It's about liberty, not equality, the French say

Bruce Logan warns about what he sees as the dangers in same-sex marriage.

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 liberty.

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 disingenuous.

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 cultural value.

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?

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 grasped.

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 category error.

"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 the state.

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 family form.

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.


Time to change the record?

You have been debating gay issues since 1985.  Go you.. but do you sometimes think "time to change the record"?

Re: Same Sex Marriage

Mr Logan seems to be grasping at straws without readily available source material to consult.  Most of the societies that have introduced same-sex marriage equality are exemplary in their social stability and several are reporting that the advent of same-sex marriage seems to be correlated with a rise in marriages amongst younger straight couples.

And moreover, reputable pediatric and developmental psychology research shows that same-sex parenting results in no negative effects in terms of educational progress, future adult employment prospects, and improved male interpersonal skills as well as female propensity to seek higher-paying non-traditional employment. Indeed, the latter two would seem to enhance the prospects of children and future adults brought up in LGBT-led families, both economic and familial.

So, it's about liberty, just

So, it's about liberty, just not for gay people.
(As we're obviously second class citizens and don't deserve the same liberty that straight people get, right?)

Confusion about marriage!

I try without success to follow the logic of Bruce Logan and the French toward something coherent.  

The question posed is this - equality or liberty.  Why not both?

Marriage is an institution of society, society recognises governments  to govern their "state", the governments review and change rules we abide by.  I agree with Bruce Logan that this is a region of society which the state should not seek to control, but it is only through creating wider parameters that control will pass to the marriage participants.

He says "...  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."

So is he saying that the "biology" of what goes on inside a marriage should be constrained by some outside rules?  Or should he be saying that  this is a region of society which the state should not seek to control.  

His jumble of ideas looks like meddling to me, something we have seen from his old Maxim Institute come to think of it.


The state of society weddings

Mr Logan sees traditional marriage as good for society, but seems to believe same-sex marriage is not so good. Love doesn't enter into it, social control does. Are economic and cultural arranged marriages similarly blessed?

The state already defines marriage

The writer says: "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 family form."
This is incorrect. The state already defines what a marriage can and cannot be. The state determines that a marriage can only be between two people and that these two people must be of opposite sexes.
The state also defines the minimum age is for marriage, and I expect that there are several other state rules defining marriage that I can't think of at the moment.
And, with the last statement it appears that the writer thinks that child abuse only occurs when the parents are not married. This is completely wrong.