I join Ninglun in congratulating Jim Belshaw for having a blog post of his republished at On Line Opinion, but I really must take exception to the following:
Take a question that I have not discussed on this blog, my views on gay marriage.I support civil unions for gays. I support legal recognition of the joint rights of gay couples. I do not support gay marriage because the term “marriage” carries very specific connotations linked back to our Christian heritage, so that the application of the term “marriage” creates tensions and problems among much larger groups in society.
This may change. But for the present, my view is that we need to find a solution that gives gays the legal and indeed symbolic things that they need, while recognising the views of the larger group.
I have a profound love of and respect for our core institutions. Perhaps I can be classified as a conservative in this area, although the views I hold are very much minority views even among those classified as “conservative”.
I can’t get my head around this position at all. Unless I am mistaken, by his support for civil unions Jim is advocating for gays all the rights and privileges pertaining to legal marriage. He just doesn’t think gays should be allowed to call their marriages “marriages”–because, in his view (and that needs to be emphasised), the term “marriage” has “very specific connotations linked back to our Christian heritage,” and if we let the gays use it, that will create “tensions and problems among much larger groups in society.”
Sorry, I don’t get it. The people who are going to get their panties in a twist over the breach of Christian copyright on the term “marriage” are just as likely to object to the legal recognition of the joint rights of gay couples–surely the latter runs counter to “our” Christian heritage just as much as gay marriage supposedly does? If pandering to the sensitivities of these people is indeed a legitimate concern in a secular democracy–even if that means denying gay couples equality before the law–it just seems inconsistent to me to simultaneously oppose gay marriage and support civil unions.
Obviously I don’t think that the marriage laws in a secular (and liberal) democracy should pander to the concerns of those who, for religious reasons, think the law should treat gay couples differently. Nor do I see the relevance of our “Christian heritage” in the framing of our laws–at best, this constitutes an appeal to tradition, and perhaps also an appeal to popularity; in the context of a secular democracy, it becomes something far more sinister. So I’ve never understood the social utility of advocating two legal institutions–marriage, and marriage-that-for-PC-reasons-we’re-not-allowed-to-call
-“marriage”–when one would suffice. That’s assuming that civil unions would confer upon couples the same rights and entitlements as marriages do. If not, that’s a different (and worse) kettle of fish.
If our core institutions perpetuate injustice and enshrine prejudice, I don’t see why they ought to be loved and respected. I guess that’s why I’m not a conservative.