Sunday, 30 July 2017

Is Gay Marriage Necessary?

I have probably failed to explain myself properly so I will attempt to set out my views on this subject here. There are, essentially, now recognized to be two kinds of unions, heterosexual ones and homosexual ones. Such unions have certain things in common. For example, they both involve two human beings, they both involve a sexual relationship and both contain the possibility of a loving relationship. They also have differences and distinctions between them. A hetero-sexual union, by definition of the word hetero, means a union between two things that are different from each other. A homo-sexual union, also by definition, means a union between two things which are the same. Because human beings reproduce sexually a hetero-sexual union represents the whole of humankind in itself, male and female together. A homosexual union does not. For this very reason the heterosexual union also represents, in a creature that reproduces sexually, the sole possibility or likelihood of procreation occurring.

Civil Partnerships granted to gay people provided the possibility to gay people to live together in loving relationship with all of the legal protections (in terms of hospital visiting rights, kinship, inheritance etc) that married people enjoy. This being the case, one has to ask why they would want to insist on staking a claim on the institution of marriage, one that had been, for centuries an institution which denoted heterosexual unions. This claim has an effect on the institution of marriage because it seeks to make two different things equivalents erasing the differences between them, differences that are enormously significant.

I can only find a number of largely negative explanations for the wish to extend homosexual union into the institution of marriage and, thus, to dilute what marriage previously signified. It could simply be a kind of sentimentality. Then again it could be a wish to make gay people the center of attention and be no more, therefore, than childish attention-seeking, an attempt to muscle onto and displace the statistical norm from the rostrum. This explanation can be typified in the question - "Having, quite properly, achieved equality why do gay people now seem to be wanting to insist on a kind of primacy?" The final explanation might be that, after years of seeing themselves as “oppressed” some, not all, by any means, gay people feel, to a degree, slightly vindictive and want to rub the faces of, for example, the churches who uphold and have always been the place of the sacred recognition of the institution of marriage, in it. The churches have regarded marriage as sacred because it transmits life itself and, generally, in the form of the family, is the basis of human societies.

You may ask why it is so vital to protect and celebrate the institution of heterosexual marriage as a distinctive thing. Why is it that it should be viewed in terms of being on a rostrum at all? My answer would be that without this kind of union there would be no human race, no human history, no gay or heterosexual people people and no arguments, such as this one, on the subject. In other words something which is far from insignificant! That seems to me to make heterosexual union a pretty remarkable, not to say miraculous, thing worthy of celebrating in its own right for what it distinctively is without anything attempting to dilute its significance, its uniqueness and its value. These qualities may be the reasons why people have sought to elevate it to the unique status of a specially named institution – that of marriage. It is not an insignificant thing to be lost cheaply by being subsumed in what is, after all, a good but passing historical change.


  1. I see your point - most eloquently expressed. However I still don't feel as strongly as you about the sanctity of marriage.

    I have a slight issue with the semantics of marriage being a heterosexual union. I would argue that it doesn't have to be hetero or even sexual. It is essentially a union between two people. I acknowledge of course that historically it has come to denote a pairing of male and female in order to secure social and economic stability and (admittedly) a safe environment to breed. But it has equally always been about love - cf the left ring finger and its supposed direct link to the heart. So it seems that your primary sticking point is on the potential for offspring. However, I fail to differentiate between a hetero marriage that results in no offspring and a homosexual one. In fact, a gay union resulting in adoption or a child by surrogacy would surely hold more validity by your reckoning?

    The other contention I have is the religious or spiritual aspect that many marriages include. This may be important to many people, and something that a civil partnership cannot provide (at least not in Christian churches to my knowledge). To someone who is Catholic and gay, getting married may be at the core of their desire for acceptance. I imagine it could feel as though, by allowing only civil partnerships, The Establishment is simply ticking the box for equality whilst implying that gay unions are not as strong, emotional, committed or worthy as straight ones.

    I personally don't feel that anyone needs the state of matrimony in this day and age: A civil partnership should do for all (with or without religious connotations). You state quite rightly that without heterosexual union there would be no human race, and that therefore its significance must not be diluted.. Why?
    Do you fear that if it is not elevated by its own unique ceremony, it might go out of fashion? There will always be homosexual unions, but there will always be more heterosexual unions. Call me a romantic, but I still think love is love is love, whatever institution it resides in!

  2. Thanks for writing. I'm not accustomed to people actually reading my blog let alone commenting on it!! Here's my reply:
    Anna: "I have a slight issue with the semantics of marriage being a heterosexual union. I would argue that it doesn't have to be hetero or even sexual. It is essentially a union between two people. I acknowledge of course that historically it has come to denote a pairing of male and female"

    Guy: Marriage isn't just a hetero union NOW but it always was for several thousand years. It never was a union between two people regardless of gender. That’s only since 2014. It hasn’t “come to denote” it was denoting from the very start. There weren’t other forms of marriage into which it transformed. Without a male and female the word was meaningless for a few thousand years. So the male/female thing happened and the word was derived to denote it. The word ‘marriage’ was invented to describe this central human fact. All other uses of it came later.

    Of course it’s about love – human love depends on the underlayer of sex as its vehicle. In general, as we are animals, no sex = no love of the male/female type which underpins families. The fact that sexual union entails love (the driver of the best human society) is another reason to celebrate and elevate it.

    Of course people can choose not to procreate but the ability to do so is always latent (unless there is a medical problem) which it is not in homo sexual unions. Surrogacy and adoption can approximate to procreative unions but they can’t actually do it and depend on “breeders” for their children. These ‘breeders’ and their abilities should not, therefore, be dismissed casually.

    A gay Catholic already has a problem in being gay, let alone in his/her desire to be fully married. Tha RC church does not recognize homosexuality as normal and certainly wouldn’t allow anyone to conduct a homosexual marriage ceremony. So those doors are closed to gay RCs anyway.

    In my blog piece I deliberately talked about heterosexual unions not marriages so as not to stress the ceremony. This is because all the points I make about the differences between homo and hetero unions apply whether the couples are officially married or not. The issue of why raise hetero union to matrimony comes afterwards. My answer is that, because it is so marvelous, in its procreative and life transmitting function – which could not be more significant for the human race; it is life itself! – it is surely worth elevating and celebrating as a unique and precious thing. That is the reason why it has been so elevated and celebrated. In a sense it would be strange if it hadn’t been given what it is.

    So why subsume this unique thing and muddy it’s exclusiveness in a fudge that says homo unions are just the same as it is just to please a passing political agenda and placate a particular lobby?

    I don’t think hetero-sexual unions are in any danger of going out of fashion as men and women, curiously find each other rather interesting as they are intended to. Do I fear the state of matrimony will go out of fashion? In a sense, yes and I can’t see why we’d want it to. Something that holds up and celebrates the finest thing in human life – why on earth would you wish to abolish, or allow to fall into disuse, that? That’s acceding to an impoverishment of life.

  3. I agree “Romantic” love occurs regardless of whether people are married just as sex does. Marriage is just the human celebration of these facts after that event has occurred. It’s because people find sex and love so wonderful that they are moved to invent a way of singing about it and celebrating/consecrating it. In a down to earth practical world it also helps with all the legal aspects too.

    So, I’m saying, in caveman terms that 1) Fred Flintstone met Thelma 2) They fell in love (and presumably sex was involved) 3) They though it so wonderful they celebrated it in a special ceremony (consecration) celebrating its wonder and sacredness – sacred because in it the human race is symbolically complete with both genders coming together and children resulted (the amazing transmission of life). This sequence is hardly something to be sneezed at!

    To try and make all this wonder be the mere equivalent of a homosexual union, which lacks so much of what it offers, seems strangely self-destructive.

    Final word - Life is sacred so hetero union (then possibly wished to be consecrated - recognised to be sacred- in marriage) is sacred. Other things are side-issues to this fact. Why should homo unions try to appropriate this and just wave away the obvious differences? CP's give them all they want.

    Just in case there is any misunderstanding, I'm not demeaning your relationship with Neil. It is love and procreation (although this latter was a choice you made) and has all the elements, therefore, of what I call sacred and wonderful. That you choose not to consecrate it further is your decision and nothing to do with me. I also do not deny the possibility of love between homosexuals.