Marriage about purpose, not rights – Opinion – by Bob McCoskrie – national director of Family First NZ – a registered charity with the Charities Commission – writes:
DEBORAH RUSSELL, (“Marriage should be for all”, October 21, Dominion Post) says the state has no business in the marriage game, but then argues that the state should redefine marriage to allow same-sex marriage.
Marriages are a matter of significant public concern, as the record of almost every culture shows.
If it weren’t for the fact that sexual intercourse between a man and a woman leads to children and brings with it a further obligation to care for tose children, the notion of marriage would probably never have existed.
Marriage encourages the raising of children by the mother and father who conceived them. Onn average, children raised by their biological parents who are married have the best outcomes in health, education and income, and by far the lowest involvement with the criminal justice system.
Russell then argues that denying same-sex marriage is “discriminatory” and “reinforces the power of traditional churches by endorcing their morality”.
Firstly, it is true that marriage by definition is discriminatory. A homosexual cannot now legally marry. But neither can a wholelot of other people. A five-year-old boy cannot marry. Three people cannot get married to each other. A married man can’t marry another person. A child cannot marry her pet goldfish. A football team cannot enact group marriage – the list is endless. It is disingenuous to complain to complain about rights being taken away, when they never existed in the first place. It is like trying to argue that Kiri te Kanawa is being discriminated against since she cannot play for the All Blacks, or Richie McCaw can’t play for the Silver Ferns.
And secondly, marriage is not solely a religious belief. Marriage is a social practice and every culture in every time and place has had some institution that resembles what we know as marriage, associated with procreation. Every society needs natural marriage.
And this is where Deborah Russell’s opinion gets really interesting. She says marriage should be for “three or more, whatever”. By allowing only gay marriage, we would then be discriminating against those seeking open, temporary, polygymous, polyandrous, polyamorous (group), incestuous, man/boy, or bestial unions. – if all that counts is love and commitment. Once the fundamental idea of marriage as one man and one woman is tossed out, all types of sexual activity could become permissible.
Russell claims research shows that 60 per cent of voters favour same-sex marriage – referring to a Research NZ poll of 500 people recently. However, polling commissioned by Family First of 1,000 NZ’ers through independent research company Curia Market Research in March found 52% of respondents support defining marriage as being between a man and a woman, with 42% opposed and 6% unsure or refusing to say. The only similarity in the polls was that females were more in favour of same-sex marriage than males.
All this suggests that there is debate to be had on this issue and John Key, Phil Goff and fellow politicians are right to progress slowly on this issue rather than capitulate to strong lobbying to change the definition. As Phil Goff argued at our recent Forum on the Family conference, same-sex couples have the option of civil unions to recognise their relationship so there is no need for redefining marriage.
Interestingly, there is actually very little demand for same-sex marriage by homosexuals. In the Netherlands where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2001, studies have shown that only around 4 per cent of Dutch homosexuals have gotten married during the first five years of legalisation. The demand for civil unions in NZ have been similarly negligible, despite claims by the government at the time of passing the legislation that hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders were being discriminated against.
Same-sex marriage is, by definition, an oxymoron. Equality does not mean we must redefine marriage for everyone. Being pro-marriage and wanting to maintain its definition as being between a man and a woman is not ‘anti-gay’. Russell is correct. Gays and lesbians do have a right to form meaningful relationships – they just don’t have a right to redefine marriage.
The state – which did not invent marriage – has no authority to re-invent it.
Bob McCoskrie is National Director of Family First NZ, and married Tina 22 years ago in a Methodist Church.
Gay Community cannot redefine marriage – Opinion – Bob McCoskrie
[Note: Dom Post on line has changed heading from originally submittd by BM – “Marriage about purpose, not rights]
Gay, straight, bi-marriage should be for all – Opinion -Deborah Russell