Soapbox: Making marriage sex-neutral is a huge cultural loss to our community

David Smyth is public policy officer at the Evangelical Alliance and here lays out a case against making marriage sex neutral arguing that there is an elision between the terms marriage and wedding which redefines the committment of hetrosexual couples whether it is inside a faith community or outside.

Same-sex marriage is a sensitive issue. It’s all about identity, relationships and belief and these are things we all care deeply about. There have been some very personal stories from people on this site in recent days and this piece is offered graciously and respectfully.

This debate about marriage is essentially about competing views of the common good. Advocates of same-sex marriage see ‘equal marriage’ as foundational to a more equal and just Northern Ireland. Those who wish to see marriage continue as a uniquely opposite-sex relationship are also driven by a vision of an equal and just Northern Ireland. We want to see everyone cherished and protected under the law and are not convinced that redefining marriage is the best way to achieve this. We simply disagree with the conflation of marriage, sexuality and equality.

Marriage as presently defined in Northern Ireland legally unites a man and woman with each other and any children born from their union. Some couples have children outside marriage, some have no children for various reasons and to be clear procreation is not itself a condition of a valid marriage.

However same-sex relationships can never in themselves lead to the creation of new human beings. In this way marriage has played an important role in the social cohesion and ordering of society across time and place. While marriage has changed over time it has, until now, remained sex-specific. Many people see great value in retaining a unique cultural and legal understanding of a unique relationship between a man and a woman.

While my view on marriage is informed by my faith, this belief is not confined to any one particular religion or brand of politics. Phrases and language like homophobic, anti-equality and regressive used against those who choose not to advocate same-sex marriage are politically loaded and deeply unhelpful. Just as a minority of Christians will seek to accommodate same-sex marriage to their faith, a significant minority within the LGBT community are not in favour of same-sex marriage.

This uncomfortable truth negates the simplistic mantra of ‘equality’ as the trump card for change. Discussions about marriage and the common good are not well served by simplistic campaign slogans. The rights, mental health, wellbeing and struggles of young people who identify as LGBT are important concerns for everyone in society. Conflating this with marriage is deeply unhelpful.

The campaign for ‘equal marriage’ implies that marriage is currently an inequality, an injustice to be corrected. Many people do not accept that the marriage relationship is an injustice. Some people say that nothing is lost for heterosexual couples if marriage is redefined. Marriage rights simply extend to more people. I disagree.

Married people can no longer identify in a uniquely heterosexual legal relationship. Gay couples can continue to do so through civil partnerships. The relationship which married couples entered into has been radically redefined around them because it is suddenly deemed to be a relationship of inequality. Same-sex marriage, while advocated on the basis of community and equality, is a product of reductionist, Western post-modern thinking.

Making marriage sex-neutral is a huge cultural loss to our community in this part of the world.

Opponents are told that redefinition is just about civil marriage and that Churches won’t have to marry same-sex couples. This belies a complete misunderstanding of what Christians believe marriage is all about. Our concerns go far beyond which ceremony the State will ask the Church to carry out, although I think there is very good cause to be concerned.

Marriage is much more than a wedding. We need to separate the ceremony from the marriage. One ceremony may be religious, the other not, but when the confetti has settled and someone describes themselves as married, the broad cultural and legal understanding is the same whether in Church, in work or in the pub.

The argument that Christians should not be concerned about marriage beyond the Church doors is like saying to many people concerned about welfare reform, ‘Don’t worry about the impact of welfare reform, as long as it doesn’t affect your home’.

The State has never been concerned with the quality of love between married couples and marriage defined between a man and a woman in itself casts no negative value judgement on the love or worth of any other relationship. The State is involved in the administration of marriage certificates, in much the same way as they issue birth and death certificates.

Marriage pre-dates the Christian Church and the modern State and in this moment the State is overreaching it’s powers by attempting to claim ownership of marriage and redefine it. Western states are seeking to reduce the total sum of marriage to a State sanctioned service, a legal contract.

The State is at liberty to address any perceived inequalities by legal modes of relationship which it does control, such as civil partnerships.

There are obviously issues around the petition of concern and we know that it is being looked at as part of the restructuring proposed in the Stormont House Agreement and the current talks. This is welcome. The DUP have come in for a lot of criticism for lodging a Petition of Concern in this latest vote.

It is worth remembering that the SDLP and Sinn Féin used a Petition of Concern to block welfare reform changes and proposals around the A5 dual carriageway. Alliance and the Green party also used one with Sinn Féin to oppose a proposed change in where abortions could be carried out. To be clear the Evangelical Alliance is not party political and the decision is ultimately a matter for the DUP.

However, they may well argue that same-sex marriage is a cross-community issue, having been contacted by both Catholics and Protestants asking them to vote against the motion. Despite Catholic Church Bishops issuing an open letter to every MLA, 100% of Nationalists in attendance voted in favour of same-sex marriage. There is clearly a democratic disconnect between some members in our community and the elected representatives they are traditionally associated with voting for.

Finally on the petition of concern, it has been argued that it exists to protect minorities from discrimination. Religious belief and sexual orientation are both protected Section 75 characteristics. Orthodox Catholic and Protestant Church teaching leads to an understanding of marriage as between men and women. Proponents of same-sex marriage cannot have their cake and eat it.

Under the current system and on the terms proposed by them, if opponents are a (cross-religious) minority then representatives reflecting this view are entitled to use a petition of concern.

As I said at the outset this is a deeply sensitive issue which touches upon identity, relationships and beliefs. My hope is that the public conversation continues in such a way that gives respect to these things we all care about.

,

  • Jeffrey Peel

    I think you’re reading too much into the word ‘marriage’. Marriage is a social construct that people ‘buy into’ for a variety of reasons. For example, I’m an Atheist and am married. I know people who are married and have chosen to have no children. I know of people who were married and are now divorced. In short, the definition of ‘marriage’ has been stretched and revised all over the place by different people with different definitions of what it actually means. It’s no longer just about the nuclear family – it’s about all sorts of things. Like religion itself, and language, marriage is a fluid concept that nuances over time. No-one owns it. Rather everyone owns it. It’s a social construct. Therefore, if people want to get married who are gay, who are you to say they can’t? Who is anyone to say they can’t? Why should heterosexuals deny marriage to people who aren’t? That’s no more logical than people of religion denying Atheists the right to marry. The law reflects society and this society is increasingly of the view that marriage is no longer the preserve of heterosexuals. You may not like it but that’s just the way society is now. And it’s good that it is.

  • Ernekid

    ‘While my view on marriage is informed by my faith’

    Interestingly, Same Sex Marriage isn’t mentioned at all by Jesus in the New Testament. He doesn’t speak out against it at all, as Same Sex relationships were pretty common amongst his contemporaries in the Roman Empire during the 1st century AD. He must of been aware of life long Same Sex Partnerships so he must have had no problem with them. What he does say is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

    Same Sex Marriage do not affect Heterosexual marriages in anyway whatsoever. Marriages as a social institution predate Christianity by a long while. Variations of the concept have existed in every sort of human society throughout recorded history. Christians don’t have a monopoly on the concept.

  • Gaygael

    I look forward to responding to this over the weekend.

  • David Elliott

    I think a little perspective would be useful. Before 1184 & the Council of Verona, no specific ritual was prescribed for celebrating a marriage: “Marriage vows did not have to be exchanged in a church, nor was a priest’s presence required. A couple could exchange consent anywhere, anytime.” (See ISBN 9781576079874 ) . So for over 1,000 years since Christianity began the Church was not especially involved in marriage. Decrees on marriage of the Council of Trent (twenty-fourth session from 1563) made the validity of marriage dependent upon the wedding taking place before a priest and two witnesses. So Church ‘marriage’ has only been available for one fifth of the history of the Church. Therefore it is difficult to argue that it ‘belongs’ to the Church.
    As for Biblical marriage we have Abraham married to Sarah, but his son happily conceived by his slave girl. We have Solomon with hundreds of wives and concubines. (So much for being the smartest guy who ever lived). Samson unsuccessfully tried all sorts of relationships with the women in his life. We could go on. The Apostle Paul goes for monogamy as a lesser option for Church Overseers (abstention preferred) not necessarily for everyone.
    Many Churches now marry divorced couples.
    We have forced marriages, arranged marriages, wives forced to obey husbands through marriage, violence in marriage, recognition of rape in marriage, child marriages, civil marriages, polygamous marriages, various marital age limits, various marriage legalities etc. etc. It’s fair to say – ‘Its complicated’. Society should determine what it may or may not determine as ‘marriage’. The Church which was quiet on the issue for over 1,000 years will of course have a view. So it seems marriage has merrily changed over the two thousand years of the Church. Perhaps it may do so again.

  • AndyB

    There’s a factual inaccuracy in there…

    The State is not merely “involved in the administration of marriage certificates.” Rather, it is responsible for the administration of all wedding ceremonies in Northern Ireland, as I commented the other day. The State licenses ministers of religion to carry out the ceremonies, and it carries out all the necessary checks to ensure that a marriage may lawfully be entered into – the minister of religion’s role is to declare the marriage, and to confirm to the State that the ceremony has been carried out properly. They no longer act as Registrar in any shape or form.

    Saying that “married people can no longer identify in a uniquely heterosexual legal relationship” seems irrelevant to me. The significance for me in being married to my wife lies in the vows she and I made to each other – and that as a Christian, they were made in church before God. Those vows of commitment and love are not affected in any form by whether other people can legally call themselves married or not.

    The only threat I see to traditional marriage is those who are not faithful to their marriage vows, either through adultery or through abusing their partners and family members – and desperately sadly, Christian couples are no more immune to this than any other sort of couple. I know too many examples.

    To defend traditional marriage requires that married people take their vows to love each other seriously, and don’t abuse each other, physically, emotionally or in any other way.

    Failure to do this will inevitably make complaints about equal marriage – something that can’t conceivably affect the sanctity of a marriage between a man and a woman – ring thoroughly hollow.

  • Korhomme

    Thanks for confirming the position I tried to get across a couple of days ago, that the Church has only recently become involved in the marriage business—recently in the sense of a few hundred years out of two millennia.

    A shameless puff for what I wrote:

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2015/11/04/so-just-what-is-traditional-marriage-anyway-a-short-history/

  • Korhomme

    I saw your point a couple of days ago. I’m still trying to get my head around it.

    Is it now the case that all marriages in N Ireland are civil (contracts)? I understand that a cleric declares a marriage; previously he (she) was an agent of the Registrar, but no longer. Is this more than a technical change? And what is the place of canon law—I have the Catholic Church particularly in mind. Do they accept that civil law is above canon law?

  • barnshee

    Call it homosexual marriage, same sex marriage etc and let people be joined as they see fit. Then save Marriage for the churches

  • AndyB

    I’ve just had a look at the Marriage Order (NI) 2003 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/nisi/2003/413

    It does separate religious and civil marriage, to the extent that an officiant may be nominated by a religious body to solemnise marriages, but their responsibility is limited to certifying that an “appropriate declaration” has been made by the couple that they accept each other as husband and wife and that it has been witnessed, and that the order of service is permitted by the parent religious body.

    Otherwise, the only substantial difference between the registration of a civil and a religious marriage is that since a Registrar officiates at a civil marriage, nobody has to deliver the marriage schedule to the Registrar.

    The main difference from the pre-2004 situation was that the State’s only involvement in religious marriage was to issue licences to get married where at least one partner was not a member of the Church of Ireland – registration was carried out by the church, and two members of the Church of Ireland could marry each other by banns rather than licence.

    The effect of the 2003 Order appears to be as I’ve interpreted, ie that the State authorises everything official to do with the wedding ceremony: the date (but not the time), officiant, and location.

    There were consequences for the liturgy of each church, partly because there is no longer a need to ask the congregation if anyone present knows of a reason why the marriage cannot take place, but I don’t believe that any church has had to change the form of the bride’s and groom’s vows to meet the legislation.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    I respect David’s opinion and his right to his own view of marriage.

    But fundamentally, the problem here is this. Why is it David’s view, and not mine, that must be reflected by the State ? Why is my view – which accommodates David’s – lesser than David’s view, which cannot accommodate mine ?

  • murdockp

    read this twice now and it makes little or no sense.

    the writer comes across really badly on this one, a real ‘ I am better that you’ attitude.

    hard to understand how people like this can be defined as Christian when they don’t practice thier beliefs the way christ would have done. I don’t remember christ condemning people because they were different. his writings teachings were all about welcoming people into the flock without conditions.

    I reckon christ would have supported gay marriage if he lived in 2015.

  • Korhomme

    Thanks for that and the link; I would really need the regulations put into plain English. It’s all really a side issue in this debate, though still interesting as a way that ‘marriage’ continues to change (or should that be ‘evolve’?)

    Doesn’t really answer my Q about civil versus canon law. Can anyone assist?

  • murdockp

    the biggest threat to marriage is cohabiting heterosexual couples . not gay people

  • Robert Smith

    ‘While my view on marriage is informed by my faith’

    Sorry David but what you’re actually doing is hiding your own distaste for same sex marriage behind a fig leaf of religion. No-one follows absolutely all the pronouncements, laws and diktats mentioned in the bible, nor could they. The only course is to cherry pick those which suit your own particular prejudice.

    This is in itself a form of moral cowardice. If you don’t like the idea of gay marriage or indeed gay people in general, at least have the guts to say so. The very small number of gay people who wish to be married in NI will affect your existence not one bit. You have every right to voice your objection and attempt to justify it, while everyone else has the right to ignore you.

    Following this week’s vote, the DUP are now the only reason equal marriage is not legal across the UK and Ireland. Polls consistently show two thirds or more of the population in favour, very similar to the ROI. With expensive legal action now the only realistic option, it’s inevitable that equal marriage will be introduced here sooner or later. All the DUP can do is delay the inevitable, mis-use petitions of concern and generally confirm the view that NI is a puritanical little backwater. Their views and your own on this issue are the views of a democratic minority and as someone mentioned above, certainly do not suggest the spirit of Christianity as personified by Christ himself.

  • Peter L

    He never mentioned bestiality either.

  • Peter L

    Your argument simply makes marriage meaningless because it can mean basically anything you want it to mean.

  • AndyB

    Cohabiting heterosexual couples are no more of a threat than married gay people.

    Abusive married people are the threat.

  • AndyB

    Alas, I do not know my Roman Catholic canon law!

    What might help is that the 2003 Order did not affect the right of a minister of religion to refuse to marry a couple (in fact, the notice of marriage requires that they sign at least one person’s (the other being left blank in case of emergency replacement) to confirm their consent to officiate.) Whether it’s a matter of church policy (for example, divorced couples or living together) or lack of connection with the church or congregation, nobody is entitled to a religious marriage, and that is still the case.

    A brief look at Wikipedia suggests that the Catholic Church may still require dispensation to some degree to recognise a marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic, whether conducted in a Catholic church or not, but it seems to me that is a matter of recognising marriage for the purposes of being a member of the Catholic church, as opposed to recognising whether two non-members are married to each other.

    Whether most churches will ever recognise a homosexual civil marriage at a denominational level is another matter altogether.

    It reminds me, though, of a point I was making at the time the legislation was proposed for GB – what is more important? Whether my friends can legally call themselves married (at no cost to any straight person’s marriage, but never mind that,) or whether my other friends can afford to feed themselves and their families?

    Some might say the churches should have done one without neglecting the other, but more effort seemed to go into opposing equal marriage. Priorities?

  • jm

    “We simply disagree with the conflation of marriage, sexuality and equality.”

    That’s fine I simply agree with the notion that if a person
    wants to marry the person they love, then they should be able to do so. It is
    still a pretty cultural commonplace in Northern Ireland, I think anyway, that ordinary people aspire to falling in love and getting married. It is both a fairly
    common and a beautiful aspiration why would gay people be any different in
    wanting and deserving it?

    “The cultural concept of marriage will naturally shift”

    So what? It has shifted before and will again.

    “Many people see great value in retaining a unique cultural and legal understanding of a unique relationship between a man and a woman.”

    No, I think the correct wording would be a minority of people
    see great value in retaining a unique cultural and legal understanding of a unique relationship between a man and a woman.

    “a significant minority within the LGBT community are not in favour of same-sex marriage.

    This uncomfortable truth negates the simplistic mantra of ‘equality’ as the trump card for change.”

    No it doesn’t. Just because some people don’t want to do something doesn’t negate that other people would prefer to marry and are currently unable to do. Again falling in love and marrying is not out of the ordinary in Northern Ireland, but if your one true love is the same sex of you, you can’t. It is just not equal really is it?

    “The rights, mental health, wellbeing and struggles of young people who identify as LGBT are important concerns for everyone in society. Conflating this with marriage is deeply unhelpful.”

    Now this is just mean. Poor struggling young gays, you don’t want to be filling their heads with the notion that they could get married like ‘normal’ people, do you? Balls.

    “Married people can no longer identify in a uniquely heterosexual legal relationship.”

    Again so what??

    “The relationship which married couples entered into has been radically redefined around them because it is suddenly deemed to be a relationship of inequality.”

    I’m always crying into my dinner that I’m in a heterosexual
    marriage and it’s a terrible state to be in, what with the gays pointing at me
    and calling me nasty names. Wise up.

    “Finally on the petition of concern, it has been argued that it exists to protect minorities from discrimination. Religious belief and sexual orientation are both protected Section 75 characteristics. Orthodox Catholic and Protestant Church teaching leads to an understanding of marriage as between men and women. Proponents of same-sex marriage cannot have their cake and eat it.”

    I have trouble with this. Are you, a Christian, really in a discriminated against minority in Northern Ireland? Is it not still basically a Christian country what with our betters in Stormont happy to lead us all in the Christian way? You weren’t
    born a Christian. You were indoctrinated into it and live in a country where you are free to practice your faith to your heart’s content. And you can marry
    whomever you want, unless you’re a gay Christian, of course.

  • notimetoshine

    Iirc these religious types objected to civil partnerships as well. They really seem to have very little if any regard for the gay people of this country, citizens just like them.

  • Gaygael

    Thanks for the piece David. I welcome your tone.

    I welcome your profession of equality under the law. This is a relatively new departure for your
    organisation, but it is graciously and respectfully accepted. The Evangelical
    Alliance has opposed every move and legislation toward lgbt equality in the UK.
    Some of the local organisations responses are available here.

    https://www.eauk.org/northern-ireland/consultation-responses-archive.cfm

    It also championed the recent Conscience Clause Consultation
    by Paul Givan of the DUP. As a handy reminder, this would have allowed only
    those of faith, the right to refuse goods, facilities and services, to only
    LGB(T) people, if it meant ‘endorsing, promoting or facilitating’ same-sex relationship.

    I fully support your right to faith, and that includes how
    your faith observes, conducts, ordains and practices marriage. In equal measure
    I support my and all others equal right to freedom from it. Other faith groups
    by necessity require freedom from religion, so that they may practice their own
    version, rather than be dominated by another interpretation of faith. Each induvial
    faith should have the freedom to observe, conduct, ordain and practice
    marriage. There must be no compulsion for any faith group. They must be led by
    their own conscience. This is an exemption afforded by the carful nuance of
    balancing freedoms and responsibilities inferred by rights. And this will be
    core to any legislation.

    The state however, is an entirely different matter. It must
    be led by equality. The state recognises many variations and permutations of
    marriage that some faiths do or don’t recognise. Divorce is the case in point.
    Some faith groups recognise it, others don’t. And just like officiating a same
    sex marriage, no faith will be forced to conduct a marriage of a divorcee if
    they choose not it. It’s really that straightforward. The campaign groups have
    been exceptionally clear for a number of years, that the freedom of religion is
    core to any legislation. This has been incorporated into the first motion and
    successive motions thereafter.

    Just like Catholics and other groups that don’t recognise divorce,
    they were opposed to its introduction. Now they have learned to live with it
    without it affecting their expression of religious freedom. You deliberately flaunt the fear that churches
    will be forced. Same-se marriages in Spain, Canada, Belgium and Holland, which
    have all been enacted over a decade ago, have never compelled a church to marry
    them against their will. This reinforces the analogy with divorce.

    Marriage does indeed predate Christianity and ancient tribal
    and pagan and other religious cultures practised same-sex weddings, marriages, unions
    and ceremonies. You should also be aware that there are differences between
    civil partnership and marriages. If you wish to have this discussion in a respectful
    manner, let’s be clear about the distinctions and differences. There are differences
    in survivor pensions, prohibition from faith groups conducting them, issues in
    relation to immigration and until former Minster Poots was beaten repeatedly
    and successively in the court on it, adoption.

    The spirit of the use of the petition of concern is to
    protect minorities against discrimination by the majority. That has been turned
    on its head in this instance. It has been used, misused and abused in this
    mandate by almost all. The DUP alone account for 75% of the use, and have used
    it over 80 times. 5 of those were in relation to marriage.

    I see this as an equality issue as do some of the political
    parties. Some see it as a conscience issue, which I presume you support? Then
    call for a free vote?

    I concur with your assessment of a democratic disconnect.
    The SDLP has a policy in favour which allows abstention. This was taken by
    Alban Maginnis solely of their 14 MLAs, although previous times others had
    opted to abstain. The party sees it as an equality issue, as do SF, and Green.
    They both have a policy in favour with no abstentions. So do Alliance. But they
    operate it as a conscience issue allowing MLAs a free vote. The UUP allow a
    free vote, but the issue is they are hugely unrepresentative, with only 1/13 in
    favour. The brave Andy Allen. The DUP don’t allow a free vote. That is hugely
    unrepresentative and we know there are DUP MLAs that would vote in favour or
    abstain if allowed. I see that you only draw attention to the over
    representation on the nationalist side. What about the fact that only 4 of 56 Unionist
    designated MLAs voted in favour. If they were reflective of wider unionist
    opinion, that should be 30 or so. Do you support the DUP, ‘the party of conscience’
    allowing a free vote? I think not. That is an unfortunately selective approach.

    The democratic disconnect is the use of a mechanism meant to
    protect minorities instead used to block their equality. There is no justification
    of its use beyond the fact that they can, as clarity is not given to its intended
    use. Yours is a very tenuous grasp at cover for the only remaining obstacle to
    bringing forward equal marriage. I don’t think it would be wise to hitch your
    campaign to a denial of democracy. The
    logical outcome of your rationale is that any issue that conservative Catholics
    and conservative Protestants agree on opposing should be subject to a petition
    of concern. That would be a huge stretch that would further erode confidence in
    democracy here. We are a democratic state, not a theocracy.

    Poll after poll after poll has shown ever increasing numbers
    of people by a significant majority support a change in the law. The majority
    of Assembly members support a change in the law. This number will only grow and
    in the make up of the next assembly there are likely to be more voices in
    favour.

    The only thing currently blocking it is a DUP veto. We go to
    court if we have to, but we would rather that legislation was hammered out and
    organisations and faith groups could help shape the protections and freedoms as
    defined by other jurisdictions on these islands.

  • notimetoshine

    They try and couch the ‘debate’ in philosophic and moral terms, with lovely kind language and kind sentiments. However they fundamentally just seem to be unable to let some people have their day.

    It doesn’t affect them,it is none of their business. Gay marriage isn’t going to change their lives or their families. Yoou don’t even have to lik the gays just mind your own business.

  • Gaygael

    Parlimentary report saying that Christians are not persecuted in the UK and that

    http://www.eauk.org/current-affairs/publications/clearing-the-ground.cfm

    “Christians in the UK are not persecuted. To suggest that they are is to minimise the suffering of Christians in many parts of the world who face repression, imprisonment and death if they worship, preach or convert. The recent wave of Christians in the courts does not in and of itself demonstrate that Christianity is badly treated. However, the frequency and nature of the cases indicates a narrowing of the space for the articulation, expression and demonstration of Christian belief. Some of the legal activity, associated campaigning and media coverage has been unwise and possibly counter-productive to the positive role that Christians play in society”

  • jm

    Thanks for the link 🙂 and I admire your measured tone and excellent content in your response to this post.

  • I’ve changed a couple of words at the end to…

    My hope is that the public conversation continues in such a way that gives respect to the people we all care about.

    Yet again it always alarms me that there is so little focus on the above in a debate so heavily influenced by faith, which I always thought was defined by compassion.

  • Korhomme

    I don’t know (Catholic) canon law either. I’m aware that things like marriage, and particularly divorce, that once came under canon law are now in civil law. I have the very distinct impression that the (Catholic) Church feels that it’s canon law is above civil law, not in anyway below it; it’s quite possible that this varies depending on the State. It’s clear now, that in the UK, the authorities expect civil law to prevail, and that ‘hiding’ behind canon law is not acceptable.

    A secular state would encompass the freedom of religion—the state will not interfere in your religious activities, but also the freedom from religion—meaning that religious principles, faith, belief, dogma should form no part of civil law. We have some way to go.

  • Korhomme

    “The only course is to cherry pick those [bits of evidence] which suit your own particular prejudice.”

    This is the “Crime of Procrustes”; it’s picking the data to suit your opinion or theory.

  • Jeffrey Peel

    Marriage has been revised constantly over the centuries and has survived. This is a good article to show how much it has changed. http://theweek.com/articles/475141/how-marriage-changed-over-centuries

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Gaygael: your piece is as always thoroughly researched, exhaustive and politer than Smyth’s hot air deserved. My only thoughts are that if that was the best that the EVANGELICAL Alliance can spout then their retirement is clearly overdue. Can anyone sue under the Trades Descriptions Act?

  • Ernekid

    Peter are you honestly trying to equate a consensual legal agreement with two adults with bestiality?
    Really? ?

  • Nigel Watson

    Hi David

    I read your article 3 times & genuinely struggle to get your argument.

    I’m married (with 3 kids) for nearly 25 years…I have a good friend (Belgium) who was one of the 1st “gay marriages”, he was I think the 1st gay divorce in Belgium and has since remarried

    I think I could construct an argument (not a proper real argument, but for a MB!!) that said his divorce “weakened” the institution of marriage…but I genuinely struggle to see how I can make the same argument for his marriage

    I struggle to see how a small number of gay marriages has any significant impact (good or bad) on society in general…I think it just doesn’t really matter

    I think this is the core problem that you have…in any everyday sense it just seems like no big deal at all

    I have heard lots of stuff said about kids & gay parents…I have in my head that in the UK there are around 100,000 “families in crisis”…code I think for kids getting bad parenting (doubtless for a wide variety of reasons)…I imagine the number of these families with “gay parents” is either zero or close to it…again in the context of the amount of current bad parenting “gay marriage” seems either irrelevant or vanishingly small as a concern

    You seem like a nice man, arguing your point of view politely…it just seems to lack any substance

  • Hugh Davison

    Peter. You’re not thinking of marrying a sheep,are you? Who (or what) would inherit the property?

  • PeterBrown

    Because that would be as nonsensical as assuming support for something or even neutrality towards it from merely not mentioning it?