MARRIAGE AND FAMILY: by Bill MuehlenbergNews Weekly
Saying yes to heterosexual marriage
, August 7, 2010
There are plenty of reasons why we should not confuse same-sex marriage with the real thing.
Marriage is a universal and historical institution which serves tremendous social purposes. It regulates human sexuality, and it procures the well-being of any offspring from the sexual union. Thus it is not a mere private matter, but a vitally important social institution.
Governments have an overwhelming interest in heterosexual marriage. They have no reason to confer special rights and privileges on other types of sexual relationships. People are free to engage in those relationships, but they cannot expect to see their relationships elevated to that of heterosexual marriage.
Indeed, talk of inequality and discrimination is off base here. Those arguing for same-sex marriage are mixing apples with oranges. All couples are entitled to the benefits of marriage as long as they meet the conditions and requirements of it.
Homosexual relationships simply do not meet the criteria - the most basic one being to have one man and one woman. Governments have no obligation whatsoever to treat unequal things equally, or to grant the benefits of marriage to those who refuse to meet its minimum requirements.
Of course, various social goods are denied to all sorts of people for various reasons. A driver who cannot meet the obligations of low insurance rates (too young, too many accidents, etc) will not be eligible to receive those benefits. That is how life operates. If anything, it is a necessary and just discrimination.
To survive, all societies engage in discrimination all the time. However, discrimination can be good as well as bad. Societies have always discriminated in favour of heterosexual unions and the children they produce because of the social good derived from them.
Procreation and the raising of children are overwhelmingly important social goods, and the mother-father unit cemented by marriage is an overwhelmingly superior way of ensuring the best outcomes for children. Therefore, societies everywhere extend favours and benefits to married couples that they do not extend to other types of relationships.
The restrictions on marriage apply equally to everyone, whether heterosexual or homosexual. Thus there is no discrimination. The homosexual lobby is seeking to fundamentally rewrite the rule books on marriage to get all the benefits while avoiding the obligations.
And if we redefine marriage out of existence in order to placate the homosexual activists, then why stop there? There are all sorts of other sexual relationships that people are demanding recognition of. Polyamory, or group love, is a growing movement demanding the rights to marriage as well.
The exact arguments used by those pushing for same-sex marriage are being used by the polyamorists. If we legalise the former, is it not discriminatory and unjust to outlaw the latter? They too claim that it is all about love, and that they should have the same rights as heterosexual couples.
The truth is, not many homosexuals even want marriage. Australia's leading homosexual activist, Rodney Croome himself, not long ago argued against it. Perhaps next month he will change his mind again.
Indeed, how many homosexuals actually avail themselves of same-sex marriage when it becomes legally available? Same-sex marriage has been legal in Holland since 2001, yet only about four per cent of Dutch homosexuals married during the first five years of legalisation.
Also, same-sex marriage demands are inexorably tied up with demands for homosexual parenting rights. But 40 years of social science research have overwhelming demonstrated the crucial importance that two biological parents play in the well-being of children.
The studies make it clear that every child should have the basic human right of being raised by his or her own mother and father. Furthermore, a recent Galaxy poll found that a full 86 per cent of Australians believe that children should be raised by their biological parents.
Children are of course deprived of this in same-sex households. But in this debate, the selfish desires of adults are at centre stage, while the well-being of children and the good of society are simply ignored.
Heterosexual marriage is society's most profound and valuable institution. It has been the bedrock of nations from time immemorial. To radically alter the nature of marriage and family is a recipe for trouble.
As Simon Leys has noted, "The family has stood as the most enduring and successful experiment in the entire cultural history of mankind. ... In the history of the civilised world, no substitute has ever been found for the family. Any society that allows it to disintegrate, or endeavours actively to destroy it (as we are now doing here) does it at its own horrific risks and costs. ...
"That such a matter of common sense could become now a subject for challenge and debate is a telling sign of the times. Chesterton said it well: when common sense ceases to be common, a society is in terminal decay."Bill Muehlenberg is a commentator on contemporary issues, and lectures on ethics and philosophy. His website CultureWatch is at: www.billmuehlenberg.com