Let’s just overlook for a moment that a medical doctor expressing political opinions on a medicine-oriented blog is totally unethical. The problem is that the less desirable elements in UK society – the bigots – are latching onto gay-bashing as a hobby these days, presumably because they’re no longer allowed to say nasty things about immigrants, Jews/Muslims, Catholics/Protestants or coloured people. Atheists are fair game though. Trans people, of course, don’t exist and should stop this silly dressing up right away.
This particular Eugenesque idiot goes by the moniker of Peter Saunders. I feel a quick shooting-down of his more egregious outpourings is in order. The post is entitled Ten reasons not to legalise same sex marriage (via ‘Blog this’).
Britain is coming under increasing pressure to legalise same-sex marriage. A consultation on same-sex marriage closed in Scotland in December 2011 and a new consultation is being launched next month in Westminster to consider how legalisation should proceed in England and Wales.
That’s the background, for non-UKians. I confess a small interest, as I participated in the Scottish consultation.
As a Christian I believe that marriage is a divine invention. It was God who first said that it was ‘not good for man to be alone’ and who created the unique complementarity of the marriage relationship for companionship, pleasure, procreation and the raising of children – one man, one woman, united for life (Genesis 2:24).
Yes, that’s very nice. You can believe that as a fundamentalist Christian if you wish. However, the context is not religious marriage, but equal civil rights.
Marriage is also in this way illustrative of Christ’s own self-giving abandonment to his bride the church (Ephesians 5:31, 32) and points to a greater richness of human relationships beyond the grave of which the very best on earth are but a pale shadow.(1 Corinthians 2:9, 10).
Firstly, we only have the word of people who never met him that Jesus never got laid and secondly, that paragraph doesn’t make much sense. Unless it’s the usual claim that if you’re gay you can’t possibly feel love, only bestial lust. From someone who claims to be a doctor, that amount of judgemental bigotry is frightening.
But Christians should also have confidence that there are many strong arguments for not redefining marriage that make sense to those who do not share our faith. Here are ten.
*Assumes expression of polite interest*
1. Marriage is the union of one man and one woman
That is indeed the current legal definition in the UK and it only dates from 1866, which means we fall a smidgeon short of the “throughout history” that Saunders follows up with:
Throughout history in virtually all cultures and faiths throughout the world, marriage has been held to be the union of one man and one woman.
Complete nonsense. It’s not even the Biblical definition: see Mrs. Betty Bowers for further details.
Hope that made things clearer. Next erroneous statement:
The UN Declaration of Human Rights (article 16) recognises that the family, headed by one man and one woman, ‘is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State’.
That is incorrect. Article 16 does not specify that a family is headed by one man and one woman (and a big hello to all you struggling single parents out there, while we’re being obnoxiously faux-Christian). Article 16 reads:
- Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
- Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
- The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
There is no definition of family as being headed by one man and one woman. Actually, that sounds familiar. Senator Al Franken? I think you’ve already addressed this (video).
2. Same sex couples already have civil partnerships
So do heterosexual couples in some countries. However, only marriage has a chance of being recognised internationally some day. This is just a desperate cry of “I don’t want them to have equal rights. Mommy, tell them they can’t have equal rights!”
3.Redefining marriage without consultation is undemocratic
This should be fun. Usually commentators point out that if equal rights for women or blacks had been put to the vote in a referendum, they would probably have been defeated. In my opinion this is a human rights issue (equality, non-discrimination) and therefore, since the UK is a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and passed the Human Rights Act in 1998, it is simply a case of adjusting current legal definitions rather than making a huge change to the law.
Legalising same sex marriage to appease a small minority is wrong and it should not be foisted on the British people without proper consultation about whether rather than how it should be done.
Forbidding equal rights to marriage to appease a small and very vocal religious minority is wrong, Peter, and their views should not be foisted on those who do not share them.
4.Equality does not mean uniformity
“I don’t want them to have equal rights. Mommy, tell them they can’t have equal rights!”.
5.Protecting traditional marriage safeguards children and society
This is an outright lie that has been debunked many, many times. The same argument is used to force people to stay in loveless or abusive relationships (usually to the detriment of the children), ostracise single mothers and generally justify being a sanctimonious tit.
I went to a training session provided by my local LGBT group. Over half of those present were also parents, or even grandparents, and determined to be good ones. Are you claiming that the mere fact of having a gay/trans mother or father puts children in deadly danger and that Society may collapse at any moment?
6.Marriage is a unique biologically complimentary relationship
Not only can this twit not spell – it’s complementary – but he’s confusing marriage with sex. Marriage is not a prerequisite for procreation. That’s the meeting of two gametes in favourable conditions for gestation. I suppose even sex isn’t really a prerequisite since artificial insemination and IVF were developed, although you probably shouldn’t expect too much finesse from a guy who seems to believe at least one member of the human race was capable of parthenogenesis.
7.Redefining marriage will be complex and expensive
Really? In the US states where same-sex marriage has been authorised, it’s reportedly generated lots of income from all the extra wedding activity. No doubt later on it will also generate lawyer revenue from a few divorces, but that’s how the cookie crumbles. Some couples last forever, others fall apart after a few years and it’s not always easy to predict which will be which. As for all the scaremongering talk about it opening up “a legal can of worms“, do me a favour.
8.Schools will be forced to teach about the new definition of marriage
Under existing education law schools will be required to teach children that marriage can be between a man and a woman, between two men or between two women.
And this is a bad thing?
This will confuse children whose parents may wish to teach them according to their own values and worldview. Those parents who object could be undermined in their children’s eyes, stigmatised as homophobics and bigots and prevented from full involvement in schools.
Perhaps if someone doesn’t want to be stigmatised as a homophobe or bigot, they shouldn’t behave like one? Incidentally, if you apply the same argument to racism, or the anti-contraception crowd, or even the lunatic anti-vaccination movement, it makes as much sense. Schools exist to teach children to think clearly for themselves, not to perpetuate prejudice and ignorance. “Protecting” children from the knowledge that their elders might be assholes is doing no favours to either the children or their parents. After all, reasonable people will revise their opinions when presented with evidence that their fears were groundless.
9.Redefining marriage will not stop with same sex marriage
Here we go. Equal rights for all will lead to bestiality and the collapse of society. I’ll go into the details this time:
In Mexico same sex marriage was followed by two year fixed term marriage.
I’m given to understand that fixed-term marriage was a long-standing Celtic tradition until fairly recently. It’s likely quite a good argument can be made for it; for a start, divorces could be so much more amicable. Cheaper too, probably.
In Canada legalising same sex marriage has led to supporters of polygamy demanding in the courts for their unions to be recognised.
Possibly. There is no logical reason for such a request to be rejected out of hand, so if this is true it merits study of the legal, social and psychological implications. And yes, all that has already been done with same-sex marriages.
If the legal definition is changed to accommodate same sex couples other minority groups with a vested interest (eg. Muslims, Mormons, Bisexuals and Polyamorists) will have a much stronger case to argue for the legalisation of polygamy and group marriages. The best defence against this is to keep the legal definition of marriage unique and distinct – ‘one man, one woman, for life’.
Yes! Sooner or later it was going to ooze out of the closet: Islamophobia and – what’s the word for Mormon-bashing? Is there one? He hasn’t the foggiest idea what the word ‘bisexual’ means; someone tell him it’s not the same as ‘bigamist’. We get it: the idea of polygamy/polyandry gets him foaming.
10.Redefining marriage will lead to faith-based discrimination
WHAT? Where does he get this from?
We have already seen a rising tide of discrimination against people who support traditional marriage as a result of the legalisation of civil partnerships coupled with new equality legislation.
Ah, they have recognised relationships, so it’s ruining mine: “I don’t want them to have equal rights. Mommy, tell them they can’t have equal rights!” You should get on great with some of those walking caricatures running for the GOP nomination, Petey-boy.
If same sex marriage is legalised faith-based employers who provide special health benefits to married employees would be required by law to extend those benefits to same-sex ‘spouses’.
Yes, yes, in the same way that the Catholic Church has been forced to accept women priests. This is complete hogwash. No religious organisation is going to be forced to do something against its precepts. I suspect that by “faith-based employers” you really mean “bigoted people like me who have tacked the name of a faith onto the name of an organisation in the hope of being allowed to ignore the law”.
They would also face lawsuits for taking any adverse employment action – no matter how modest – against an employee for the public act of obtaining a civil ‘marriage’ with a member of the same sex.
Actually, that wouldn’t change anything. Discrimination is already illegal in the UK, and it doesn’t matter if you’re firing or demoting someone because they want to marry a person who is black, or a Christian, or gay. It’s wrong. It’s also not a very Christian attitude. We’re told Jesus wasn’t big on judging people (Matthew 7:1 and Luke 6:37).
Faith-based adoption and fostering services that place children exclusively with married couples would be required by law to place children with persons of the same sex who are civilly ‘married’.
Adoption being a public service that is supposed to be carried out with the best interests of the children at heart, then yes, I personally think it’s a damn good idea that religion and other narrow-minded doctrines are kept well out of it. Imagine an adoption service run by – I don’t know, say osteopaths – that only placed children with people who use osteopathy. Or football fans. Or vegetarians. It doesn’t make sense. The adoption agency’s ultimate goal must be to place the children with people who will love them and take care of them. Deliberately excluding perfectly good prospective parents from adoption is unethical.
Marriage counsellors from faith backgrounds would be denied their professional accreditation for refusing to provide counselling in support of same-sex ‘married’ relationships.
If you’re providing a public service for a secular employer, that seems perfectly reasonable. Just as reasonable as not refusing impartial counselling to mixed-faith couples (for example). It’s like a pharmacist refusing to provide contraception in spite of the legal requirement to do so “for faith reasons”. Public service = obey the laws of the land, all of them, without exception. If that bothers you, you’re in the wrong profession. Render unto Caesar, etc.
All these moves would place faith groups in the invidious position of being forced to act against their consciences or face marginalisation, exclusion and litigation and would further fuel social fragmentation, sectarianism, antagonism and civil unrest.
Look, sunshine, religious organisations are already exempted from being decent all-round human beings, so you have nothing to fear. Your writing is, on the whole, better and less incoherent than Eugene Fear-The-Peen’s but the two of you should get along just fine. Two men, or two women, kissing in front of a registrar after saying “I will” is not going to bring about the End Of Civilisation As We Know It. It will not destroy the Church – actually, the Church (all of them) seems to be doing that quite well itself. It will not lead to all Christians going into hiding. But if you keeping bringing out arguments that are no better than the ravings of a pub drunkard, it will mean that in 10, maybe 20, years’ time your descendants will look at you and feel extremely embarrassed that they are related to someone who held such bigoted views well into the 21st century.
As some bloke in funny clothes wrote back in the 16th Century:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:>
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
UPDATE 18/02/2012: The original post has been taken down, presumably because of the richly deserved flaming it has received (only one comment ever got through moderation, and that was “Asshole”).
Rogue Stardust has also dissected Saunders’ drivelling.
UPDATE 25/02/2012: The post is back again and being advertised on Twitter. I have yet to check what’s changed, if anything apart from the single comment that said “Asshole”, but this time I have saved a copy of it. QFT, as some say.