Bruce Logan warns about what he sees as the dangers in
Here in France, like New Zealand, same-sex marriage is
presented to a puzzled population under the banner of
equality. And who can fight against equality?
Well, some French friends put the notion of equality under
examination. They say same-sex marriage "n'est pas l'egalite,
il s'agit de la liberte". It's not about equality; it's about
Governments who choose to redefine marriage seldom understand
what they're doing. "Il a toute la laideur de la fierte." It
has all the ugliness of pride.
The issue is not about equality or the success of any one
couple's marriage. The issue is about the connection between
the state and marriage in civil society. Who decides what
marriage is and what it's for?
Marriage is neither essentially religious nor a product of
tradition. It is not the child of the state.
Neither is marriage what Lynne Featherstone, the British
Equalities Minister, claims. "Marriage is a right of passage
for couples who want to show they are in a committed
relationship, for people who want to show they have found
love and wish to remain together until death do them part."
Her historical vision is limited; her logic is deficient and
her fusion of the Anglican Prayer Book with modern idiom
Marriage is the consequence of who we are.
We do not make it; it makes us. We are male and female.
In the simple and hopeful business of being alive, we have
children in a union of accepted responsibility, love and
thankfulness. It is the cementing of two opposite halves of
the human being through which new life may be created. That
some couples decide not to get married does not change the
biology. That some cannot have children or decide not to is
beside the point.
To say that you do not believe in marriage or that it is
superfluous does not change the truth of its historical and
The dogma that asserts marriage is primarily about love and
commitment is frequently accompanied by the counter-claim:
"I'm in love and committed so why do I need to bother about
Marriage is what I say it is and anyway I don't need it."
That blurring of the status and meaning of marriage is
contributing to a range of unfortunate consequences yet to be
As well as ignoring the needs of children, demand for
same-sex marriage is ironic.
We have never had such a plethora of data pointing out the
fundamental economic, social and psychological benefits of
vigorous and enduring married families.
Marriage is pivotal to intergenerational order.
Without it, we have a shambles and increasing poverty.
The so-called conservative case for same-sex marriage
favoured by the British Prime Minister tumbles out of a
"Marriage is a good thing. It stabilises the lives of those
who participate; especially men. Therefore they should be
able to marry each other if they are committed". But as soon
as same-sex marriage is granted, marriage which was
originally sought has been changed to something different;
from an institution prior to the state to one determined by
Of course the state has had regulations around marriage for a
very long time. But with the advent of same-sex marriage we
have something entirely new.
If the state defines marriage, the family is no longer an
independent reality declaring daily to the state its
limitations; that there is a region of civil society it
should not attempt to control.
If the state passes a law that changes the nature of
marriage, and consequently family, then every citizen's
liberty is threatened. Why?
That area of most intimate human life that was once outside
the power of the state to manipulate will be weakened. In
becoming the author of marriage, the state will eventually
erode religious freedom and then freedom of speech. The "new
marriage" will become an institution that the state must
enforce. Any exemption given to the church will be temporary
and dependent only on residual moral sensitivities.
Human rights were once seen as a cornerstone of liberty
because they were the consequence of a free society aware of
state limits and independent spheres of authority (e.g.
marriage, family and religion). If marriage becomes what the
state decides, citizens will no longer have any framework
independent of the state from which to argue their case about
It is doubtful there is any society known to history or
anthropology where social order has not been based on
marriage between a man and a woman. It has always been a
historical and universal understanding of a binding contract
to enhance social order and encourage responsible child care.
Societies that fail to understand this abuse their children.
We should know that. We have plenty of evidence.
• Bruce Logan is an educator and writer who has been
director of the Maxim Institute in New Zealand.