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The marriage debate has made for some unlikely bedfellows

It is not just ‘bible-thumping Christians’ who oppose the change

By on Friday, 8 June 2012

Conjugality, the blog on the future of marriage that comes from MercatorNet, reports that “Preserve Marriage Washington” has filed a petition against the state’s new law allowing same-sex marriage (SSM) after collecting more than twice the number of signatures to block the law. The issue now goes to a state referendum later this year. It seems that if Washington follows the pattern in 30 other states, opponents of the new law will win.

In addition to Washington, three other states will vote on same-sex marriage this autumn. Maryland voters will decide whether to uphold SSM legislation passed earlier this year; Maine will revisit a marriage equality bill overturned by voters in 2009; and Minnesota is considering a constitutional amendment to ban SSM, similar to one adopted by North Carolina in May this year.

Conjugality comments that advocates of SSM have “so far been unable to post a victory” in a voter referendum on the subject. Voters have gone to the polls more than 30 times since 1998 to have their say. Those supporting a redefinition of marriage have lost every time. In the Church, when the body of the faithful, inspired by the Holy Spirit, upholds magisterial truth we call it the “Sensus fidelium”. It seems that the American public have their own common sense version of this: a sturdy wish to defend the status quo on marriage because instinctively they know it is the right thing to do.

That’s the American scene. Colin Hart, the campaign director of the Coalition for Marriage in the UK, reminds us that next Thursday, June 14, the Coalition’s public consultation on rewriting the meaning of marriage will close. He writes, “We know that public opinion is on our side. Our petition has been signed by almost 550,000 people”. He points out that seven out of ten people want to keep marriage as it is and asks, “What will marriage mean when your children or grandchildren walk down the aisle? Will it mean what it does today, or will it mean something different?” Do contact if you need advice on answering the Government’s consultation document. The SPUC also provides a briefing booklet with its own guidelines which is very helpful.

When this subject is raised on a Catholic blog site such as the Herald’s, it always provokes many (predictably) angry posts accusing us of “homophobia” and prejudice among other insults. Thus I was glad to discover that Spiked, “the independent online phenomenon dedicated to raising the horizons of humanity by waging a culture war of words against misanthropy, priggishness, prejudice, luddism, illiberalism and irrationalism” is also challenging the Government’s proposals to redefine marriage. Spiked, I hasten to emphasise, has no religious affiliations of any kind; indeed, its contributors take pride in their combatively secular approach to all moral questions. They are not pro-life. They are also republicans rather than royalists. Yet on this emotive issue they can recognise illiberalism (and misanthropy; you have to be misanthropic not to want to privilege the natural setting for the begetting of future members of the human race) from 100 paces.

Editor of Spiked, Brendan O’Neill, wrote an article earlier this year that argues “The gay-marriage juggernaut has nothing to do with liberty and everything to do with providing the elite with a new moral mission.” It is well worth reading for its hard-hitting deconstruction of the London metropolitariat. He is supported more recently by Sean Collins, a New York writer, who again from a secular perspective, has declared in a robust article “Why I’m coming out against gay marriage”. To summarise Collins’ arguments: he states (like O’Neill) that “the gay marriage campaign is elitist and believes its opponents are “bigots”; that “same-sex marriage is not a civil right”; that “traditional marriage and the family are worth defending from state intrusion”; and that “the question of gay marriage has yet to be fully decided.” In his conclusion he declares, “Well, count me out. I will not join the cultural elite’s bandwagon, a bandwagon that runs on self-flattery and the demonization of ‘backward’ voters. Critics of the same-sex marriage campaign are here and we’re not all bible-thumping Christians – get used to it.”

I should add that at the Herald we would not describe ourselves as “Bible-thumping Christians” either (no offence intended against our Evangelical brethren); we would argue from Scripture, tradition, the natural law and the “sensus fidelium” to keep marriage as it is. Sometimes worthy causes find unlikely bedfellows: thanks Spiked, for your ability to cut through the humbug and hypocrisy of the media elite’s current “crusade”.

  • nytor

    The law passed in Denmark yesterday is relevant here. They are forcing the Lutheran church to conduct these ceremonies whether they want to or not.

  • Mr Grumpy

    Very relevant indeed. Note from the linked report below the minimalist provision for conscientious objection: a minister can refuse to officiate but the bishop must arrange a substitute. Very much like what pro-life doctors are facing in Britain.

    Any assurances that it won’t happen here are of course worth as much as the breath expended on them.

  • LocutusOP

    If the ‘Lutheran’ church in Denmark is anything like it is in Sweden, then it would probably have followed suit anyway without parliamentary intervention, given that political parties get to vote for ‘church’ policies. These ‘state churches’ are state tools first and foremost, and they probably hadn’t been churches since Germany had a Kaiser.

    I do wonder whether we should be using the word “church” for these organisations though, given that the Gospel hardly has a place in them. One can hardly call me a Martin Luther fan, but I have very little doubt he would condemn these organisations in words so harsh that we would be left in no doubt as to their ‘Lutheranism’.

  • JByrne24

    “Very much like what pro-life doctors are facing in Britain”

    Now that really is going off topic.

  • teigitur

    Its not the same topic, but the same mindset, therefore relevant to the discourse.

  • JByrne24

    The United States is a conservative country, especially when it comes to religion. 
    But more importantly, and worrying in respect of your article, Ms Phillips, is the fact that virtually ALL of what you write simply underlines the fact that Gay people are a minority. Surely history teaches us the importance of governments standing up for the (equal) rights of minorities.

    There is every hope that our government in the UK will indeed do this, despite the to be expected clamour from some of the majority – whose rights will remain untouched. Where there are objections from the majority, these are not asking for rights of their own – but rather that some others should be denied a right, and one that they [the majority] already enjoy.

  • JByrne24

    I’m glad you agree “its not the same topic”. That’s exactly what I said.

  • Mark Bailey

     So, JByrne, which minorities get to be favoured? Or is it only minorities that meet your approval? This is not only to do with ‘protecting’ the rights of a minority – and a very small one at that – but also to do with not allowing that small group to impose its desires and definitions on the vast majority of their fellow citizens.

  • JByrne24

    Mark Bailey wrote: “….is it only minorities that meet your approval? ”
    No, not at all.

    There, I have answered your insultingly posed non-question – though just “for form” — an expression (and argument), according to contemporaries, that Cardinal Richelieu employed when trying to persuade girl friends to leave his bed, when he had visitors. 

    This is also not so much about ” ‘protecting’ the rights of a minority” , as you write, but rather of allowing a minority to enjoy a right the majority already enjoy  - so as to remove blatant discrimination.
    The majority can carry on doing exactly what they were doing before.

    I think any minority should have the same rights (within the law) as any majority.
    Of course in the case of legal marriage ( a tripartite contract, up to the present time, between a woman, a man and the state) the law will, in due course, be changed to broaden the concept of marriage – retaining the above type of contract and also permitting two people of the same sex and the state to form a contract.

  • Fides_et_Ratio

    Orthodox Catholics are also a minority. And they are being driven out of adoption charities because of homosexualism intolerance.

    And why do you think that same-sex “marriage” is a right? Does that equally apply to incestuous “marriage” (between, say, an adult man and his elderly mother), to polygamous “marriage”, etc?

  • AC

    Not all rights are universal, nor need or should be universally applied. Surely you understand this?

    Many rights – and as a corollary, many responsibilities – are contingent. My right to live in the UK is contingent upon the fact that I have a British passport; an asylum seeker’s right may lie in the fact that they are likely to be persecuted if they return home. However, in both cases, to right to one thing, in this case the right to live in Britain, is contingent on a pre-existing set of facts.

    Marriage is not a universal right in so many ways. Currently in law it is no more permissible for two men to marry each other as it is for you to marry your brother or sister. Many – most – people want to this this status quo to persist…..

  • JabbaPapa

    One no longer expects you to understand such phrases as “religious liberties” in the first place …

  • Mark

    If one allows same sex marriage based on the rational of consenting adults equaling civil rights then there is no argument against consenting adults committing incest or polygamy. If an adult niece wants to marry her uncle who are we to deny their civil rights? after all they are consenting adults The civil rights argument based on adult consent is a sham that we should all oppose.

  • JByrne24

    Well you possibly know that I am a heterosexual grandfather, but I have deep sympathy that homosexuals are denied (which is OBVIOUS discrimination) a legal marriage contract.
    The Catholic adoption societies simply had to observe the law. NONE of us has a right to do otherwise. They threw a “paddy” and closed down – with a “blow the children” attitude.
    ALL incestuous marriage is forbidden, and there are good biological reasons for this. The State can forbid them because it is always a party in the marriage contract.
    Polygamous [and polyandrous, by the way] marriages are currently forbidden by the state in the UK, and many other places. The Bible through the Old Testament records that these can be approved, depending on the situation – the state does not agree.  

    Catholics and others remain, and will remain, free to marry people of the other sex. Nobody proposes otherwise, as you well know.

  • JByrne24

    “If one allows same sex marriage based on the rational of consenting adults equaling civil rights…”

    This is not the “rational”. The argument is one of discrimination in that, at present, the state refuses a marriage contract to persons of the same sex. Marriage is a tripartite contract between two adults and the state,  but currently the state will only allow it if the adults are of opposite sex. This is obviously discriminatory. 

    Mark continues: “….then there is no argument against consenting adults committing incest or polygamy. ”

    Yes there is. As regards incest, it can and does lead to defects in children born to the closely related parents.
    As regards polygamy and polyandry, they are not allowed at present because they are against the law – simply that (like Gay marriage). It HAS been lawful in some societies in the past (and may be still somewhere). So far as I know there’s no serious movement in the UK (at the moment) asking for either polygamous or polyandrous marriage. But it doesn’t have the unwanted biological effects that incest would bring with it.
    These were both allowed in Old Testament times in order to maintain the population, needed for the herds of sheep and goats.
    If in the future the need for it, or for some reason the demand for it, became known and worthy of serious attention by leading politicians of all parties (like Gay marriage) there is no absolute reason why the state should deny it to people.

  • theroadmaster

    The natural instinct that one feels in relation to marriage in it’s long-understood arrangement, has been electorally vindicated by 30 US states and even supported by the spontaneous reactions of those who have no religious affiliations or are atheistic in outlook.  Brendan O’Neill, the editor of Spiked and one of the more intelligent contributors(a self proclaimed atheist) to moral debates, is a case in point concerning the latter.  He has seen through the posturing of elitist politicians who are figureheads for campaigns being conducted by well-financed lobbies, determined to re-engineer social conventions until they are re-made in their own image.  Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic, see to be surfing on the tide of demands for legal changes to be made to the definition of marriage, to include same-sex couples.  Thus the average supporter of marriage as it is properly understood, is up against political interests with big financial war-chests, with the support of prominent politicians.  But well-organized opposition, as seen in the various states of the US, can halt such “juggernauts”, and prevent them from upsetting the definition and significance of iconic socio-religious Institutions.  On-line petitions are part of the solution in Great Britain, to foil the current legislative attempt to enlarge and forever redefine marriage.   Town-hall meetings could be organized locally in cities, towns and villages across the country and politicians lobbied, to express the widespread discontent and disagreement with the current drive to tamper legally with the traditional understanding of marriage.  Vigorous campaigns through letter-writing, Internet social networks and emails can also contribute substantially to a formidable defense of marital union.

  • JByrne24

    “and even supported by the spontaneous reactions of*** those who have no religious affiliations or are atheistic in outlook.”

    See above ***.  You have left out “some of “.

    Selfish of them, I think. Those of us who have, and still are in many cases, enjoying married life, should not selfishly deny this [the legal marriage contract] to Gay people. This is also discriminatory – as well as selfish and un-Christian.

    I imagine that you are in the US from your spelling of defence – I’m in the UK and must sign off as I’m elderly and need my sleep – but please realise that NOBODY is attacking marriage. Marriage was one of my very best decisions. We want it available for more – that’s all.

  • theroadmaster

    Marriage by definition is the blessed union between one man and one woman which is open to procreation.  Once you redefine this essential criteria, you no longer have marriage.   The instinctive celebration of this most cherished Institution by global societies across 2 Millennia reflects the truth of the natural order and various attempts by parliaments, at both local and national levels, to redefine it, are threatening to seriously undermine it.

  • teigitur

    Or…….. perhaps I do not…….BTW being off-topic does not make it an irrelevant comment, in this case quite the opposite.

  • theroadmaster

    My main point, despite the pedantic nature of your interjection, was to demonstrate that even those(or some of those) from unexpected quarters have backed up the viewpoints of those who religiously support the longstanding concept of marriage. This shows clearly that this issue is not confined to just Faith circles, in terms of the varied and representative makeup of the supporters of marriage in it’s long-standing form.

    I don’t think it is selfish to show one’s support for the natural format of the union between one man and one woman which is open to starting a family.  This is the primary nucleus of society and it would not be wise to revamp this in a legal or any other sense.

  • teigitur

    Wrong on almost every count. ( As per usual)

  • JByrne24

    “Marriage by definition is the blessed union between one man and one woman which is open to procreation.”

     No, this is not true.  We are talking here of civil marriage – the tripartite contract between two adults and the state.
    Such a marriage does NOT have to be open to procreation.

    And yes, at present it IS only allowed between a man and a woman. That’s why the law needs changing.

  • JByrne24

    They are not unexpected quarters at all. This has nothing necessarily to do with religion. The majority, whether religious or not, are reluctant to allow a small minority to have a right that they (the majority) already have. That is selfish, discriminatory and narrow-minded.

    You write:  “I don’t think it is selfish to show one’s support for the natural format of the union between one man and one woman..”

    No neither do I. Let us support marriage all we can between men and women. It’s great – it’s a good and noble institution (remember we are talking about civil marriage though).
    The selfishness, discrimination and narrow-mindedness comes in when this is denied to some others.  

  • theroadmaster

    Well, when we examine the ideological direction from where some of the supporters are coming, we would not naturally expect them to support the long-standing view of marriage.  We probably would expect them to support the “right” of same-sex couples to be included within it’s redefined boundaries by law.  But such personalities as Brendan O’ Neill, refreshingly do not conform to this pattern.
    It is erroneous to infer that because one supports marriage as it is traditionally understood, that one is indulging in “selfishness, discrimination and narrow-mindedness”, just because one does not want to elasticate it’s boundaries to include other couplings.  The reality of this support is based on thousands of years of wisdom which societies have handed down the generations and to radically change it will have damaging consequences for it.

  • theroadmaster

    Of course it is true, as global societies instinctively celebrated the mating of a man and woman by the formal ceremonies and rituals, through the ages.  Invariably these self-same marriages were expected to be fruitful in terms of future children.
    By inserting “civil” in place of “religious” marriage, makes no difference to the reality, that the long-understood view of marriage pre-dates modern states, by thousands of years.  Thus these countries simply cannot radically alter something in terms of it’s essential ingredients, and hope to rebrand the finished product  with the original name.  It would be an exercise in self-delusion and fallacious in it’s nature.  The law is fine as it is, as it is supporting an Institution of invaluable socio-religious worth, which has contributed to the common good and demographic health of society over the centuries. 

  • Oconnord

    So the spirit of Neville Chamberlain is well alive in catholic reporting. Spiked has a couple of blogs against gay marriage, so just ignore all the other blogs in favour of abortion, divorce, contraception…. and other uncatholic issues. Just compromise your morals and agree to agree.

    Just as was done with the MCB. Marriage is of course between one male, without regard of age, and up to four females (again age not considered), for as long as the male wants. Soluble by a a phrase repeated 3 times by the male.  

    Strange bedfellows indeed.

  • HapHarris

    It is very difficult for me to fathom how society has descended to the level that it is even necessary to discuss a topic like this one.  Even the [clever] Headline makes one want to gag & vomit-!!

  • Let it be…..

    Children can be born frm incestuous relationships whether its disgusting right or wrong , gay couple can never ever produce a child , they need to buy them and raise them to believe that being gay is normal and ssm is a right! Lol I thinks it’s hysterical that they believe that gay marraige is their civil right it’s like something from the rocky horror show

  • Let it be…..

    You need to sit back and actually read what your writing. Homosexuality is not normal it does not do mankind any good, does not bear children its a disorder that they sinfully act upon as like us all they have free will. Society is messed up and because people feel sorry for them, poor John and mike they can’t get married what a travesty ! How dare those darn evil Christians oppose changing what has always been for us, they are just so homophobic! We can get married! We will change what Jesus made a holy sacrament between man and woman. You see in the beginning it was man and woman only those two could bear children imagine if Adam was gay!! We would not be here. As a catholic I’m in no way at all frightened of gay people so no I’m not homophobic I do not wish any harm or unhappiness on a person who is gay. But I will admit I do not like this war on marraige to be shared by gays it’s just another leap on the go west theory sung by YMCA nod pet shop boys! Go west we can be gay and proud, reap the benefits of buying and or adopting poor innocent children goodness knows what effect this will have but that’s another subject, we can wage war against the one fundamental truth that teaches all mankind that homosexuality is fornication, a grave sin and it came and began in the east…..and one fine day us sinful lovers can also too like the man and woman be married. It’s not a civil right, it’s not a fundamental right it’s not discrimination it’s disgusting! Since the seventies in America gays people have come to distort people’s views on what discrimination is, discrimination is what happened to the blacks in America, what happened to so many other groups and in this day in age being against gay marraige is not discrimination or homophobic meaning to be frightened of gays it’s simply believing that marraige is between one man one woman to become one body and bear one or more children it’s that simple. They have a civil partnership why is that not enough why is that not equal to them. They behave like the child who throws the dummy out the pram when told they can’t have that sweet …….

  • Let it be…..

    No it is not unchristian!! To hate the sinner would be unchristian. That’s just what the lord said, love the sinner hate the sin! In this case don’t hate gay people but don’t accept that gay sex or gay marraige is not a grave sin. It’s one of the ten commandments, thou shalt not commit fornication. That’s homosexual behaviour, beastiality and pedophilia. It’s that simple, are you aware of the fate sodom and Gomorrah suffered for their wicked sinful homosexual ways? Now as a Christian I truly believe in every word in my bible as its the true word of god our creator, he who created Adam and eve not Adam and Steve.

  • Let it be…..

    The minority as you put it have a civil partnership as do male and female,why are they wanting to go further and further? Can you explain how that for a gay couple to marry in church and desecrate the altar is ok and a civil right ? Are you aware of how our lord reacted when he entered the temple to find men gambling and committing all sorts of sins in the fathers house? He tipped the tables and threw them out!!

  • JabbaPapa

    Ah yes — JB24, the man who declares himself “catholic”, despite the fact that he writes that – ahem, some of** — the teachings of the Catholic Church are “evil“.

    If JB24 actually is a real person claiming to be “catholic”, instead of a pseudo-catholic sockpuppet created by one of those lovely internet trolls whose tactics are to assume the persona of a “member” of some group or organisation that they desire to concentrate vilification upon, then JB24 is a heretically blaspheming Apostate, utterly divorced from Communion with Holy Mother Church.

    His attacks against Catholic doctrine and teachings and values are so *extreme* that it is the clear duty of any faithful Lay Catholic, not just his confessor and parishioners and family, to reject and denounce their anti-Catholic nature, their grave disorder, and their inherent sinfulness.

    (** nitpick-avoidance tactic)

  • JabbaPapa

    More unchristianity from JB24 :

    Marriage is a tripartite contract between two adults and the state

    Marriage is religiously understood as a sacrament or a contract between a husband and a wife and the divine order of things — in Catholicism, a Sacrament between husband, wife, and God.

    Your writings continue to be based on the exact opposite of Catholicity — but here you are broadening your scope into not just unchristianity, but irreligion itself.

    This one post by JB24 is the strongest evidence so far to support the theory that JB24 is a pseudo-catholic sockpuppet created by an atheist internet troll.

    The contents of the post are *entirely* secular, with not a gram of religiously-minded contents, apart from some vague Old Testament notions of the sort that one typically finds in posts or websites written by fundamentalist atheists in their online attacks upon Catholicism in general.

  • JabbaPapa

    whose rights will remain untouched

    Another of your lies and apostasies — we have seen in Denmark a glimpse of what “gay marriage” campaigners want to acheive, ie the complete destruction of the very nature of marriage, and its replacement with conceptions based on nothing more solid than the disorders of their own sexual and familial immorality.

    These “gay marriage” proposals are destructive of the very nature of marriage, including the nature of the marriages of countless millions of people worldwide who live in countries where these totally unnecessary destructions are being lobbied for by homosexualists.

  • Recusant

    There has never been such a thing as “civil” marriage in the UK, there has only ever been marriage. The proposals which you support now split marriage into two types : religious and civil, which by definition are not equal. How do you reconcile your distinction between civil and religious marriage with your claim that heterosexual marriage will be unchanged? Is not your position contradictory, or even mendacious?

  • James H

    Except for their virulent anti-Catholicism, Spike-online is a rollicking good read. They’ve come out against neo-Malthusianism, the Priests-are-paedophiles bandwagon, and now gay marriage. Excellent!

  • JabbaPapa

    JB24 has publicly described some Catholic doctrines as “evil”.

    Deleting comments does not delete JB24′s apostasy.

  • Lazarus

    Spiked is right about some things, wrong about others. But their contributions are evidence of the falsehood put about by the pro-SSM side: that there are no good arguments against SSM and the only people against it are sky fairy worshipping bigots.

  • Lazarus

    General question JB: do you think there is any test of whether laws are good laws or bad laws, or do you assume that any law that exists simply can’t be questioned?

    ‘they [ie polygamy] are not allowed at present because they are against the law – simply that (like Gay marriage)’

    The obvious retort to this is that (building on my first question) there is a social interest in promoting an equal. respectful relationship between one man and one woman as the prime way of raising children -as opposed to polyandry/polygyny which promote one or other sex (and it’s normally women) as a herd for sexual gratification. So (as with SSM) there is no reason to promote polygamy and every reason to discourage it.

  • JByrne24

    No, this is not true. They can, and do, denote sperm and ova (eggs) – for AI and for implantation.

  • JByrne24

    “….or do you assume that any law that exists simply can’t be questioned?”

    Of course not. It is the present law – which forbids civil marriage between Gay couples – that the supporters of Gay marriage have “questioned”, and want changing. It is indeed the norm for laws to evolve to meet the needs and challenges of the time.

    As regards your second question: Heterosexual civil marriage is NOT now the prime way of producing and raising children. This has been the case in the US for some years and is now true of the UK. [Google "born out of marriage" etc].  Polygamy & polyandry are not on the agenda, at present, in the UK. The trend causing this will continue.Bear in mind that nobody is “promoting” (in the proper sense of the word) either sex, or type of civil marriage – all the supporters of Gay marriage are saying is that it is discriminatory to exclude Gays from civil marriage.

  • JByrne24

    “….and the only people against it are sky fairy worshipping bigots.”

    That is not true – I believe that that is a summary of your own view. Very many arguing in support of SSM have never said such a thing.

    Some good people simply do not like the idea of change across a wide spectrum of matters. This is a feature of human nature, probably arising from the early years of our species.
    Others do not understand the significance of discrimination, as a major evil, in all its forms, in the modern world.
    And, doubtless, there are other reasons too why some do not support SSM – misguided religious ones for example, where people can believe, mistakenly, that God has defined their belief.

  • JByrne24

    “……The natural instinct that one feels in relation to marriage..”

    No it’s not a “natural instinct” at all.   It is simply feeling more comfortable with the old way, without change disturbing the “idée fixe”  –  a very common phenomenon.

  • JByrne24

    I have never deleted postings of my own – except (when on two occasions) they have, in error, been duplicated by myself in error.

  • JByrne24

    “To hate the sinner would be unchristian.”

    Well that simply begs the question.

  • teigitur

    According to The Telegraph today, same sex marriage is not as important to gay people as our politicians and liberal elite would have us believe.

  • teigitur

    Its not “Gay marriage” its same-sex marriage!!

  • teigitur

    One hopes you never do. Endlessly amusing they are.

  • JByrne24

    No not go “further and further” – just be able to have a civil marriage like the majority.
    Discrimination is wrong and evil.

    As for “desecrating the altar”, that  begs the question again.

  • JByrne24

    Well you want the state to continue keeping the minority out of civil marriage. 

    You want the minority not to be able to have a right to civil marriage as people, such as ourselves in the majority, have.

    It is to this that I think the words “selfishness, discrimination and narrow-mindedness” are rightly applied.