The momentum built up by "liberation" movements can continue after the subject group has been liberated from all the manmade civil disabilities the movement set out to liberate it from and go rolling on to seek liberation from non-manmade, natural or imaginary ones. Women, for example, have been "liberated" from all the alleged constraints our "patriarchal" civilisation was able to devise. But liberation is also sought from the natural sequence that if a woman has sexual intercourse it will probably lead to pregnancy. We can't have that, can we? It's not fair, men are not thus burdened, it's discrimination. Women want to have sex and enjoy it, like men do, without the inconvenient consequence. So, if the pill or condom hasn't worked, or he or she couldn't be bothered, kill the consequence and we can all have a good time. No one cares that another living being has to pay the cost, by its extinction, of this supposed liberation.
The campaign for "gay marriage" is similarly a demand for liberation from nature. "Gay liberation" has succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of its pioneers and not only have homosexuals been liberated from all the disabilities and prejudice to which they were supposedly subjected but they have acquired a privileged status. Their "feelings" are protected in a body of legislation against "homophobia". But they cannot be liberated from what nature imposes. You might as well try to liberate males from the injustice of not being able to bear children (and if they could you can bet there'd be a gay abortion campaign) as liberate them from the "discrimination" of not being able to marry each other. Yet that marriage is a union between a man and woman is not discrimination against anybody but a basic shared assumption of the human race. Quod semper quod ubique quod ab omnibus.
Basic shared assumptions are the bedrock of a civilisation. They are its club rules, its core beliefs. They determine - if not its raison d'etre, which is fundamentally the same for all civilisations - its direction and the conduct of its members. If some citizens cease to accept the assumptions on which their society is based civil cohesion is weakened. This is what has happened, under the battering ram of minority activism and secularism, to the shared assumption in our society about what constitutes marriage. That this assumption can be so easily abandoned when a gaggle of pushy gays and lesbians in a particular place at a particular time in history in a civilisation that is losing its way say their feelings are hurt by not being able to celebrate their commitment in public, or, more cynically, are interested not so much in marriage per se as in the seal of community approval they think the right to get married will confer on their sexual preferences, is a sign of how close to dissolution our society has become.
To see traditional marriage as discrimination against couples of the same sex you have to take the ideological view that gender is a "social construct", that humanity is not by natural order divided into male and female but is a mass of mix-and-match individuals. You need to see humans as so many "units" sufficient in themselves rather than men and women, complementary to each other. This of course is the whole thrust of feminism and "queer theory" and it is from such aberrations that the demand for same-sex marriage fundamentally springs.
That said, just as the abortion industry flourishes as the greatest manifestation of collective selfishness our society has known, gay marriage may well become general. The Roman Catholic bishops of Victoria have recently issued a pastoral letter opposing same-sex marriage as contrary to the "true meaning of marriage". One wishes the bishops well, but in the society we live in now it is likely that the gays will get their way. In all contemporary legislation relating to sex the tendency is consistently towards whatever was unacceptable to conventional morality a generation or so ago. Voter apathy will help too. Although gays and lesbians wanting marriage are a minority (even among gays and lesbians), one suspects that most heterosexuals, whose attitude to marriage has become increasingly cavalier over the last generation, don't care about the issue one way or the other.
The state will call gay marriage marriage but it is not marriage. Gay relationships can have much in common with marriage on the level of feelings and emotions but they are not the same because there is no sexual complementarity, which has always and everywhere been the sine qua non of marriage, the prime function of which is the continuation of the species. Yes, plenty of people get married who cannot have children (will not can be a ground for invalidating the marriage) but their unions qualify as marriage because they are entered into for the mutual comfort and support which has always been recognised, if not practised, as a subsidiary function of marriage. "Marriage equality" activists would probably say that these are the grounds that justify their own unions being called marriage, but is there not an illogicality in a category of persons entering a state whose principal function they can never even in theory have the faintest possibility of fulfilling?
Further, if "gay marriages" are recognised as marriage by the state you need a new word for heterosexual marriage. Call it heterosexual marriage and you have already defined it as not being the same as gay marriage. Where is the "equality" in that? If the state designates all "marriages" marriages, without distinction, stretching the meaning of the word will not obscure the fact that heterosexual marriage will remain different in kind from "gay marriage". The two forms may be legally equal but not equal in substance, whatever you call them.
As for the bishops, if "gay marriage" is legislated for, they should treat it as they presently treat state-sanctioned divorce. Basing its position on Matthew 19:6 the Roman Catholic Church does not recognise divorce. People whom the state has separated, perfectly legally in secular terms, remain married in Catholic eyes and cannot be remarried. People who are remarried are not accepted as being such by the Church. Yet the state insists that they are. The legalisation of "gay marriage" would simply extend the category of persons whom the Church does not regard as validly married. If this puts the Church further at odds with the secular state, is that not its destiny?
5 April 2012