Gay marriage divides opinion - but can it boost matrimony?

Mar 6, 2012

Marriage is about more than sex, it's about commitment, so why shouldn't gays get married?

Getty Images

THE GOVERNMENT launched a consultation on same-sex marriage this month in a move decried by some – especially Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Britain's leading Catholic - as undermining the institution of marriage, while others welcomed the proposal.
Gay marriage like condoning slavery
Since all the legal rights of marriage are already available to homosexual couples in civil partnerships, says Cardinal O'Brien in The Daily Telegraph, gay marriage is not about rights, but "an attempt to redefine marriage". But "no government has the moral authority to dismantle the universally understood meaning of marriage".  Imagine if the government decided to legalise slavery but assured us that "no one will be forced to keep a slave", adds O'Brien.
Most gays are happy with civil partnerships
We are simply sheepishly following other EU countries that have instituted gay marriage, says Janice Atkinson-Small in the Daily Mail. And "where Europe leads, we follow". Many gay people are happy with civil partnerships, but it's the "extreme gay lobby" that are pushing this change. "Dave, wake-up, you are the leader of the Conservative party, not the liberal left."
Conservatives should welcome gay marriage
True conservatives should welcome gay marriage, says Douglas Murray in The Spectator. It represents "not the making gay of marriage but the making conservative of gays". The desire of an increasing number of gay couples to have "their stable and lifelong relationships recognised equally by family, friends and society as a whole" demonstrates their respect for "an important institution".
Catholics should condemn divorce before gay marriage
The Bible's arguments against divorce are a lot stronger than those damning gay marriage, says Andrew Brown in The Guardian. The authors of the Bible would have been horrified by gay marriage, "but it is nowhere explicitly denounced the way that Jesus denounced divorce". Despite this, the Catholic Church in England and Wales accepts divorced and remarried people. It's a practical decision as much as anything: "If only Catholics who fully accepted the church's teaching on sex went to churches they would all be empty".
Marriage about more than sex
There's no doubt that much of the opposition to gay marriage stems from "a visceral distaste at the whole idea of physical union between men", says Dominic Lawson in The Independent. But "marriage is about much more than sex (some would say that it's the alternative)". Marriage is about two people signalling their absolute and permanent commitment to one another, adds Lawson. If we believe in the separation of church and state, then surely it's possible for same-sex couples to have unions recognised as marriage by the civil authorities, but not necessarily by the churches, "which have their own special notions of what constitutes sacred union".

Sign up for our daily newsletter