Searching for a decent argument.
I was going to skip the search term post this month. There was nothing new, nothing we hadn’t seen before, so I didn’t see any point in parading it around.
Then I logged in to blog about something else this morning and saw that somebody had searched for the entire first argument presented by Peter Saunders in his list of ten reasons not to legalize same-sex marriage in Britain. It’s a marvelously weird morning when you log into your dashboard and see this in the recent search terms bar.
throughout history in virtually all cultures and faiths throughout the world, marriage has been held to be the union of one man and one woman. marriage existed thousands of years before our nation began and has been recognized in our laws as the ‘voluntary union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others for life’ (hyde v hyde 1866). the un declaration of human rights (article 16) recognizes that the family, headed by a man and a woman, ‘is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state’. it is not up to governments to redefine marriage – but simply to recognize it for what it is, and to promote and protect it as a unique institution.
Yes. I blogged about this last May, and seeing it again inspired me to take another look at it, not the whole list but just this one argument. Looking up his references makes me wonder if Peter Saunders has actually read the documents he is listing in support of his claims.
Let’s start with Hyde v Hyde, a divorce court case that will celebrate its 147th anniversary on Wednesday. Frankly, if you’re discussing something as common as marriage and you have to dig back that far to find precedent that supports your claim, you’ve pretty much already lost. But even going back that far, Saunders has failed to find support.
The decision was based on existing law at the time, as such decisions must, and has little bearing on either current law, or how laws should be. While Judge Penzance speaks at length about marriage in Christendom as well as in English Matrimonial Court, he is still speaking in terms of the time in which he wrote. Unless you’re seriously going to claim there have been no significant changes to legal marriage since the reign of Queen Victoria you can’t simply pretend this document, which refers to “the ideas we entertain of the social position to be accorded to the weaker sex”, as seriously relevant.
Then there’s the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. I present to you Article 16 in its entirety:
- (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
- (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
- (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
Tell me, does this really read to you like it defines families as “headed by a man and a woman”? Replace “men and women” with “people” and see if it changes the meaning at all.
See, this is why I think marriage equality is inevitable. When you read the arguments against it, even the best of them, the most well-crafted and solid-looking of them fall apart when you take a closer look. Like a solid, formidable wall that turns out to be painted on tissue paper.
I want to reiterate, though, that Saunders central point here is a tautology. What he’s really saying is that gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed because it isn’t allowed, and if you change things then things will be different. Which is the worst reason to resist change that there is.