Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Same Sex Marriage: Undemocratic

by Daniel Rollins

By changing the definition of marriage you are changing the entire structure of human relationships, whether you want to or not.

Marriage is and has been, for most of human history for virtually all societies, the union between a man and a woman, however now the government is pushing forward legislation to change the legal definition of marriage to include same sex couples. 

One of the first questions that must be asked about this proposal is what right does the government have to change it? Marriage predates all governments, it is not merely a legal contract to be made and dissolved by anyone at will. It is a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman in front of society to support each other, physically, emotionally and financially. This commitment is not like other laws and customs which fluctuate between states and cultures but is universal and recognised by almost all people in every society and therefore any attempt to change this will have wide ranging and dramatic consequences for society, this has promoted the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey to described the proposal as an, act of cultural and theological vandalism.So does the government have any right to change the very meaning of something that is at the core of human culture, society and thought? I don’t think anyone does.

The government does not even have a democratic mandate to change the definition of marriage to extend it to same sex couples as the issue was not mentioned in any of the main party’s manifestos. This means that the people who will be affected by this change have not had a chance tell the government whether they agree with the idea or not, with opinion polls split and many showing support for the current definition of marriage the government can’t say that they are listening to what the people are saying about this change. The consultation they are having at the moment is also very undemocratic; it is not asking what people think of the proposed changes but only how to implement the changes, not allowing people to voice their opinions is contrary to all the ideas of democracy that the government tries to uphold. 

Many people including many homosexual couples are satisfied with the current system where gay and lesbian couples can have the same rights as married heterosexuals through civil partnerships and other agreements. Why then does the definition of marriage need to change, why does this great institution that is the bedrock of so many societies and families need to be changed when gay and lesbian couples already have access to equal rights?


  1. Daniel, your response is very well-argued and I respect your views. However, I do have a couple of comments. Firstly, you argue "gay and lesbian couples have equal rights". But separation of various groups within society goes to the heart of this problem. Also, Though you argument is logical, it can be defined as a form of 'tyranny of the majority', whereby the majority (in this case, heterosexuals) impose their ideals onto a repressed minority voice. In this case it is particularly controversial as the majority are not affceted by the changes. Finally, no one owns the term 'marriage'. For this reason, we should open it up to include the whole of society and move away from anachronistic and divisive tradition.

    1. I would disagree with your claim that the majority, heterosexual couples, are unaffected. In other countries where same sex marriage has been legalized there has been dramatic effects on the rest of the population. Regularly quoted facts include a rise in divorce rates in Sweden, which I believe is caused by the change in focus of marriage from for the family or for society as it has always been to for the individual partners themselves. Another change comes from Spain where birth certificates no longer list, "Mother" or "Father" but "Progenitor A" and "Progenitor B". This therefore shows that there is an effect of the heterosexual majority.
      Secondly, I agree with you when you say that no-one owns marriage but I feel that is just the reason why it should remain as it is. As I said in my post no one has the right to change the definition of marriage not even the government. I don't understand how this means that it should be opened up. Marriage is for the benefit of society and not purely for the married couple therefore anything that will damage or undermine this can not be changed by the whim of a government.


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