08 September, 2013
Give the buggers an inch...
Marriage is a core and a virtually universal human institution. It is a practical one the formalization of which probably developed as human social groups progressed from bands of 20 or 30 individuals concerned primarily with where their next woolly mammoth steak was coming from into settled societies of hundreds for whom the accumulation of stored agricultural surpluses, the capacity to allow social specialization and the bequeathing of valuable durable property had become a reality.
Marriage is essentially to do with the procreation and above all the rearing of children. It provides a framework to support the inheritance of property and of status, it reinforces and enforces the obligations of loyalty and mutual support within the family. It serves to protect the pair bond between the parental couple. It doesn't "celebrate" that pair bond for its own sake, but supports it in context.
I oppose the concept of "gay marriage" because it is wrong-headed. It is at best a romantic misunderstanding of the institution, and at worst a destructive, possibly malign, jealousy. Also, it is not, as its supporters indignantly insist, without consequence for the rest of us. As one below-the-line commenter in the Daily Mail article which I link to later puts it,
If two men are married to each other, it does not affect your life in any way what so ever. Whether they want to marry in a church or at city hall, how does this affect anyone else's life. Mind your own business and you will be better off. I would love to be adopted by Elton John and his husband, imagine how interesting their life is?
Well, Sunshine, it affects the lives of the rest of us by necessarily and fundamentally redefining marriage. It refocuses the institution on the public celebration of the sexual pair bond to the effective exclusion of the broader societal context.
When the iDave, in his futile project to detoxify the Tories, pushed through his gay-marriage legislation, he made great show of the famous "quadruple lock", which would protect the consciences of established religion like a moral forcefield surrounding the Holy Grail.
So how's that going then?
Millionaire gay fathers to sue the Church of England
for not allowing them to get married in the church
The first legal challenge to the Church of England's ban on same-sex marriage was launched today [2013-08-02 —EG] - months before the first gay wedding can take place.
Gay father Barrie Drewitt-Barlow declared: 'I want to go into my church and marry my husband.' He added: 'The only way forward for us now is to make a challenge in the courts against the Church.'
The legal move means an early test for David Cameron's promise to the CofE and Roman Catholic bishops that no church would be forced to conduct same-sex weddings against the will of its leaders and its faithful.
And what drives the ire of this — how can I express this within the constraints of polite discourse? — this brace of smug, smarmy, self-righteous shirtlifters? Well, they claim to be "practising Christians", alright, but I think the heart of the matter lies in this comment
I am a Christian - a practising Christian. My children have all been brought up as Christians and are part of the local parish church.' Mr Drewitt-Barlow, 42, who owns a surrogacy company based near the family home in Essex and is opening another in Los Angeles, added: 'If I was a Sikh I could get married at the Gurdwara. Liberal Jews can marry in the Synagogue - just not the Christians.(My emphasis.)
'It upsets me because I want it so much - a big lavish ceremony, the whole works.'
Ah, yes, Judy Garland syndrome. Barrie doesn't really want to marry in church to satisfy his deeply-held religious convictions. No, he longs to dress up in a posh frock and toss his bouquet into the waiting throng of bridesfairies. Much as I don't wish to descend into the mire of stereotyping, I suspect that this motivation, the desire for the big, glitzy, showbiz ceremony with the legitimacy provided by a "proper" church wedding, is a big unacknowledged driver behind the self-centred campaign for "marriage equality".
And while I'm being unpleasant to Mr Drewitt-Barlow, what to make of this,
Mr Drewitt-Barlow and his civil partner Tony have been a celebrated couple since 1999, when they became the first gay couple to be named on the birth certificate of a child. They now have five children through surrogate mothers.
I'm not entirely convinced that this serves the intended purpose of birth certification. Yes, they register inheritance and succession rights, inherited generally from the legal guardian who is not necessarily the biological parent. But should they not also, and primarily, register biological inheritance? I don't know the gory details in the case under discussion, but presumably Barrie wanked into a test tube to become the biological father, but Tony sure as fuck didn't provide the egg which was impregnated with Baz's jism and carried to term by some lucky female surrogate.
This is not a trivial matter. As it goes I was watching a doco on RT the other day, which described the life of a man who had, against the odds, become a moderately successful Russian academic. His parents had each been raised in (separate) Soviet orphanages following the liquidation of their own parents. As adults, they met as strangers, fell in love and married, leading to the birth of our hero. Eventually it turned out that they were in fact brother and sister and their son suffered both deafness and blindness as a genetic consequence of the unknowing incest.
Not directly related to Barrie boy's situation to be sure, but a clear indication of the dangers of subverting necessary social procedures for the purpose of political self-gratification.
A curiously more insidious case crops up in dear old CiF, where Peter Moskowitz whinges
I have read Peter's complaints, but to be honest I can't really get my head round their substance, if any.
I think this BTL commenter gets to the heart of it,
There's going to be quite a lot of this stuff about. And much of it will grope about, successively displacing its incoherent focus onto particular remaining or imagined grievances, demanding — to cruelly misparaphrase Moskovitz — an ever-more homonormative society. I doubt these people will be truly satisfied until homosexuality becomes effectively compulsory. "So you're a straight geezer, are you? Well, I'm sorry Duckie, we'd just like you to demonstrate your antihomophobia by sucking my friend off. Alright"
The initial error was in presenting civil partnerships as a form of marriage-lite for gays. Society has no legitimate interest in the formal celebration of a sexual pair bond between two adults per se. Society does have a legitimate interest in protecting the property and other rights which might flow from the sharing of goods, accommodations and facilities which are generally involved in such a relationship. The mistake was to present the legislative support in a marriage-like ceremony in a register office rather than as the signing of a contract in a solicitor's office.
And also to restrict the civil partnership to gay couples. After all, to offer a somewhat archaic example, there is a situation in which a person becomes the full-time carer and companion to an invalid elder in return largely for shelter and sustenance. A role traditionally exercised by an impoverished spinster from the elder person's extended family. If the elder eventually dies intestate, the position of the carer is precarious. Well, you know the sort of thing I'm getting at. If the civil partnership legislation had been extended in principle to encompass such broad situations of mutual financial and property dependency, the insidious civil partnership = marriage lite heffalump trap might have been avoided.