “encouraged”
    monogamy historically but its effectiveness in that regard has been somewhat compromised in recent times. Clinging desperately to a traditional definition of something used to be isnt helping it fulfil its wider function when the institution itself does not command the respect it once did.