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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

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Church in a knot over gay marriage

Seems to me Roman Catholic cardinals, senior Anglican churchmen and obedient parish priests are getting themselves in a right old knot over the gay marriage issue.

Have your say

Bob, regarding your earlier comment, I think I can see what you're getting at now - in terms of "slippery slope". However, I still think the "step before it" argument is a valid one because whilst you say that I shouldn't oppose gay marriage on the grounds that it might lead to incestuous marriage, surely you can see that such an argument could always be wheeled out in defence of "the next step" every time it came up? In other words, if, for argument's sake, marriage is re-defined to include same-sex couples, and a few years afterwards there is a consultation on a further re-definition to include (say) marriage between uncles and nieces, would we then be having a variation on this argument where you'd be telling me I couldn't oppose it on the grounds that it might lead to a further re-definition to include brothers and sisters? And if, following that, there's a consultation on re-defining it to include brothers and sisters, will you then be telling me that I can't oppose it on the grounds that it might lead to the subsequent inclusion of parents and children? (and so on).

If you still DO believe that it's not valid to object on the grounds of "the next step", are there ANY sorts of relationship between consenting adults of which you would NOT approve? If there is to be a line at all, where would you draw it?

There must be plenty of similar examples of exclusions. I was wondering about joining Mensa. Apparently, you need an IQ of more than (I dunno!) 150 to get in. Surely someone could demand a re-definition of "high intelligence" to make it more inclusive on the grounds that it was discriminatory? If it were then reduced to (say) 100, wouldthat not invite a repeat of the process to (say) 75...and so on until it became absolutely meaningless?

Posted by Ian on 21 March 2012 at 00:06

But Bob, if one group of people don't have a "right" to keep the definition of marriage as it is, what gives another group of people the "right" to change it simply because it doesn't suit them as it is?

Posted by Ian on 20 March 2012 at 23:33

@Ian, just a quick one while I'm waiting for my son. Please excuse the terseness as I'm typing on a phone.
Your third point. "Not everything is a freedom", whilst true in some cases does not apply here. Being allowed to get married is a freedom that you and I can enjoy (I'm guessing) Why should it be a freedom for us but not for others? This is purely about definitions not immutable facts. No, you can't change your colour or ethnicity but we can, manifestly, change the definition of marriage hence the whole point of this conversation.
And no, I'm afraid I can't accept your last assertion as I don't accept your 'right' to keep marriage as it is. You are not in charge of the definition of marriage.

Posted by Bob T on 20 March 2012 at 16:23

MK, first of all, I have to say that I'm deeply saddened and ashamed of what your partner went through. There is a problem at present in the Catholic church and I believe it is being addressed. None of that will be any help to your partner now, and I'm deeply sorry for it. It is, of course, inexcusable, to abuse a position of trust. My own experiences have been better, mercifully, but I accept that this has gone on and a huge amount of damage hs been done. I'd beg you not to hate "religion" as a result of this - even if you end up hating the church of Rome, as there are also many good things that religions (of many sorts) have "brought to the table" over the centuries.

As I understand it, your relationship IS already legally recognised. You say you'd jump at the chance to be referred to as "married", but why? I'm reminded of the words of (I think) Winnie Mandela - "celebrate the difference until the difference doesn't make a difference". Obviously, it was in the context of race rather than sexual orientation, but to me, it was something absolutely fundamental and crucial. It was the recognition that the two WERE different, and that the task was not so much to make them "the same" as to make the "treatment" of each category the same, whilst acknowledging that each WAS different. I contrast this with the (in my view) deeply flawed PC notion that making people call a "blackboard" a "chalkboard" would, in some way, prevent racism!

You say that you're not throwing down anyone's throat the fact that you're gay, and yet, I believe that taking the existing, long-standing, and widely accepted meaning of the term "marriage" and forcing a revised definition of it upon everyone, is actually doing just that. I also (like the "blackboard / chalkboard" thing) don't believe it will change public attitudes significantly. It might, however, stir up new resentment amongst some.

I try ( I think successfully?!) to treat everyone with respect and kindness. Treating people "equally" is a concept that I struggle with. I will clearly treat a child differently to an adult. I'll (almost certainly - even without knowing it!) treat a woman differently to a man. I only know one openly gay bloke, who I've worked with, on and off, for many years, and I'd like to think I treat him no differently now, to how I did before I knew he was gay, but there's no pretending he's "the same" as me!

Posted by Ian on 20 March 2012 at 16:12

@Ian, I'm just on my way out so to pick one point at random:
At my request, as a justification for stopping same sex marriage you said "If "marriage" is re-defined to include same-sex couples, what's to stop it being subsequently re-defined to include polygamous or incestuous relationships?"
I'm pointing out that this is not a valid justification because you are using the slippery slope argument. You are not arguing against gay marriage but against what you think it might lead to.
If you are against polygamous or incestuous marriage but have no problem with gay marriage then that is where you should set your barrier, not at the step before that. If, however, you are against gay marriage then that is the discrimination you need to justify.

Posted by Bob T on 20 March 2012 at 14:08

MK, first of all, I have to say that I'm deeply saddened and ashamed of what your partner went through. There is a problem at present in the Catholic church and I believe it is being addressed. None of that will be any help to your partner now, and I'm deeply sorry for it. It is, of course, inexcusable, to abuse a position of trust. My own experiences have been better, mercifully, but I accept that this has gone on and a huge amount of damage hs been done. I'd beg you not to hate "religion" as a result of this - even if you end up hating the church of Rome, as there are also many good things that religions (of many sorts) have "brought to the table" over the centuries.

As I understand it, your relationship IS already legally recognised. You say you'd jump at the chance to be referred to as "married", but why? I'm reminded of the words of (I think) Winnie Mandela - "celebrate the difference until the difference doesn't make a difference". Obviously, it was in the context of race rather than sexual orientation, but to me, it was something absolutely fundamental and crucial. It was the recognition that the two WERE different, and that the task was not so much to make them "the same" as to make the "treatment" of each category the same, whilst acknowledging that each WAS different. I contrast this with the (in my view) deeply flawed PC notion that making people call a "blackboard" a "chalkboard" would, in some way, prevent racism!

You say that you're not throwing down anyone's throat the fact that you're gay, and yet, I believe that taking the existing, long-standing, and widely accepted meaning of the term "marriage" and forcing a revised definition of it upon everyone, is actually doing just that. I also (like the "blackboard / chalkboard" thing) don't believe it will change public attitudes significantly. It might, however, stir up new resentment amongst some.

I try ( I think successfully?!) to treat everyone with respect and kindness. Treating people "equally" is a concept that I struggle with. I will clearly treat a child differently to an adult. I'll (almost certainly - even without knowing it!) treat a woman differently to a man. I only know one openly gay bloke, who I've worked with, on and off, for many years, and I'd like to think I treat him no differently now, to how I did before I knew he was gay, but there's no pretending he's "the same" as me!

Posted by Ian on 20 March 2012 at 14:08

Hi Ian, I don't believe Jesus existed as the son of god, but some would say it's an enormous part of the bible so there must be some truth. My conclusion to that would be that he could have been an extrovert, someone who stood out from the crowd etc...That said, I actually believe that it's all fictional.
It's Ironic as I went to religious Primary and Secondary schools where morning prayers and RE were compulsory components of our eduction. As I say, I would love to believe in something after life and that a place such as heaven exists, I just can't get my head round it. I do appreciate alot of the good like morals, that religion has helped to insill in society. I also imagine having a faith brings about feelings of contentment and peace. For me, at this moment in time, I don't believe any of it (well 99% of it as there is always a possibility).
What does frustrate me is when religion takes over and segregates particlar parts of society. For all the good that religion brings, I believe it is accountable for alot of bad things that happen in the world. I'm talking about extremism, which is a tiny minority but it does cause so much pain in the world. I can't understand why people behave in such appaling ways as they "believe god will be happy with them for killing people". So if there isn't a heaven, all that pain and suffering was needless. I believe people should live their lives as good decent citizens, not becuase god said so, but because we all inhabit this planet and we have to get on an live in harmony.

Posted by Sam on 20 March 2012 at 13:56

Bob, 1. I'm not sure what all the other meanings of "marriage" that you mention are. I've only ever understood it in its commonly used sense? In any case, I'm struggling to understand why changing the meaning of the term so that it becomes more vauge is going to be better for ANYONE? (gay or straight). If we had two separate terms, everyone would know what was meant and where they stood. Even campaigners against racism seemed to accept that the terms "black" and "white" had to stay because they were useful. The nearest analogy I can think of is that you're arguing in favour of scrapping both terms and replacing them with the term "grey". Just out of interest, if "marriage" were to be re-defined on the lines you're asking for, what would the terms "husband" and "wife" mean?

2. Sorry, but prefacing the same response with "really" still doesn't make it an argument! I've asked a question - "If "marriage" is re-defined to include same-sex couples, what's to stop it being subsequently re-defined to include polygamous or incestuous relationships?" As yet, other than telling me "it's not a valid argument", you've not been able to give a reason why this could not come to pass.

3. I accept that the gay community might want people to call their relationship "marriage" in the same way as they call conventional marriages "marriage". However, not everything is a "freedom". I am a white male. I am not campaigning for the "right" to be called a "black female". I have nothing against black people or female people - I just know that I'm not either and that's just the way it is! Can you at least accept that the "right" to re-define "marriage" conflicts with the "right" to keep it as it is?

Posted by Ian on 20 March 2012 at 13:41

One of the most interesting threads I've read on the N&S website!

Clearly there are many arguments here for and against but as a man who is in a civil partnership to another man I already call myself married - because we have already formalised that union together out of respect and love for each other however that said we would jump at the opportunity to be recognised legally as 'married' - after all we are human just like Brenda and Bob, Steve or Debbie. No where have I seen a patent belonging to the church over marriage.

What i despise in all of this is that religious right to dictatorship which seems to have appeared in all it's glory. I don't throw down anyone's throat the fact I am gay and don't appreciate the flout of religion in that same way - personally I hate religion, why, because my partner was abused by a catholic priest - so you can understand my utter detest for the absurdity of the high and mighty who I have watched preaching on the tv, read the words in the paper when all along I am sickened by the mere fact of what they have done and continue to do, while preaching the moral high ground.

It's a horrible situation we are in when in this day and age people still can't treat others as equal, but yet we continue to call ourselves a forward thinking country? (think again!)

Posted by MK on 19 March 2012 at 22:35

@Ian, 1. Obviously the word marriage has a single legal meaning (as well as all the other meanings) but that doesn't mean it is fixed. Everything changes. Usually for the better.

2. I had asked you for a rational argument against gay marriage. These were your responses. Presenting an argument against incestuous marriage really is not a valid response. It really isn't.

3. I really don't care what religious institutions do in their churches. People are free to be members or not. I mentioned the case of divorce in the catholic church in support of this.
Finally, just as when women got the vote they weren't imposing on society, so the gay community is not imposing anything on society. What they are doing is asking for the same freedoms as everyone else. I still have yet to hear a rational argument against equal marriage rights for anyone.

Posted by Bob T on 19 March 2012 at 20:10

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