Hugo Rifkind

Gay marriage is going to happen, and that’s a fact

27 October 2012

9:00 AM

27 October 2012

9:00 AM

I know this will surprise you, given the shy and retiring violets who largely write in these pages, but one of the main problems with being a columnist is the rampaging ego. In my own case, this manifests not in drunken debauchery or unabashed priapism (which is a shame as both sound fun) but in a naive and quite self-obsessed assumption that people might have been keeping track of what I’ve written about things, regardless of where I’ve done so.

Hence my mistake. Two weeks ago, here, I made an offhand reference to supporting gay marriage. Since then, I’ve had a handful of letters, a few emails, and an actual face-to-face bollocking from a very nice lady at a ‘meet the readers’ Spectator tea party. Combined, they left me pondering that, although I’ve already argued the case in the Times six months ago, it’s perfectly possible that readers here won’t realise how cleverly I did so. As I cannot bear this (see above, re: the ego), I’m going to do it again. Drop me an email if you also read the last one, and I’ll send you a few funny paragraphs about something else. George Osborne and trains, maybe. I’m all over that.

The only real argument against gay marriage is the Christian one. I didn’t realise that at first, because Christians were shielding their motivation behind lots of guff about nature and bigamy, but it’s pretty obvious now. I struggle with exactly why the loving Christian god would so object to gay marriage, but I daresay these people have given it some thought, and I’m unlikely to change their minds. Crucially, though, their minds do not need to be changed. They simply need to accept the unstoppable logic of the argument that their beliefs deserve no agency over anybody else.

Personally, I was raised as a Jew. Had I wanted to marry my wife in my childhood synagogue, the fact that she is not a Jew would have prohibited me from doing so. That’s fine. Them’s the rules. But I’ve never yet met the rabbi who would argue that the law — the law — should ban me from getting married anywhere else, either. As I wrote before, in a secular world, the headline ‘bishop slams gay marriage’ really ought to matter about as much as ‘imam miffed about pet licences’. You know. Rendering unto Caesar, and all that.

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Of late, the vogueish argument has become one that civil gay marriage would inevitably lead to churches being forced to conduct gay marriages, due to militant gays indulging in murky shenanigans at the European Court of Human Rights. I’m not sure about this one. I suppose it might happen, and I also suppose it ought not to. How much, though, does it matter? There surely cannot be many people, gay or otherwise, who want to antagonistically get married in a place that really doesn’t want them to. The whole point of gay marriage, indeed, is to make our society less of one in which people feel these fights need to be fought.

At any rate, again logically, the argument simply doesn’t work. A strong likelihood that A will lead to B does not entail that A is a bad idea. It’s a bit like opposing female suffrage on the grounds that it might lead to women demanding quotas in Association Football teams. I mean, it might, but that’s a whole other problem. And a rather niche one, too, on which to exercise a veto.

Once you’ve put the religious objections on the sidelines where they belong, all of the other arguments simply wither away. Against nature? The birds and the bees do not get married. On a slippery slope leading to state recognition of bigamy and incest? Simply rubbish. For one thing, as my colleague Oliver Kamm has argued, excellently, the principle of one person being tied to another person is not incidental here, but fundamental. For another, if there is a slippery slope, then it starts not with gay marriage, but with marriage.

Any other objection you can dredge up, as I’ve argued before, will have its roots in distaste, which is no basis for law either. During my bollocking at the Spectator tea party, my interlocutor — a polite and wholly pleasant lady — told me that it was logically impossible for gays to marry, ‘because they can’t consummate it’. Ever since then, I’ve slightly regretted not feigning bafflement, and saying, ‘but what if they put their penises in each other’s bottoms?’ But that would have been a mistake then, and it’s probably a mistake now, because it employs the language of outrage. This debate doesn’t need that. It needs the opposite. It needs cold hard sense.

The objection I mind the most, often argued on these pages, is that none of this really matters, and that all we have here is David Cameron and others like him (including me, clearly) striking a modernist pose without meaningful substance. I mind that, because it is a twist of the truth. Unlike civil partnerships, which were about rights, this is about society. It represents principles of individual liberty and agency which are currently impeded by the state and must not be. It represents how I want my country to look, the values I want to dominate it, and the sort of beacon I want it to be to the world.

Plenty of those against gay marriage deserve respect for their views, but they are wrong, and they will lose. Do you get it, yet? I’m in favour of gay marriage even if gays aren’t. Rarely do I mean anything as much as I mean this. So now you know. Ego satisfied. I’m only sorry it took so long.

Hugo Rifkind is a writer for the Times.


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Show comments
  • Ali Buchan

    “I was raised as a Jew. Had I wanted to marry my wife in my childhood synagogue, the fact that she is not a Jew would have prohibited me from doing so. ”

    Presumably, once the impediment of the state is removed, you would accept that a decision made by the Church, or by individual churches, to prohibit homosexual marriages would be acceptable…

    Because “them’s the rules”?

    • Peter Treadwell

      Of course. The churches are free to refuse to marry anyone they do not wish to. Always have been, as far as I know.

      • mark startin

        Some vicars refuse to marry people who do not attend their churches (even if one is male and the other female).

      • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.hartland Stephen Hartland

        Though it is civil gay marriage, not religious marriage.

      • Baron

        will not be (free to refuse) in the future if the proposal goes ahead.

        • Jon R

          That is a lie. The government’s proposal does not include even allowing churches to marry same-sex people, let alone forcing them too. Even among people who want churches to be allowed to perform the marriages, almost nobody is suggesting that they should be forced to.

    • http://twitter.com/SebastianOttawa Sebastian

      exactly, yes

    • Terry Collmann

      Because I was divorced, neither the local Catholic church (my wife is a Catholic) nor the Church of England would let me marry my second wife on their premises. However, the CofE was perfectly happy to let me have my register office wedding BLESSED on its premises … I’ll guarantee you that you’ll see a lot of gay blessings in churches when or soon after gay marriage becomes legal.

      • hyhybt

        I’m surprised the Church of England isn’t willing to perform weddings after divorce, given how it came to be as a separate branch of Christianity. Over here, we have the Episcopal Church, and my brother recently had no problem getting married there even though he’s divorced. They went through pre-marriage interviews first, to make sure they were serious about it, and made him actually join the church officially which he hadn’t done despite going there for fifteen years or so, but there were no real problems.

    • StephanieJCW

      He said so in the piece if you read it properly.

  • Hugo Rifkind

    Ali – fine by me. Was that not explicit? It’s already pretty hard to marry in a church that doesn’t want you. I don’t see why this should be any different.

    • Ali Buchan

      For what it’s worth (on a forum where us plebs express our ill-informed views), I agree with you wholeheartedly. I just think it’s a shame that, once the state is out of the way, devout, homosexual couples may still find it difficult to get married in their chosen church – though I’m sure they’ll be able to find ‘a’ church.

      Having said that, the alternative of forcing a church to accept any old couple also seems very wrong, too, despite it being a wee bit reminiscent of recent rulings about bed & breakfasts!

      Very much enjoy your articles.

      • hyhybt

        A business is not a church.

      • Baron

        since when wrong or right had anything to do with anything? Equality, my blogging friend, trumps all, even wrong or right.

    • Baron

      you blind then, young Rifkind, equality rules, it’s the umbrella under which we live, once the proposal gets through (you right, it will) there’s nothing to stop any gay couple to insist to be married in a church of their choosing, and nothing will stop them doing so.

  • Marcus

    God ? No culture in the history of humanity has ever had same sex marriage. However nearly all had marriage. It has always been possible for same sex couples to bring up children, yet no culture has ever sanctioned this. Not Christian, Jewish, Buddhism, Janeism, Aztec, Inca. You name it; they didn’t do it. It’s not god it’s common sense.

    • Hugo Rifkind

      Marcus, while I obviously bow to your superior knowledge of Inca and Aztec adoption agencies, I’m not sure why the moralities of past cultures ought to be our guide to anything.

      • Marcus

        It certainly shouldn’t: infanticide practicing as they were.
        N.b. You can say that now as there aren’t any alive to defame, a bit like Jimmy.
        However the point that not one single human culture has ever sanctioned same sex marriage or adoption, (even the ones that practiced infanticide).
        Thus illustrating that expressing the view that marriage is not something for people of the same sex is not a right wing bigoted Romney-esque objection, like say abortion.
        It is in fact the default for every culture that has ever existed in human history. What didn’t they know that you do? Also, more importantly it makes your premise wrong.

        • Peter Treadwell

          You cannot claim to know about about absolutely every human society all through world history. You might say that no society you know of has ever had gay marriage, but that means you have never heard of the Netherlands, which is unlikely.

          • Marcus

            Within the last 5-10 yrs certain northwestern European cultures have adopted gay marriage. But for 1000000 yrs before, none that we know of did. That’s none; not just Christian right wing ones.
            It is worth remembering that cultures can be induced to overcome natural objections to many things: gay marriage, gay adoption, incest, bigamy and genocide are just some of them.

          • Peter Treadwell

            Aha, now you are speaking more precisely. However, it is not clear what your conclusion is: are you suggesting that striking out in this new direction is intrinsically a mistake because it is (pretty much) without precedent? The pone does not follow logically from the other. Or perhaps you are pleased to be part of a society with such revolutionary ideas?
            Not sure what your last sentence was relevant to, but never mind.

          • Marcus

            My conclusion is that there are many many cultures that don’t and far more that historically never have sanctioned gay marriage; only a minority of the objections against it therefore, can be reliably attributed to religion. So the opening lines of this article are wrong and a bit myopic.

          • Peter Treadwell

            The article does not deal only with religious objections. Also with “it’s not natural”, “it’s a slippery slope to accepting bigamy and incest”, “it can’t be consummated”, “it’s an irrelevance anyway” and “organisations will be forced to perform these marriages against their will”.
            Although Rifkind does devote most time to the religious objection, that is perhaps because it’s the one that is heard most often, and most loudly. The sad fact is that a great many Christians believe their rules should be imposed on everyone.

          • Marcus

            No, you’re not getting this.

            The only sad fact is actually that a far greater number of non Christians believe that Gay marriage is not a good idea than Christians but you can’t grasp that.

            It is a small minded myopic North London type error to think that arguments against gay marriage lie solely on the shoulders of middle class Anglican ladies at tea parties.

            As I have made clear over and over again other non-Christian people that haven’t sanctioned gay marriage include, amongst others; Tibetans, Nepalese, Intuits, The Sioux, The Apache, The Visigoths, Polynesians (both past and present), Ancient Chinese following the teachings of Confusers, the Masi, all discovered Latin American tribes, the Vikings etc etc.

            You may travel to central Papua New Guinea and ask them why they don’t sanction same sex marriage and they may respond by talking about ‘el slippery slope’, but I doubt it, you see the arguments are global and varied.

            What you and the author are consistently not appreciating is that only a small fraction of the arguments against gay marriage can be attributed to Judeo-Christian prejudice originating from a book written by men and or women about 3000 years ago.

            From the thousands of cultures we know of in the past and present only a handful of North-western cultures have recently adopted gay marriage. It is a grave error therefore to think the only objections are Christian ones, they are not. In fact they are a small fraction of the objections and the author on line 1 paragraph 3 is therefore completely wrong, as are you.

          • Peter Treadwell

            Your lengthy posting point by point:

            1. I clearly grasp that there is nothing particularly Christian about opposing gay marriage, as is evident from my postings. My last posting explicitly listed several other arguments, none of which is even faintly Christian.

            2. I have no idea what a “North London type error” is.

            3. Neither Rifkind nor I even faintly suggest that arguments against gay marriage rest on the shoulders of […] ladies at dinner parties

            4. You have indeed made this point over and over again, which is tiresome.

            5. I would not pretend to know what Papuans think about anything. I do know, however, that the “slippery slope” argument is very often put forward in our own part of the world, and that it therefore needs to be addressed.

            6. Your paragraph beginning “What you and the author”: see (1) above

            7. Your last paragraph: see (1) above.

            I am completely uinable to understand why you think I don’t get your point. I not only understand it, I knew it perfectly well years ago. I even agree with it, as far as I know any of the relevant facts. Very curious. But: are you suggesting that striking out in this new direction is intrinsically a mistake because it is (pretty much) without precedent? The one does not follow logically from the other. Or perhaps you are pleased to be part of a society with such revolutionary ideas?

          • hyhybt

            Further evidence that opposition isn’t particularly Christian: the existence of Christians in favor of gay marriage.

          • Marcus

            Right, so the arguments against gay marriage are not generally religious and fewer still stem from Christianity. We both agree on that.
            As I said, that’s not what the article says but never mind.

            It is right that we should not seek to emulate past cultures and some dreadful things were condoned.

            But was the promotion of children being brought up by a mother and father one of them?
            I am not sure that it was. I can see that you are, but I’m not.
            I think the reason so few cultures have sanctioned gay marriage is that it was and is, by and large not viewed as a great idea.
            Making sodomy illegal (on male and females) is not a law seen across many cultures, it seems to be routed in Christianity and is a bit odd and prudish and few countries have it.

            But same sex marriage and the adoption of children by same sex couples being sanctioned by the state is far more rare and objections to this are generally not routed in Christianity.
            So same sex marriage is not something that humans seem to tend to, from whatever cultural background, as you agree. Also many of these cultures will therefore give very varying reasons, as I think you agree.
            I suppose it is something that the majority of people would not wish their children to experience or not an upbringing they would themselves have wanted.
            Would they prefer an abusive heterosexual couple? No. But none the less, as we can see across the globe, most people on weighing this up, do not want gay adoption and or marriage.

            Many in Utah think that children should be adopted into Mormon polygamist marriages but our adoption agencies don’t go for this.
            Why not?
            I am mean really why not?
            I don’t think their is a coherent argument against them with any more weight than the arguments against gay marriage.
            Why not incestuous marriages?
            Why shouldn’t a bother and sister get married at 16 and adopt/have children with NHS funded genetic counselling?
            I genuinely can’t think of any argument against this either.

            What the gay marriage argument does is highlight that there is no limit to what and who can adopt or get married.
            This is not a slippery slope argument. I am not saying gay marriage opens the door for this, the door was opened years ago.

            Relaxing of the marriage laws in the 1960’s probably had people talking about ‘destruction of the institution/culture of marriage’ and ‘slippery slopes’.
            If you had told them that in less than 50 years there would be state sponsored TV programs where women would find out who is their child’s father on TV and feel no shame in this, then many would have said you were talking nonsense and exaggerating.

            Gay marriage is not the start of the destruction of the institution of marriage and it is not the thin end of the wedge. It’s probably the middle of the wedge and shortly behind and before it are other types of marriage some of which haven’t even been discussed yet.

            They will come, there will be test case in the European court of human rights as more and more people claim the right to adopt and get married.
            There is no definite point, no definite line in the sand to stop this.

            Just like the age of consent. It is difficult to be genuinely certain at what point to draw the line. At what point is it not OK for a 60 year old man to have sex with a women? We say 16, Spain say 12. Someone in Spain probably got it down one day to 14 and someone said ‘What’s to stop it getting lower after this’ and everyone told them to shut up.

            So you want gay marriage and I don’t. I actually would sooner see polygamist marriages recognised for adoption, alimony and custody rights.

            I would genuinely sooner see bisexual polygamist mixed marriages recognised as that way children are guaranteed at least one male and female parent.

            You may not, and those commenting above may not, but I do. I don’t think your stupid or bigoted for not wanting bisexual polygamist marriages if you don’t. I just don’t think your right. Lot’s of people in the Arab world are very happily brought up in polygamist marriages and not recognising them is precisely the same discrimination that we have shown to gay marriage. I would rather live in a world with neither, but if we have one we must have the other, and we shall.

          • RidleySays

            Um, same sex WAS sanctioned in China. seriously. Google.

          • http://twitter.com/LouMcCudden Louise McCudden

            They didn’t have electricity or the internet either so you probably better turn off your computer Marcus…

          • Marcus

            Tibetans do have the internet, they just don’t have gay marriage.

          • http://twitter.com/LouMcCudden Louise McCudden

            Every society for the past several thousand years. Not Tibetians. Obviously. Sigh.

          • RidleySays

            Apart from the fact that your statement is historically inaccurate; in the last century or so, it’s become illegal to rape and beat your spouse.

            There are ‘historical precedents’ for being able to sell your wife if she annoyed you; for your relatives burning her alive upon your death; for her compulsory rape and marriage by any male siblings you had.

            Historical precedent isn’t always an arbiter of morality.

            Also as homosexuals were subject to genocidal policy during the holocaust, putting gay marriage and genocide in the same sentence is grossly offensive.

          • Marcus

            “Also as homosexuals were subject to genocidal policy during the holocaust, putting gay marriage and genocide in the same sentence is grossly offensive.”

            Oh dear, you are one of these tedious Guardian types who feigns offence at things.

            People subjected to genocide over the last 60 years are, in no particular order:
            Communist, Fascist, Gays (Cuba and Nazi Germany), people with glasses/university education, Jews, Doctors, Judges, Officers, Kosaks, Tutsi, Serbs, Gypsies, the infirm, Ukrainian farmers, Chinese peasants, writers, journalists, Tibetans, the Karren and so on.
            The list is almost inexhaustible, so please don’t pretend that gays are the one of a few select groups of people who have been targeted for genocide. They are not.

            Furthermore, many many more millions of groups of people were murdered for rafts of reasons over the last 60 years and they will sadly often have to put them in the same sentence as the word genocide.

            So you’re just going to have to be strong, pull yourself together and get over that one.

          • RidleySays

            I wasnt the one likening two people getting married to genocide. That was you – and i wasnt feigning offence that yoi think mrriage and mass murder are the sme thing.a

          • Marcus

            The point is that matters seemingly trivial and horrendous can be accepted by society as ‘the norm’. Genocide, gay marriage and the other examples I gave are just some things that society’s have adapted too or not adapted too. No one ever said they were the same.

          • RidleySays

            Putting them in the same bracket implies that they are on the same level in terms of horror and evil.

          • Marcus

            No it does not. It is actually supposed to show, as I’ve said, that society can adapt to all sorts of things. Some seemingly banal and some pernicious and everywhere in between.

        • Steve

          So not one human culture has condoned same-sex marriage… ummm, so what? What, exactly, is your point? In every culture, every civilization, there has to be a point at which something is done for the first time. Once, someone chose to be the first to rub two sticks together to make fire, despite the cries of his cro-magnon counterparts shouting “No culture has ever done that before! Don’t be crazy, Ugg!”. If he’d adopted your attitude of only doing what had gone before we’d all be sitting in caves trying to decide if rocks are edible.

          • hyhybt

            Amen!

          • Marcus

            I think you confusing scientific advancement (as some of your friends are) with sanctioning varying forms of marriage.

          • David M

            im not sure one person being able to marry another of the same sex(inevitably, eventually in a church against that church’s gods own rules) is quite as world changing to everybody as the invention of fire – what a daft and fatuous post steve has made!

            Lets face it the whole religous argument against same sex marriage is one about who has supremecy and the whole point why people who have religous faith object to a law forcing them to do something they have a strong feeling against is because we are supposed to live in a secular country where state and government do not interfere with each other. The whole gay marriage debate arises from the fact that legally same sex civil partnership couples already have equality and this desire to see equality in being able to marry in a church is actually an attack against fundamental religous beliefs by the state, thus proving once and for all that to the state fundamantal christian religous beliefs concerning marriage in the presence of god are no better than a desire to commit genocide against the jews as the nazis did during the holocaust, it also proves finally that many liberals believe that the only valid opinion in the eyes of the law should be their own and that the views of the majority are always trumped by their own ideals because what they are saying is the only correct view to hold in a fair and equal society and if you dont agree on this one minor point you must be a nasty right wing thug whose opinion on all matters is just as invalid.

        • RidleySays

          Germany, Spain, the Romans and China all had same sex marriage. Seriously, if you need to find out, go to google, type in ‘history of same sex marriage’.

          • http://twitter.com/SebastianOttawa Sebastian

            Also the aboriginal tribes in north america sanctioned same sex unions (before the Christians colonized)

        • hyhybt

          Why do people, on this issue, use “it’s never been done before” as if that were, in and of itself, a reason not to do something? Nothing’s been done before until someone does it, after all.

          • Marcus

            Your argument is a good one for scientific experiments but a poor one for say teaching techniques or the best way for society to provide a secure environment for the upbringing of children.

          • hyhybt

            Even at that, “it’s never been done before” is not reason to dismiss an idea out of hand, as you do, but rather to weigh the pros and cons. The thing is, there ARE no genuine cons. (“Genuine” meaning those that both really exist and really are harmful.)

          • Marcus

            Weigh up the pros and cons?
            But according to you there are no cons. Not one. Really?
            Now that’s open mindedness for you!

          • http://twitter.com/LouMcCudden Louise McCudden

            You can’t even name one, why should we? What is one? Go on, just one direct negative consequence of two men or two women getting married. Not “hypothetically it might in a million years lead to a twelve year old marrying her pet chicken” but an actual proven direct negative consequence.

          • Marcus

            What’s wrong with a 12 year old marrying her pet chicken ? So what if she does, what warm would that actually do ?
            What’s wrong with incest? I mean not hypothetical but real ?
            What’s wrong with single parents ?
            What’s wrong with 4 parents or even 6 ? Give one proven negative consequence of polygamy.
            Out of interest what, if any, stipulations would you put in marriage ?

          • RidleySays

            Love, happiness, and consent.

          • RidleySays

            Love, happiness, and consent.

      • Baron

        so what’s guiding you then, young Rifkind?

    • Steve

      Ah, well if we’re to base our modern culture only on those that have come before it, then we should revert to slavery. After all, the torah (and by extension, the bible) both condone slavery, and both the aztec and inca empires employed it.
      Your argument is facile.

      • Marcus

        Remember that not all cultures have condoned slavery.
        I agree that as a race we got the fact that man can’t fly wrong.

        I see little evidence we are getting social issues such as a marriage right: after all it is falling apart at the seams. 50% of people get divorced.
        Why is that? Because we not liberal enough?
        Something has changed for the worse.

        • RidleySays

          People get divorced now because they are able to. Take the Victorian era for example; divorce rates were low. But marriage was seen primarily as an economic contract. Women frequently died in childbirth and both adult and child prostitution hasn’t been higher before or since.

          Even within this century men could cheat on, beat and rape their wives and their wives wouldn’t necessarily be able to divorce them – let alone prosecute them for physical / sexual assault.

    • RidleySays

      Google same sex marriage. You will find it dates back to the mesolithic era.

    • http://twitter.com/LouMcCudden Louise McCudden

      No culture besides Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece, ancient pagan societies, certain African tribes, and now Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark,
      Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Sweden and bits of the US and Mexico. But apart from that.

  • Redian Ohrey

    You can rabbit on all you want, it is not and never will be true marriage.

    • Adam Nixon

      Why do you believe that it is you who defines what true marriage is?

    • Steve

      Says who? Marriage existed long before Christianity and it will exist long after Christianity (and every other daft cult) has gone the way of the dodo. The fact some medieval simpletons like yourself choose not to recognise it as “true” marriage (whatever that means) is irrelevant. You can move with the times or you can make yourself obsolete. It’s your choice.

    • RidleySays

      Are the 70% of civil marriages in this country also not ‘true marriage’?

  • mark startin

    As a committed Catholic I agree whole-heartedly with this article. The stance of the Bishops of England and Wales, and of Scotland, has been ill-proposed and weakly supported by argument.

    Same-sex marriage will happen and we will be better for it as a society.

    • Baron

      care to explain how will it benefit those who object to it, or are they not a part of the society?

      • mark startin

        Sorry, but those who object to it should just get over it. All sorts of things take place to which one objects, and you have to get on with life. For example, I profoundly objected to the way that Ed Balls devised Tax Credits so as to bribe people with their own money yet the scheme still went ahead. I could have become a single-issue maniac over the point, but what would have been the point?

        Same-sex marriage is not that big a deal against the other problems in the world. The objectors will not be forced to contract a same-sex marriage with another man or woman; the churches will not be forced to conduct same-sex weddings.

  • Peter Treadwell

    Of all objections, “because they can’t consummate it” is surely the siliest. How on earth can consummation be proved in any marriage? Either a child is born comfortably more than nine months after the marriage and DNA tested to prove paternity, or an observer must follow the newlyweds around day and night until they are seen performing the act (if a single observer’s testimony is sufficient).
    Since my wife and I are unable to have children, nobody (except us) knows whether we have consummated or not. It is all too silly for words.

    • hyhybt

      If I remember rightly, you’re supposed to save the sheets from your wedding night to prove, not only that you had sex, but that your wife was a virgin.

      • Peter Treadwell

        That was a widespread tradition, but useless. Blood can come from other parts of the body.
        Marriages between very old people are generally not consummated, but not invalid for that reason.
        Anyway, consummation or the lack of it is nobody else’s business.

        • hyhybt

          Exactly.

    • Baron

      you have another made up argument against the proposal you may like to demolish?

    • Austin Barry

      For some reason all of this daft gay marriage nonsense reminds me of Michael Gambon’s statement to a reporter that, yes, he was once gay, but had to give it up because “it made my eyes water”.

  • jonathan_smith

    “Do you get it, yet?”

    No.

    • RidleySays

      Then try harder.

      • jonathan_smith

        Good one.

  • Golf club bore

    What a superficial and banal piece of nonsense. If you can`t write something more sensibly argued than this, then don`t bother to write.

    • Adam Nixon

      Your own contribution is not exactly interesting, though. Why not tell us what flaws you have found in the article’s reasoning? Why not explain what is superficial and banal about it? If you can’t be bothered, then why post an opinion at all?

      • Baron

        and why not, it’s an opinion, it’s a free country

        • mark startin

          You believe that when you are posting online? What delightful innocence.

    • Steve

      It was reasoned and well-written, which leads me to assume you simply disagree with it but are no better at refuting his points than anyone else opposed to gay marriage. If you can’t write something more sensibly argued than this, then don’t bother to write.

      • Baron

        who are you telling Golf club bore not to write, God?

    • http://twitter.com/SebastianOttawa Sebastian

      Now, if only you would take your own advice….

  • Edward Sutherland

    Hugo Rifkind states the opponents of gay marriage will lose. As a committed opponent to this proposal I accept that the cause is lost. Parliament is supposed to be sovereign and in this case the majority of the Commons’ votes will be with Hugo’s liberal elites, with of course the European Court of Human Rights and the EU cheering from the sidelines; and in the case of the ECHR, as even Hugo is forced to admit, ready to step in and attack religious bodies on the grounds of discrimination when they fail to allow gay couples to have religious weddings on their premises, despite no doubt what will be described as “cast-iron guarantees” from the Prime Minister that this will not be allowed. So what can principled objectors such as myself do apart from signing petitions,blogging, writing to MPs etc.? Well, I’ve resigned from my local Conservative association; I certainly won’t be helping out at any further elections, which will certainly be saving me a lot of shoe leather. It’s sad to sever your links with a party you’ve supported for a long time, but no doubt the Prime Minister and his colleagues have have concluded that he has more to gain by ditching many of the party’s long standing supporters. And no, I’m not a closet UKIP supporter, just a now thoroughly disenchanted Conservative who has voted for the party at every general election since first being entitled to vote in 1970.

    • Edward Sutherland Jr

      The fact that you’ve voted for the same party consistently for over 40 years speaks volumes about the type of person you are.

      Especially if it’s the Tory party.

      “When the facts change (as they have done a great deal in 40 years), I change my mind. What do you do, Sir?”

      Keep voting Tory, presumably…

      • Edward Sutherland

        Edward Junior: No…probably spoil the ballot paper instead.

      • http://twitter.com/SebastianOttawa Sebastian

        Your politics must be pretty fickle, and it is odd that you would abandon all other positions of your party based on an issue that *presumably as a hereosexual* will have no personal impact on you. So is it that this issue trups economic, education, health, social, military, foreign, infrastructure, tax, labour, etc, issues and you will now join one of the other parties based solely on opposition to same sex marriage?

    • Peter Treadwell

      How strange: you object so strongly that you have turned your back on your party, and that you conjure up the ridiculous bogeyman of churches being forced to conduct gay weddings. But you don’t get around to telling us _why_ you object. Could it be that you yourself don’t really know?

      • Edward Sutherland

        Peter Treadwell: I object because I do not believe two people of the same sex can be married in the true sense of the word, not subscribing to the relativistic, Humpty Dumpty school of logic when it comes to the meaning of words. In my opinion, which I only give because you ask, the only true marriage that can be contracted is that between one man and one woman. Parliament can,of course, decree that there be gay marriages, in the same way that it could, I suppose, decree that in future only polygamous marriages were to be valid, and I would in either case have to accept it as the law of the land. As to the “ridiculous bogeyman”, I ‘d wager good money there will be gay pressure groups itching to go to court to attack the proposed exemption for religious institutions just as soon as the gay marriage statute is enacted. The UK courts would presumably throw out the case, if Mr Cameron is to be believed, whereupon the matter would be taken to Strasbourg, at which point,as we know only too well, just about anything could happen.

        • Adam Nixon

          Why do you believe that it is you who defines what the true sense of the word “married” is?

          • Edward Sutherland

            Mr Nixon: I have accepted that the government of this country, acting through the legislature, has the power and the right to decree that two men, three men, four men, or however many men and women you care to think of, may be lawfully treated as married; that’s the way a parliamentary democracy functions. In my dealings with my fellow citizens I clearly have to accept the law of the land, in the same way as I pay my taxes and obey road traffic regulations. If I were still a practising solicitor, I would clearly recognise a gay couple as married, should they have been through the appropriate state-sanctioned process, had they sought my advice on, say, a property transaction or the drafting of wills. However, unless thought crime is to be made an offence in this brave new world, I shall continue to believe that the only true marriages are those contracted between one man and one woman. Thankfully, as yet the thought police are not banging on the door!

          • Adam Nixon

            An interesting and eminently logical reply. Bit it doesn’t explain why you think that you are privy to the one true definition of marriage.

          • Edward Sutherland

            Mr Nixon: I am still entitled to my own opinion, though I cannot compel you or anyone else to accept it. In my case, it is grounded in my personal moral code, which encompasses the belief that two people of the same sex are incapable of being truly married, notwithstanding the personal integrity and honour of the two parties concerned. Others no doubt disagree and are free to do so. This of course may still dissatify you; in which case all I can do, without I hope sounding too pretentious, is pray in aid Martin Luther’s words to the emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms in 1521: “Here I stand, I can do no other.”

          • Adam Nixon

            Thanks for your reply. We all have such extra-legal views, feeling in our guts that, say, a certain act is not “real theft” or not “a real job”, etc., irrespective of what the law may tell us. You differ from so many in not seeking to impose your views on unwilling others. I have enjoyed debating with you and hope to do so again.

          • Jon R

            The problem is that you clearly do *want* to compel other people to accept your opinion. You do not want to allow other people to get married, even though their lives have nothing to do with you. You want to impose your will on others, and are upset that you are unable to do so.

          • http://twitter.com/SebastianOttawa Sebastian

            No, imposing your will is when you apply limitation son others, allowing others freedom is respecting posints of view while providing rights that do not impose on others rights. Same sex marriage in no way personally affects you other than what you think of it, but there is no actual effect on you or anyone aside from the couple quite frankly.
            You dont have to accept that gays are real people or that they deserve rights personally, but the law is not meant to protect individual biases, it is to protect individuals. You need no protection from gay marriage, they however need the protections and recognitions of legal Civil Marriage

          • Jon R

            Er, yes, that’s what I just said. Edward is against gay marriage, and I am in favour of it.

          • Edward Sutherland

            Jon R: You misinterpret me. I don’t “want” to “compel” other people to accept my opinion; I would like to be able to persuade them to accept it. I am one adult person in this country, who has as much right as any other person to seek to influence our laws by legitimate means. Everything I have done, and continue to do, within the gay marriage debate is within the boundaries of free, legitimate and democratic action. If the government enacts a gay marriage law, I will accept it as the law of the land, much as I may dislike it. Of course I shall be disappointed if the gay marriage lobby prevail, as I expect they will. But please don’t try to fit me out as some would-be tyrant.

          • Jon R

            People who are pro-equal marriage are not trying to compel anyone to do anything except mind their own business. On the other hand, you want the law to be that gay people may not get married to each other. You want to compel them not to get married. I am not “fitting you out” as a tyrant, it is your own expressed views that do that.

          • Edward Sutherland

            John R: There’s clearly no point in you and I continuing this discussion as you really do believe I wish to be a tyrant.

          • Adam Nixon

            Edward, you are too patient, and too reasonable, for some users of this site. They can’t understand what you’re saying.

          • hyhybt

            Why do you continually refuse to give a *reason,* as you have been repeatedly asked, for that view? “Grounded in my personal moral code” is only a re-wording of “this is the view I hold,” not a reason you hold it.

          • Edward Sutherland

            hyhybt: I am sorry if I am still unclear. My reason (see Aquinas, Kant, natural law etc.) informs my opinion that two individuals of the same sex cannot be truly married to each other. You may share Bentham’s view that natural law is “nonsense, nonsense on stilts”, but there we are, that will be your own freely held opinion. I really am getting puzzled by all this; some people just don’t want me to bow to legitimate authority, which I readily do, but also to accept the particular rationale informing legitimate authority’s action in this particular instance, which I don’t. I’m sure you don’t really mean to, but you do begin to sound a tad inquisitorial with your “why do you continually refuse to give a reason”. I have in the course of this thread tried to give my reason to the best of my ability.

          • hyhybt

            Thank you. Saying that you believe in natural law is indeed a reason, or at least is enough information to make safe assumptions about what reasoning you use.
            The insistence was because merely saying “it’s my personal moral code” isn’t a reason, because by itself it doesn’t give even a clue as to *why* you hold that as part of your personal moral code. And “why” was the question in the first place.
            I apologize for coming across as rude… but I’d also like to know how you would have approached the problem differently. Certainly, there’s the way political reporters and debate moderators (over here, at least) normally use, which is to just go on as if the question *had* been thoroughly addressed, but the trouble with that is you don’t get a real answer that way. For example, one of our presidential candidates got a lot of fun poked at him for the phrase “binders full of women,” but the fact that, in essence, he was trying to use “I’ve hired women before” as an answer to a question about equal pay was pretty well ignored, because they always do that sort of thing. Answering “why do you believe x” with “I’ll obey the law even when I disagree with it” seems to me very much like that. I see that you didn’t mean it that way… but I’d never have been able to see that had you not answered the question of why you (apparently) hadn’t been answering the question, and the only way I know of to get to that point is to keep at it.

          • Baron

            Nixon, sir, give up repeating yourself, you have your definition, others have theirs, is this that difficult to comprehend?

          • Baron

            Edward, give it time, give it time, my blogging friend, we’re moving there what with the progressives on this blog.

          • Baron

            for the same reason that you define what the true sense of the word ‘married’ is.

    • RidleySays

      Out of curiosity, did you object to the way they have attacked the disabled (leading to hate crimes going up 300% in the last year)?

      • hyhybt

        Who is “they” in this case?

        • RidleySays

          The Conservative party that the gentleman in question has decided to leave.

          • hyhybt

            Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/DMcCSE17 Darren McCabe

    An interesting and well written article. It is also worth pointing out that various religions are now resorting to the use of Godwin’s Law (if you don’t know what it is, here is a Wikipedia link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law)

    The woman who told the journalist about gay couple not being able to ‘consummate’ the marriage is clearly stuck in dark ages. Many straight couples who get married would not have ‘saved themselves’ for the marriage night. Similarly, what about older couples, who perhaps don’t have sex anymore but have gotten married for love or companionship?

    Religious bodies are scrapping the bottom of the barrel in looking for reasons as to why same sex marriage should not be allowed, reasons such as polygamy, incest and kills children are just some. Society will be damaged somehow, yet they cannot support these claims with any evidence.

    Further more, gay men and women would not ruin the sanctity of marriage, straight couples have been doing that for years with their multiple marriages and acts of infidelity.

    • Guest

      Perhaps someone should tell those people that Hitler also persecuted homosexuals.

      • hyhybt

        It doesn’t do any good. People believe what they want to believe, damn the facts, and the claim goes that it was only the weak, effeminate gay people he persecuted while using the tough ones to do work so evil nobody else could handle it.

        Lies are nasty things.

      • Baron

        so you reckon then an opposition to gay marriage is equal to the prosecution of gays, do you?

        • hyhybt

          “Equal to,” no. But it has the same base, even if watered down.

  • Bob Hutton

    I have no hatred of homosexuals and I certainly wouldn’t wish to do harm; however, God has ordained that marriage is between one man and one woman. This principle has been corrupted in many ways over the centuries – polygamy, adultery, and now the move towards legalising homosexual “marriages”. Despite this the original intention of God in Genesis still stands. Morever, once “gay” marriage is legalised it is only a matter of time before churches that don’t wish to hold such ceremonies are penalised by the European Court.
    Incidentally, homosexuality is often referred to as “gay” and we’ve all used that description. However, the true meaning of the word “gay” is happy and joyful – there is nothing joyful about incurring God’s displeasure and facing all eternity being punished for one’s sins. As homosexuality is sinful I wouldn’t have thought there is much for them to be “gay” about.

    • RidleySays

      Marriage was around before Christianity though – you can argue that faith groups who disagree with homosexuality shouldn’t have to perform same sex marriage – as it’s against their beliefs. But 70% of marriages in this country are civil. A majority don’t believe in God.

      Just because some Christians believe gay marriage is wrong, doesn’t mean that our largely non Christian society should have to abide by Christian precepts.

      • Bob Hutton

        Our non-Christian society is in a mess because it has abandoned the infallible word of God.

        • RidleySays

          Of course. When we used to burn people who weren’t of the correct denomination. Good times they were. Warmer anyway.

    • Eugene

      Well then you’ll be happy to know that you aren’t expected to marry a man!
      I, on the other hand, want to. Mainly because I want to spend the rest of my life with with the one person that I love, who happens to be a man. Why should I be prevented from doing so because your religion and your abstract entity that you refer to as “God” tells me it’s wrong? (the same entity that, you religion claims, created me, and as such created my affection for men instead of women)

      • Bob Hutton

        The reason you wish to “marry” a man is because you are under the control of the devil, the devil has caught you like a spider catches an insect in his web.
        I really hope for your eternal sake that God opens your eyes to the error of your ways. You MUST repent of your homosexuality and accept Jesus as your personal Saviour. If you don’t do this then you will face eternal damnation when you die.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692359975 Jeff Wooliscroft

      Did you actually read the article, Bob? After all, one of the core points if not THE core point is that those who fall back upon their religious beliefs for their resistance to marriage equality “simply need to accept the unstoppable logic of the argument that their beliefs deserve no agency over anybody else.”

      We can all decide for ourselves what makes us “happy and joyful”; no one needs to be told by someone else that according to their special book their sense of happiness is illusory.

      Sure, if gay marriage really did cause harm to anyone else then that would be a good reason to keep it illegal but so far all I’m seeing is the same old “it’s wrong because I say so”. Or because God says so.

      • Bob Hutton

        You may decide what makes you happy but this is highly subjective. God ordains what is true in His infallible word
        – the Bible.

        • http://twitter.com/SebastianOttawa Sebastian

          Then I ask you Bob, are you truely following his infallible wors in the Bible? Do you have any clothing made of multiple materials? do you eat pork? shellfish? allow women to talk in church? allow gays to live? allow adulturous women to live? etc etc? Because so you are consiously everyday violating the infallible words of God and will have judgment cast upon you. Good luck…

    • hyhybt

      “God has ordained” is perfectly fine for ordering your own personal life, for what a church chooses to bless, and for what you *recommend* to others. It has no business being the basis for law in a society where not everybody even believes God exists and those who do don’t all agree on what he wants of us.

    • http://twitter.com/SebastianOttawa Sebastian

      Where exactly did God ordain marriage as anything? Adam and Eve were not married… Polygamy is rampant in Biblical times and not condemned… adultery while condemned was also ordered by God in certain instances (See: Joben and Sarai when they could not concieve God ordered Jobin to use a surrogate to carry his child, and that was the old fashioned way)

  • Fitzgerald

    Christianity demands that we love and cherish our neighbour, not necessarily marry him/her! Marriage is a commitment focused on conceiving and raising children for the long term benefit of society, and has been supported by most secular authorities with tax breaks, other financial benefits, legally enforceable obligations between married couples, and a formal process of divorce to extricate individuals from these commitments where marriage fails. These are the practical secular effects of marriage, and certainly state financial support at least is threatened as the definition of marriage is broadened. In UK, marriage has already become less supported by the state with the scrapping of marriage allowances, and the removal of child benefit from many hard working families including the refusal to consider total family income (the income of only one parent counts) in associated means testing. Gay marriage will doubtless further weaken, and justify weakening, state support for marriage. In turn this damages society in the long term – and we all (parents or not) rely on children (or maybe the only alternative – immigrants) to provide our future retirement pensions!

    There is a logic to gay marriage if marriage is perceived in the limited sense as just an emotional/ sentimental commitment between any two people. But why cannot the same logic be applied to commitments involving small groups of people – why only two? Gay marriage does not follow as a logical conclusion from a more mature view of marriage as focused on conceiving and raising the next generation. Yes, there are childless couples under current definitions of marriage, and people who marry without any intent or capability (eg due to age, or economic factors) to have children. But a broadening of the definition of marriage without any foundation in its basic raison d’etre is pure sentimental nonsense, and will further weaken state support for raising new generations in our society. This is important for prosperity in our old age, and to give some meaning to human existence! It doesn’t stop the loving and cherishing of all our neighbours – gay or otherwise.

    • Brett

      Raising children happens in society with or without a marriage, and gay couples are raising adopted and surrogate children. Marriage is about “emotional/sentimental” commitment, people don’t get marriage with the sole view of propagating the species, they do it because they have a deep emotional bond, which is the same regardless of sexuality, and want to spend the rest of their lives together. Some couples do want to raise children, so do plenty of gay couples, infertile couples get married without issue, why are gay people so different?

      The fact that gay people, myself included, want to be able to legally get married is not a threat to the institution of marriage, it is a sign that it is important to us. We want to be part of that institution, if gay people can get married then theres a strong reason for our community to fight to protect it. The ‘slippery slope’ is nonsense because people despite their sexuality are opposed to bigamy and incest.

    • RidleySays

      I know a gay dad who’s a phenomenal parent. As are many other LGBT people. It’s actually been shown that children of LGBT people are more likely to be *successful* than children of heterosexual couples, because they are planned, wanted and are likely parented by a more affluent couple (as both adoption and artificial insemination can be costly processes)

    • hyhybt

      The financial trouble you claim gay marriage would cause could only possibly be significant if the proportion of gay people to straight were much higher than it is. And even at that, basic fairness demands equal treatment; if a benefit is unaffordable, then it’s unaffordable.

  • West Ham United

    Gay marriage is impossible full stop. Marriage is not legal until consummated by sexual intercourse. It is impossible for two people of the same sex to have sex. There is no such thing as anal sex. It is buggery, just as there is no such thing as oral sex. It is either cunnilingus or felatio and two women snogging a pleasuring each other is best watched on the playboy channel but it is still not sex otherwise I would be having sex every time that I watched it.

    • http://twitter.com/SebastianOttawa Sebastian

      I have a friend that is became paralyzed below the waist in Afghanistan, he has since married, since he cannot consumate it in your “traditional way” would you like me to provide you his number so you can call and tell him he and his wife are not actually married? and what about the Virgin Mary’s marriage to Joeseph of Arimathea? They did not consummate… so was theirs too false?
      Frankly, there is much more to marriage than sex, it is about connecting a couple and having a partner for the rest of your life. Full stop.

      • West Ham United

        What his number then?

        • http://twitter.com/SebastianOttawa Sebastian

          That question is a great example of Christian compassion. You are clearly not living up to the ideals of Jesus and in the end that will be your cross to bear… good luck…

      • hyhybt

        What reason is there to suppose that Mary and Joseph *never* had sex, rather than only waiting until after Jesus was born? Don’t misunderstand me; I’m firmly on your side here. It’s just that that notion has never made any sense to me.

    • Terry Collmann

      You’ve made five statements in your first five sentences there, not one of which is true. Marriage is the union recognised by society of two people who declare a loving commitment to each other. Gender should be irrelevant. Sex doesn’t have to have anything to do with it. And sex – homosexual or heterosexual – doesn’t have to involve penetration. .

      • West Ham United

        You must be a wanker

        • hyhybt

          95% of people are. The other 5% are liars.

        • Terry Collmann

          Just the sort of reasoned response one would expect from someone with your log-in name.

  • hyhybt

    The underlying reason people object to legal gay marriage is that it *will* lead to, or rather is a major step down a path we’re already on towards, all of society considering orientation as just another thing some people are different about, like having red hair or hating mustard. The one thing they cannot stand is the knowledge that future generations won’t consider gay people inferior.

    Civil marriage will indeed lead to church marriage, not because government will force churches to perform them, but because, eventually, there will be too much demand for it from within.

  • http://twitter.com/LouMcCudden Louise McCudden

    Brilliant, brilliant article! Thank you Hugo.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hilton-Holloway/708772773 Hilton Holloway

    There’s a simple solution to satisfy everyone and create a marital level playing field.

    Churches must stop registering marriages on behalf of the State.

    I was recently told by a Mexican girl that while the church service happens as normal in her country, you are are not formally married until you register with a ‘judge’ – something that happens at the wedding reception.

    The highly sensible split of church and state means that, if adopted here, everyone would have a civil union and the church would simply be a religious ceremony. This split would put the Church beyond the reach of the activists that are currently looming on the legislative horizon.

    Legislation for ‘gay marriage’ is a red herring. It is either simply simply changing the name of Civil Union to ‘Civil Marriage’ (and who would object?) or it is paving the way for Stonewall’s fringe to drag the Churches through the European Courts.

    Ironically, there’s a Mexican solution to this Mexican stand-off.

    • Adam Nixon

      Ah yes, Hilton: the separation of church and state. In most European countries, you marry at the Town Hall (or equivalent). That is what makes you married. If you chose to have a religious solemnisation as well, that is up to you and no concern of the state’s. In the UK, we can but dream.

    • roger

      When you write ‘churches must stop registering…’ you mean CoE I assume, a Catholic church wedding still needs a civil registrar as only a CoE vicar has thr power of a registrar.
      I wish Hugo had not reminded us of the details of gay consummation.

  • DrCrackles

    Hugo unless you are prepared to die for your beliefs they mean nothing.

  • Count Boso

    “The only real argument against gay marriage is the Christian one.”

    Try this:

    Homosexuality is largely culturally determined. If that were not the case it would be hard to explain its prevalence in institutions such as prisons and public schools or in entire societies such as Ancient Greece, Mameluke Egypt and even Khandahar in Afghanistan.

    It should not therefore be generally encouraged unless one wants to see its prevalence increase, which homosexuals do – for obvious reasons.

    Most people,I suspect, don’t. They would regard it as a misfortune for their own children to be homosexual, if only because it threatens their chances of grandchildren.

    The more it is accepted in society as a norm, the more prevalent it will become – ergo gay marriage should not happen.

    • hyhybt

      You are either accidentally or deliberately ignoring valid and important distinctions between acts and orientation, and between situational homosexuality and the real thing.

  • retundario

    “Any other objection you can dredge up, as I’ve argued before, will have its roots in distaste, which is no basis for law either.”

    Distaste is very influential in deciding what laws govern sexuality and sexual relationships. I don’t accept that consenting adults should display the fact that they are in a sado-masochistic relationship in public for example, for reasons of distaste.

  • retundario

    “There surely
    cannot be many people, gay or otherwise, who want to antagonistically
    get married in a place that really doesn’t want them to. The whole point
    of gay marriage, indeed, is to make our society less of one in which
    people feel these fights need to be fought.”

    The militant homosexuals who get so upset and take these cases to the courts do so because they resent the church’s (fast fading) jurisdiction when it comes to sexual morality, guilt and relationships. They want to get rid of it, it’s already gone anyway. But you seem to agree with their suggestion that society should not share any common authority when it comes to such matters, well I don’t see how that’s going to work. It just means more men go off and pursue their various particular interests (incl. homosexuality) and more women become single-mothers because they have less means to ensnare and the whole thing becomes a vicious circle, with more poorly-brought-up children. Why play dumb to the left-wing desire to destroy existing authority or “hegemony” or whatever they call it, when it comes to family? Left-wingers cannot understand the point of social discipline, so endlessly promoting and agitating on behalf of homosexuals is their means of fighting this particular “culture war”.

    • hyhybt

      If anything, same-sex marriage would mean *fewer* women would be single mothers. Not only because the lesbian ones could marry, rather than remaining single, and not only because gay men would have less incentive to try to make a marriage to a woman work (which they don’t, for obvious reasons) but because it reinforces the idea that marriage is the gold standard for everybody. As things stand, you have some people forced against their will to provide examples of living happy, productive lives together without that formality. Allowing people to marry makes it at least plausible to then *expect* them to.

    • RidleySays

      I find it a little disconcerting that you regard the process of love and marriage as ‘ensnaring a man’.

      Perhaps that’s why you don’t agree with same sex love.

  • Sarah

    “Unlike civil partnerships, which were about rights, this is about society.”

    And there’s the rub.

    • hyhybt

      It is not logically possible to have all the rights of marriage without the terminology. The plain, ordinary, common words (wedding, marriage, husband, wife, etc) *are* one of the rights that come with marriage.

      Also: the whole business about not being allowed to use any religious elements in a partnership ceremony. That restriction may be relatively minor, but it’s also downright bizarre.

      • Sarah

        Well it is possible to have all the rights without the terminology.
        For instance proponents of gay marriage believe it will be possible for one party to have the rights of a wife while being called a husband and vice versa.

        But that wasn’t the point I was making. Hugo Rifkind’s defence of gay marriage above is actually a defence of civil partnerships, ie. individual liberty. He doesn’t grapple with the societal implications or the societal arguments that marriage throws up. Except to say that a society must honour individual liberties above societal norms. Well no, society is the place where individual liberties meet, by definition.

        • hyhybt

          In order for “it will be possible for one party to have the rights of a wife while being called a husband” to be a meaningful statement, the rights of a husband and those of a wife must be different in some way. That was certainly true in the 19th Century, but what are those differences in the 21st?
          When one of the rights *is* the terminology, how is it possible to have all of them without it? X-1≠X.

          • Sarah

            The rights of husbands and wives in each of the major world religions are different. Substantially so.
            In a secular marriage there are still some differences, such as the wife’s tendency to change her name and legal identity and the payment of dowries.

            Regarding your point about one of the rights being able to use the terminology. The term has a current definition. Same sex couples are not being offered the option of using the terminology, they are bing offered thr option of changing the definition in order to use the terminology. So the argument to be had is not over terminology, it’s over its definition and the definition of all the other terms within it.

          • hyhybt

            The rights *under the law* are exactly the same, and it’s the *legal* status that’s at issue here. Nobody is arguing in favor of forcing religious institutions to recognize anything they don’t want to. Nobody honest suggests otherwise.
            A woman chooses to change her name; she doesn’t have to, and the man can change his if he wants. As for “definition,” that’s nothing but circular argumentation. You choose to word it as a change of definition because that’s what gets more people’s sentiment on your side; you did not (correct me if I’m wrong here) first look up the word in a dictionary and then decide, solely based on the arrangement of ink, that it must or ought to be that way. Dictionaries follow usage, not the other way around, and the reason they list that as a (not “the”) definition is because that’s the most common, and because until fairly recently people hadn’t bothered to consider whether or not same-sex couples ought to qualify.
            Now, why is “we hadn’t really thought about it before” a valid reason not to allow something? Without resorting to the same circular logic of “because that’s the definition” again, please.

          • Sarah

            “when one of the rights *is* the terminology.”

            Then that can cut both ways.

            What if women do not want to surrender the terminology of “wife” to men or vice versa should those other parties wish to adopt it? Do they have a right to keep it?

            If so, will it be legitimate for the state to enforce terminology on same sex partners within the marriage: ie. Both men must be called husbands or both women, wives?

            If so, doesn’t that mean same sex couples have not achieved the right to full marital terminology?

            And doesn’t it also mean that the definition of husband/wife is necessarily already surrendered?

            If not, what of heterosexual couple’s rights to terminology?

          • hyhybt

            Your post makes no sense. “Wife” means “female spouse,” and “husband” means “male spouse.” Where would you even get the notion that that might possibly be a problem? What do you even mean by any of what you said? I’m not trying to be funny or insulting here, but simply to get a sensible answer.

  • james higham

    Can’t happen for the very simple reason that by definition, it doesn’t exist. Gay and marriage are oxymorons.

    • Adam Nixon

      Why do you believe that it is you who defines what marriage is?

      • Baron

        why do believe that it’s the gays who define what marriage is then?

  • Austin Barry

    “I’ve slightly regretted not feigning bafflement, and saying, ‘but what if they put their penises in each other’s bottoms?”

    Not being of the gay persuasion, I can’t quite see how this recondite geometry works, at least concurrently. How one wishes Prof. Magnus Pyke were still alive to explain this obscure joinery with his characteristic and entirely inappropriate gestures.

    • hyhybt

      What does this have to do with anything, and why must it be concurrently, anyway?

  • James

    you seem to hold religious freedom very shockingly lightly. It does matter if the clergy are forced to violate their beliefs or be fined / lose their jobs …

    • RidleySays

      Please explain what civil, non religious gay marriage has to do with the clergy?

      The only clergy affected by this would be civil registrars.

  • Frank Hampson

    Poofters obviously are trying to take an ell after being suprised to have been allowed a yard. They should obviously be returned to dodging hefty unsympathetic policemen in gents toilets. Incidentally I object to the miserable sods referring to themselves as “gay”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Diane-Wilson/592246990 Diane Wilson

    Marriage is a mockery in this day and age.Look at the divorce rate.At least change the vows to “You and I will be together until one of us decides to leave for some reason or other”

  • Short

    The headline makes a prediction and calls it a fact. How very steeply the Spectator has fallen since the Barclay brothers bought it, put Brillo Pad in charge, and started hiring writers becaus of who their father was.

  • 1965doc

    Queers are fewer than 0.5% of the population.
    Why bend over backwards to accommodate them?

  • nick

    One belief holds for many who are not religious which is that marriage is intrinsicly between a man and a woman, something with a very long history.The idea that a coaltion, one that is skating on very thin ice and in need of garnering all the support it can get, has the moral authority to overturn a time-hounored belief; to conjour this out of the ether is preposterous.

  • Michael Turner

    It is utter nonsense to suggest that gay marriage will definately happen. The Government will realise the error of its ways and back track on its plans. It simply cannot afford to ignore the millions of people opposed to this iniquitous plan.
    It is also utter nonsense to suggest that the the only opposition is from the Christians. As a journalist though clearly a biased one you will be aware that the only rational arguments are coming from all corners of society. There is not a single sensible argument coming from the gay community or people in favour, other than a rather niave call for equality. The level of equality that gays are really seeking with the union of man and women is quite simply unattainable. They already have equality in every measurable way.
    It is also nonsense to think that any person who is against gay marriage is anti gay and complete nonsense to label them ” Homophobic Bigots ” As is the case in most articles published on the matter and where gays gather like flys to pounce on any sensible argument against.
    Finally , due to a most unhealthy ( for democracy ) over representation of gays in the media at large there is too much comment and print being aired without a balanced view in sight.
    This situation should never have arisen. Enormous pressure needs to be put on Eddy Milliband to allow his MPs to vote with conscience on this matter, not impose a three line whip. It is undemocratic. It would clearly result in a resounding No Thankyou if
    a free vote was given.

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