A classy explanation of why Marriage Equality is good

From the Telegraph comes this classy explanation why marriage equality for gay couples is good, and once again proves that there isn’t a single logical or unemotional reason to oppose it:

The correction of an injustice or an inequity is not always a response to majoritarian opinion: far from it. Indeed, the point of such measures is often precisely to protect minorities, or to ensure that they enjoy equal liberties and opportunities to the majority.

If gay marriage is a just cause, then it is just whether or not most voters think it so. True statesmanship does not wait upon referendal permission. A government enacts civilising measures because they are the right thing to do, not because they are mentioned frequently in focus groups.

Too often, this argument is framed as a contest between a wicked “metropolitan elite”, imposing its faddish and licentious concerns upon the nation, and right-thinking “Middle Britain”, more worried about jobs, crime and pensions. This is an absurd dichotomy. If there is such a thing as the “metropolitan elite”, its members surely fret about the economy, being mugged, and their retirement years as much as anyone else. And if “Middle Britain” exists, it certainly includes gay couples who would like to marry, with amiable neighbours who would celebrate with them if they did.

More to the point, the case for gay marriage is essentially conservative. I am grateful to Ian Ker’s magisterial new biography of G K Chesterton for the following observation by its subject: “All conservatism goes upon the assumption that if you leave a thing alone, you’ll leave a thing as it is. But you do not. If you leave a thing to itself, you are leaving it to wild and violent changes.” The example cited by GKC was the Vale of the White Horse in Berkshire, symbol of ancient England, and constantly in need of repainting.

Chesterton was scarcely a moderniser. But his point applies well to the institution of marriage. In an age of impatience, lives based on tactics not strategy, and instant gratification, matrimony is in dire need of renewal and restoration. Last week, Cardinal O’Brien argued that procreation was the essence of marriage. I beg to differ, and to suggest that the ideal at the core of this dilapidated institution is lifelong commitment and, crucially, a public vow by two people to forge such a shared life.

If marriage is indeed the cornerstone of a stable society, as conservatives plausibly argue, then its extension to same-sex couples will be a stabilising force. Gay couples who marry will not only be exercising a new right; they will be recruited to, and reinforcing, an ancient institution.

This is Cameron’s insight, and it is one of the governing themes of his world-view (helped, it must be said, by the great personal happiness of his own marriage). His desire to introduce a tax allowance for married couples, to take another example, does not reflect a crass belief that a modest weekly sum will act as a bribe. Instead, he sees the tax and benefit system as a huge structure of messages, nudges and winks that bristles with moral judgments and moral messages.

David Cameron is right and the heads of the out-dated Catholic and Anglican Churches are wrong:

Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has called the proposals “cultural vandalism”. Yet precisely the opposite is true. The extension of marriage to include gay couples will entrench the idea of the married estate as a social good as well as a private condition. Marriage encourages reliance upon a spouse rather than the state: a wedding is the ritual in which the individual recognises publicly that he or she is not alone, and that, choosing a spouse, promises love to, and accepts lifelong responsibility for, that person.


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  • BJ

    I can accept Gay unions are equal by law and description but will never a marriage by definition. So they need to use a different word to define their union and stop trying to hijack a word that is already Copyrighted

    • Cobolt

       There is no difference between your argument and allowing black people to ride on the same bus as long as they sit in the back.
      Marriage is the commitment to love one another and stand by each other through thick and thin, the fact this has only been between members of the opposite sex historically is because only recently has homosexuality been recognised as something other than a sickness that needs to be cured.

      • brian

        why should the black people get the back of the bus
        are you taking that off us whites too

      • BJ

        Is that the best you can come up with. You’re on the wrong  track mate.

        I am talking about a word that already defines something. Where’s the word argument in your example? You’ve brought up the racist prejudice ticket and that ain’t  what this about. This is about the gay community not stealing a name for what man and woman have called their committed relationships.  Gay couples in committed relationships that want it publicly acknowledged need to make up a new name for their relationship because their commitment does not fit the definition of marriage in its entirety. 

    • Auto_immune

      Marriage©? Seriously?

      • BJ

        Tongue in cheek – but why not – lets do it!

    •  To paraphrase The Princess Bride: You keep saying “copyrighted”. I do not think that word means what you think it means.  The only definition of marriage that signifies is the one in the Marriage Act.  This might come as a surprise to you, but as defined by canon law the Catholic Church doesn’t recognize civil marriages or divorce, or non-Catholic religious ceremonies.  Perhaps the Pope should send a strict letter demanding all you infidels stop hijacking our word.

      • BJ

        I’m fully aware of my misuse of copyright (ed)  – only to make a point. 

        Further – if your post menopausal widowed mother remarries – she’s already had a prior relationship within the institution of marriage in that she was married to your father and they made you.

  • Urban Redneck

    “If marriage is indeed the cornerstone of a stable society, as
    conservatives plausibly argue, then its extension to same-sex couples
    will be a stabilising force. Gay couples who marry will not only be
    exercising a new right; they will be recruited to, and reinforcing, an
    ancient institution.”

    When Ian Wishart was investigating the affairs of David Benson-Pope in 2006, he
    also discovered that former Labour MP’s Chris Carter and Tim Barnett  were attendees at organized invitation-only homosexual group sex sessions throughout the north and south islands.

    Homosexuals DON’T WANT the traditional institution, that’s the whole point !

    The vanguard of the homosexual activist movement says so often enough. Homosexual marriage is the opening of Pandora’s box. I don’t want my streets to become like that of the city by the bay.


    • Cobolt

       Let me reiterate,  You seem to think that all gay people are unable/do not want to commit
      to one partner forever and you oppose their ability to prove that they
      can do just that.

      Do you identify yourself as a homophobe UR?

      • BJ

        Gay couples in committed relationships can sing it from the roof tops for all I care and they certainly don’t have to prove their intent to me but get your own new word for the institution you are subscribing to because it is not the same one as mine. A heterosexual union brings two opposites together to combine and make another of the species. The homosexual union never come to this conclusion

      •  So, BJ, if my post-menopausal widowed mother decided to remarry it doesn’t count because it’s physically impossible for her to “combine and make another of the species.”  Dude, good luck telling her that.  Where do I send the funeral wreath?

    • Guest

      Our streets are way better, no terrible events like that. Oh, wait … Maybe if we ban heterosexual marriage we could get rid of the boobs on bike parades. BAN ALL MARRIAGE!

      • Engineer

        I think both these event have their roots (pun intedned) in the male sex drive.
        Oh and money for the bimbos on bikes.

  • Engineer


    Unfortunately by the logic of the argument polygamists
    and any other imaginable grouping that is able to say yes I do at the end of
    the ceremony should be able to get married.


    And some of the logic in the argument is
    wrong, like the apples compared to oranges argument for not painting a horse somehow
    proving that conservatism is wrong.  And wanting
    to change the welfare system to financially encourage people (gay or otherwise)
    to get married is hardly a highlight of liberty is it.


    “matrimony is in dire need of renewal and
    restoration”  And why is that? Perhaps that
    same left wing free love hippy do anything you want (which now apparently
    included being gay and getting married) attitude coupled with the nanny state
    is causing the problem.  Perhaps allowing
    all and sundry to get married under the guise of some spurious rights argument
    will make the problem worse (which we all know is what some of them want).

  • grumpy
  • Steve p

    Interestingly, gay icon Neil Patrick Harris is in no hurry to walk down the aisle, even though gay marriage is legal where he lives:


    “Gay men and lesbians who don’t marry or don’t want kids are beginning to feel the same kind of social scrutiny that straight people do,” said NYU sociologist Judith Stacey…
    “The right to marry quickly turns into a subtle obligation to marry and greater stigma for the unmarried.”


    Please answer this: where did the idea/meaning of marriage originate from. Was this a pagan belief or a christian one.Just wanting to see what everyone out there thinks,and if it just might help clear up this ongoing discussion.From my point of view,marriage is a church institution,and as they frown on all things gay(regardless of the bibles basic line of forgiveness re sins) this seems to have some bearing on this issue.Pagans had a different approach I believe,and if so maybe it would suit the gay community better.

    • Pukakidon

       Long before Christians were being fed to the lions, Remember not just Christians get married.   Marriage is a concept of joining two people in a life long commitment. It is said to be over 4000 years old. Before old Jesus was a sparkle in the eye of the old guy.

      Religion hijacked marriage for their own needs.  Now Christian marriage is a joke because no one really gives a shit about the contract they made, two years and then it is all over and on to the next poor sap..

      Give marriage to the gays they cant do much worse than the Heteros.


  • Petal

    If civil unions are a reality, and provide all legal benefits of Marriage in Law, then I can neither understand those that insist on the WORD marriage to be allowed to be used by same-sex couples, nor the ones that want to prevent it.

    It’s a world people.

    Haven’t we got real problems to get on with?

    • Kosh103

      CUs do not provide the same legal rights. Esp when it comes to children. And that goes for striaght cpls who have CUs as well.

  • Seems 2 me

    It seems to me that the great argument over the use of the word marriage for same sex unions comes down to

    1.  The only thing that people in a civil union cannot do is adopt a chld as a “couple”. However a single person can adopt.  Yep no idea why this is the only exclusion(adoption) maybe a sop to the politics of the bill being passed. So one could argu to legitamise adoption (but then why not just modify the Civil Union Act.

    2.  Everyone madly quotes Christianity points of view.  Where are the points of view from the worlds other major belief system(Islam, agnostic/athiest etc)? They have been practising marriage for thousands of years. In all those cases it seems they are the joining of a man and a woman.  So who really cares about church weddings

    Personally I think that the word marriage and its definition is just fine and cant understand the hysteria of some.

       It did annoy me however when the word gay was appropriated to mean homosexual male from its previous common usage of happy etc.   Sad to see that the younger citizens are moving to make gay mean something a bit crap. 

    Wonder what machinations of the word marriage would mean in the future if it got changed now.

    All in all a storm in a teacup by a minority trying to be the same as the majority methinks.
    Just as many rant on about not hearing any valid reason to stop gay marriage, I havent read or heard anything yet that supports the change.

    My tuppence worth.

  • Killjoy

    “The correction of an injustice or an inequity is not always a response to majoritarian opinion: far from it. Indeed, the point of such measures is often precisely to protect minorities, or to ensure that they enjoy equal liberties and opportunities to the majority.”
    I don’t agree with this statement completely- seems quite a socialist thing to say…

    Lets remember the outcry when the “anti smacking” bill was introduced or the “foreshore and seabed” saga. Both to majority opposition.

    You can’t use that argument to oppose things and then again use it to say you’re “protecting those that need it most or who can’t speak for themselves…”

  • I’m surprised nobody has asked The Archbishop of Canterbury how he feels about his next Supreme Governor being a divorcee and confessed adulterer who eventually got around to making an honest woman of his long-time mistress in a civil ceremony.