Equal marriage debate goes on… and on…

Posted on June 26, 2012

We’re currently waiting for the Scottish Government’s imminent announcement of the results of the equal marriage consultation, and hopefully of their intention to introduce a bill.

Meanwhile, the arguments continue to play themselves out in the letters pages. Here’s my recent exchange from the Scotsman.

It all began with this from a Mr Brian Allan, responding to the news report that yet again Scottish public opinion has been found to support equal marriage.

Published on Monday 18 June 2012
I note with some concern, but no surprise, that, according to a recent Ipsos Mori poll, some 68 per cent of Scots are in favour of church-blessed, same-sex marriages. This presumably totally disregards the views of the churches.
What this poll also reveals is that the demographic of those who participated is within a marrow (relatively young) age band.
It comes as no surprise to learn that the poll results were eagerly endorsed by the openly bisexual MSP for the Green Party, Mr Patrick Harvie, who has long championed homosexual and lesbian causes, including same-sex marriage.
However, things are not quite as straightforward as they seem. When one looks a little more closely at the poll we find that it was commissioned by the Equality Network, and as such the findings of the poll reflect that organisation’s agenda.
One might legitimately ask what hte results would have been had the poll been commissioned by the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Scotland or any of the Islamic groups in Scotland. I suspect that the outcome may have been rather different.
Brian Allan

Published on Friday 22 June 2012
In rejecting the outcome of the recent Ipsos Mori poll on same-sex marriage, Brian Allan (Letters, 18 June) seems keen to make a point of my own sexual orientation, as though this has some bearing on the debate.
I have never heard anyone described in these pages as “openly heterosexual”, and I can only conclude that Mr Allan thinks my sexual preferences make me biased from the outset.
In fact I am not only bisexual, I am also single. I might have a relationship in the future, but I don’t know if it will be with a man or a woman, and I’ve no idea if I would want the state to recognise it in any way.
I have no interest in becoming a parent, and don’t consider my relationships to be the business of any religious organisations.
In terms of my personal life, therefore, I am about as neutral as it is possible to be.
As it happens, I took some persuading that equal marriage should be a priority for the equality movement as against homophobic bullying, improvements to youth services, targeted health promotion or other priorities.
My support for equal marriage was largely reinforced by the attitude of those who use the distinction between marriage and civil partnership to continue to portray same-sex couples as second class, or in some way morally wrong. I’d like to thank them for the clarity they have given me on this issue.
Patrick Harvie MSP

Published on Saturday 23 June 2012
Patrick Harvie (Letters, 22 June) rather gave the game away when he wrote that he supports same sex “marriage” to counter those who “portray same-sex couples” as “in some way morally wrong”.
This is the real heart of the issue. The gay lobby wish to silence all dissent and hound all opponents out of public life. Same sex “marriage” would be a valuable tool in this campaign.
With same-sex “marriage” in place, pressure would then be brought to bear on teachers to endorse it, venues and other service providers to be involved in them, churches to bless and host them, and on everyone to describe some homosexuals as “married”.
Will it be a crime to refuse to describe a homosexual couple as “married”? I think it soon will be.
Richard Lucas

Published on Monday 25 June 2012
I can’t help laughing whenever someone suggests, as Richard Lucas does (letters, 23rd June), that by taking part in a democratic debate, or by campaigning for equality under the law, I am betraying some desire “to silence all dissent and hound all opponents out of public life”.
That more accurately describes the treatment handed out to the likes of Alan Turing, the war-time codebreaker, whose centenary we celebrated last week, and countless others whose names will be less remembered.
I presume that Mr Lucas agrees that the criminalisation and chemical castration which was used against gay men at that time was wrong; but I wonder precisely how much of the progress over the past 60 years he welcomes.
Sadly many religious bodies have been vocal in opposing every single step toward equality, so it’s encouraging to see at least some of them on the side of equality this time and calling for the religious freedom to marry same-sex couples.
To answer Mr Lucas’ concern, refusing to call a married couple married would simply be incorrect. I wouldn’t want teachers putting inverted commas around anyone’s relationship in the way he does, whether on grounds of sexuality, religion, race or anything else.
Patrick Harvie MSP

Published on Tuesday 26 June 2012
Patrick Harvie and Alistair McBay (Letters, 25 June) both tried the same tactics: attempting to associate me with views I do not hold, and likening opposition to same sex marriage with racism.
So, to answer Mr Harvie’s question, I do not want homosexual sex to be illegal, nor do I approve of any forced “treatment” of homosexuals (though those wishing to try to change their orientation should be supported), but there is a good case for the age of consent to be higher and I do not think homosexual relationships should be promoted as morally equivalent to heterosexual ones through the educational system.
I don’t try to link supporters of same sex “marriage” with those gay campaigners who endorse sex between adults and children, for example, because to do so would be unfair and sensationalist. I ask that the same courtesy be extended to opponents of same sex “marriage”.
Mr Harvie “laughed” at my suggestion dissent is being suppressed. Did he laugh when the Catholic adoption agencies were forced to close? Was he engulfed in mirth when a Manchester man was demoted and had his pay cut by 40 per cent just because he expressed reservations about same-sex “marriage”? Does he chuckle every time he hears the latest story about police questioning people who dare express disapproval of homosexual sex?
The simplistic “equality” argument assumes homosexual and heterosexual sex are entirely equivalent; they are not. They are different in significant ways, and therefore there can be good reasons to treat them differently.
Richard Lucas

Published on Wednesday 27 June 2012
The exchange of letters with Richard Lucas on the issue of same-sex marriage has reached the inevitable nub of the issue. Mr Lucas simply does not regard same-sex relationships as morally equivalent to mixed-sex relationships. In calling for an unequal age of consent, he seeks to apply criminal sanctions to gay people which don’t apply to straight people.
How should a democratic society, with values grounded in human rights and equality, deal with a situation in which one minority refuses to accept the moral equivalence of another minority? It seems to me there are only two choices – forcing one viewpoint on everybody, or allowing people to live their own lives as they see fit so long as they don’t impose on others’ freedom to do the same. Those who oppose same-sex marriage might be well advised not to enter one, but I cannot see any reason to impose their view on other people.
Patrick Harvie MSP

Published on Thursday 28 June 2012
Patrick Harvie claims that I “refuse to accept the moral equivalence of a minority”, but this is just incorrect (Letters, 27 June). I refuse to accept the moral equivalence of an act, not of a group of people.
The moral status of homosexual sex is indeed a key issue in the same-sex “marriage” debate, but God’s standards of morality are not arbitrary: they proscribe behaviours that are ulimately harmful. My conscience and belief in biblical revelation lead to believe that homosexual sex is immoral, but the observed consequences of homosexual sex reinforce my view that it is not a good option.
When I encourage those with homosexual urges to choose celibacy or to seek to change their orientation, I do so out of what I genuinely believe to be their best interest. I also genuinely believe that diluting the institution of marriage will have a negative effect on adults and children in our society in the longer term.
Disagree with me by all means, but please don’t portray my position as prejudiced.
As a supporter of same-sex “marriage”, could Mr Harvie answer my oft-repeated question? The egalitarian argument employed to justify same-sex “marriage” can equally be marshalled to justify polygamous, polyamorous, platonic or temporary marriage.
What arguments can be made against them once it has been conceded that the definition of marriage is flexible?
Richard Lucas

Published on Friday 29 June 2012
Suddenly Richard Lucas (Letters, 28 June) is writing about sex! I thought that our exchange of letters had been about people, their relationships and their right to be treated equally under the law. Extending this right by allowing couples to marry has very little to do with their sex lives which, all being well, would happily and healthily continue regardless of whether and how their relationship is recognised by the state.
Mr Lucas clearly has something against gay sex. I am pleased to let him know that he needn’t have any if he doesn’t want to. But other people’s sex lives are frankly none of his business, whether they’re straight, gay, lesbian, bi, or anything else under the sun. “God’s standards of morality” may not be arbitrary for Mr Lucas, but they are entirely optional to the rest of us. He cannot – and will not – impose them on those who do not subscribe to his religion.
He ends with a standard tactic from the anti-equality playbook – he shifts the argument onto entirely other matters such as the idea of polygamous marriage. It’s a spurious notion that letting all loving, committed couples marry one another is related to such arguments. Mixed-sex threesomes have not been agitating for marriage, despite the fact that mixed-sex couples marry every day of the week.
In reality, the only proposal under consideration is that marriage and civil partnership should each be made open to mixed-sex and same-sex couples, and that neither be treated as second-class citizens with second-class relationships. After many months of debating this issue and listening carefully to those opposed, I am still yet to hear an argument against it which is not grounded in homophobia.
Patrick Harvie MSP