Let Us Have Gay Marriage, But Not Yet
by Sean Gabb: Brief
Reflections on the Revolution in Egypt
I have never
shared or understood the moral prejudice against homosexual acts.
Even as a boy, I thought the legal penalties were unjust. A quarter
of a century ago, I wrote an essay in which, among much else, I
called for gay marriage to be allowed.
There is currently
a gay-marriage Bill before Parliament, and I have not changed my
mind on the topic. I am still in favor of gay marriage. If two consenting
adults want to live together in close union and can find a consenting
minister of religion to bless their union, who are we to object?
The same applies to polygamy, polyandry, incest, or any other kind
of union between consenting adults. To a libertarian, the sole function
of state marriage laws is to offer individuals a package of legal
agreements and declarations that they could make for themselves
if they wanted to find the money and time.
I accept that
there are religious dimensions to heterosexual marriage and that
there are utilitarian benefits, so far as strong and stable families
give meaning to our lives and are a counterbalance to what might
otherwise be the overwhelming power of the state. But these religious
dimensions are something for religious believers to embrace. As
for the utilitarian benefits, I cannot see how opening the package
of legal agreements and declarations to other than monogamous heterosexuals
should weaken family life. If two men are allowed to get married
in front of a priest, I cannot see how this devalues my own civil
I also accept
that gay marriage is not part of our traditions, and that traditions-especially
those of English civilization-should not be attacked. But tradition
is not a static force. It changes in the light of new facts. Changes
in the law regarding homosexuality have largely followed changes
in the social acceptance of homosexuality. We are not talking about
the abolition of marriage and the bringing up of all children in
state orphanages. It only involves the opening of a package of legal
agreements and declarations to other than monogamous heterosexuals.
If you are
a devout Catholic or a devout member of various other denominations,
you must believe that civil marriages, even between heterosexuals,
are state-recognized fornication. You may also deny the validity
of any marriage not solemnized by a minister of your denomination,
or the validity of a marriage between persons previously divorced.
If those are your views, you should not become a civil registrar.
There is no place for religious scruples in conducting the ceremonies.
the rest of the article
Gabb [send him mail]
is the author of Smoking, Class and the Legitimation of Power.
His book, Cultural Revolution,
Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England, and How to Get It Back,
can be downloaded for free. See his
© 2013 Taki's