Same-Sex Marriage – the End of Civilisation?

(Previously published in the McTavish Opera blog 7 September 2013)
Some of the dafter arguments against marriage equality.

The Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Scotland) Bill, which will make provision for same-sex marriage is currently going through the evidence session in the devolved Scottish Parliament.

This has given the chance for both proponents and opponents of the Bill to give their arguments to the Parliament, and this has produced a series of frankly laughable claims. The European gay news service, Pink News, has reported 12 of the most
bizarre arguments against same-sex marriage.

I thought it would be fun therefore to go through them one by one and show just how easily such nonsense can be disregarded.

1. John Deighan, of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland argues “We already have equal marriage. All people have the right to marriage.” Indeed they do not.

Just because we have the right to equal cisgender, heterosexual marriage does not make for a fair and equal society. At one time mixed race and interfaith marriages were illegal, and people made exactly the same arguments about “equality” then.

2. Dr Salah Beltagui, Muslim Council of Scotland: “What scares people are the things that will happen under the bill that are not expected. The bill gives a list of people whose relationships are too close for them to marry. For us, that list includes same-sex couples. It will be dangerous for society if we keep changing the list to exclude relationships that we currently recognise as making it not possible for people to marry. As people have said, that could lead to incest and other dangerous relations.”

The Bill has no such list of people whose relationships are too close to marry. The “list” of what we recognise as marriage has already changed. One would have thought that a Muslim woman who is not in a polygamous marriage, sharing her husband with other wives, would have realised that. The Bill clearly states those who cannot marry as their relationships would be incestuous.

3. John Deighan: “We cannot have laws saying that people who sell bracelets can call them watches if they do not tell the time.”

Meanwhile, back on planet Earth… John Deighan here of course is taking a swipe at homosexuals and claiming that because they cannot procreate, then their marriage cannot be valid. This again is the Roman Catholic church accusing the LGBT community of “redefining” marriage. Except there is no Biblical definition of marriage. Added to which if the RC Church believes that marriage must have a sexual dynamic and is for procreation, then they should stand by their own principles and stop marrying asexual people, people who cannot have children due to physical disability, elderly couples and couples who simply do not wish to have children. They currently have no problems marrying any of the above.

4. John Deighan on RC schools participation in LGBT History Month: “The whole aim of the month is to try to change people’s understanding of people who are homosexual and propose them as role models. We would not want to be doing that.”

The whole purpose of LGBT History Month is indeed to change people’s understanding – to educate the public to make them aware that the LGBT are human beings, just like the rest of society, who make an equal contribution to society, how some make a greater contribution than others, how they have rights like the rest of society, and how many can indeed make excellent role models – particularly for LGBT children who may otherwise be confused and depressed about their own sexuality and gender identity.

5. John Deighan comparing LGBT History Month literature to offensive propaganda and pornography: “If someone came in with literature for the BNP and a printer thought that the literature was racist and they did not want to print it, I think that they would be perfectly entitled to say no. Similarly, if someone came in with pornography and the printer felt that pornography was detrimental to the rights of women, they would be entitled not to print it. If they were asked to print publicity material for LGBT history month, but they thought that that twist on history was wrong and they did not want to participate in that deception, I think that they would be entitled to say that.”

The very reason that such material is considered offensive is that it attacks vulnerable minorities, of which the LGBT community is one. Far right groups such as the British National Party (BNP) to which Mr Deighan refers are equally against the LGBT community as they are against non-whites and non-Christians. Before mixed-race marriage was allowed there were plenty thought that their “twist on history” was wrong and their was plenty of propaganda printed against that. Even to this day there are plenty decry Black History Month. Would Mr Deighan stand by their views? Material for schools for LGBT History Month is not nor can it ever be of a pornographic nature. I have no doubt that Mr Deighan considers even the word “homosexual” to be pornographic, but that is not how it is in law.

I frankly am disappointed at Mr Deighan for these arguments. It was only around over 100 years ago that Roman Catholics were treated as an underclass in Scotland and suffered similar discrimination and persecution which the LGBT community suffer today. Even today, I am sure he is very well aware of the sectarianism and anti-Catholic bigotry which is still a poison in Scottish society. It seems to me that he should consider that before likewise participating in bigotry against the LGBT community.

6. Dr Beltagui claims that allowing same-sex marriage will mean changing every document in history: “It is the principle—changing the whole history of marriage—that is worrying us. The bill talks about changing the text of Scots law and so on to accommodate the change that the bill will make. Are we going to do that for all the documents in history that faith groups or nations have?”

The Bill is indeed the greatest change of marriage law in Scots history. That is not changing the entire history of marriage, but about opening the rights of marriage up to those whom it was previously denied to. This will indeed mean changing the text of many statutes in Scots Law but it is nonsense to claim that we need to change all documents. The Bill is not about making history – not changing it.

7. John Deighan compares SSM to incest: “A brother and a sister were demanding that they be allowed to marry. If we set up a principle that marriage is only about love, we need to ask what principle then says that such relationships are not permitted.”

The brother and sister Mr Deighan refers to were in an incestuous relationship in Germany. They are attempting to claim that disallowing them to marry is an infringement upon their human rights. That case is certain to fail. There is no nation on the face of the planet allows incestuous marriage for very good reasons. Besides, what happens in Germany has no bearing upon the law in Scotland and, as I previously stated, the Bill outlays very clearly close relations who are not allowed to marry.

8. Dr Beltagui claims SSM confuses matters by redefining marriage: “If we start changing the definition of marriage from what we know and what we know about who is coming from which line and who is not, there will be confusion and we will not know exactly where we stop and where we start.”

To echo what I said earlier, many societies all over the world have constantly “redefined” marriage. Whether it be allowing or denying polygamous marriage, restrictions on close relations, or even something as simple as raising or lowering the age of consent. There is no real “definition” of marriage – certainly not in either the Qur’an or the Bible – with the result that what we know it is right now can only ever be temporary. Societies have no confusion in changing the above and the same will equally apply to same-sex marriage.

9. John Deighan about “badges”: “We do not change the whole of society because people might feel upset that their relationship is not being given a particular badge by the state. It is not about badges.”

I couldn’t agree more John – “We don’t need no stinking badges!” Yet right now society puts badges on the LGBT community to castigate them and deny them the same rights afforded to cisgender heterosexual people. And actually we do change history because minorities suffer state injustice. We have done constantly. Were that not true then there would be no equal rights for non-whites, women, or Roman Catholics for that matter.

10. Dr Beltagui claims SSM will lead to group sex: “The bill makes marriage acceptable between two men or two women, but it uses the definition of adultery only between a man and a woman. That means that someone can have relations with someone of the same sex outside a same-sex marriage, including in a threesome, a foursome.”

Becuause of course no-one ever cheats on their partner in heterosexual marriage, do they? And as for threesomes, foursomes, and even more, I hate to inform Dr Beltagui but some married heterosexual people participate in group sex, including where both partners in a marriage are involved with others.

Where the problem lies is with the definition of adultery which is based upon consummation. In an enlightened age where heterosexual/cisgender asexuals and others who cannot have sex may nonetheless marry – and that marriage is recognised in law – there is indeed a need to change the law and scrap consummation as the basis for adultery.

11. John Deighan believes changes in equality law make it necessary for a man to be a woman: “The trajectory of the past 10 years has been to try to replace equality with sameness in thinking that a man has to be a woman. That is where we have gone wrong.”

Give me strength. No John, the trajectory has been to give men and women a level playing field. Equality law seeks that and that alone. No man can ever think like a woman – and vice versa. Mr Deighan’s statement – which smacks of someone who seems to think women should be kept at home, barefoot and pregnant – is frankly sexist and it is thinking like this which continues to prevent women from achieving their full potential in society. It is also completely irrelevant to the same-sex marriage debate.

12. Dr Beltagui likens SSM to abortion: “The case of marriage is exactly like abortion. It is an issue on which people will differ. We accept that abortion is a controversial issue, and marriage is at the same level, or perhaps an even higher level. Abortion involves one person with an unborn baby, but the issue of marriage involves the whole of society.”

If Dr Beltagui admits that abortion “involves one person with an unborn baby” then I fail to see how she can claim it is a “controversial issue”, or why even throw the dreaded “A” word into the SSM debate at all. After all, what she is saying that if it involves one person, then it is none of society’s business. We can all argue that. However, there is one thing for sure, and this is the bottom line on marriage equality and the very reason why I support it. Marriage is about two people in love making a commitment to each other. When two people do love each other, then sexuality and gender are an irrelevance to that love. If they choose to make a lifelong commitment to each other, then that is their business and theirs alone and does not involve the whole of society in any way, shape, or form. Any couple who marry have absolutely no impact upon society or the lives of anyone else. That applies today with heterosexual/cisgender marriage; the same will apply to equal marriage in the future.

Link to the original story in Pink News:

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