Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Still on SSM

John McKay, in the course of his speech, made the eroneous statement that other countries which have legalized same-sex marriage did so legislatively, and did not do it as a response to a court decision. I think he's forgetting some notable examples, such as South Africa, and Massachusetts. There are not many jurisdictions where gay marriage is legal, so even a couple of exceptions to his blanket statement are pretty significant. Also, Canada did deal with same-sex marriage legislatively. Parliament passed a law in 2005 making same-sex marriage legal.

McKay also made one statement that completely contradicted his entire argument. In an attempt to pre-emptively refute criticism of his position that the core purpose of marriage is reproduction, and thus marriage must remain heterosexual, he contradicted himself. When addressing the question of why, then, would a heterosexual couple which is sterile be allowed to marry, he said, "[Because] that doesn't detract from the core purpose of marriage, it's just a deviation from the norm."

Whoa, there, hold on! So, heterosexual couples who are physically unable to reproduce, even with the help of a third party, don't detract from the core purpose of marriage (defined as the reproduction of offspring), they are simply a "deviation from the norm." Yet gay couples, who are also I think it's fair to say a "deviation from the norm," most of whom can reproduce with the help of a third party, detract from the core purpose of marriage, and should thus be discriminated against? Sorry, John, but you can't have your cake and eat it too.

Bill Siksay questioned him on this before I could finish writing this post, and McKay's response was that gay relationships are "inherently sterile." Well, what about a heterosexual couple that is sterile; would not their relationship be inherently sterile?

Moving on to Pierre Lemieux (Conservative, Glengarry--Prescott--Russell), who in his speech said that marriage is an institution which pre-dates the state and has been with us since the start of human history. Well, I don't expect Conservative MPs - in fact, I don't expect most people - to study history with the same zeal that I do. But I do think that people who don't study history as such should avoid making statements which rely on an understanding of the beginning of human history, and as M. Lemieux apparently studied in the field of science and technology, and not history, he should probably avoid making blanket statements such as these.

The fact is, as I pointed out recently, it's a bit more complicated than that. By definition, marriage as an institution could not possibly have pre-dated the state, because marriage is regulated by the state. Moreover, marriage as it has been understood for the past millenium or so in the west most certainly did not predate the state, and to say so is to speak absurdity. To the extent that human beings have desired to be coupled with other human beings in nurturing, caring and sexual relationships, "marriage" has existed most likely since the beginning of human history (though we can't say so for certain) but it was not marriage as we understand it today. Most cultures throughout history have had pair-bonding ceremonies or some kind, it's true... the kicker is that many, perhaps most of these cultures have included same-sex couples in these ceremonies! To say, then, that exclusively-heterosexual marriage has existed since time immemorial is a fallacy.


At 12/07/2006 12:03 a.m., Blogger Yzerfontein said...

In South Africa, the first gay marriage on television took place yesterday.

At 12/07/2006 7:01 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

The part about John McKay's speech that I found most ridiculous was his "Marriage is intended to build bridges across the 'gender barrier'" line of argumentation. I got the impression that he really does think women are from Venus - apparently state sanction of things such as pension inheritance and visitation rights in hospitals helps him cross this otherwise impermeable barrier.


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