Marriage is mainly about the children

Fr Brian Fenton believes the issue of gay marriage comes back to children and their need for both a mother and a father.

Our Prime Minister approves of gay marriage. But has he really thought through the issue?

Any discussion of marriage must, of course, finally come back to the issue of children, and what is best for them.

Mr Key must consider this reality.

In particular, he has to ask himself whether he believes children ideally ought to be raised by the fathers and mothers who bring them into the world (assuming they are fit parents).

Or has he instead embraced a gender-neutral vision of parenting in which all that matters is that the children are loved, but the sex of the parents doesn't matter at all?

In other words, does he believe it makes no difference to children whether they are raised by a loving mother and father (their own ideally), or by two loving fathers or two loving mothers?

And does he believe the natural ties matter or not?

If he believes two loving "fathers" is just the same as your own loving, biological parents, then it is clear he no longer believes being raised by your own parents matters a bit.

After all, if it's just the same to be raised by two "fathers" as by your own mother and father, then not only is the sex of the parents unimportant, so is the biological or nature tie, because only one of those fathers can, in fact, be your natural father.

If this issue of gay marriage comes to a conscience vote in Parliament, the Prime Minister, if he is still approving of gay marriage, would be forced to answer this accusation: in voting for the Bill, he is saying he no longer believes there is any special value to be attached to motherhood and fatherhood, or to the ties between children and their natural parents.

It is entirely possible to allow gay rights, as the civil union legislation already allows, without embracing gay marriage. The reason for this is that gay marriage isn't an equality issue at all, because it is no breach of the principle of equal treatment to treat different situations in different ways.

A man and a woman are different from a man and a man. The genders are different, and above all, mothers are different from fathers. A father is not the same as a mother, in the eyes of a child.

This is why marriage has the shape it has. Of course, some will say some married couples can't have children, and, therefore, marriage isn't all about children. But three things can be said in response. First of all, it remains the case that marriage is mainly about children, not adults.

Second, while it is true not all married couples have children, all children have a mother and a father. Thirdly, when an elderly man and woman marry, this does not change the basic structure of marriage. It still upholds the importance of the difference between the genders. It does not declare that marriage is a gender-neutral institution, and therefore the differences between the genders doesn't matter at all.

The fact is: to ask society to pretend there is no real difference between men and women, and between mothers and fathers, is totally unreasonable. This is what we would do if we redefined marriage in the way that gay rights groups want. This is not an either/or situation. To repeat: gay people have already secured their partnership rights through the Civil Union Act, without embracing gay marriage, without redefining marriage in a manner that denies the value of motherhood and fatherhood, and the natural ties.

Sir Elton John has a son, Zachary, who was born by a complex arrangement of surrogacy. Although he says Zachary is a content little boy, Sir Elton admits: "It will break my son's heart to realise that he hasn't got a mother." Same-sex couples may bring children into the world, but there must, somewhere, be a heterosexual biological contribution to the arrangement. Opposite-sex couples do not need a homosexual biological contribution to procreate a child. This is an inescapable truth: biology sets limits on "equality" of rights. Those advocating gay marriage have a seductive slogan in demanding "marriage equality", which seemingly sounds fair and just. But the answer is: there is no equality in biology.

Sir Elton John is raising his child with his partner David Furnish, and the 19-month-old will certainly have a privileged childhood in some respects - Zachary already has his own monogrammed Yves St Laurent jackets. Moreover, the singing star and his partner hope to "commission" a sibling for Zachary this summer.

Another child, it seems, deliberately constructed to be without a mother.

Does not this demonstrate the limits of biological equality?

Brian Fenton is a Wanaka resident.

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