Alex Massie

The Gathering Storm of Same-Sex Marriage

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My crack that same-sex marriage hadn't caused the sky to fall in any of the places where it has been established prompted a socially-conservative friend to suggest this was a "lame" argument since "no historical event literally causes pure chaos". He had a point. It was a cheap line.

Nonetheless, homosexuals are going to have to move some if they're to inflict as much damage upon the institution of marriage as heterosexuals. And of course, in terms of wider society, it is heterosexual marriage that is vastly more important. So it does seem to me that the argument over gay marriage is in some senses a sideshow as far as any sense of societal well-being is concerned. That being the case, I still find it puzzling that the civil - not religious - recognition of homosexual unions should cause such a rumpus. What exactly is the threat to society, as opposed to religious sensibilities?

Well, according to this advertisment from the National Organization for Marriage it is severe!

Note, however, the terminology used here. "Gathering Storm" is not, I suspect, a phrase chosen at random even if it does rather confirm the American right's embarrassing fetishisation of Winston Churchill. No wonder my socially conservative friend deplores the "charlatans" on his side of the debate just as much as he does the momentum on "the other side". Nevertheless, it's rather breathtaking to imply, rather crudely, that the "threat" posed by gay marriage is akin to that from Nazi Germany. (And the Nazis of course were famous for their enthusiastic approval of homosexuality...)

Not that this will trouble the Little Winstons of the unreconstructed right. The most mystifying line in the ad is an actor who says "I'm a California doctor who must choose between my faith and my job" How so? I'd rather thought that doctors were supposed to treat patients regardless of creed or colour or gender or, for that matter, sexuality. But maybe not! And while I can understand the qualms religious folk might have about performing, say abortions, it's hard to see how a married gay couple would likely to be in this or any other spiritually compromising position. Of course, I may be wrong. Again, I'd really like someone to explain this supposed problem to me because I can't see it myself. I suppose that if I were feeling harsh I'd say that jobs and faith are each optional and that if one interferes with the other then you'd better just decide which is more important to you...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

Topics in this articleSociety