Thursday, 9 August 2012

All relationships are equal, but some are more equal than others?

It has become a mantra in our society, it's repeated by celebrities, politicians, and protesters. It has become a kind of continuous drone that gets into the subconscious, and makes anyone who questions the statement or probes into the assumptions look devoid of sense and full of hate. It is the slogan, "I believe in equality."

This phrase is most commonly trotted out when the whole issue of same-sex marriage raises its head. If someone can get those magic words in early in the debate it kind of puts the opponent on the back foot, after all - how can any decent person be against equality?

So, do I not believe in equality? Well let me ask you a question, do you believe in discrimination? The instinctive reaction might have been, "No way!" But really? You believe anyone, regardless of age or ability, should be allowed to drive a car or fly a plane, or run the country, or represent your country at the Olympics? Oh, so you do believe in discrimination!

You may respond, "Well, all right, if you want to call that discrimination [which is a perfectly appropriate thing to call it], but I don't believe in bad or unfair discrimination."

Right, now we're getting somewhere. There are times when it is appropriate to discriminate and times when it isn't, and the question, "Do you believe in discrimination?" really requires you to know what it is you have in mind.  Similarly with the question about equality - what are we talking about? I think if you reflect on it, no one believes in an unqualified "equality", at least I hope no one does!

So if someone is advocating same-sex marriage and he uses the "I believe in equality" card, it would be well worth asking him what exactly does he mean by that. The response you typically will get back will be something like, "Well, I believe that people should have the right to marry whoever they want."

Now in such a brief statement there are so many things to comment on, but perhaps the first thing to say to it is, "Really?! You believe that no matter how close the relation, no matter how young one or both (or all) of the persons involved, no matter how many want to be involved, no matter what wants to be involved, just as long as it is what they want they should have the right to marry?

At this point you are likely to be told you are being ridiculous, and you might want to say, "Yes, I know it's ridiculous! I know it's ridiculous to say anyone should have the right to marry whoever they want, but I want to know why you think it's ridiculous. I'm just taking your own statement and seeing if you really mean it."

This will hopefully give pause for thought, and will make them realise that they aren't really as committed to equality as they were letting on. The point is that if marriage can be redefined to mean two of the same gender, why can it not be redefined to mean any amount of people, or redefined to any kind of union or combination.

This may result in some fine-tuning of the "equality" view, to amount to something that actually involves a lot of inequality and discrimination, and they perhaps will say that if two men or two women want to marry they should be allowed. But here's the thing, who's stopping them? Two men or two women can set up home together, they can have a ceremony and pledge commitment to each other, leave things in their will to each other, etc. etc. but why does the Government need to be involved? If you have a friend you play tennis with, do you want the Government to register your friendship and recognise tennis partnerships in the tax system? I think you would say no, Government really has no business and no interest in that kind of relationship because if it didn't exist it wouldn't make one bit of difference. In such cases governments should stay out of people's lives. And so it is with same-sex unions, the Government really has no business getting involved because that kind of a union is one that society can function without (and has for the whole of our history). If there was never another same sex union it would not make any difference to society, but if there was never another union of a man and a woman commiting themselves to each other, society would fall apart (and we are seeing that very thing as marriage has been devalued and the break up of the family is as common or more common than its survival). When marriage suffers society suffers.

So why do they want "marriage"? Because they want public approval, and they want society to affirm that this kind of a union is as valuable and good as traditional marriage. I beg to differ! And I think if anyone looks at the facts they are bound to as well.