Friday, July 06, 2012

Solicitor advocate says Law Society is ‘intellectually dishonest’ on gay marriage


You may recall that the Law Society recently banned a conference on family issues to be addressed by a senior High Court judge because debating gay marriage supposedly breached its ‘diversity policy’. The Society is now being sued by Christian Concern. His Grace can't help feeling that this guest post will assist their cause.

It is written by lawyer Gerard Stubbert, a Jesuit-educated hereditary Leftie (evidence, if any were needed, of His Grace's commitment to harmonious ecumenical, cross-party relations). Mr Stubbert originally qualified at the Bar (Gray's Inn) and is a solicitor-advocate. He has acted or appeared in a number of cases with a religious element, involving spats in mosques, gurdwaras, schules and churches (Roman Catholic and Anglican). On the matter of the Law Society and its stance on same-sex marriage, he writes:

Over 150,000 solicitors support same-sex marriage. I know this because the other week I picked up my copy of the Law Society Gazette and saw that the top story on the front page was headlined ‘Society supports same-sex marriage’. That was rather baffling. Given the nature of lawyers such unanimity seems improbable. Perhaps it was a majority of the 150,000 odd solicitors who supported same sex marriage. Or perhaps not, as I don’t recall the Law Society asking my opinion. I’m not the only solicitor who was surprised.

Perhaps our elected Council had a vote on the issue, and it will be in the minutes. That is not as easy to check as you might imagine. The minutes are available, in the Law Society library in Chancery Lane. But they are not on the shelves to be perused by members, as is the case with Hansard in some of the better libraries. To gain access is quite a rigmarole. However, I have seen a copy of the minutes of the last Council meeting and same-sex marriage was not discussed.

So how does the Law Society arrive at an official position on an issue?

The Law Society is governed in much the same way as the country as a whole. Every few years we have elections; those who rule us take large sums of money from us, and then largely ignore us. Oh yes, when it comes to representing our interests to the wider world, they usually make a mess of it. So it is very much like the governance of the country as a whole.

Who then decided that solicitors would come out so strongly in favour of same-sex marriage? I’ll come back to that, but a blog post by Council member Keith Etherington on an incident some while ago is illuminating. On 16th May he blogged his enthusiastic support for the decision of the Law Society to cancel at short notice a meeting organised by the World Council of Families.

So what was the Law Society’s objection to this meeting? According to the report in the Telegraph, the letter cancelling the meeting said that ‘it is contrary to our diversity policy, espousing as it does an ethos which is opposed to same sex marriage’. Try as I might I simply can’t identify which part of the Law Society’s diversity policy makes compulsory support for a change in the law to enable same sex marriage. Let’s look and see what Des Hudson, Chief Executive of the Law Society, said: “We are proud of our role in promoting diversity in the solicitors’ profession and felt that the content of this conference sat uncomfortably with our stance.” Now that is much clearer. Let me explain.

‘We’ refers to the small group of elected solicitor officials and non-elected non-solicitor senior management who run the Law Society on a day-to-day basis. Their role in promoting diversity in the solicitors’ profession appears to be adding more questions to the interminable forms we must complete, because there is little they can do to change the culture of a firm which is hostile, and there is nothing they need to do where the firm is already committed to equality; this is pure management-speak. It is the final phrase ‘the content of this conference sat uncomfortably with our stance’ which is most interesting. So this was a conference which was actively against same-sex marriage then? Er, well, no it wasn’t. The keynote speaker was Mr Justice Coleridge. Sir Paul Coleridge recently established a charity, the Marriage Foundation, which supports traditional marriage as the best environment for raising children. It most specifically does not oppose same-sex marriage. It is inconceivable that a sitting judge, particularly one of such seniority and experience, would expressly campaign one way or the other about contemplated legislation. The content of the conference included debate. So what the Law Society apparatchiks objected to was debate.

Let’s turn now to the authorship of the Law Society’s response, and its content. It was written by the Family Law Committee of the Law Society. Almost everything they said was questionable one way or another, and I could dissect it line by line, but His Grace would never forgive me if even one of his readers died of boredom, so in my comments I shall restrict myself to the first three sentences:
The Law Society agrees with removing the ban on same-sex marriages to enable all couples, regardless of their gender, to have a civil marriage ceremony.
The opening phrase of the sentence is intellectually dishonest. There has never been any such ban, for the simple reason that if something is previously unknown to society, religion and the law, it cannot be described as banned. The final phrase displays confusion, surprising in a group of lawyers who practise in the family courts. The marriage is the exchange of vows which is at the heart of a wedding ceremony. Although it was commonplace to exchange such vows in front of a priest, it was not necessary and only became a requirement for Catholics by the Council of Trent in 1563, and for Anglicans later still by Lord Hardwicke’s Act of 1753. A marriage by simple exchange of vows, sometimes incorrectly called a common law marriage, was possible in Scotland until 2006. A marriage between a Catholic and a Baptist at a register office is a valid sacramental marriage according to both Roman canons and the canons of the Church of England.

The current situation prevents equal access to a civil contract for same sex couples.

That is just plain wrong. The current situation specifically provides equal access to a civil contract, a civil partnership, for same sex couples, which mirrors the law relating to married couples in all respects except one – there is no adultery ground for divorce. I would have thought that one or two of these family law practitioners might have noticed all the references to civil partnership in the Family Procedure Rules. It follows that ‘(i)t therefore constitutes discrimination based on sexual orientation’ is complete tosh. The current law does indeed provide for a civil wedding ceremony for all couples regardless of gender.

If the Law Society considers the social questions unarguable, then what do they have to say about the legal issues? Well apparently there aren’t any. That’s because Law Society President Lucy Scott-Moncrieff says there aren’t any. She is obviously the best qualified lawyer to express a view, specialising as she does in mental health issues. Yes, yes, I can hear you now, chortling that a mental health specialist is ideally qualified on matters concerning the European Court of Human Rights, but there is a serious point here. An unidentified judge of ECtHR – suspected to be the outgoing President Sir Nicolas Bratza – has expressed doubts about whether a ‘religious exception’ provision can survive an application to ECtHR. It is informative to look also at cases within the UK. Most of the widely reported recent cases raising religious issues were either trivial or simply misconceived.

But the Catholic adoption agencies case is an altogether different story. The Equality Act 2010 lists certain ‘protected characteristics’, namely age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. Strangely, it remains entirely legal for an adoption agency, as a matter of policy, to refuse to place a black child with a white couple because they consider that it is in the interests of the child to be placed with a black couple. This is entirely in accord with the ethos of the Children Act 1989 which requires that in any decision process the interests of the child are paramount. It is, however, entirely illegal for an adoption agency to refuse, as a matter of policy, to place a child with a gay couple because they consider it is in the best interests of the child to be placed with a straight couple.

So much for the interests of the child being paramount. All of the ‘characteristics’ referred to in the Equality Act 2010 are protected, but some are more protected than others.

The consequences of getting the legal minutiae wrong are far-reaching. Catholic and Non-conformist churches would be unable to offer marriage unless the couple had already married in a register office. For the Church of England it is more complicated. Because of the right of people living within a Church of England parish to demand a marriage in the parish church, that recourse would be unavailable. A change in the law would be required to remove this right, and would be the first step away from the Church of England’s ‘high church, low church, no church’ position and toward disestablishment.

The consequences will be far-reaching even if the legal minutiae are dealt with correctly. It will create what is known as a ‘limping marriage’, recognised in some jurisdictions but not in others. Property rights which arise out of such limping marriages also limp. Limping marriages can create property disputes which cascade down the generations. Then there is the question of capacity to marry, which is determined by the ante-nuptial domicil (broadly speaking, the permanent residence before marriage). Nationality can also come into it, for example British nationals lack capacity to enter into a polygamous marriage. This mean that if Syed travels to his grandparents’ home village in the Punjab and marries, the marriage is not potentially polygamous; perhaps more importantly, if Syeda travels to her grandparents’ home village in the Punjab and marries, that marriage is not potentially polygamous.

Our civil partnerships are an elegant and effective way of granting gay couples equal rights. They have the enormous advantage that they create legal rights independent of the status of marriage. Let us assume that Uganda fails to introduce the death penalty for gays, but does pass a law that Ugandan citizens have no capacity to enter into a same sex marriage. Our gay Ugandan asylum seeker marries in London his boyfriend from Colorado. After years of connubial bliss, the guy from Colorado pops his clogs unexpectedly, having failed to make a will. Like most married couples, their finances are inextricably entwined. The estate of the deceased includes land in Colorado, and his estranged half-brother lays claim to it. The case will turn on the validity of the marriage, whether it is recognised as valid in Colorado, and whether a Ugandan national has capacity to enter into a same sex marriage. My guess is that the winner will be an attorney in Denver. Civil partnerships neither abolish covetous half-brothers nor reform greedy lawyers, but they do minimise the risk from either.

Pretending that there is nothing to debate or, worse still, shouting down those who raise concerns with cries of ‘Homophobe!’ or ‘Bigot!’ does not necessarily do any favours for our LGBT friends and neighbours. Simply because there is no debate, I have never heard any explanation of why same sex marriage is better than a civil partnership. Equality does not require uniformity. In a recent interview in the Telegraph, Sir Derek Jacobi, who has been in a relationship for 35 years and in a civil partnership for 5 years, expressed himself to be content in a civil partnership. I hesitate to quote Iago (not one of Shakespeare’s more appealing characters) but I do wonder whether this campaign ‘robs me of that which not enriches him, but makes me poor indeed’.

That it is a tiny percentage of the population, a minority within a minority, who would take advantage of such a change in the law is not a reason to not consider it. But such a fundamental change, with all its legal and religious implications, does require consideration, and consideration does require debate. That it is the ‘right on’ thing to do is not for me persuasive. But to paraphrase Roberta Flack, I’m not in favour, but I’m open to persuasion. So persuade me.

216 Comments:

Blogger Tony B said...

Change the record and write about something that really matters.

6 July 2012 at 07:07  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Those legal and religious implications are the reason for the change. This has nothing to do with enabling homosexuals to get married. There is no evidence homosexuals actually want to get married. When given the opportunity, they decline in massive numbers. The change is instead intended to excise the heteronormative purpose of marriage. It removes the public obligations of children and family and inserts privatized companionship in its place. It is no longer a relationship that looks both backwards and forwards across generations. It is a transient relationship that exists solely for the benefit of the parties involved. That's the reason for the change.

carl

6 July 2012 at 07:10  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I have to say that the Law Society was a bit off, cancelling the booking after accepting it. For the QEII to cancel so close to the event, if that is what happened, is very, very poor. No wonder they're all talking about breach of contract.

As for the underlying issue, on the face of it, it has core similarities with the Christian B&B case in the supply of goods and services. It will be interesting to see how the reverse situation is argued for or against.

6 July 2012 at 07:11  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Tony B,

You are more than welcome not to log in and trundle off to the Guardian.

6 July 2012 at 07:19  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl: "There is no evidence homosexuals actually want to get married."

Well, I actually know a gay couple who want to get married. Does that count as evidence? Is there a threshold somewhere where (say) 5000 couples a year wanting to is not enough for a right to be recognised but 5001 couples wanting to is just significant enough to make a popular case for it? Perhaps if enough women don't vote in a general election, with whatever value we set there, then they all should lose the right to vote. Perhaps the same thing should apply to Catholics and marriage in church. 5800 civil partnerships a year aren't enough but luckily 8500 Catholic marriages a year just about ticks the box. Phew.

6 July 2012 at 07:21  
Blogger dxt said...

Re Mr Tony B,

Obviously, the archbish can dish it but can't take it.

6 July 2012 at 09:13  
Blogger Fr Ray Blake said...

"A marriage between a Catholic and a Baptist at a register office is a valid sacramental marriage according to both Roman canons and the canons of the Church of England."

No it is not!
A marriage between an Anglican and Baptist would be a valid sacrament, but in the case of a Catholic, such a marriage would be seen as a deliberate exclusion of the Church from the marriage and therefore would be canonically invalid.

6 July 2012 at 09:14  
Blogger David B said...

No-one has yet said anything on this subject to change my view that all marriages should be civil marriages first and foremost, after which the happy couple, their friends and relations should be free, with one caveat, to have any religious ceremony they wish, including a pagan one, or a humanist or, for that matter, a do-it yourself ceremony.

The caveat being that the officiant of whatever church, mosque or whatever should be free to decline to officiate, on religious or other grounds, without fear of legal repercussions.

Personally I have been persuaded that it would be an injustice to deny a civil marriage to homosexual couples, should they wish to have such a marriage.

The remaining question would then be whether civil officiants should be allowed to decline to perform such a ceremony on religious grounds.

Such a marriage might well not be recognised as valid in the eyes of the religion of the officiant, but then again they might not recognise the marriage of other religions or sects, so I think on balance that civil officiants should be required to do their jobs.

Would anyone object to that sort of system, and, if so, on what grounds?

David B

6 July 2012 at 10:07  
Blogger Gerard Stubbert said...

Fr Ray Blake, I take your point but it is by no means clear cut. Most priests would err on the side of caution and refuse the Catholic or the Baptists a 2nd marriage in Church.

6 July 2012 at 10:25  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Interesting point Fr. Blake.This means that a Catholic who marries in a civil ceremony is in fact living 'in sin' whereas Protestants who marry in a civil ceremony are not.Am I clear on this..Or did you mean that the Baptist and Anglican must marry in a Protestant Church?

.So if you are a Catholic it seems rather pointless marrying at all unless you are married in the Catholic Church since the civil marriage is regarded as cohabitation.

6 July 2012 at 10:28  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

I believe Christopher Biggins puts the argument quite well:
http://www.christian.org.uk/news/biggins-says-hold-on-to-traditional-marriage/

@Dan - Homosexuals are a minority group, like it or not. And within this minority it appears to be a minority that want the law changed. If it was just Anglicans (for example), who are a minority (if I have the numbers correct) within the minority of Christianity in the UK (those that might dispute our minority status - church attendance > census), who were against gay marriage then you might have a point to argue. But given that the vast majority of Muslims would a majority of Christians, why should a VERY small minority trump a small (although larger than gays in favour of SSM) minority on this? And no, the general public who are neither gay nor non-religious can't be called on as they have no stake in this.

@dxt - I think you'll find that Hs Grace is more than capable of taking it. He was merely pointing out that anyone who is bored with the content of this bog can go elsewhere.

@David B - I would definitely take issue with your last part on denying conscience. That's the sort of thing that people tried to argue their way free at Nuremburg.
As to the rest of your comments, I still have a huge problem with same sex couples claiming marriage because a same sex couple (SSC) are VERY different to opposite sex couples (OSC). For starters SSC are the same, hence the word "same" in the name, whereas OSC are opposite (indeed, you might even say complimentary). As such the way that they interact with each other as they form their couples differ, which leads to how they interact with the outside world as couples differing.
Their physical functions in the bedroom differ too, as does the ability to procreate as nature intended (thought I'd throw that one in for those who might claim homosexuality is in nature and then also argue that there is nothing wrong with homosexual partners being parents. You can't have it both ways!).
Clearly both are different, so why do they need to be classified as the same? So long as the legal side is equal, the name should be immaterial to equality. And let us not forget hat the dictionary defines marriage as:
"the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc."
So, if the dictionary says what marriage is, and a dictionary is about meaning of words, to change it to encompass SSC is also intellectual and literary vandalism. You might as well decide that night should be called day and vice versa, that is how ridiculous, not to mention contradictory, this idea is!

6 July 2012 at 10:37  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

"Tony B said...

Change the record and write about something that really matters.

6 July 2012 07:07"

Dear boy.

May Ernst suggest an obvious compromise.

Why not start your own blog based on your personal current affair interests so that it gives us all here an opportunity to laughingly ignore it?!

Ernst S Blofeld

6 July 2012 at 10:38  
Blogger Battersea Boy said...

I though that non-consummation were valid grounds for annulment of a marriage. How would that work out with a same-sex marriage?

6 July 2012 at 10:48  
Blogger Atlas Shrugged said...

Archbishop Cranmer said...
Mr Tony B,

You are more than welcome not to log in and trundle off to the Guardian.

6 July 2012 07:19

Quite so.

However as a regular visitor to CIF, I am sure that Tony B will find plenty enough there of a highly repetitive and irrelevant nature, much of which on the exact same subject matter.

Having said that CIF can be bags of fun.

It is often pleasing to find that many former committed lefties are finally beginning to notice the errors in their Marxist programming; AGW, and middle-eastern wars supposedly in the name of feminism, freedom, human rights and democracy, being interesting examples.

Even they have more then began to realize that they have been lied to, and that AGW is simply an excuse for ever more taxation, and that fighting for peace is an oxymoronic contradiction in terms.

6 July 2012 at 10:52  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

As you point out, Battsea Boy, the government have clearly not thought this thing through!

6 July 2012 at 10:52  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Youthpasta, the religious have no more a stake in this than the general population. The proposal is to legally recognise same-sex civil marriage. Some of the religious claim a stake because they erroneously believe that marriage still belongs to them by virtue of their belief in a god which cares about such stuff.

As for the numbers counting, that depends on the arguments made supporting the proposal. If it's a social justice one based on it being a social institution and with society having now changed then the numbers don't count. Afterall, we don't say that (say) black people can be denied rights simply because there are fewer of them in the UK, do we?

The number of church-attending CofE members is probably quite a bit smaller than the number of LBGT people in the UK. Why should anyone care what a bunch of religionists of that ilk think or say if the numbers always count in these things.

Of course, I can shoot the point about the numbers down in flames and up will pop a point about the apparent requirement to be able to produce children from within a marriage, albeit just in the technical sense rather than in actuality. If I shoot that one down then up will pop a point about the titles one gives to each member of a marriage. If i dismiss that they we'll be back on the numbers again in a Death by a Thousand Cuts attempt.

6 July 2012 at 11:13  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

Dan, read my post thoroughly before replying again. You have put up and shot down several arguments that I didn't make!
And you might also want to reread the original post because those of faith VERY CLEARLY have a stake in this!

Did you wake up and forget to put your glasses on or something this morning? This comment is well below your usual standard!

6 July 2012 at 11:39  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I'm on a handheld device so reading and typing is in fact rather difficult. I may have filled my comment with grapeshot but haven't I responded on target to the numbers thing?

6 July 2012 at 12:15  
Blogger Berserker said...

Atlas advised (hear hear) that Tony B trundle off to the Guardian.

But what would be his career prospects there? How long has The Guardian got left to live? A yearly loss of around £40 million seems to be the norm. At the moment the paper is subsidised by amongst others in the GMG by - you've guessed it - Auto Trader! The Scott Trust has no shareholders to keep it up to scratch.

Perhaps the Ruskies will come to the rescue, after all some editor at the Guardian, I forget which one, admitted taking benefits from the KGB. Last year, the infamous PT took two month's off to go on holiday to Tuscany. What did she do there? Write a book on Gordon or the Millipede? Or is she beginning to see the error of her ways? There are signs, there are signs.

6 July 2012 at 12:40  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Your Grace,
A great post but surprised your guest did not mention the Law Society's breach of contract.

SSM is a much commented on topic but it is still extremely important to the vast majority of the population. Sometimes Government must proceed with policies that are not popular with a majority but equally they should respect the people.

To bring in SSM has such a dramatic impact on how we relate to each other in society. I don't care what homosexuals do but I do believe that Birth Certificates should say Mother & Father, and Wedding certificates should say Husband and Wife.

Lastly, Churches should not be forced to marry SSM's against their will which is what Nick Clegg is now promoting. Didn’t take long did it?

6 July 2012 at 13:14  
Blogger Atlas Shrugged said...

I do not disagree with anything contained in the above, but real compelled to make the following comment all the same.

I am afraid to say that the 'problem' goes much deeper, and so is almost infinitely more difficult to either 'solve' or even get to the bottom of. Nice try anyway, Your Grace.

This is because the 'problem' stems from our top universities in particular and our entire education system in general.

Marxist theology/ideology has been seeded at the top of our institutions of indoctrination for a mighty long time, the rotten fruits of which have long since ripened on the branches, and are now falling upon the heads of the profane.

Internationalist Marxist dogma is now so ingrained within the minds of our ruling middle and upper classes that they genuinely believe that they are on the side of good, rather then evil.

The opinions or interests of the vast majority of the ordinary people are as relevant today as they were at anytime in the past, which is not at all.

As I have said before, and must say again.

Marx inspired Communism did not fall when the Berlin Wall appeared to do so all by itself, it was finally set free to infest the entire world with its fatal disease, for which the western world had already been properly prepared.

6 July 2012 at 13:34  
Blogger Jon said...

Mr Stubbert - a very thoughtful piece - but you've been inconsistent. You're arguing from first principles for most of the piece, but then you cite the opinion of Derek Jacobi as evidence that change is unnecessary. Stick with your first principles, please.

Also you said that "The current situation specifically provides equal access to a civil contract, a civil partnership, for same sex couples, which mirrors the law relating to married couples in all respects except one – there is no adultery ground for divorce." which is not true. There's the difference which is explained at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/17/gay-marriage-civil-partnerships - which, granted is not exactly an issue for most of us - but still. Who's to say that future governments won't insert additional differences?

Actually though, any legal difference between CPs and marriage can be remedied, and I for one would still be unsatisfied with the legal status quo. The fact is that there is no justification for segregating citizens in this way.

If UK law changed to oblige Jewish people to wear bright yellow Stars of David, but placed them under no additional obligations, and there was no state- led sanction related to anyone wearing the Star of David, is that still fair? No - of course it's not. Similarly, stating that one is in a civil partnership is automatically "outing" oneself, when one may not wish to. Insurance providers, banks, overseas visa authorities etc. There are any number of circumstances where openly stating ones sexual preference could invite discrimination, if not violence in some countries.

And even assuming that the whole world eventually subscribes to the view that gay people don't have to be crucified, castrated, forced into a sex change operation or merely roughed up at a border post, civil partnerships would still be a statute which says "you're separate and (very nearly) equal". It wasn't acceptable to the American Civil Rights movement, and it shouldn't be acceptable here in 2012.

6 July 2012 at 13:42  
Blogger Jon said...

Mr Integrity - birth certificates still say father and mother now, even if the child is born by a surrogate to gay parents.

UK law is that the woman bearing the child is always it's mother, regardless of where the egg came from. A parenting order is necessary to change this at a later date.

6 July 2012 at 13:46  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

DanJ0

Well, I actually know a gay couple who want to get married. Does that count as evidence?

Does that change the fact that homosexuals have not availed themselves of the institution in large numbers when it has been made available to them? I can play the anecdotal game as well. Per my observation, the typical homosexual married couple consists of two men both past 50. Throw in a few 50-somethings marrying a 20-something half his age here and there for spice. Otherwise, please show me the scads of 20-something homosexuals ready to storm the registrar to commit themselves to a monogamous permanent marriage.

Is there a threshold somewhere ...

I will take this as an admission that the numbers are in fact small. Otherwise, you have studiously missed the point. Traditional marriage does not offend a homosexual because he can't partake in it. Traditional marriage offends him because it is structured around the presumption of heterosexuality. Since marriage is the fundamental element of civilization, this structure declares the unnaturalness of his desire. He therefore wishes to change that legal structure to remove that offense. Afterwords, he may or may not enter it as he sees fit. It no longer matters.

carl

6 July 2012 at 13:54  
Blogger Dave said...

Good article. Much food for thought. As a practicing pedant can I just comment that the author is paraphrasing Joan Armatrading and not Roberta Flack?

6 July 2012 at 14:01  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

On the point of a Catholic marrying a Baptist in a civil service, I doubt the Catholic Church would regard this as a valid marriage.

I married my wife, who was unbaptised, in an Anglican Church without consent from the Catholic Church. This marriage was not only regarded as illicit, it also resulted in my excommunication! I was unaware of this situation until arranging the Baptism of our third child.

Special dispensation from our Bishop was obtained for a Catholic marriage service and I was formally readmitted to the Church. My daughter was the Bride's Maid and our two sons the Best Men. And a wonderfulday it was too.

6 July 2012 at 14:17  
Blogger John Chater said...

A few points Your Grace.

I know from experience that it is possible for a previously civil ceremony married Catholic to 'remarry' in a Catholic church (a civil marriage is not considered to be a valid one by the church).

Battersea Boy said: 'I thought that non-consummation were valid grounds for annulment of a marriage. How would that work out with a same-sex marriage?'

Good point – but the solution of the State is obvious, it will simply redefine the meaning of 'sex' or remove it as a requirement altogether.

I'm not sure about the rest of you, but when the State tells me that something with one specific meaning (in this case 'marriage', something that not one generation in the history of Western Civilisation would have had a problem defining) suddenly means something else I begin to feel like Katherine in the Taming of the Shrew, with the benevolent State cast as Petruchio.

I might know that Vincentio is a man, but because the will of the State is so much stronger than my own, because it tells me with authority that the evidence is irrefutable, I find myself believing that he is indeed a woman.

See you on the parade.

6 July 2012 at 14:18  
Blogger Jon said...

"Traditional marriage does not offend a homosexual because he can't partake in it. Traditional marriage offends him because it is structured around the presumption of heterosexuality. Since marriage is the fundamental element of civilization, this structure declares the unnaturalness of his desire."

How do you know what offends whom, Carl? Have you undertaken a survey you can point to? Your point about 50 something whatevers also sounded Inspector-esque. Straight people are marrying later and later - does this mean that the institution should be denied them? No - society goes to great lengths to permit them their marriage, and then assist them in belated reproduction!

You've also missed the point. A homosexual can't partake in marriage BECAUSE it is structured around the presumption of heterosexuality.

Also - since marriage is the fundamental element of civilization, it cannot possibly be claimed by a religious group which is subscribed to by a minority of humans in existence. The basis for denying gay people equal rights is therefore, essentially, menu costs - to which I say, man up.

6 July 2012 at 14:46  
Blogger Gerard Stubbert said...

Jon

The link you offered gives an example of a typical limping marriage.

Dave

I've got nothing against pedants - after all I'm a lawyer - and you're right. It only makes the paraphrase more relevant.

6 July 2012 at 14:54  
Blogger Jon said...

Mr Stubbert,

Sorry - I don't know what a limping marriage is?!

6 July 2012 at 15:21  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Jon

It's where you're recognised as legally married in one place, but when you cross a border, you are no longer recognised.

So like gay couples in New York travelling to Arizona, or Muslim polygamists travelling from Saudi to the UK.

6 July 2012 at 16:26  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

One is so absolutely sick of hearing of organisations like the Law Society being hijacked by homosexual members or ‘right-on’ heterosexuals hell bent on their agenda of destroying social norms that this man is prepared to consider ANY counter measure no matter how ruthless.

For example, how in God’s name have these people escaped the health police in the UK. If you have more than a couple of units of alcohol a day, or have the temerity to light a cigar, pipe or cigarette, then you are a disgrace to humanity. A poor parent, and should be kept well away from children. If you like fry ups and red meat, you are following a suicide diet. If you are fat, you risked being humiliated and to be advised to go into hospital and banded or stapled.

And what about the typical ‘scene’ male homosexual ? A deafening silence. And yes, the majority are scene at some point in their lives. Scene of course means homo sex, and lots of it. 100 different partners in a year ? More than that in extreme cases.

Of course, disease follows on from that. HIV / AIDS ever present, and gonorrhoea a speciality. It’s Russian anal roulette out there on a weekend…

And yet, this man has genuine compassion for their plight. But like the lepers of old, they are best left to themselves AND NOT ENCOURAGED !

And furthermore – much of the arguing for SSM seen on this site over the months can equally be appropriated by paedophiles in a hypothetical campaign to lawfully keep and drool over child porn. It’s about time proponents realised the stark truth staring at them in the mirror. There is the norm. You can take it or leave it and go off and do your own thing. But don’t expect ANY special treatment from society to help you on your way…

6 July 2012 at 16:50  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Jon.The basis for denying gay people equal rights…{BLAH, BLAH, BLAH…ad tedium…}

We have a lawyer blogging today, so watch yourself…

Marriage is there for gay people if they want it. You are advocating for the right of two people of the same sex to get ‘married’. Something that doesn’t exist. How can you claim you are being denied rights to something which is not ? How about an equally valid claim. The right to get married to someone who doesn’t want to get married to you (…{AHEM}, have some recent personal experience there…). Doesn’t the Inspector have a right to get married ? Does it really matter that the woman he wants to marry would have to dragged kicking and screaming before the celebrant…

Think we’ll stop there. Had visions of teeth sinking into one’s wrist and a carefully aimed size 6 to the crotch…

Just one more thing, as Lieut Columbo used to say. The Inspector is loath to ask a fellow communicant to ‘change the bloody record’ without at least offering another suggestion. How about a post from you about ‘The years of hurt gay people have endured’. You have one minute, without hesitation, repetition or deviation (…heh heh !..) starting NOW !

6 July 2012 at 16:53  
Blogger Jon said...

Size 6 Inspector? That explains it. A touch of the Sarkozy about you, is there?! LOL. Still humming "I am what I am" though, I bet... Looked in a mirror, yet?

Mr Stubbert - I appreciate that you're under no obligation to do so, and in fact are probably charging me in 6 minute increments as you read ;-), but please could you explain how this addresses my points about "separate but equal", or the needless segregation of society?

6 July 2012 at 17:05  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

You idiot - she is a size 6

6 July 2012 at 17:07  
Blogger Jon said...

Can I guess. Was it Kylie? Or Donna Summer? Or RuPaul? RuPaul takes a US 13, though, I think...

Stop obsessing about "scene" homosexuals Inspector. It's clear you've gone the full Stockholm. See you on Saturday in Soho!

6 July 2012 at 17:11  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Mothers warn your children !

If in the course of your investigations, you get too close to the ‘scene’, they will claim you as one of their own.

Most disconcerting and reminiscent of the Devil after your soul when your mortal lives end if you’ve done ill with your time...

Damn annoying too !

6 July 2012 at 17:25  
Blogger Jon said...

I'm bored of teasing you now Inspector.

I'm waiting for a reply from our good blogging lawyer.

6 July 2012 at 17:29  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Jon

Your point about 50 something whatevers also sounded Inspector-esque.

You missed my point. DanJ0 made an anecdotal observation.

Well, I actually know a gay couple who want to get married.

So I made two anecdotal observations.

Per my observation, the typical homosexual married couple consists of two men both past 50. Throw in a few 50-somethings marrying a 20-something half his age here and there for spice.

If he wants to assert by anecdote that homosexuals want to marry because he knows of a couple that wants to marry, then I can assert by anecdote that homosexual marriage patterns are decidedly different in terms of age and purpose. It would be revealing would it not if homosexuals typically deferred marriage to middle age. However marriage records show that homosexuals do not marry when given the opportunity. We must therefore look elsewhere for the reasons they so desire to change the structure of the institution.

A homosexual can't partake in marriage BECAUSE it is structured around the presumption of heterosexuality.

Marriage is not arbitrarily structured around heterosexuality. It is designed to constrain human sexuality for the purpose of and benefit of the next generation. It ties marriage, sex, and children into a unity. Sexual life is expected to find its expression in heterosexual marriage with the necessary expectation of children and the understood obligation to receive them. That is why there is a presumption of monogamy, and fidelity, and permanence.

None of these constraints are necessary to the structure of a homosexual marriage. In the absence of children, there is no longer any reason to tie sex to marriage. What would be the purpose in doing so? Adultery becomes a completely arbitrary designation. Why should a relationship not be characterized by sexual "openness" - as indeed many homosexual relationships are. Thus there is no reason for sexual faithfulness. Since we aren't seeking to create a permanent stable home for children, there is no point in permanence. In the end you destroy the institution in order to remove from it the things from marriage that make homosexual participation incomprehensible.

The whole of the institution instead becomes bent to serve nothing but the companionship needs of the couple. The couple has no necessary responsibility to future generations. It has no family ties to past generations. It exists only in the present and only so long as the couple remains together. And that's the point. When marriage no longer holds up an expectation of heterosexual life and obligation, then homosexuals will be satisfied with it. Then they can take it or leave it as they see fit. They will have removed the accusation that traditional marriage continuously hurls at them - that they exist outside the natural order of life.

carl

6 July 2012 at 17:33  
Blogger Tanfield said...

I'm also a practising Solicitor and to my knowledge the Law Society has "form" on homosexual issues.
About 2 years ago a Solicitor in Croydon (a contemporary of mine from Law School 40 years ago now)
wrote to the Society objecting to the use on members' (not taxpayers') money in support of the forthcoming London Gay Pride March. There was no stated objection to homosexuality per se. His letter was entirely a private one and never intended or authorised for publication elsewhere. Notwithstanding this it was leaked to "Pink News" which resulted in Homosexual Activists picketing his firm's offices, a great deal of publicity and, no doubt, had an adverse effect of his firm's reputation and finances.
From my sources at the Law Society I heard that the most likely culprit was not a member of staff but a member of the Society's Governing Council. His/her identity was never disclosed.
Mr Stubbert is right when he says that some of the elected Solicitor members and senior non solicitor staff run the Society from day to day and from the latest incident it appears that the Homosexual Mafia have still got their people "in place" there.

6 July 2012 at 17:34  
Blogger Gerard Stubbert said...

Jon

I don't quite follow your "separate but equal" reference but you're right to be wary of disguised bigotry. I made a number of trips to South Africa during FW's era, on behalf of an ANC activist not allowed into the country, and it was not a nice place, although I was surprised at the number of Afrikaners anxious for change.

Balancing the legitimate civil/human rights of GLBT citizens against the rights of the remainder of the population is the hhard bit. That's why it merits debate.

6 July 2012 at 18:05  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Tanfield. Pink News is a nefarious hate site. They brook no dissent there and even threatened to report this man to the police for pointing out the negative side of their lifestyle. As it is, am now enjoying life ban !

Interestingly, they bicker amongst themselves, and are predominantly religious intolerant. They blame religion for most of their ills. There is absolutely nothing they will not do to achieve their ends.

Wicked buggers...

6 July 2012 at 18:05  
Blogger anna anglican said...

Hi Carl, therefore if hetrosexual people who don't want to have children or can't have children should not be allowed to marry, if, as you imply, marriage is just about having babies ...?

6 July 2012 at 18:06  
Blogger anna anglican said...

I see Inspector is on top form tonight...

6 July 2012 at 18:08  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6 July 2012 at 18:36  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl: "Does that change the fact that homosexuals have not availed themselves of the institution in large numbers when it has been made available to them?"

Two points there. Firstly, the take up rate for civil partnerships has settled down and it's not too bad at all really. Secondly, I'm expecting marriage to become more aspirational as sexual orientation beds in as a non-issue to most people other than some religious throwbacks. That's one of the expected benefits really.

"I can play the anecdotal game as well."

No anecdotal game on my part, I was merely reinforcing the point about numbers and thresholds regarding rights. One couple is enough.

"Throw in a few 50-somethings marrying a 20-something half his age here and there for spice."

Strangely, it's actually reassuring that you're become a more typical online-Christian these days.

"I will take this as an admission that the numbers are in fact small."

A curious turn of phrase. The numbers of couples setting up civil partnerships is a matter of public record. I'm quoted them often enough here myself too so it's hardly as though I've been somehow forced to concede something there. I've quoted them in a particular context too, which rather helps my position I think.

"Traditional marriage does not offend a homosexual because he can't partake in it. Traditional marriage offends him because it is structured around the presumption of heterosexuality."

As ever, you're setting up your false dichotomy to try to force your preferred conclusion along. I'm sure there are some gay people who have taken that American-style identity politics thing onboard and who therefore see marriage as a hetero-normative thing or whatever the phrase is.

However, has it occurred to you that some gay people might just want to take part in a recognised social institution like everyone else, with the benefits and recognition and inclusiveness that it brings? But what am I saying? Of course it has. You just don't like it so you wish it away, rather like your notion that homosexual orientation is somehow a choice.

"Since marriage is the fundamental element of civilization, this structure declares the unnaturalness of his desire."

No. In one view, it declares that the historic injustice still has artefacts in our culture. Artefacts that some of the religious want to fight tooth and nail over because, in reality, the loss of control there declares and highlights the declining power and reach of their religious organisations and beliefs. Well, hard luck. They will need to get used to the fact that the extent of their power is going to be approximately equidistant between them and everyone else.

6 July 2012 at 18:38  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

DanJ0. However, has it occurred to you that some gay people might just want to take part in a recognised social institution like everyone else,

You mean like little boys walking around in their mother’s stilettoes. They’ll never be women, but it’s great fun pretending, what !

6 July 2012 at 18:43  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

DanJ0:

Firstly, I'll distance myself from the insults being thrown around.

Can I just pick up on one point:

One couple is enough.

Do you view this as a matter of principle constitutionally, or a matter of principle for LGBT rights exclusively?

I ask, because I know two people with ardent views about marriage. The first is a Muslim, and believes that marriage in the UK should reflect Islamic principles of polygamous marriage following the example of the Prophet. He also resists a secondary "Muslim Polygamous Partnership", if you will, and wants the law to change to be inclusive of what his family regards as a basic component of what marriage means.

The second person is an ardent believer in polyamory, and regards attempts to restrain, legally or otherwise, sexual activity that would traditionally be understood as adulterous, as being repressive and indicative of institutional patriarchy. She wants to strip out (much as it is with Civil Partnerships actually) laws regarding adultery, especially in divorce, and make it possible for married couples to have sex with whomever they wish without falling foul of the law (even though the act is not directly illegal or punishable in its own right).

Do you consider either of these views to be "enough" to justify a redefinition of marriage. If not, might I ask you to briefly outline why, and if your reasons differ in either example?

6 July 2012 at 20:06  
Blogger anna anglican said...

Hi Mr Belfast,

Your friends meet in the middle,except one of them is a man who wants to have sex with multiple women and be the alpha male; the other is a woman who wants to have sex with multiple men and be the alpha woman- sounds like -in both ways- legalised orgies and or group sex to me.

That doesn't seem Kosher!

I'm beginning to think that the best thing all round is to stop the gay marriage stuff and leave it at civil partnerships, too many worms and cans are being opened up,it seems.

6 July 2012 at 20:43  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Inspector: "They’ll never be women, but it’s great fun pretending, what !"

Perhaps like your pretending to be straight yet standing out like a sore thumb to most other people given that you're in your 50s and unmarried.

You know I expect you'd be a lot happier once you tackled your internal conflicts and embraced your actual sexuality.

You're not unusual, you know. You won't be the first repressed gay man to be repelled by the acts but thrilled at the same time by the idea of having sex with a man and running your hands down a muscular chest.

Once you've got over the internal hurdle, you'll end up wondering why you've wasted your life and probably feel guilty at all the homophobic nonsense you've used to cover up your desire over the years.

Of course, you'll still have to learn how to establish and maintain adult to adult relationships and stuff. After all this time, you must be pretty clueless. Well, we can see that here as it goes. Still, give it a go and good luck.

6 July 2012 at 20:50  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "Do you consider either of these views to be "enough" to justify a redefinition of marriage."

I simply don't see same-sex marriage as an essential redefinition at all. That's at the core of it really. Same-sex relationships are basically the same thing in themselves. Moreover, the main social purposes of marriage apply just as well to those, and it even fits well with our housing stock. Yes, yes, I know the usual stuff about how producing and raising children features rather heavily ... given that same-sex couples can't produce them through sex between themselves and therefore it provides a backstop of sorts to the change ... but I can't really take that seriously myself.

6 July 2012 at 20:58  
Blogger David B said...

@ Youthpasta who said

"@David B - I would definitely take issue with your last part on denying conscience. That's the sort of thing that people tried to argue their way free at Nuremburg...."

Let us not go to extremes. Would you expect a Catholic registrar to officiate at the civil wedding of a divorcee?

If so, then the same should apply to SSM, I'd have thought.

If not, then can registrar's kust be arbitrary on any conscience grounds they might dream up?


"...As to the rest of your comments, I still have a huge problem with same sex couples claiming marriage because a same sex couple (SSC) are VERY different to opposite sex couples..."

I will grant that there are differences, but there are also similarities, and which should take preference is I suppose a matter of individual priority.

Similarities would include, but not be confines to, a change in status to next of kin, with corresponding legal stuff concerning inheritance, ability to make funeral arrangements etc, as well as a wish that their union should be acknowledged by friends and relations.

You, and I for that matter, might argue that this is all satisfied by a civil union which is not designated as a marriage.

But some homosexual couples, it seems, do want such a union to be dignified with the name 'marriage', and though I might think it unnecessary personally I think it would be wrong of me to deny them.

And wrong for you to deny them.

David B

6 July 2012 at 21:17  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

DanJ0

Strangely, it's actually reassuring that you're become a more typical online-Christian these days.

Whatever. My posts now are no different that they were a year ago when I started commenting on this weblog. If you really need me to spell this out, I will. An anecdote is an illegitimate form of argument. Your assertion about knowing a gay couple that wants to be married is no more valid than my assertion about gay married couples being primarily middle-aged men. My assertion is consistent with my limited observations, but my limited observations are not sufficient to establish the generalization. That was the whole point. Have we cleared this up?

carl

6 July 2012 at 22:06  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Anna

[I]f hetrosexual people who don't want to have children or can't have children should not be allowed to marry, if, as you imply, marriage is just about having babies ...?

A couple of points. I would assert that willful childlessness is a sin. The choice of a sexual life includes the obligation to receive children. The first commandment was "Be Fruitful and multiply." That commandment has never been rescinded. Willful childlessness is rooted in a selfish desire to spend one's time and one's money on oneself. It is the blithe assumption that a man's parents brought him into the world so he could spend his life focusing on the most important thing in the world - himself.

Second, biological infirmity is not the same thing as biological incapacity. A heterosexual couple still models in type the natural order of male and female creating life. A homosexual couple does not. The homosexual couple must go outside the relationship in some way and emulate heterosexual conduct in order to produce children. Marriage in the normal course of events will in almost all cases produce children absent some contraceptive intent on the part of the couple.

Finally, I never said that marriage was only about having children, anymore than I would say sex is only about conceiving children. There is more than one essential aspect to the relationship. Companionship is certainly an essential aspect. It's just not the only one. You cannot sacrifice one essential aspect of marriage and still have marriage. An esential aspect is just that - essential.

The essential public role of marriage is to create a stable environment for conceiving and raising children. In fact it is the connection between sex and children that defines the sexual nature of marriage. It's traditional role is to serve as the legitimizer of sexual conduct. As in "Go forth, have sex, and produce children." Even the word 'matrimony' means to make mothers out of virgins.

Marriage is intended to constrain choices. It is intended to channel sexual desire in socially productive directions so that the current generation my replace itself with the next. On this literally hangs the future of civilization. It is however exactly this public role that is under attack. People desire to reject those obligations in order to serve themselves. They want sex without children. They want sex without marriage. They see sexual gratification without obligation as a fundamental right. That is why homosexual marriage is so dangerous. The only way to make it comprehensible is to sever the connection between children and marriage. Doing so obliterates the principal social function of marriage and reduces it to a private relationship. Open or closed. Sterile or fertile. Permanent or transient. They are all arbitrary aspects of the relationship to be negotiated by each couple individually. There are no constraints in such a structure. There are only individual private preferences.

carl

6 July 2012 at 22:39  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Are your eyes closed ?

Tightly shut daddy !

You can open them now sweetheart

Oh daddy, my very own ‘one trick pony’ !

Yes, his name is Danny. He will only post when his own selfish interests are involved. He will do nothing else

Can I ride him daddy ?

[AHEM] He’ll probably wish you wouldn’t, but miracles can and do happen, so give it a go girl !

I love you daddy, and I love you too, one trick pony

By the way, any nonsense from him, and there will be plenty, that’s for sure - do you see those things hanging down underneath him ?

Er, yes daddy

Well squeeze them. He’ll soon get the message…

6 July 2012 at 22:41  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Since we are accepting anecdotal evidence on this site now since Danjo said “I have a friend….etc”

I have heard increasing support for Eugenics and the notion among some that Hitler had the right idea of filtering out individuals (Improving the herd, Darwin would be proud) who society does not desire. E.g. low intellect, behaviour and surprise homosexuality.

I personally am waiting for the “Gay Gene” to be found. Then the outcry as hetro parents abort potential gay children in droves.

I wonder what society will be like in 50 years. Danjo’s hedonistic utopia or Gays almost extinct along with anyone not potentially smart, good looking and biddable.

The real winners of this war may not be the Homosexuals, but something/one else, probably ushering in what we least expect.

Who would have thought in 1940 (and certainly not 1945) that the real winners of the war would be the Americans and to a lesser extent the Germans.

Phil

6 July 2012 at 22:45  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

carl

You're so masterful when annoyed. It must be your military background. Far better than my attempts to rule out the legitimacy of "those he knows" who wished they'd never been circumcised or have survived their Catholic upbringings.

Actually, you remind me of the Brothers who taught us at school. They were clear, to the point and, in terms of academic standards, took few prisoners. Occasionally, well, quite frequently, I was "taken into custody", as it were.

By the way, I know a homosexual man who is "in love" with a chap and wants to spend his life with him. Unfortunately, the Inspector is not of this disposition and would have to politely decline.

6 July 2012 at 22:46  
Blogger Naomi King said...

I'm a solicitor and nobody asked me !

6 July 2012 at 22:56  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Phil Roberts. Interestingly, DanJ0 whom it would be best to describe as ambivalent about abortion, took exception when a potential foetal test for homosexuality was mentioned. One is desperately trying to ascribe to him a fitting description of his modus operandi. Could ‘one trick pony’ describe his essence ?

6 July 2012 at 22:59  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Just to clarify I am not making predictions, just pointing out that the unintended consequences from all of this might not benefit and are certainly not likely to be the outcomes that that the homosexual community foresee or hope will happen. It might be a road that they wished they had not travelled down.

The question we should ask ourselves on this blog is why would God allow Gay marriage? Because he intends Gays to be happily married? Unlikely. I foresee more of a City on the Plain type of ending for all of this.

If we care for our brothers and sisters in Christ we should make every care not to be washed along with them to Hell due to our weakness, inaction and desire for a quiet life.

Phil

6 July 2012 at 23:02  
Blogger anna anglican said...

@Dodo,

'The Brothers'? Next you'll be saying you were taught by the Jesuits- I feel a conspiracy coming on already!

6 July 2012 at 23:05  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6 July 2012 at 23:05  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Phil Roberts. I personally am waiting for the “Gay Gene” to be found. Then the outcry as hetro parents abort potential gay children in droves.

Indeed, there will be few homos around when that time comes. Can we blame secular parents for choosing that route. After all, you raise a child, to adolescence, then they disappoint. Hardly worth the trouble. Of course, Christian parents would never do such a thing as to abort a gay foetus, but what’s this. Our resident gays are none to keen on Christianity !

What an absolute bloody laugh.

6 July 2012 at 23:07  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Inspector.

In DanJo's brave new world where no one is free.

Freedom of choice.... as long as we agree with your choice.

Phil

6 July 2012 at 23:08  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

I say Phil Roberts, you must research the ‘gay agenda’. Makes for chilling reading. If you have little ones at home, don’t make it their bedtime story. SSM is absolutely ESSENTIAL. So much hangs on it.

Be seeing you...

6 July 2012 at 23:21  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

OIG

Can I ride him daddy ?

[AHEM] He’ll probably wish you wouldn’t, but miracles can and do happen, so give it a go girl !


Speaking as the father of daughters, no father would ever say this to his daughter. The conversation would go more like this:

"Hello there, Mr One Trick.

[Daddy.]

I'd like you to meet my good friend Rafe.

[Daddy!]

Rafe here is a 12-gauge and he don't much like one trick ponies. Ya follow?

[Daddy, you're spoiling everything!!]

That's the idea, little Girl. That's the whole idea."


carl
Charter Member, Fathers Against Boyfriends.

6 July 2012 at 23:30  
Blogger William said...

I know.

Let's have something with all the ceremony, legal aspects and public commitments of marriage, but without the references to having children and sexual intercourse. Then society can still uphold the vital child rearing role played by lifelong, sexual, stable, heterosexual relationships in the institution of marriage AND homosexuals can still express their lifelong devotion to each other and get some legal status as a couple. Well those that want to anyway.

BRILLIANT! I can't believe that no one has thought of this before.

6 July 2012 at 23:37  
Blogger anna anglican said...

Hi Carl

All interesting stuff. One thing, if I may ask: I cannot see,the connection between birth rate and gay marriage. The birthday rate has been going down in the west (and china- although that is state choice) for many years now.

6 July 2012 at 23:39  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Carl, whenever the Inspector posts here, he is rather hoping there are no weans who follow the site. The last thing he wants is for them to inform the school teacher during a facts of life lesson that he/she has already learnt everything they need to know from Cranmer...

6 July 2012 at 23:43  
Blogger William said...

Carl

You only have to shoot the first boyfriend. The news will travel.

6 July 2012 at 23:45  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

William, some good news for you. From what the Inspector has discovered in his investigations, gay couples already do have an informal ceremony where they state their commitment and love to each other. And once the act of sodomy is over, and, shall we say an hour later, there is another ceremony where gay couples state...etc...

6 July 2012 at 23:51  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6 July 2012 at 23:58  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Anna

I cannot see,the connection between birth rate and gay marriage.

They are both derivative of the privatization of sex. Moderns presume that sexual morality is predicted upon consent (with a few inconsistent exceptions). They reject the structural boundaries that are inherent in traditional marriage. If Bob refuses to let his consensual heterosexual behavior be constrained by such structural boundaries, then he can't very well turn around and constrain Bill's consensual homosexual behavior. This is how the sexual revolution is normalizing homosexuality. It's not that the general public approves or disapproves. It's that it considers consensual sex a private matter that should not be subject to public restriction.

The problem of course is that you can't sustain a civilization on that logic. People must assume the imposed obligation. They must give of themselves. They must submerge their own desire to serve themselves. It's basic math. The logic is irrefutable. Every fertile woman must on average give birth to 2.1 children or eventually the civilization dies. The libertine may have a great party but he does so at the expense of the next generation. He accepts the selflessness of his parents and uses it to indulge himself. Then he hopes to die before the bill comes due.

carl

7 July 2012 at 00:02  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

DanJ0:

"I simply don't see same-sex marriage as an essential redefinition at all. That's at the core of it really."

That, though was kind of my point. The Muslim would make his argument in precisely the same way, almost word for word. Would you, on that basis think he is justified in doing so, or would you see his view as being fundamentally different in principle so as not to trigger the kind of automatic "corrective" that you want to see with same-sex marriage?

7 July 2012 at 00:03  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl, it's okay for you to be in touch with your inner demon every now and again. I'm an atheist, I don't have especialy high expectations regarding the religious.

7 July 2012 at 00:04  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

carl said ...

Marriage is intended to constrain choices. It is intended to channel sexual desire in socially productive directions so that the current generation my replace itself with the next. On this literally hangs the future of civilization. It is however exactly this public role that is under attack. People desire to reject those obligations in order to serve themselves. They want sex without children. They want sex without marriage. They see sexual gratification without obligation as a fundamental right. That is why homosexual marriage is so dangerous. The only way to make it comprehensible is to sever the connection between children and marriage. Doing so obliterates the principal social function of marriage and reduces it to a private relationship. Open or closed. Sterile or fertile. Permanent or transient. They are all arbitrary aspects of the relationship to be negotiated by each couple individually. There are no constraints in such a structure. There are only individual private preferences.

Spot on and I notice the supporters of homosexual marriage rarely address these critical points. They prefer to focus on "we don't believe in God" or "we should enjoy equal rights" or "where's the harm."

One does not need to believe in God to understand the social functions performed by marriage. Let's just attribute its development to "evolution" for the atheists or "creative design" for the agnostics.

Okay, so there have been different forms of marriage but when have men ever married men, or women married women? Why would they given the functions the marriage and families fulfill.

Public approval of homosexuality and granting it equivalence to heterosexuality, is a threat to social stability and homosexual marriage is a direct attack on the family.

See that's the thing with God, His Way tends to work regardless of whether people know Him or belief in Him.

7 July 2012 at 00:09  
Blogger anna anglican said...

Hi Carl,

I see your point, an interesting one. Perhaps the libertine has been partying for about 50 years now and it is this generation who will foot the bill (retirement age, healthcare, unfunded pensions).

7 July 2012 at 00:11  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB, I've made my case a number of times for same-sex marriage and it is nothing like the one you make on behalf of your Muslim. Some misunderstanding somewhere along the way maybe.

7 July 2012 at 00:13  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

David B, too, same question could apply. Would you be comfortable extending your logic to include the idea that it would be wrong to deny a polygamous Muslim family the right in law to describe themselves as married? Or would you see this issue, or the issue of legal recognition of polyamory, as being fundamentally different, requiring a different response?

I'm not trying to speciously get anyone to pin their colours to a mast which is not their own: I'm not gonna throw stones and suggest that you're in favour of either of these things. I'm just trying to clarify a point that I've raised with several pro-same-sex marriage people in real life but have never actually managed to get any sort of definitive answer out of them.

7 July 2012 at 00:14  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

DanJ0:

I would see them as different, and accept that you do as well, but my point is that he doesn't.

You have compellingly argued that your own position should be duly recognised on the basis of your view about what marriage really is. What I'm asking is if there is any sort of rationale, beyond the fact that you hold that opinion, which disqualifies his on the basis that you qualify your own.

7 July 2012 at 00:15  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

DanJ0

Carl, it's okay for you to be in touch with your inner demon every now and again.

Maintaining a good sight picture on a potential boyfriend isn't "getting in touch with your inner demon." It's called "responsible parenting." You gots to make sure he stays outside that 3 ft radius exclusion zone.

carl

7 July 2012 at 00:18  
Blogger David B said...

@Belfast 00.14

A good question, which I had been mulling over before you asked it.

In purely practical terms a single next of kin seems to me desirable.

Else practical decisions regarding funeral arrangements, cutting off life support systems etc might, in some cases, simply be bogged down.

It is that sort of thing that is the remit of a civil marriage, or, for that matter, civil union.

So I think there is a strong case for saying that only one person can be legally married to another.

Whether it is an open or closed marriage I would leave to the individuals concerned.

From the moral POV, I would prefer any such arrangements to be open and consensual, and I personally tend to favour monogamy as the ideal. Or, when relationships break down, serial monogamy.

David B

7 July 2012 at 00:34  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB, yes. I point at the nature of heterosexual marriage all around us and ask whether same-sex marriage is really any different. It's like that with morals and ethics too, really. Some of the religious here will argue that some things are immoral because (to caricature) their gods says so. Obviously it is a meaningless argument with me as there is nothing shared there to which they can appeal. Now, the religious may thow up all sorts about marriage being a sacrament or make teleological points about body parts but, really, all we need to do is draw comparisons about love, companionship, support, stability, etc to the man on the Clapham omnibus and it's in the bag.

7 July 2012 at 00:36  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

David B. I personally tend to favour monogamy as the ideal.

Well done that man. You are well on the road to ‘standards’. Of course, you liberal types would be appalled by the idea when you were younger, but as we get older, not even you people feel comfortable with what you see around you...

7 July 2012 at 00:40  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Incidentally, I expect there are societies past and perhaps even present where polygamy or polyandry might be more suitable for that society than a couplet thing. It's not the principle I'm objecting to. Though I'm inclined to think we're a pair-bonding species at heart.

7 July 2012 at 00:46  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

David B:

Thanks for the response. I largely share those views, and also your analysis of the practicalities.

I have to face up to the fact, though that at least one person I know does not share our preference for monogamy/serial monogamy, nor do they see (I suspect) the practical objections as insurmountable obstacles (not least because they have experience of many generations of managing quite well in polygamous marriages).

My point is not to spuriously assert that if one is in favour of same-sex marriage, one is in favour of polygamy, or that one naturally leads to the other. (I suspect this may be what DanJ0 objects to).

What I am getting at is the basis in which certain views are implemented regarding marriage. We might see it as a cascading system:

1. The orthodox Christian (or Muslim/Jew etc.) sees heterosexuality as an integral component of what marriage really means.

2. The same-sex campaigner sees monogamous devotion, irrespective of the genders of the partners as being the integral meaning of marriage.

3. The traditional Muslim sees polygamous devotion as being an integral part of the meaning of marriage.

Without getting into why any of these people hold the views that they do, or the respective value we assing to the content of their arguments, we can observe that so far the argument in favour of same-sex marriage is that 1) should not be allowed to trump 2). As you put it, there is no "right to deny".

If this is a point of principle about how (in practical terms) the legality of marriage should be defined, there is surely no "right to deny" alternative but equally strongly felt views on marriage. We may observe that we do not share them, or even that we oppose them, but why is 1) or 2) better placed to determine that 3) is fundamentally invalid when 1) does not have the right to prevent 2)?

Alternatively, and this is I suspect where we are really at on this issue, the legalisation of same-sex marriage is not in fact a point of principle regarding how law should reflect public practice, but rather a particular emphasis on 2) - not necessarily to the exclusion of all other possible viewpoints, but certainly to the exclusion of 3), and by definition, to the right of 1) to trump 2).

That being the case, the question for me becomes a constitutional one: given that in some degree we have a justification for a partial view of marriage (on, say, the issue of polygamy), would it not be wiser in our precedent-based legal system to establish that such a change should be made on the basis of clear democratic consensus - either as a manifesto issue or a referendum?

Because it seems to me that if we do it that way, we retain the right to refuse, for whatever reasons we care to choose, future amendments that are a "change" too far. On the other hand, it does also mean that numbers - or at least consensus - is, indeed, relevant.

7 July 2012 at 00:55  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

DanJ0:

Hopefully my post to David B answers some of your points, but if there's anything you think I'm missing, fire away.

7 July 2012 at 00:58  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0

Here's a possible survey for you given the importance you ascribe to public opinion.

Ask pregnant women and their husbands whether they would prefer a boy or a girl. Most will reply above all else they want a healthy baby. Then ask how many would prefer a child with homosexual or heterosexual tendencies. Those who answer they'd prefer a heterosexual baby are they being homophobic?

7 July 2012 at 01:20  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Dodo:

If I might answer your question, I'd go with whatever the child was, trusting in God's provenance, and try to the best of my abilities to teach the child to love and honour God, and in turn to act with love and honour, regardless of whether they were homosexual or heterosexual.

7 July 2012 at 01:34  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

Just to comment on the point about heterosexual marriage that does not produce children. One of the other reasons for life-long, monogamous relationships between a man and a woman is to model it for others so that they can learn through experience how to recreate this for the potential of supporting a child themselves.
As such I would suggest, Carl, that declaring marriages where they have no intention of bringing children into the world to be false, not least because that means that elderly couples get barred. However, if marriage is seen as both a way of bringing up children AND modelling a secure family life so that others might learn how to do the former well by copying the latter I believe we get far closer to the truth.

7 July 2012 at 02:05  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

AIB

Yes but you're a Christian and believe in the goodness of God. No doubt as aChristian parent you'd teach your child about God's laws concerning sexual activity, marriage and rasiing children.

The question is intended for all those 'democrats' and 'equal rights' people who leave God to one side or have forgotten Him. Let's see what they might say.

7 July 2012 at 02:17  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Youthpasta

Carl, that declaring marriages where they have no intention of bringing children into the world to be false, not least because that means that elderly couples get barred.

Quote me correctly, please. I didn't say their marriages were false. I said that willful childlessness is a sin. Those are not the same things. An infertile couple is not willfully childless. An elderly couple is also not willfully childless. I am referring to otherwise fertile couples who deliberately and permanently choose to frustrate conception in order to avoid the responsibility of parenthood.

carl

7 July 2012 at 04:38  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "Hopefully my post to David B answers some of your points, but if there's anything you think I'm missing, fire away."

There are so many possible avenues to take from your position that I'm struggling to decide which way to go. Perhaps I should take the notion that this might be a 'constitutional' thing.

Marriage is a social institution. It basically reflects and formalises what is happening in society anyway. People who live like a married couple are essentially married, only without the legal contract and the benefits. The foundational nature of marriage is not the piece of paper or the legal status but rather the social unit itself. Why would it be a constitutional thing?

You know, it's often said that the decline of marriage is do with modern and overly liberal values, or a moral decline coinciding with people not being arsed about institutional religion anymore, or various other themed reasons. I actually think it has a more pragmatic reason to do with social units of production and consumption.

It's the individual who is the typical economic producer and consumer these days. One of the main drivers of marriage in the past, shared resources and shared labour in common production, has become almost sidelined. Hence, the base social unit has changed. It's both foundational and important but hardly a constitutional matter.

7 July 2012 at 07:34  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0 said ...

"It's the individual who is the typical economic producer and consumer these days. One of the main drivers of marriage in the past, shared resources and shared labour in common production, has become almost sidelined."

I tend to agree that there are economic forces interacting with social structures. However, the latter is not determined by the former as Marxists would argue. The 'superstructure' can operate with degrees of independence from the 'substructure' - as they might say.

The 'traditional' family where extended family members lived close by and where women remained at home as carers of the elderly and the young has been replaced by small nuclear families with both parents working and more focussed on consumption. Mass consumption and the ready availability of credit and growing personal debt, have resulted. And all this accompanied by a loosening of moral values, not just in the sexual area but also in terms of responsibility for the others and in particular the sick and the elderly.

There have been economic drivers behind this shift in family structures and values. So too a decline in belief in God because of the focus on 'here and now'. That's why the Bible teaches us about the hazards and immorality of usery. It leads to excessive worrying about money instead of a focus on God, subjugating a God-given sanctity of life to man-made artificial notions of material wealth.

"For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil."

However, surely it is possible to have a sound economy, less dependence on debt, with a mobile workforce and a return to a morality that places family and community responsibilities above self.

7 July 2012 at 10:54  
Blogger gentlemind said...

"The Law Society agrees with removing the ban on same-sex marriages to enable all couples, regardless of their gender, to have a civil marriage ceremony."

Intellectually dishonest, and indeed nonsense. Couples do not have a gender. We have two sexes, therefore any two people are either the same sex as one another or the opposite sex to each other. This isn't nitpicking! The sentence above is indicative of the imprecise language used in the debate. Belfast City Council recently moved the motion :“This council supports the same rights and entitlements to civil marriages for all citizens of Belfast regardless of race, religion or sexuality.” Put another way, they stated the status quo, but in support of change...I'm sure most readers of this blog would have supported the motion.

I am proud (yes) to have attended the marriage colloquium that two venues decided not to allow on their premises. The whole day was intellectually engaging, with much debate. Even non-Christians like me were allowed to attend. Presumably because the organisers believe in diversity...

7 July 2012 at 12:26  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

Sorry, Carl, it was meant to read that I thought your view, that marriages where there is no intention for children is a sin, was false. And I believe that it is false for the reasons I stated regarding elderly people getting married.

7 July 2012 at 12:28  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

And I believe it is still holding true after reading your response as to why you believe it is because there are some people who get older and are still fertile. Yet they might choose that they are not in a position to have children. However they are still able to set an example of creating a stable home that others who choose to have children are able to look to and emulate.

7 July 2012 at 12:31  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

DanJ0:

I don't appear to have made myself very clear.

I was treating the principles on which we change law (a constitutional issue) - i.e. how we make decisions about why a law should be changed - separately from the particular views being applied.

I wasn't arguing that marriage was itself a constitutional thing - merely the process and the principles which influence how marital law is influenced.

I may have been reading too much into the rhetoric, but the argument from yourself, David B, and on other occasions, Jon, has always seemed to be that a person's/couple's demand for equal legal recognition is itself sufficient grounds to change the law (Principle A).

This principle is not usually at work in the process of legislation. We don't for instance, regard someone's offence at paying tax as sufficient reason to change tax law. But marriage is, by its nature (one might even say by its being a priori before law - "couple bonded species") a different sort of subject, so I am quite content to accept that (A) applies only in the narrow instance of marriage (though I would observe that a similar principle often is invoked in other related discussions).

If then (A) is actually the justification for deciding what constitutes a legally recognised form of marriage, then the State effectively legislates in order to achieve a status that is appreciable to a maximum number of its citizens. It would also mean that it should be largely agnostic as to which claims are legitimate - within the reasonable boundaries of consensual behaviour.

If on the other hand (A) is only intended to to be used when the government is conducive to the view that marriage is, by definition, the monogamous union of only two people irrespective of their gender, then we have a different situation. The govt. essentially decides what is a legitimate complaint under (A), and so is not really practicing (A) - the complaint of a family wishing to have recognised polygamy is deemed to be outside (A).

The logical position would go, and indeed this seems to be the case in pragmatic terms, that whichever view on marriage was best represented politically would be the one that wins out and decides which claims on (A) are legitimate. De facto, the Lib-Con move is not based on a principle of how the law should change to accomodate offense, but on the belief in the principle of SSM. Mirrored in Arizona and other states by a legislature (and in many cases referenda) outlawing SSM - because they are upholding a partial principle of what marriage is a priori.

The usual objection to the likes of Arizona' ban is that it violates the putative rights of same-sex couple to have access to legal recognition of marriage (and in the USA, the legal benefits - an issue not applicable here with CPs, and one that changes the debate, but I'm not going to go into here for lack of space).

But then we're just back at (A): that a person may claim an absolute right, regardless of majority opposition, to have legal recognition of the nature of whatever union they enter. If you still insist that (A) applies as a natural right to SS couples, but not to Muslims or Mormons, or perhaps the polyamorous, then I can only conclude that logically (A) is in fact (A1): a recognition of the special status of same-sex unions in their demand to be afforded legal recognition as marriages, over and above, and to the exclusion of certain other claims.

In this instance, what we have is not a principle about how and where rights apply, or even a principle to decide which claims we listen to, but a principle narrowly about SSM. (A) is merely rhetoric in a form of identity politics.

I'd welcome any critique you have to offer.

7 July 2012 at 13:42  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Just a brief bit of honesty about my motivations here:

I do believe in a partial, a very partial view of what marriage constitutes (as found in Scripture).

This has led me to examine rival claims in greater detail, because - I'm not going to lie here - they are oppositional to my own.

However, my interest in how and where we apply principles of rights in law making is something I try to keep separate from my own personal beliefs, because I recognise that the public sphere is engaged in by lots of competing, and often mutually-exclusive, ideas, beliefs, and principles. This merely heightens, to my mind, the importance of being scrupulous about why decisions are made, including when they are made in the favour of views I hold myself.

7 July 2012 at 13:51  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Minor point on the important tangent you raise, DanJ0:

shared resources and shared labour in common production

Yes, but largely for offspring - i.e. a procreative family unit.

One only has to look at historical attitudes to infertility (regardless of whether one believes them to still apply; Carl/Youthpasta et. al. passim.) to see that the integral component was children.

Couples that couldn't have children were very often keen to be split up in working communities - I see examples in my own research of husbands disappearing off (presumably to other parts of the country to "try again") where there aren't any kids. If anything, the influence of the Church acted as a hindrance to this: married was married in their eyes, children or no.

7 July 2012 at 13:58  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Youthpasta

Yet they might choose that they are not in a position to have children.

I think you are focusing on pathological boundary conditions such as:

a. What about the couple that doesn't get married until they are both 50?

b. What about the couple with a high probability of producing a child with a terrible pre-natal defect?

c. What about the couple where pregnancy is considered too dangerous for the woman?

That is a fair critique of my position. In fact, my own circumstance falls into item c. We have two children because the doctor said to my wife "Don't have a third. It's too dangerous for you." Certainly there is room for prudential discernment in this matter, and I should have made that clear.

But boundary conditions are called boundaries conditions for a reason. They rarely occur. I am talking about the common attitude of "I just don't want the trouble and expense of kids." It may be justified by "I would never bring a child into this terrible world" or "I don't want to produce another child to burden the planet's resources" or some such nonsense. But at root this attitude is an expression of selfishness. Children impose responsibility. They demand substantial application of money and time over a long period of life. This is what people seek to avoid.

The last figure I saw was that one-fifth of women of child-bearing age in the UK stated they didn't want children. There aren't enough prudential boundary conditions in the world to account for that level of willful childlessness.

carl

7 July 2012 at 14:29  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "I'd welcome any critique you have to offer."

I don't see that your Principle A is much to do with my past arguments at all. It's a basic interpretation of fairness that like ought to be treated alike, and it seems that a demand for fair treatment in an alike situation ought to get it. But that's not how your comment reads as it goes through. It seems to interpret it as "I demand, I get" whether in an alike situation or not. I'm certainly not making an argument based on that. Quite the opposite, really.

7 July 2012 at 14:32  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo, I wasn't trying to make some sort of cod-Marxist argument or invite any doom and gloom value judgements about the state of things today. Marriage over the centuries here has been rather more informal at various times and in various situations than the religious would have liked. Its purpose has also changed back and forth throughout history.

Today, both sexes are nominally equal in the workplace. Either can pursue a career or not. Both may need to work, and the work may not be local to the home or to extended family. The workplace and society as a whole is much more complex and interconnected. Manual labour is much rarer. The middle classes have expanded dramatically so that people don't tend to work for themselves and invest wealth in their work. Child mortality is much reduced, and people can usually choose the size of their families. Labour saving devices and systems have changed the way homes are maintained. We're also vastly more wealthy and secure than in the past.

As such, marriage has become more of a contract between two people rather than two families. People don't need to marry to have sex or co-habit as a couple. People don't need to have children to carry on their work and maintain them if they get sick or when they get old. The work is dispersed so that people don't need to form family collectives in order to prosper or to avoid paying wages to non-family simply to eat. There's no need for a dowry as compensation. And so on. This is not all bad, in fact a lot of it is quite good.

7 July 2012 at 14:52  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I have to say that I'm a tad disappointed over this thread. I'd hoped that it would focus on the legal action based on the Equality Act rather than just rerunning the same old same-sex marriage thing yet again. I'd dead interested in how they might argue that they were discriminated against on the basis of their religious beliefs.

7 July 2012 at 14:56  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

From your post 14:29 Carl I have learnt that you have no understanding of altruism or selflessness.Your lack of empathy is terrifying.When a person is in love and young it is natural to want to marry and reproduce.Some people would like to have a large family but being responsible and giving consideration to the planet's limited resources and the world's decline into cruel indifference and lack of compassion
(evident on this Christian site)they sacrifice their desire for children to a higher cause. Just because it is a foreign concept to you, does not mean it does not exist.

7 July 2012 at 15:05  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"It's a basic interpretation of fairness that like ought to be treated alike, and it seems that a demand for fair treatment in an alike situation ought to get it."

I guess this is the problem: what is actually "alike" (I'm taking alike here to mean not merely similar but in the sense that you mean it: equally deserving of the same respect etc.)? You assert that SSM is alike to heterosexual marriage, because gender is not a limitation on what you conceive marriage to be. The Muslim or Mormon asserts that polygamous marriage is alike to monogamous marriage, because number is not a limitation on what they conceive marriage to be. On what basis does the State deem the first to be correct (overturning one partial view that gender is a limitation) and the second is wrong (overturning one partial view that number is a limitation) in terms of its implementing those claims in law?

Can I also just clarify that I didn't intend to accuse you of "I demand, therefore I get". If anything I was trying to look at it from the perspective of the State in determining which of these claims they listen to: (A) is essentially what the State is claiming to do (and what, in effect you are asking it to do with your rhetoric), rather than what claimants are doing. I'd formulate it rather more like this: "They have demanded, therefore we should give". It is this I am questioning, because it seems to be fairly important to establish on what grounds we determine a claim to be legitimate, which voices we deem to be authentic, and ultimately which claims (if any) have a right to expect their claims to be automatically represented in marital law.

My general view regarding competing identity politics, is that they should always be put to the test in a democratic arena, and not simply subsumed by government.

This has a direct bearing on the Equality Act, because in principle, it should allow (and frequently has allowed) that the content of a claimant's views are irrelevant to whether or not they have been discriminated against. That is, it is not intended to be a piece of legislation that enables courts to decide the legitimacy of any particular view - but only whether a decision has been made in a prejudicial manner purely on account of a person or group holding a particular view. In practice, and in perception (not helped by the likes of Christian Legal Centre), it has been used to test the content of views, and in so doing has tended towards producing, piece-by-piece, a partial overview of what views are considered legitimate to claim under the Equality Act on grounds of discrimination. I don't suggest this is a plot by evil secularists - it seems to me it has evolved through case law - but at the same time it often seems to lack a sufficient overriding self-consciousness about those issues I keep focussing on: how does the State and the legal system determine what is legitimate in a situation where they are attempting to avoid enshrining any particular partial view (assuming that this is in fact what they are trying to do, and not just saying)?

7 July 2012 at 15:15  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0 said ...

"Its (marraige) purpose has also changed back and forth throughout history."

The purpose has always been the same - the regulation of sexual drives and the raising of children. Point to a time when men ever 'married' men or men and women didn't marry for other purposes.

"People don't need to marry to have sex or co-habit as a couple. People don't need to have children to carry on their work and maintain them if they get sick or when they get old. The work is dispersed so that people don't need to form family collectives in order to prosper or to avoid paying wages to non-family simply to eat. There's no need for a dowry as compensation. And so on. This is not all bad, in fact a lot of it is quite good."

Not all bad? Its not working is it?

Children born to different 'absent' fathers; serial divorce, with children often pawns in unresolved conflict; women unable to choose to stay at home because of economic necessity; elderly and sick relatives left reliant on a social care system unable to cope; not to mention the crime of abortion.

What's so good about it?

7 July 2012 at 15:26  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Cessida

but being responsible and giving consideration to the planet's limited resources and the world's decline into cruel indifference and lack of compassion

I note that their profound concern about the "planet's limited resources" does not move them to off themselves. Nor does "decline into cruel indifference and lack of compassion" seem to make the world an intolerable place for living out their own lives. No, it seems the world is quite a fine place after all. For them if not for their children. I understand your point however. Amidst all their selfless sacrifice, they will somehow have to console themselves with summer homes and cruises and large bank accounts. Perhaps they will find the strength to carry on.

In the meantime, your birth rates have been below replacement for five decades. The richest civilization in the history of man refuses to reproduce itself. What am I supposed to call it? Altruism?

carl

7 July 2012 at 15:28  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

Carl, in that case I think we agree. However I would say that regardless of how rare these boundaries might come up they should still be brought up because otherwise the initial comment can come across as rather excessive and over the top.

7 July 2012 at 17:58  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "The purpose has always been the same - the regulation of sexual drives and the raising of children. Point to a time when men ever 'married' men or men and women didn't marry for other purposes."

You have a 1950s view of marriage, which is a relatively modern thing. I think you need to look into the history of marriage.

7 July 2012 at 19:49  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7 July 2012 at 20:21  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "I guess this is the problem: what is actually "alike" (I'm taking alike here to mean not merely similar but in the sense that you mean it: equally deserving of the same respect etc.)?"

Some time ago I made a list here of the features and purposes of marriage as I thought most people view it these days. Civil partnerships (i.e. same-sex marriage by another name) tick all the boxes as far as I could see. I actually mean like treated alike in the normal sense, though I'm obviously making gender format an irrelevance.

"On what basis does the State deem the first to be correct [..] and the second is wrong [..] in terms of its implementing those claims in law?"

On what basis did it do so when (say) the anti-miscegenation laws were overturned? Is a mixed-race marriage relevantly alike to a same-race marriage to qualify and get legal acceptance?

"My general view regarding competing identity politics, is that they should always be put to the test in a democratic arena, and not simply subsumed by government."

Is it really identity politics? It has the flavour of equal opportunities about it to me.

The racial discrimination laws were put in place in this country because there was systematic discrimination happening which was damaging social relations. It's still there to some extent of course, though more covert than overt now.

I wonder whether those laws would have been passed if we needed a referendum on such things to assert the rights of black people back then?

"This has a direct bearing on the Equality Act [..]"

I'm not actually a great fan of the Harriet Harperson's legislation. It goes too far, I think. I reckon some of the stuff it sets out in law ought to float in social convention. My claim that same-sex marriage is the stuff of social justice relies in part on prevailing attitudes to marriage. I couldn't claim it back in the 1950s, and I'd have been hard pressed to claim it in the 1970s and 80s.

7 July 2012 at 20:23  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"Is it really identity politics? It has the flavour of equal opportunities about it to me?"

Is the Lib-Con proposal identity politics? Haven't you answered this yourself on other occasions?

Even allowing for this, would you then characterise polygamy as an issue of equal opportunites also? You say:

"I thought most people view it"

In which case, surely, it's a question of public consensus, and not so much "one person is enough". As it happens I suspect that a referendum would go in your favour - but my point is that it makes it clear that the law in this area is just that: consensual. At present, the proposals may possibly be in line with general consensus - but my point is that they are being pursued in a manner that regards consensus as irrelevant.

Pragmatically this is an issue of some importance. You raise miscegenation laws: in the US, in which states historically has racism remained a problem - those that developed and advanced legislation on the back of popular motions, or those that had them implemented down, precisely for the reasons you outline?

Separate the State's response from the activities of Civil Rights movements. I'm sure I've said it before, but a healthy society is not one in which there aren't rights movements, but one in which there are always activist movements, constantly provoking democratic debate (even if it doesn't necessarily go their way). A society which, for fear of its populace not making the "right" decision, decides via a small elite what is good and proper for everyone else, is not nearly as healthy, and may even be counterproductive. If, say 70% of the population oppose a position, do you really think that making that position law will prove to be the most effective means of tackling the problem?

Might I also ask if you see the current situation in the UK regarding SSM as equivalent to the systematic discrimination caused by racism?

7 July 2012 at 20:54  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "In which case, surely, it's a question of public consensus, and not so much "one person is enough"."

It's a matter of social convention establishing benefits and rights to which others may claim applies to them also. If same-race marriage exists and race is no longer relevant then one mixed race couple wanting to marry ought to be enough in principle to have any existing discrimination there removed.

"A society which, for fear of its populace not making the "right" decision, decides via a small elite what is good and proper for everyone else, is not nearly as healthy, and may even be counterproductive."

We're a representative democracy. That's not just because having an X Factor style vote by potentially upto 45 million adult every Saturday is not very manageable, it's because we need to rely on our representatives spending the time and using resources to consider issues. Moreover, rights also exist in order to protect minorities from the potential tyranny of the majority. I'm a JS Mill style liberal and I agree with him that social tyranny can be one of the most oppressive forms.

"If, say 70% of the population oppose a position, do you really think that making that position law will prove to be the most effective means of tackling the problem?"

It's very effective in some situations. We have moved on a huge amount from the widespread casual racism of the 1970s. People are not just conforming for social reasons, I think most people actually believe that racism is a Bad Thing now. We're products of our culture and environment, as I'm sure religious organisations know very well. Law follows social and cultural changes but it also anticipates them at times. There's a dynamic there.

"Might I also ask if you see the current situation in the UK regarding SSM as equivalent to the systematic discrimination caused by racism?"

Equivalent in what respect? There are certainly similarities.

You know, as our culture has changed and gay people are seen in the open and in the media, people see us for what we are now: just normal, everyday people getting on with stuff. Almost everyone knows someone who is gay, I expect. We're not all Julian Clary clones. Most of us probably wouldn't be identifiable as gay to strangers at all. I honestly think people in general don't really care all that much now, and I think most people will think it unremarkable pretty soon.

All that said, being known to be gay in some industries will limit promotion. It may attract abuse. It may stop job offers. And so on. There are systematic problems. But hey. It's easier to hide than the colour of one's skin, if one needs or chooses to do so. But why should we actually need to hide our sexual orientation?

I was brought up in an almost exclusively white, middle-class area. Ethnic minorities were a mystery to me until I went to university. That was a bit of a culture shock. When I moved down to London, it was astonishing. I live in a multicultural area now and I don't really think about it. Cultural differences really interest me, I'm not trying to imagine them away. But I primarily just see my fellow man.

7 July 2012 at 22:16  
Blogger Julia Gasper said...

Yes, the banning of this conference was a public disgrace.
An attack on freedom of speech and democracy itself. I wrote to the Law Society making exactly the same points made by Archie Cranmer here. Yes of course same-sex marriage has never been "banned" for the same reason that hen's teeth have never been banned - they just don't exist. The so-called "diversity" agenda means nothing less than grovelling to gay extremists whatever ridiculous demand or accusation they make. It is not diversity and it is certainly not tolerant.
To ban a conference like this was a shocking attack on the civil rights of the whole of society. I note that a Jihadist conference is going ahead in central London in a few days time - no problems about that being banned!

7 July 2012 at 22:19  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Julia: "An attack on freedom of speech and democracy itself."

Freedom of speech doesn't mean that anyone who demands one must be given a platform to make it, you know.

7 July 2012 at 22:23  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

On what basis did it do so when (say) the anti-miscegenation laws were overturned?

This is a good question that deserves an answer.

From a narrow legal perspective, I'd say they did so in the USA (I don't think we ever had them here in the UK) because the Constitution guarantees equal rights to all people - and in 1967 the Supreme Court ruled they were in violation. The basis on which they were refused is a clear point of the American constitution - and thus, if you'll forgive me, a constitutional issue.

Historically, though, the ideas on which anti-miscegenation laws were founded, namely of racial genetics, were being demonstrated as being false; coupled with the impact of the Civil Rights movement. Most came about when eugenics was widely held in regard by scientists and much of the social elite. As eugenics came to be rejected on empirical grounds, remaining support for anti-miscegenation laws (including contemporary support, as in Alabama) moved from being supported by (incorrect) scientific consensus, to a position based, by definition, on opinion, belief, or tradition. My understanding is that in the USA this doesn't permit a reasonable basis for discrimination under the Constitution. Note, incest remains illegal largely because of the empirical evidence of potential genetic dangers. Were that evidence ever to be conclusively refuted, I supsect a similar repeal of incest laws could be justified on much the same grounds that SSM/Polygamy/Polyamory/Non-conformist civil marriages etc. are justified.

We'll assume that all unions are the same bar the following exceptions; refusal for which is based in the following assumptions:

---

Mixed-race marriages are the same except that the participants are not of the same race.

Assumptions: Race should not be mixed (empirically false on genetic grounds) and certain races are fundamentally inferior (again, largely possible to refute on empirical grounds).

---

Same-sex marriages are the same except that the participants are not of the same gender, and the union cannot naturally be procreative, even if both participants are entirely healthy.

Assumptions: Heterosexuality is a key defining point of marriage (a matter of opinion/belief); the possibility for procreation, notwithstanding physical illness is a key defining point of marriage (a matter of opinion/belief).

---

Polygamous marriages are the same except they involve three or more spouses.

Assumptions: Monogamy is a key defining point of marriage (a matter of opinion/belief).

---

Polyamorous marriages are the same except one or more partners is consensually sexually active outside of the union.

Assumptions: Sexual fidelity is a key defining point of marriage (a matter of opinion/belief).


All of the evidence that may be adduced to support SSM - that it does not cause other opinions to be violated; that not doing so compromises the social standing of same-sex couples; that SSM does not cause societal collapse - might be adduced, virtually without alteration, to support polygamy or polyamory. Unlike miscegenation laws, the premises on which they might be refused are largely a matter of opinion/belief/tradition; which you, and others in this thread, reject as presenting a legitimate basis for refusal.

If the principle of equal opportunities legislation is to prevent exclusion on the basis of opinion/belief/tradition, either institutionally, or by discrimination against individuals, there is no prima facie reason why SSM should be more valid than polygamy or polyamory.

7 July 2012 at 22:36  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"I primarily just see my fellow man."

QFT.

I agree entirely that gay people should not be required to hide the fact that they are sexually attracted to members of the same sex in order to advance. I can't think of any job or task where one's sexual attraction would prove to be to the detriment of the task.

7 July 2012 at 22:44  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

There were religious people arguing that their god created races for a reason and that mixed-race procreation is an undermining of their god's purpose. Obviously mixed-race marriage legitimises mixed-race procreation.

7 July 2012 at 22:45  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "From a narrow legal perspective, I'd say they did so in the USA (I don't think we ever had them here in the UK) because the Constitution guarantees equal rights to all people - and in 1967 the Supreme Court ruled they were in violation."

But why does the Constitition guarantee that? Let's face it, denying mixed-race couples access to the social institution of marriage is unfair at the end of the day unless there are relevant differences to justify discrimination. People realised over time that the differences aren't relevant, and that the marriage that mixed-race couples wanted was essentially the same thing for them as same-race marriage.

7 July 2012 at 22:54  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

But DanJ0, surely mixing of the races has nothing to do with your homosexual tragedy ?

Belfast. Here’s not one but a couple: Catholic priest and child minding.

7 July 2012 at 22:58  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Inspector: "But DanJ0, surely mixing of the races has nothing to do with your homosexual tragedy ?"

Are you, out of everyone here, not persuaded by that Christian 'teleological' argument there? At least one similarity is that I have to endure that sort of nonsense being said to me quite regularly.

7 July 2012 at 23:02  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

DanJ0:

Wouldn't deny that for an instant. But the claims about racial genetics are empirically testable. Claims about what constitutes the fundamental characterstics of marriage are not (including religious arguments for miscegenation).

I can understand why you advance an argument that opinions against SSM should be rejected precisely because they are opinions. In your words:

"Obviously it [divine prohibitions on SSM] is a meaningless argument with me as there is nothing shared there to which they can appeal."

"I can't really take that [procreation as essential] seriously myself.

What I find harder to understand is the basis on which you withold the right to uphold your opinion about the character of marriage being monogamous (and sexually fidelious?). Most of your posts seem to assume an a priori character of marriage that de-emphasises those aspects that would exclude yourself whilst reifying those that exclude polygamous (and polyamorous?) unions. I accept that you are not arguing for an absolute Platonic character, but rather essentially the character that has arisen from the culture here in the UK. But a fundamental part of your argument, it seems, is to make that culture (through social and legal dynamics) more tolerant and more equal:

"all we need to do is draw comparisons about love, companionship, support, stability, etc to the man on the Clapham omnibus and it's in the bag."

Just what about any of these things could not be applied to other kinds of marriage?

7 July 2012 at 23:04  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Of course, if their god actually exists and did create the races for a purpose then they have a point. Rather relies on some big, big assumptions there though; assumptions the rest of us aren't obliged to bother about.

7 July 2012 at 23:06  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

DanJ0, you stop singing the praises of people sexually attracted to their own sex, and the Inspector is sure we will get on famously. Can't say anything fairer than that..

7 July 2012 at 23:08  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"Let's face it, denying mixed-race couples access to the social institution of marriage is unfair at the end of the day unless there are relevant differences to justify discrimination."

Hence the importance of eugenics. Whilst it persisted, there was at least some basis, however spurious it may have proved, to reject miscegenation. The question of the possibility of procreation is not a disputed fact or even contentious sciencce, but what is disputed is its centrality to the meaning of marriage. You reject it, both when it is justified on religious grounds, but also in general, seeing it as only incidental to what marriage is.

7 July 2012 at 23:08  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

I have studiously been avoiding introducing any question of the existence of God to the issues I'm debating with you. As far as I can see, none of what I have said here requires any belief at all.

Unless - it occurs to me - is your opposition to polygamy mainly on the grounds that the examples I have used are religious (Muslims and Mormons)?

In which case, what of polyamory, or cultural polygamy?

7 July 2012 at 23:11  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "Claims about what constitutes the fundamental characterstics of marriage are not (including religious arguments for miscegenation)."

I repeatedly describe it as a social institution for a reason.

"Most of your posts seem to assume an a priori character of marriage that de-emphasises those aspects that would exclude yourself whilst reifying those that exclude polygamous (and polyamorous?) unions."

What aspects have I reified that exclude polygamy? I've said explicitly that I don't have a problem in principle with polygamy.

7 July 2012 at 23:13  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "I have studiously been avoiding introducing any question of the existence of God to the issues I'm debating with you. As far as I can see, none of what I have said here requires any belief at all."

Just treat it as an opinion about marriage that the majority of voters might have and on which they might choose to deny marriage to mixed race couples.

7 July 2012 at 23:17  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

DanJ0:

Perhaps I have misunderstood then. I took:

"Incidentally, I expect there are societies past and perhaps even present where polygamy or polyandry might be more suitable for that society than a couplet thing. It's not the principle I'm objecting to. Though I'm inclined to think we're a pair-bonding species at heart."

to mean that you did not think claims for the legal recognition of polygamy in the UK would be appropriate. As we have mainly been debating the means and principles by which SSM can or should be introducted in UK law it struck me that the principle of equal opportunities which you cite as the basis for SSM could be extended without any difficulty to my Muslim friend's wish for polygamous marriage to attain the same legal recognition as monogamous marriage. It might also be extended without difficulty to remove legal concepts of adultery given that consensually polyamorous unions have no wish to be held up to the moral(izing?) opinion that sexual fidelity is necessary in marriage.

7 July 2012 at 23:18  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Belfast. Have you got to the stage where you can’t continue until DanJ0 is a given a bloody good hiding ?

7 July 2012 at 23:25  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

What are the purposes of the State legitimising marriage rather than just letting people get on with their lives? As far as I know, there's nothing stopping your Muslim from living in an arrangement where he has four partners in the UK. There's nothing stopping two men or two women living together as though they were married, of course [1].

[1] Now

7 July 2012 at 23:25  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

The fidelity/adultery thing is interesting because it's grounds for divorce but the State doesn't actually police it or want to police it. That is, they may indulge in it as they wish provided one or other doesn't challenge the underlying contract between them.

7 July 2012 at 23:29  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

DanJ0. you are a blasted degenerate and you wish to pull society down to your disgusting level. Do you really think the people of the UK support you ? You are mentally sick man and deserve to be treated as such...

7 July 2012 at 23:29  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Inspector, there are grownups having a cordial, sensible debate here. Why not piss off to the thread above, and take your bottle with you?

7 July 2012 at 23:32  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

DanJ0:

I'm confused. I thought the purposes of the State legitimating marriage was firstly to grant particular legal rights, responsibilities and benefits.

These are fully available to both unions by legal marriage, and unions by civil partnerships. The second and subsequent spouses in polygamous marriages are currently denied that legal status.

But I'm confused on another account: aren't you in favour of SSM because you see the separation of civil partnerships and marriage to be unnecessary/unreasonable/unfair, resulting in some form of real disadvantage?

Maybe I need to clarify that as far as access to legal rights (i.e. next-of-kin, inheritance etc.) goes, I support making them available to any situation where two or more people make a long-term commitment wherein the legal rights, responsibilities and benefits accruing from the status are, if only for pragmatic reasons, going to make their lives much easier.

7 July 2012 at 23:35  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

One of the reasons the State might legitimise marriage is to encourage a stable environment n which to raise kids. Quite right, too, I'd say. That's not the only reason though, and I'd say it's not the primary reason.

7 July 2012 at 23:35  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

The silent reader might be intrigued as to what is going on here. DanJ0 is a homosexual. Instead of appreciating society’s tolerance for his kind, he is actively promoting his ‘view’ of society onto others. Belfast, bless the man, is humouring him. As for the Inspector, he looks on, irritated and yet amazed at the damn cheek of the aforementioned...

7 July 2012 at 23:41  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

DanJ0:

So what we have is an idea that the law should reflect existing social practice; in which case, it should be as agnostic as possible on the definition of marriage in order to be as inclusive of the wide array of social practices present in personal unions in the UK.

But it can also be used to encourage particular social practice when it comes to stability for children. Which would suggest in the contentious issue of whether or not particular family arrangements are more or less conducive to good parenting that the State should be able to restrict the conditions of marriage on the basis of the wellbeing of any potential children. Or do you see the State's role in parenthood re: marriage to solely be by a carrot approach?

7 July 2012 at 23:47  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "I thought the purposes of the State legitimating marriage was firstly to grant particular legal rights, responsibilities and benefits."

I'd describe that mostly as the function of marriage as far as the State is concerned. I'd say the primary purpose of legitimising marriage is to encourage stable social units (which normally includes the raising of children).

It's only a few decades on from when social units were the subject to the tyranny of social convention. We're freer now as people but arguably less stable as a society. As a liberal, I rate freedom very highly, and the potential for diverse lifestyles. Stability is still very important though.

"But I'm confused on another account: aren't you in favour of SSM because you see the separation of civil partnerships and marriage to be unnecessary/unreasonable/unfair, resulting in some form of real disadvantage?"

I was comfortable with civil partnerships at the time they were introduced. It addressed real and significant disadvantages. It was a reasonable and pragmatic aligment given the culture. However, I've been persuaded by that B&B case and by the use of same-sex marriage as the chosen battleground for religion to fight for its hegemony that same-sex marriage needs to go ahead.

7 July 2012 at 23:48  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Inspector: "The silent reader might be intrigued as to what is going on here."

It's very clear what is going on here. You're trying to disrupt a sensible debate with your obnoxious comments simply because you don't like the content.

7 July 2012 at 23:49  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "So what we have is an idea that the law should reflect existing social practice; in which case, it should be as agnostic as possible on the definition of marriage in order to be as inclusive of the wide array of social practices present in personal unions in the UK."

No. It should reflect social practice but there's that dynamic I mentioned going on too. You've introduced inclusiveness there, I think, to try to pursue your polygamy thing but I haven't said it needs to be as inclusive. I keep banging on about this but it's key: my claim is that same-sex marriage is relevantly alike to different-sex marriage for there to be an obligation to legitimise it given the cultural understanding of marriage that exists today.

"But it can also be used to encourage particular social practice when it comes to stability for children."

Social units are the building blocks of our society. They provide mutual support, financially and emotionally and practically so that the State need not get too involved. They help define private space. They largely determine home environments and social arrangements and the very basics of living in a modern society. The State has an interest in such things, albeit an arms-length one.

8 July 2012 at 00:02  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

What's the State's interest, Society's interest, in legitimising polygamous marriage in the UK at the present time? That's something that needs to be addressed along with any claims of being a relevantly alike arrangement.

8 July 2012 at 00:03  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

You're trying to disrupt a sensible debate with your obnoxious comments simply because you don't like the content.

Yes, and less of the obnoxious. You are such a proud homosexual, yet you refuse to come out at work. Given your gift at persuading everyone on this site that you and your kind are totally acceptable, why do you hold out at your place of employment ?

8 July 2012 at 00:09  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Inspector

AIB is a patient man. Let him attempt to reason with our resident mouthpiece for homosexuality. It will end in a descent into abuse or accusations of logical fallacy or dismissal of the 'god hypothesis', as most debates with him do.

I mean he's accused Albert of being a predatory pervert! And carl's logic he criticises as drawing false distinctions. Mine he just can't handle. And you? Well, you're supposed to be a homophobic homosexual in denial.

Just read the exchanges. It's interesting watching him at work.

To quote him, there may come a point when we have to agree with his earlier statement:

"Freedom of speech doesn't mean that anyone who demands one must be given a platform to make it, you know."

8 July 2012 at 00:11  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

If I might briefly pick up on a point you made a little earlier about "the underlying contract..." between people.

It just seems to me that from what you're saying, the logical, and indeed, liberal point would be to have the State as uninvolved as possible in defining anything of the character of personal unions, given that we seem to agree that there is a fairly broad array of possible forms of contracts that might be formulated between people. (If you'll forgive me: "nowt as queer as folk").

Your desire to increase and promote stability for parenthood is laudable. However, I find it hard to imagine a policy on marriage designed to promote familial stability that didn't take some sort of partisan view on which lifestyles were better than others. If it's justified in doing this through marital law, that would have to, in some way conflict with its commitment to making marriage inclusive.

Ironically, same-sex marriage wouldn't need to worry about this, as the only offspring that could ever occur would either be from previous unions or by adoption, in which case there would be plenty of checks and balances to weed out "unsuitable" candidates. Bizarrely, you'd end up in a situation where the State's actions in promoting parental stability would be far weaker towards same-sex couples than they would towards heterosexual unions, which would seem to trend towards creating a "two-tier" kind of marriage. At least, in so far as the State uses marriage to encourage certain kinds of social practice. Nothing to stop the efforts of the State being applied equally, of course, but nature and demographics would tend to suggest that an absolutely equal drive to improve good parenting amongst same-sex couples is probably not the most efficient means of improving parenthood.

---

"I've been persuaded by that B&B case and by the use of same-sex marriage as the chosen battleground for religion to fight for its hegemony that same-sex marriage needs to go ahead."

Thanks for being candid - especially on this blog's comments - but I think I would have to respectfully say that were I to be convinced that SSM in the UK was primarily going to be a vehicle designed to restrict the ability of religious groups to be involved in public life, I would have to take a far more active role in seeking to resist its implementation in law.

8 July 2012 at 00:13  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Inspector: "You are such a proud homosexual, yet you refuse to come out at work."

I'm neither proud nor ashamed of my sexuality, as I have said a number of times. It's you who very clearly has the problem. My sexuality is completely irrelevent to my work role and people, gay or straight, aren't obliged to discuss their private lives at work. I also work in an industry where homophobia is still a problem. Why would I invite it there? Moreover, you constantly complain that we are too vocal in society so you ought to be supportive of my maintaining privacy at work.

8 July 2012 at 00:14  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Notice now that Dodo has come to try to disrupt the debate too. Curious, isn't it?

8 July 2012 at 00:19  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"I keep banging on about this but it's key: my claim is that same-sex marriage is relevantly alike to different-sex marriage for there to be an obligation to legitimise it given the cultural understanding of marriage that exists today."

Relevantly alike, which rests on a point that the cultural understanding of marriage in the UK does not see the possibility of procreation as an essential (or even principal) component of marriage.

In effect (to check I haven't misunderstood what you're saying): different-sex marriage isn't much defined by its capacity to produce children any more, so any objection to SSM on the grounds of non-procreation is no longer valid (in our present culture).

To be honest, I don't think we'll get much more out of this without bringing some evidence for this kind of claim. I've stuck mainly to what I see as being the logical conclusions of introducing SSM as far as creating legal precedents goes, but this is, I'll admit, going into territory where I am not very familiar with the research.

Do you perhaps know of any studies that generally back up this claim?

8 July 2012 at 00:23  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

DanJ0. That’s right son. Keep your shameful secret under wraps away from the physical people you work with. Of course, it’s a different story anonymously on here, you absolute fraud...

You will go far. Until stopped by someone of integrity. The Inspector for example....

8 July 2012 at 00:25  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Notice now that Dodo has come to try to disrupt the debate too. Curious, isn't it?

Wouldn’t it be just darling if some determined Anglicans closed in on you. No sign of them so it left to the Catholics...

8 July 2012 at 00:31  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "It just seems to me that from what you're saying, the logical, and indeed, liberal point would be to have the State as uninvolved as possible in defining anything of the character of personal unions [..]"

No. Haven't I already said that there's a purpose to legitising marriage? People in the UK can set up civil contracts as they wish, under various legal systems of their choosing. That doesn't change the fact that marriage is also based in a contract.

"Your desire to increase and promote stability for parenthood is laudable. However, I find it hard to imagine a policy on marriage designed to promote familial stability that didn't take some sort of partisan view on which lifestyles were better than others."

I'd have thought it'd be hard to pursue stability as an aim by legitimising relationships that tend towards instability in themselves. Now, perhaps you'll say that including same-sex couples in marriage will cause instability. If so then I don't agree at all.

"Ironically, same-sex marriage wouldn't need to worry about this, as the only offspring that could ever occur would either be from previous unions or by adoption, in which case there would be plenty of checks and balances to weed out "unsuitable" candidates."

Or from alternative arrangements, like sperm donation within (say) a lesbian relationship.

Couples, straight and gay, don't have to have any children at all if they so choose. It's not a requirement of marriage, nor is it, I contend, the primary purpose of the State legitimising marriage. That, I contend, is to encourage stable social units.

"[..] but I think I would have to respectfully say that were I to be convinced that SSM in the UK was primarily going to be a vehicle designed to restrict the ability of religious groups to be involved in public life [..]"

The emphasis was actually the other way around. It seems to me that religious organisations are using same-sex marriage as a rallying point to assert themselves. It's part of a wider thrust to claim that Christians are being victimised, and I think that's a deliberate policy by some of these groups.

8 July 2012 at 00:33  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

AIB

There it is, laid bare:

DanJ0 said ...

"It's only a few decades on from when social units were the subject to the tyranny of social convention. We're freer now as people but arguably less stable as a society. As a liberal, I rate freedom very highly, and the potential for diverse lifestyles. Stability is still very important though."

Freedom without regard to social stability is anarchy.

And why push this:

"I was comfortable with civil partnerships at the time they were introduced ... I've been persuaded by that B&B case and by the use of same-sex marriage as the chosen battleground for religion to fight for its hegemony that same-sex marriage needs to go ahead."

The man prizes anarchy principally because of his anti-theism. It's an opportunity to attack religion belief.

And this is precisely why the homosexual agenda has to be fought.

8 July 2012 at 00:34  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Inspector: "Keep your shameful secret under wraps away from the physical people you work with."

You're the allegedly straight, and curiously unmarried man in his 50s with the Ted Haggard homophobia thing going on. Demonstrated here, and on almost every thread, is your obsession with homosexuality. You're the one who is ashamed of your sexuality and obviously conflicted by it. There's nothing to be ashamed of, as I keep telling you, despite the guilt trip mental abuse the Catholic Church has inflicted on you as a boy. It's just sexuality.

8 July 2012 at 00:39  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Inspector

Standard DanJ0esque response to you. So predictable too. To me it'll be my Catholicism being a cover for homophobia laced with the odd snide comment about my integrity.

Nasty when cornered.

8 July 2012 at 00:45  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Ps

Standard technique in social engineering too. Accuse someone of something in the hope they'll divulge useful information or discredit themselves.

Win-win in the game of forun chess, don't you know.

8 July 2012 at 00:48  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0

Continue your discussion with AIB and ignore us. Logically he has you cornered and I'm interested in what you might have to say.

We're entitled to throw in the odd aside.

8 July 2012 at 00:51  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "In effect (to check I haven't misunderstood what you're saying): different-sex marriage isn't much defined by its capacity to produce children any more, so any objection to SSM on the grounds of non-procreation is no longer valid (in our present culture)."

Couples clearly don't need to be married to have children either. I know of a number of couples who have raised kids outside marriage in a long-term, stable relationship. I know some couples who have chosen not to have children yet still have sex. There are couples who cannot have children naturally. There are couples who marry or remarry too late to have children. Demonstrably, any claim that marriage is inextricably linked to having children is incorrect.

"I've stuck mainly to what I see as being the logical conclusions of introducing SSM as far as creating legal precedents goes, but this is, I'll admit, going into territory where I am not very familiar with the research."

You've argued for social conservatism and nominally some sort of majority voting on legal changes, as far as I can see. Obviously, I have disagreed with your opinion there. Moreover, the law in practice will change or not irrespective of your or my opinion. Same-sex marriage is not an issue which has a killer argument one way or the other.

8 July 2012 at 01:10  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

DanJ0. Regarding your homosexuality, what nature has done to you is bloody cruel. However, it is no excuse to, one, inflict your damage onto other people, two, to smear the
Inspector with your problem.

Toodle pip !

8 July 2012 at 01:22  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"Haven't I already said that there's a purpose to legitising marriage?"

Yes, but main application of it you give is in parenthood. Of the importance of procreation to the admission of SSM to standard legal marriage you have said this:

"Yes, yes, I know the usual stuff about how producing and raising children features rather heavily ... given that same-sex couples can't produce them through sex between themselves and therefore it provides a backstop of sorts to the change ... but I can't really take that seriously myself."

The idea of stable social units is also compelling: but by your own admission, these will exist anyway without the involvement of the State, especially given that people are increasingly eschewing marriage. Presumably you would not argue that unions lacking State recognition via marriage are any the less social units. But in this view legal marriage is less a contract between individuals, and more a contract between individuals and the State's idea of a stable social unit.

Given that same-sex couples will invariably not have children via procreation between members the degree to which the social unit they might potentially constitute is comparable to the social unit a heterosexual union might potentially constitute is not an irrelevant point.

In that sense, you have a strong argument for the State supporting and acknowledging the social units arising from personal unions, but not as strong a case in arguing for their absolute equivalency (which is the assumption behind SSM proposals at the moment). Regardless, though, "social unit" seems a remarkably open term that could be applied very broadly, and yet I don't get the sense that you have a broad application in mind.

"Or from alternative arrangements, like sperm donation within (say) a lesbian relationship."

Yes, an interesting example, given that the law allows in particular circumstances for children who have no legal father. Not by any means an uncommon occurrence on birth certificates these days, but a rather interesting one given the centrality of the relationship between the law, the role of the State, and pre-existing social institutions. I wonder to what degree this goes in upholding fatherhood?

Still the point stands, only narrowed down to male-male relationships.

"I'd have thought it'd be hard to pursue stability as an aim by legitimising relationships that tend towards instability in themselves. Now, perhaps you'll say that including same-sex couples in marriage will cause instability."

This is a rather curious point, which I'm not entirely sure I can respond to without being clearer about what you mean here. You have generally seen the State as promoting stability by legitimating personal unions - surely if you believe this to be the case, engagement in marriage will encourage stability. Otherwise, it seems to me that you are concerned with marriage being used to legitimise a union that it should not, that was "unstable". It would be quite important to establish just what you consider this to be in definitive terms.

If by "including same-sex couples", you mean that legitimating SSM will impinge on the ability of parents to parent, or on the ability of me to be in a stable relationship with my wife, then no, I don't much hold with that. On the other hand, I am not quite sure whether you are making the point that same-sex couples are one of those fundamentally stable types of union you have in mind.

"The emphasis was actually the other way around."

Whilst I realise this, my point was more that were SSM to be taken up in the manner you describe, I would be inclined to consider with greater seriousness the action I described. Generally, I do not go in for the thesis that there are forces explicitly seeking conflict with Christians.

8 July 2012 at 01:38  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"Demonstrably, any claim that marriage is inextricably linked to having children is incorrect."

With regards to the "contracts" (explicit or otherwise) created between individuals, this may well be the case. But one of the supporting pillars of your argument is the value of legal marriage in providing stability, particularly even if not exclusively (but there are few people who would argue that procreation is the exclusive purpose of marriage), for bringing up children. In that sense, your own argument shows it not to be "incorrect", but entirely relevant. Not perhaps all-consuming, or even necessarily pre-eminent, but nevertheless, not incorrect.

Am I ok assuming, though, that this is a general agreement with the point that different-sex marriage is no longer defined by procreation and therefore that procreation has no bearing on the legitimation of SSM?

In which case, the factual basis of claim regarding the extent to which procreation is indeed irrelevant to the definition of marriage should be possible to demonstrate. I appreciate that you may not be familiar with the literature on this either - so I'll not take your silence as any kind of admission, but it would be good to see if there is actually some reliable research on this point.

8 July 2012 at 01:49  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

One last minor point before I head off to bed:

"Moreover, the law in practice will change or not irrespective of your or my opinion."

You may well be correct, but this is why I opened in this thread by inquiring as to whose opinions will influence the law, how those opinions are arrived at, and how those people are selected (presumably on the basis of their opinions).

All of which neatly ties back into the original post regarding how precisely the principle of equality law can work in a situation where the insitutions most intimately involved in influencing the law appear to have pre-determined views on a partial application of equality law to uphold a particular point of view rather than a principle of law.

8 July 2012 at 02:13  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "Yes, but main application of it you give is in parenthood."

We're talking about purpose there. Like with contracts in civil law, there needs to be an authority/arbitrator. Unlike with contracts in civil law, the State offers benefits on behalf of us all. It does that for a reason.

Chilren are usually raised in families. Marriage legitimises a particular family arrangement in law and confers benefits as a result. People have sex. People usually want and have children. It's in everyone's interest, I'd say, that children are raised in stable environments such as families. Afterall, early socialisation of children takes place solely in families.

"Presumably you would not argue that unions lacking State recognition via marriage are any the less social units. But in this view legal marriage is less a contract between individuals, and more a contract between individuals and the State's idea of a stable social unit."

It's both of course. Two people form a contract with themselves, the State is the authority/arbitrator for the contract, and the couple gain benefits which the State offers on behalf of Society for people in that sort of contract.

Perhaps it's just coming across this way at my end and it's completely different at yours but it seems to me that you're just drifting points around in all sorts of approaches to find a means to undermining same-sex marriage.

"Given that same-sex couples will invariably not have children via procreation between members the degree to which the social unit they might potentially constitute is comparable to the social unit a heterosexual union might potentially constitute is not an irrelevant point."

You're just rewording the claim that procreation is a core attribute of marriage as far as you're concerned and one which would denying same-sex couples access to the social institution. I just need to point out that it is demonstrably not so yet again, nodding to modern interpretations of marriage held by different-sex couples.

I don't really blame the religious for trying to firm up this area if their primary concern is to stop same-sex marriage as it's probably the best argument they have. Yet it unfortunately over-reaches into different-sex marriage and ultimately flounders on the rocks of reality there.

8 July 2012 at 08:20  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: ""You have generally seen the State as promoting stability by legitimating personal unions - surely if you believe this to be the case, engagement in marriage will encourage stability."

Yes if the form of union encourages social stability. Here I think you're trying to go back to polygamy again.

I suspect you're also going to focus on stability as though it is the only purpose of marriage for the State.

Tell me, do you think polygamous marriages in the UK would encourage stability given the nature of our culture and the form of our society?

"In that sense, you have a strong argument for the State supporting and acknowledging the social units arising from personal unions, but not as strong a case in arguing for their absolute equivalency (which is the assumption behind SSM proposals at the moment)."

On c'mon, you're really drifting the point now. I am not claiming absolute equivalency at all or relying on that assumption there. I regularly use the phrase 'relevantly alike' for a very specific reason. We don't insist on the absolute equivalency of two women before recognising the right of both of them to vote. If they're women with the correct citizen status and they're not in prison or a mental institution then they have a right to vote whether or not (say) one has children and one has not, or one is married or not, or one is employed or not.

"On the other hand, I am not quite sure whether you are making the point that same-sex couples are one of those fundamentally stable types of union you have in mind."

Marriage in the form we have today encourages stability as far as I am concerned and same-sex couples entering that contract are just like different-sex couples in that respect."

8 July 2012 at 08:21  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "In that sense, your own argument shows it not to be "incorrect", but entirely relevant. Not perhaps all-consuming, or even necessarily pre-eminent, but nevertheless, not incorrect."

Or, stripping off the fluff again, that marriage is not inextricably linked to having children as I said.

What would we lose if we ditched marriage contracts all together, do you think? Would Society collapse, forcing us into a State of Nature? Would people stop having children? Would we all start having sex with strangers and not form committed relationship at all?

"In which case, the factual basis of claim regarding the extent to which procreation is indeed irrelevant to the definition of marriage should be possible to demonstrate."

Perhaps it makes a difference that you're religious and I am not but you could try simply asking around about why people have chosen to get married rather than simply co-habit.

8 July 2012 at 08:31  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "You may well be correct, but this is why I opened in this thread by inquiring as to whose opinions will influence the law, how those opinions are arrived at, and how those people are selected (presumably on the basis of their opinions)."

As far as I know, all three main parties in our legislature are supportive of same-sex marriage. Luckily, we're well represented behind the scenes in our TV media and equality issues are the mainstay of the left in other parts of the media. You've got some of the right-wing press and right-wing organisations and your religious spokesmen who seem to enjoy undue prominence for some reason when issues like this come up. Also, we have your fringe religious umbrella organisations who seem to do more for us than the religions they claim they serve. :)

8 July 2012 at 08:38  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

We've also got Dodo and the Inspector as last night's activity shows. If only we could get that duo on TV then we'd probably be able to leap to a secular State in no time at all.

8 July 2012 at 08:41  
Blogger David B said...

Going back to the Original Post in this thread, in which the writer asks for persuasive arguments for SSM, perhaps it might be productive to look at a broader picture of how concepts of marriage, both within and without the various churches, have changed over the years, and the arguments for and against change both within and outside the church.

Before continuing, I should make it clear to those not already familiar with my views that as a liberal atheist I am opposed to religious privilege, and to people imposing laws on society as a whole on religious grounds.

And further make it clear that as a clear cut heterosexual, though in my 60s and never married, I have no personal axe to grind regarding homosexual emancipation other than preferences for justice and fairness.

Anyway, I've been doing a bit of desultory Googling on such topics as property rights for married women, divorce law, the law on marital rape.

One thing I find is that it is clear that views on marriage in society as whole and within the church, both, views on marriage have changed.

Another thing I find is that the changes are not simply the result of a battle between liberal secular and/or atheist forces on the one hand, v conservative churchmen on the other.

In the present issue there are believers who, like me, support SSM and, I see from comment pages, atheists who oppose it.

In the past John Sumner, the Archbish of Canterbury, and the conservative Palmerston supported the divorce bill in opposition to the liberal churchman Gladstone. Mind you he thought the purpose of the state was to support the CoE. In many ways a strange and complicated man.

But back to the point, I found http://www.belmonthouse.co.uk/Marriage,%20cohab%20and%20divorce/battle_over_marriage.htm to be instructive.

It seems to be a pretty good factual account of the history of how marriage has been viewed in Britain, both inside and outside the church, and it comes to conclusions which are quite the opposite of mine.

It covers the history of the debates regarding divorce, remarriage in church, all from a POV that believes, as far as I can tell, that marriage is an unbreakable sacrament.

I'd recommend a read of the page I point to, but also a consideration of what I think the most important part of the discussion of both SSM and marriage in general, and that is whether the religious views of one particular sect at one particular time should be imposed on others.

I think not.

David B

8 July 2012 at 11:04  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

DanJ0, in case you are sitting there with one of those peculiar grins gay men have, thinking the Inspector read any of your rot from last night – well he bloody well didn’t !

Not a single word.

One realises that this news will devastate a narcissus like you, and that you may well feel the Inspector has pissed on your parade unfairly, but be aware of this. He hasn't seen any new guff from you for months, and doubts he ever will again...

8 July 2012 at 12:43  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"What would we lose if we ditched marriage contracts all together, do you think? Would Society collapse, forcing us into a State of Nature? Would people stop having children? Would we all start having sex with strangers and not form committed relationship at all?"

Well now, that's an interesting proposition, and one that has in fact been tried - to my knowledge only once - in Soviet Russia. You can look up how it worked out for them.

"Or, stripping off the fluff again, that marriage is not inextricably linked to having children as I said."

This is logically quite silly. You have argued quite reasonably for the place and importance of childrearing in marriage, and I have suggested, not unreasonably, that it has a place and a bearing on the meaning of marriage even if it is not pre-eminent. Your former discussion was quite a bit more nuanced than this on this very point.

"Perhaps it makes a difference that you're religious and I am not but you could try simply asking around about why people have chosen to get married rather than simply co-habit."

True, and I'll give my anecdotal evidence in a moment - but there was a discussion earlier about the importance of anecdote vs. principle. We've explored, and apparently exhausted principle, so it seems fair to examine a simple point that I imagine exists in literature. If I come across anything in my travels, I'll be sure to let you know - whether it advances my argument or not.

As to anecdote:

I'd say that those people I know who co-habit are primarily of two types, with a third reason that arises probably more from being in Northern Ireland. I should say that the majority of my friends, including friends in England, are either married or plan to get married, with one couple separated, and they are not by any means all religious.

Roughly the two types seem to be:

1) Couples who have taken a conscious decision to be not married. They are all university-educated, all left-wing, all feminists, and all of the view that marriage is patriarchal/repressive.

2) Couples who are not getting married because they "cannot afford to".

As to the latter, my personal commentary would be that this would seem to illustrate a different understanding from the one I have regarding marriage. When my wife and I were engaged, we planned to have a wedding (in church obviously), a £200 dress, and a party for all our friends afterwards in a nice pub. This was what we could afford, and it didn't matter because marriage to us was the recognition of life-time commitment before God. As it happened, my parents-in-law very generously insisted on upping the stakes (despite my wife's protestations), and we had something more closely related to a "traditional" wedding, and a lovely one it was at that - though I hasten to stress that the bill was by no means astronomical. I surmise - and I am inferring rather than reporting here - that my friends who put off marriage for reasons of cost, particularly non-religious ones, do so because the element of commitment is less important than the element of celebration. On the other hand, I know that quite a lot of the women, and not an inconsiderable number of the men, openly value having children (in marriage or out of it, religious and non-religious) very highly and see it as an integral part of their relationship. They have usually stressed the importance of the stability of the relationship - no-one "just" wants kids in any old relationship - but the stability of that relationship is quite strongly related to wanting a stable family home.

8 July 2012 at 12:54  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"I suspect you're also going to focus on stability as though it is the only purpose of marriage for the State."

Only because you stressed it as the primary reason, with a secondary stress on creating stable family environments for the purposes of childrearing.

"Marriage in the form we have today encourages stability as far as I am concerned and same-sex couples entering that contract are just like different-sex couples in that respect."

I took this as assumed, but thanks for confirming that I had understood you. You don't mention what might constitute an unstable type of relationship that should not be legitimated - can you comment any further on what you had in mind here?

8 July 2012 at 13:00  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "Well now, that's an interesting proposition [...]"

I asked simply in the hope of illustrating that we'd probably pretty much carry on as we do now, forming relationships which suit our society and our human nature.

"This is logically quite silly."

It's a demonstrable fact as I have already indicated.

"Only because you stressed it as the primary reason, with a secondary stress on creating stable family environments for the purposes of childrearing."

Add to that the support structure that stable relationships bring internally and perhaps through the two families. That's support that the State doesn't have to provide if life throws a curve ball now and again.

"You don't mention what might constitute an unstable type of relationship that should not be legitimated - can you comment any further on what you had in mind here?"

You seem to be shifting the point about stability around there. I think the State encourages marriage in order to promote social stability. Social units are part of the building blocks of our society. Stable relationships in themselves are important if one has children but it's your point about the legitimate form of relationships in marriage. You want to raise that to try to bring in polygamy, I think. I've just run with it at times. Do you think polygamous marriages promote social stability in the UK given our culture, type of housing, welfare system, and so on?

8 July 2012 at 13:34  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"We don't insist on the absolute equivalency of two women before recognising the right of both of them to vote. If they're women with the correct citizen status and they're not in prison or a mental institution then they have a right to vote whether or not (say) one has children and one has not, or one is married or not, or one is employed or not."

Yes, but the capacity to vote is not in any way affected by the individual - and where it is affected, either in principle with convicts, or in practice with people who are non compos mentis, the vote is denied to them.

Without speciously insisting that the following amounts to a cast-iron justification for the denial of SSM, it is important to note that quite a bit of marital legislation arises from the nature of different-sex unions. In being carried across, the relationship of the law changes from being one that is organically related to the kinds of social practice it legitimates, to being applied more broadly for reasons of equality, even where that organic link is not present.

To take an excellent example you raised earlier: lesbians and presumption of parenthood.

Firstly, can I just note that as this law exists already regarding Civil Partnerships, it merely strengthens the point regarding the importance of childbearing on marriage, inasmuch as it was a fundamental point that had to be carried across to Civil Partnerships for reasons of providing equality. I also should state that I know a lesbian couple (now in a CP) who campaigned precisely for this right, so I am not unfamiliar with its importance to LGBT activists.

The basic premise goes like this: in a marriage, a woman who gives birth is, quite obviously, the child's mother. By that standard, neither you nor I will ever be mothers, legally or otherwise. The father has presumptive and automatic parenthood. The reasoning for the origin of this law is based on two, again obvious, points:

1) Marriage is a sexual union, and heterosexual intercourse, notwithstanding medical problems or contraception, tends to result in pregnancy.

2) Because Marriage is a union defined by sexual fidelity, if a woman is pregnant, it can be assumed in law that having entered into such a contract, the father will be her husband.

The source then, is in the fundamental biology of humans, and the fidelity to which both spouses consented.

When this right is transferred to the non-pregnant lesbian partner, the source of the legislation remains the same, but the new member who has been emancipated to presumptive fatherhood does not share the same underlying organic relationship with the law. It has simply been expanded to her on the basis of equality, because it is a right available to a pregnant woman's husband. Even the law is the same: the lesbians have to be in a Civil Partnership at the time of conception - as if the child is conceived by both lesbians, even though this is biologically an impossibility.

This is the difference between the State legitimating an a priori process - that is, drawing in the natural presumptions arising from conception and pregnancy to a legal institution - and legitimizing a relationship that arises through quite particular circumstances as being fundamentally equal in nature. One is taking the idea that the State produces law to reflect and regulate what happens anyway, the other is the idea that the State applies law based in what happens to a situation where it does not happen for the purposes of providing equal standing in the law.

Or, to put it another way: the former can occur with or without legislation, the latter can only occur with legislation, floundering as it does on the rocks of reality.

8 July 2012 at 13:35  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "Or, to put it another way: the former can occur with or without legislation, the latter can only occur with legislation, floundering as it does on the rocks of reality."

What has that actually shown? People act in the role of parents when decisions need to be made about children in their care. We have parental obligations, legal guardianship, adoption, wards of court, and so on, to handle that sort of stuff. Whether it's presumptive or not is just detail, it seems to me.

8 July 2012 at 13:44  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"I asked simply in the hope of illustrating that we'd probably pretty much carry on as we do now, forming relationships which suit our society and our human nature."

Whether this is a fundamental rule or not, I don't know, but in Soviet Russia it resulted in genuine social collapse, a large part arising from the chaos of illegitimate children.

I am not shifting from the point regarding instability but responding to a statement you made earlier:

"I'd have thought it'd be hard to pursue stability as an aim by legitimising relationships that tend towards instability in themselves. Now, perhaps you'll say that including same-sex couples in marriage will cause instability."

I am simply asking for clarity regarding what you anticipate will be a relationship that tends towards instability, and also where and when this decision would be made. On a case-by-case basis? By type? Before or during marriage?

"It's a demonstrable fact as I have already indicated.
"

Two things. If social attitudes have changed to the point that procreation is no longer deemed an important component of marriage, this is indeed a demonstrable fact - but one that needs to be demonstrated with reliable research, which neither you nor I have to hand. I am quite prepared to accept and respond to this point in the event of that research being produced.

The second issue, though is one of principle. You accuse me of:

"just rewording the claim that procreation is a core attribute of marriage as far as you're concerned and one which would denying same-sex couples access to the social institution."

My understanding of what you believe marriage to be is that it is a social institution. That being the case social practice - and the extent of social practice - is relevant to determining what it is. To argue that simply because one may provide an example of an exception that the premise is void when we are dealing with a social institution is specious. We might as well observe that because there are adulterers this "proves" that fidelity is a non-issue in what marriage is. You have given two principles on which the State has an interest in being involved in regulating marriage - one being about raising children - ergo, as you envisage this to be a dynamic relationship between State and social practice, the issue of procreation is "inextricable" from marriage. Where, at any time, has marital law not involved provision for and rules regarding procreation and child-rearing? Our present law does so, and far from excising it from the Statute Book, it has extended it to Civil Partnerships.

"Do you think polygamous marriages promote social stability in the UK given our culture, type of housing, welfare system, and so on?"

If I based my defence of marriage solely in its capacity to promote social stability, I would observe that there are a great many places in the world where polygamy has resulted in very stable societies. Utah springs to mind. I think the grounds on which SSM can be justified are quite capable of supporting a justification for legal recognition of polygamy, though whether that is in the form of a separate legal entity (like a CP), or a wholesale redefinition, is another matter. The point is simply that if in principle it is wrong to deny the same-sex couple legal recognition, it is also wrong to deny the happy, committed, and stable polygamous marriage legal recognition - not least because, unlike (now) same-sex couples, second and subsquent spouses have no access to any of the legal benefits.

8 July 2012 at 13:52  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"What has that actually shown? People act in the role of parents when decisions need to be made about children in their care. We have parental obligations, legal guardianship, adoption, wards of court, and so on, to handle that sort of stuff. Whether it's presumptive or not is just detail, it seems to me."

Two things. The first being that laws regarding procreation are integral to UK marital law, including where this has been extended to same-sex couples, or more specifically to lesbians. The second being that the relationship on this point of law between what people do, and what the law recognises is fundamentally different when the same law is applied equally to the lesbian partner who is not pregnant.

8 July 2012 at 13:54  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0
Last night you said ...

"It's only a few decades on from when social units were the subject to the tyranny of social convention. We're freer now as people but arguably less stable as a society. As a liberal, I rate freedom very highly, and the potential for diverse lifestyles. Stability is still very important though."

Social convention was hardly a 'tyranny'! It's the glue that holds a culture together.

You place the freedom of a small minoruty above social stability so you and a tiny minority can have your own way. How is this 'liberal'? It's anarchy.

And then:

"I was comfortable with civil partnerships at the time they were introduced ... I've been persuaded by that B&B case and by the use of same-sex marriage as the chosen battleground for religion to fight for its hegemony that same-sex marriage needs to go ahead."

Religion hardly has a hegemony! The social conventions you despise are rooted in Christianity. You not only place social anarchy above social stability but also see homosexual marriage as a 'battleground' to inflict a defeat on theism. It's an opportunity to advance your anti-theist agenda.

Conventional heterosexual marriage and family life has been the bedrock of society and has worked for generations. A belief in God is not necessary to oppose homosexual marriage.

You tell me what good can possibly come from the cultural vandalism you support.

8 July 2012 at 14:21  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "I am simply asking for clarity regarding what you anticipate will be a relationship that tends towards instability, and also where and when this decision would be made."

It was in reply to your point in which your brought in familial stability rather than social stability:

However, I find it hard to imagine a policy on marriage designed to promote familial stability that didn't take some sort of partisan view on which lifestyles were better than others.

Of course, this is the problem with great rafts of text floating around the number of approaches you're trying. Keeping track of all of them is difficult for both of us.

"If social attitudes have changed to the point that procreation is no longer deemed an important component of marriage, this is indeed a demonstrable fact [..]"

And again. You're drifting and shifting there, I'm afraid. It's a demonstrable fact that people have children outside of marriage, and that people intentionally don't have children inside marriage. Hence, procreation is not an essential aspect of marriage. We can circle around that as many times as you like and in as many words as you like but, well, there it is.

"My understanding of what you believe marriage to be is that it is a social institution."

Surely that is not in doubt at all? The difference between you and me is that I think it is only a social institution.

"We might as well observe that because there are adulterers this "proves" that fidelity is a non-issue in what marriage is."

If lots of people are entering marriages with the intention committing adultery from the outset then one might indeed wonder whether fidelity is an essential part of marriage.

"You have given two principles on which the State has an interest in being involved in regulating marriage - one being about raising children - ergo, as you envisage this to be a dynamic relationship between State and social practice, the issue of procreation is "inextricable" from marriage."

The State and Society has an interest in children being socialised and socialisation in the early years takes place within the family. The State clearly doesn't regulate marriage so that people must have children to qualify. I think you're shifting stuff around again to try to push home your desired demarcation.

"If I based my defence of marriage solely in its capacity to promote social stability, I would observe that there are a great many places in the world where polygamy has resulted in very stable societies."

I note your use of "solely" there despite my earlier comments. Also, I note that you've moved the cultural context away from the UK which is quite dubious since social stability has its own context.

"The point is simply that if in principle it is wrong to deny the same-sex couple legal recognition, it is also wrong to deny the happy, committed, and stable polygamous marriage legal recognition [...]"

Luckily, I've based my arguments for same-sex marriage in the UK on relevantly alike things and obligations based on fairness and I don't think polygamous marriages are relevantly alike to oblige the State to legally recognise them. We can go around the whole thing again if you like but I expect it'll just look the same.

8 July 2012 at 14:29  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo, I'm hardly going to engage with you here now after your usual Saturday night trolling and trouble-making. If you're so hideously bored and joyless in life that you get yourself off doing that every week, as you seem to do, then you really need to find a hobby or something. It's pitiful.

8 July 2012 at 14:32  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

It's a demonstrable fact that people have children outside of marriage, and that people intentionally don't have children inside marriage. Hence, procreation is not an essential aspect of marriage.

You're conflating social practice with the social institution here. By doing so, you render "essential aspect of marriage" down to merely whatever people do. As I said, ipso facto, this would mean that because people are adulterous, fidelity is not an essential aspect of marriage; because people practice polygamy, monogamy is not an essential aspect of marriage; because there are celibate married couples, sex is not an esssential aspect of marriage.

As a social institution marriage embodies a site where ideal forms of behaviour are encouraged and non-ideal forms are discourage. In that sense, what people do when they are in a personal union is something quite distinct from what marriage is understood to mean or be. So long as we have not rendered marriage to mean only "that which people do when they are in a personal union", it is a logical fallacy.


Views on the social institution are specifcially what most people understand to be ideal and non-ideal behaviours in marriage. In other words, what most people expect will occur within a marriage. As you've pointed out, the role of law and social practice is dynamic: so, what people expect will occur in marriage will partly be what the law demarcates as being important, and what seems important in their own experience. The question of whether the social institution is no longer regarded as being related to procreation can thus be approached on two angles simultaneously: what the law is presently, and what popular opinion is - or as you put it, to discover what people's stated intentions are about how they will behave in marriage and what they can expect from it.

For the former, I have drawn attention to the fact that procreation features quite heavily in marital law. For the latter, we need to have reliable research to be able to say, without recourse solely to anecdote, what people think it is.

---

I only used solely to indicate that my personal view is not based solely on the capacity of marriage to provide social stability (though it does), nor that it is solely a social insitution (though it is). My personal view. Which was what I took your question to be asking about.

8 July 2012 at 14:45  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"The State clearly doesn't regulate marriage so that people must have children to qualify. I think you're shifting stuff around again to try to push home your desired demarcation."

I wasn't aware that I said that it does; and indeed, if you thought for a moment what Christian doctrine is regarding pre-marital sex, you would see that I would never hold this view personally. I have pointed out that marriage law historically arises from the fact of children in heterosexual unions. I have also pointed out that it continues to do so. You maintain to the contrary that procreation is irrelevant to what marriage presently constitutes. I point out that it is not on the basis of existing legislation, and that in order to determine whether your claim is true of majority opinion, we need reliable research.

That doesn't strike me as unreasonable, or shifting the goalposts in order to willfully deny SSM for any and all reasons.

We can see it in terms of "investment" (in the broadest term).

In the case of a couple who have no children, the consequence of their breaking down is largely limited to the harm it does to them. Whilst the State can support them, they do not constitute as extensive a social unit as one in which there are children, either numerically, or in terms of the involvement of the State. We would agree that the State has an interest in aiding, or at least not hindering, the childless family, but it will by default be less important than those with children, simply because they are the means of generational replenishment.

A same-sex couple will only ever have children in a manner that the State can in some way control. That means that it can afford to individuate its response to dealing with instability. In practice, that means weaning out couples that are likely to be unstable long-term for adoption, refusing to grant applications for parental status for children from former marriages if there is sufficient grounds, etc. A same-sex union is thus primarily a union between two individuals with the option of expansion by controllable means. I don't actually know if you have to make any kind of application for artificial insemination - but if widespread evidence came to the fore that lesbians were very unsuitable as parents, it would be possible to apply some kind of control there too.

A heterosexual union, on the other hand, is inherently going to have the potential to produce children, whether they are suitable or not. Whereas it is possible, to some extent, to prevent bad same-sex parents before the act, it is only possible with naturally conceived children to do so after the act. Consequently, their potential at any time, and without warning, to constitute a family unit is always going to be greater, and will thus always provide the greatest reason for the State's promotion of stability.

None of this necessarily precludes SSM, but it does mean that in practice, there will always be a graduated system in marriage simply as a result of biological reality. Your "relevantly alike" must, then, assume that procreation is of a lesser or no importance. But the result will always be like the "lesbian father" - of laws principally made for the governance of a priori heterosexual union, extended legally to those whom it cannot apply in totality.

8 July 2012 at 15:07  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "As a social institution marriage embodies a site where ideal forms of behaviour are encouraged and non-ideal forms are discourage."

Which suggests that people who get married with the inability to have children, or the intention of not having children, or in fact choosing not to have children afterwards are falling short of the ideal. In fact, one might conclude that their marriage is less than ideal; a sub-standard marriage. A dud. Is that what you think?

I'd rather think that same-sex couples who want to marry should look at the different-sex couples whom the State is happy to marry and whom Society is happy to congratulate irrespective of their procreative intention within that marriage, and say "I'd like one of those marriages please".

8 July 2012 at 15:27  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0 said ...

"Dodo, I'm hardly going to engage with you here now after your usual Saturday night trolling and trouble-making."

I behaved impeccably last night.

Now you know you don't want to answer because it exposes the hollowness of your 'liberalism'.

The tyranny of a minority, supported by illiberal 'equal rights', misusing democratic processes promoting cultural vandalism. And all driven by a hatred of theism and a cry against the traditional family and conventional society.

I mean, either God made you this way or your parents and society. Someone is going to pay - big time.

8 July 2012 at 15:46  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"Which suggests that people who get married with the inability to have children, or the intention of not having children, or in fact choosing not to have children afterwards are falling short of the ideal. In fact, one might conclude that their marriage is less than ideal; a sub-standard marriage. A dud. Is that what you think?"

The way you've phrased this is to take what I was talking about: socially constituted ideals and expectations - and made it into a kind of platonic ideal. To answer your question continuing within the idea of socially-constituted ideas, by the same standard that I critiqued your statement, the answer would have to be dependent on whether or not the positions were considered binding, and in what degree. Again in the binary of law and social practice we can see that there is no penalty for not having children, but there is a non-binding presumption of children, and in social practice, again we will need to have research to determine what people think. I would expect to find in this instance that childlessness did not generally carry a stigma, but that barring a small number of childless people themselves (largely in high-powered jobs), the expectation would still err towards having children as an ideal, or at least expected condition. However, and I stress this: I do not know this without research.

If you're asking my personal opinion, which is based in effectively platonic ideals, not to mention sacramental theology, then I would say that procreation is indeed an integral part of divinely-instituted marriage, that those who are unable to have children for medical reasons are to be regarded with pity - but also within the context of several accounts in the Bible where God blesses "barren" couples with children - and that those who do not wish to have children by choice have the freedom to do so, but should always examine their consciences as to the reason why. I have some experience of this directly, and would simply say anecdotally that fear, particularly of the effects and dangers of pregnancy, plays a larger part than we men often take for granted, with the second "biggie" being the choice to pursue a career. The former is mainly psychological, and in itself can be quite debilitating, whilst the latter can be mitigated by careful arrangements regarding childcare etc. Thus, not insurmountable, if the wife so decides.

8 July 2012 at 15:50  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "That doesn't strike me as unreasonable, or shifting the goalposts in order to willfully deny SSM for any and all reasons."

All these comments have a context and you're continually losing the context, as far as I can see. You need to look at the comment I'm replying to there.

"We can see it in terms of "investment" (in the broadest term)."

That's certainly one way of looking at it though it seems a rather utilitarian.

"We would agree that the State has an interest in aiding, or at least not hindering, the childless family, but it will by default be less important than those with children, simply because they are the means of generational replenishment."

The State is happy to marry people who do not intend to have children or are unable to have children. It doesn't distinguish between those couples and the couples who intend to have children.

"A same-sex couple will only ever have children in a manner that the State can in some way control."

Well, that's not true. I'm 100% gay and I expect I can father children without any State control whatsoever.

"Consequently, their potential at any time, and without warning, to constitute a family unit is always going to be greater, and will thus always provide the greatest reason for the State's promotion of stability."

Have you also considered the relative social stability of unmarried gay and lesbian people floating about compared to that of married gay and lesbian couples when calculating your State interest?

"None of this necessarily precludes SSM, but it does mean that in practice, there will always be a graduated system in marriage simply as a result of biological reality. Your "relevantly alike" must, then, assume that procreation is of a lesser or no importance."

It seems to be that you have a bit of a downer on different-sex couples who can't create children or don't want to create children yet want to be married. Introducing a graduated system as you want to do to exclude same-sex couples seems to have a greater reach than marriage as we currently seem to understand it.

8 July 2012 at 15:54  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8 July 2012 at 15:58  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "Now you know you don't want to answer because it exposes the hollowness of your 'liberalism'."

No. I'm not interested in answering simply because you're a complete feckwit and I'm busy elsewhere so trot off and troll someone or somewhere else. Also, try to locate your sense of shame, conscience, and personal integtrity on your travels as you're a absolute disgrace as you demonstrate time and again.

8 July 2012 at 15:58  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "Again in the binary of law and social practice we can see that there is no penalty for not having children, but there is a non-binding presumption of children, and in social practice, again we will need to have research to determine what people think."

A presumption because people who marry almost always include sex as part of the relationship they're legitimising with the State's help. It's likely that different-sex couples will have children unless they take steps not to, simply because they usually have sex. Of course there's some sort of presumption and the surrounding law and institutions are geared up for that. However, there's also an inherent acceptance that some people entering marriage will never have children and that is not a problem or a hindrance or an indication of something inadequate.

8 July 2012 at 16:06  
Blogger Gerard Stubbert said...

DanJo, can you help me here? Please explain why a limping marriage, recognised in some states but not in others, is preferable to a Civil Partnership recognised world-wide. A convincing explanation of the difference between SSM and CP would validate your response.

Don't expect an early reply from me - I'm off to the pub.

8 July 2012 at 16:35  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

It's a little like viewing the Paralympics as "dud" because some of the contestants can't run. The Paralympics is for athletes who are recognised as people who would be, were they not disabled, able to compete on a level playing field. Their inability to do so is solely the result of a circumstance beyond their control, without which they would be eligible for the Olympics. If I were to argue, though, that running had nothing to do with the Olympics, and that it wasn't in fact an inextricable component of it, then I would be talking nonsense.

"It's likely that different-sex couples will have children unless they take steps not to, simply because they usually have sex."

Yes, this was kind of my point in tracing the detail of marital law - that it is in response to precisely this possibility, and indeed probability. Procreation is thus an inextricable component of marital law. Because same-sex couples do not produce their own offspring without a third party, if the State legitimizes that union to the same degree as a heterosexual union, it is expanding the law on the principle of equality, rather than changing the law to reflect an institution. In that sense, SSM does not mean proof that procreation is irrelevant, but rather the admission of same-sex couples to a legal and social institution that has historically as well as legally - and perhaps, research pending, continues to be - inherently related to heterosexual procreation. This contrasts with what I have understood your own argument to be: that SSM is simply a recognition of the same thing, or at least "relevantly alike" in which "relevantly" seems to mean, regardless of history or context, any component which you can fulfil, and where "irrelevant" means any which you cannot.

Can I also clarify with some urgency that I was *not* calling for the creation of a graduated, or two-tier legal system, or advocating its creation:

"Introducing a graduated system as you want to do to exclude same-sex couples..."

My argument, if you read my comment, was that a graduated system would inevitably arise in the case of SSM being legally recognised, and given the role or interest of the State as you see it being applied. I described the conditions and reasons why this would occur - I no more advocate it than I advocate polygamy. I am simply describing what might reasonably occur, or what might reasonably be deduced from the precedents created by legitimating SSM over CPs.

8 July 2012 at 16:45  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

At the end of the day - given that we both appear to be tiring of this our argument covers the following points:

* A constitutional point about how changes to social institutions should occur. We disagree here on the use of referenda/representatives, but that's essentially a political difference.

* Arising from that I cannot see why the conditions required for a non-referendum based change on SSM would not apply to polygamy under the same criteria for instigating a change rather than marital criteria. This has been a bit of a dead end, partly because neither of us campaign on its behalf.

* More critically - and the reason why the last one has got nowhere - is because we cannot reach any kind of consensus on which "ideals" or "expectations" in marriage constitute essential ones, and which don't.

I've taken you're angle that marriage should be treated solely as a social institution, and have not introduced any element that requires belief - except where I have been specifically asked for my personal opinion, where it has been clearly markd. On this basis, I think (and you don't appear to dispute) that the means of determining what those criteria are in practice, at present we need to look at the present law (which I've done) and what people think.

I can quite accept that you believe the latter to trump the former on this issue, even if you're not arguing for a simplistic model where the law as-is is irrelevant. The various claims we have both advanced on what social perceptions of the essential criteria of marriage is can only really be settled in any sensible fashion by using some reliable research. That's it. That's all my point is on that final and crucial aspect: we need some research to back up the claims about what the people think.

8 July 2012 at 16:54  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Hmmm. Belfast, ‘paramarriage’ !

Brilliant Sir !

8 July 2012 at 17:00  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "Procreation is thus an inextricable component of marital law."

I note your use now of "marital law" rather than marriage there.

"My argument, if you read my comment, was that a graduated system would inevitably arise in the case of SSM being legally recognised, and given the role or interest of the State as you see it being applied."

You're saying that there will be some changes in various laws when same-sex marriage is legalised. Yes. However, marriage as a social institution remains the same. The purpose of legitimising marriage remains the same. The institution which exists at the moment in the common understanding is the one same-sex couples will gain access to because they tick the essential boxes which define it.

8 July 2012 at 17:04  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"You're saying that there will be some changes in various laws when same-sex marriage is legalised. Yes."

My point is more that some of those laws are foundational not only to marital law, but at least historically (again, possibly presently pending research) to the social institution of marriage - i.e. what it has generally been understood to mean.

Specifically: equality on fatherhood is probably going to have to mean stripping out some of those presumptive laws of parenthood, because as I point out male-male relationships will be forever out in the cold on the existing legislation. Consummation laws will have to go. And it is highly probable, given the treatment of divorce in CPs, that we will see divorce law get easier in the event of SSM being legitimated. There may well be others, but not being an expert on law, I'm not familiar with them - any further suggestions would be welcome though.

"...because they tick the essential boxes which define it."

This would generally be the reason why I pointed out that the essentiality of those criteria is disputed. I've outlined what would be necessary to establish the extent of their essentiality several times now. Without either or us bringing something new to the table this is just two mutually-exclusive positions without supporting evidence on public opinion.

8 July 2012 at 17:12  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0

Just as I predicted.

Whenever in a corner, spit. Just playing your little intellectual game 'for the silent reader' and when you lose, attack the person.

Answer the charge:

The tyranny of a minority, supported by illiberal 'equal rights', misusing democratic processes to promote cultural vandalism. All driven by a hatred of theism and a cry against the traditional family and conventional society.

God made you this way. Him or your parents and society. Someone is going to pay - big time.

8 July 2012 at 17:14  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "We disagree here on the use of referenda/representatives, but that's essentially a political difference."

We do. The anti-miscegenation example I gave earlier is quite good here. The religious beliefs against mixed-race marriage that I stated are essentially an opinion and they may well have been widely held.

Now, my approach is to look at what same-race marriage actually looks like and decide whether mixed-race marriage is relevantly alike. If so then it seems like a matter of social justice to include mixed-race couples.

The alternative you provide is to put it to a referendum because you nominally favour social conservatism around marriage. If the result of the referendum goes against the proposed change then any obligations from social justice can go hang themselves.

I think I still prefer my approach as it depends on the success or failure of my argument that same-race and different-race marriage are essentially the same. Whether the electorate like it or not is rather irrelevant there because that may be down to mere prejudice, and we favour justice.

Of course, after all the words, the real disagreement here is whether same-sex marriage and different-sex marriage, including childless ones, are relevantly alike these days. We won't ever agree on that, I think.

8 July 2012 at 17:15  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"
The alternative you provide is to put it to a referendum because you nominally favour social conservatism around marriage. If the result of the referendum goes against the proposed change then any obligations from social justice can go hang themselves.
"

Given that the anti-miscegenation laws were in the USA, and that constitutionally this was not the case, you seem to be arguing from what you think happened in a hypothetical situation rather than what actually happened.

As I argued earlier - in line with your point that we should always pay attention to the relevant context - a not inconsiderable element of why anti-miscegenation laws came into place in the first place was the support they received from the community of experts in favour of eugenics, and their repeal went hand-in-hand with the discreditation of that theory on empirical grounds.

"We won't ever agree on that, I think."

Not personally, but we can - with that research - come to a point where we agree on what the general public perception of it is - i.e. to what extent your claim that same-sex marriage is now alike enough to what public perception of marriage is, is accurate.

A hypothetical point does occur to me though: presumably in cultures where the insitution of marriage was unambiguously related to procreation, the justification for SSM would be diminished?

8 July 2012 at 17:22  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo, what is it with you left-footers here and your insistence that I 'engage' with you and your trolling shite? You don't really understand the extent of my disgust at you I think. I consider you as like those lowlifes that appear on the Jeremy Kyle show. You have no dignity or self-respect or sense of honour, and you don't care a hoot about the destruction you wreak or the ongoing annoyance you cause to people around you. Truth be told, you viscerally repel me. If I had the misfortune to be you, or indeed to have you as a father or partner, I think I'd top myself. Like with those people on the show, I'm left with an exasperated sense of "What on earth are these people actually for?" when I consider you. You waste oxygen by breathing.

8 July 2012 at 17:26  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "A hypothetical point does occur to me though: presumably in cultures where the insitution of marriage was unambiguously related to procreation, the justification for SSM would be diminished?"

I have already said that I think I'd have trouble making the case if I were back in the 1950s, or even the 1970s. You ought to read that link David B posted, though it's slightly tainted by inherent value judgements and a downbeat air.

8 July 2012 at 17:29  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

DanJ0:

Actually I read it last night. Wasn't quite sure, if I'm being honest, how I felt about all of its conclusions either, but that could just have been tiredness. I'll give it another look-over.

It's a fair enough response on your part though. It just seems to be all the more important to find that research. I'm not repeating that to brow-beat you or suggest a fault on your part, but what people think is something that is almost constantly of interest to social scientists.

I've not by any means been able to do a complete survey, but I noted one statistic, taken in isolation, and so with a pinch of salt, from the "Family and Marriage Poll" from Ipsos Mori (1999 - a more recent poll would be a good for comparison), that out of a range of possible lifestyle choices "married with children" was the ideal preference of 68% of the population.

Generally, though one thing is absolutely clear: that belief that childrearing should only occur within marriage has largely gone the way of the dodo in the UK (sorry Dodo). The corresponding opposite, however, that marriage is no longer about children, is not something I've been able to find much research on. I would be extremely wary about drawing any logical conclusions either way without some.

8 July 2012 at 17:40  

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