It’s Not Wrong to Support the Current Definition of Marriage
Barack Obama did it. Bill Shorten did it. Penny Wong did it. And while they have all changed their positions since, none of them have seen the need to make apologies for having held those positions.
This article is mainly addressed to those who do support the current definition of marriage and for those who are considering lending their support towards it. For those who are reading this but support a change in the definition of marriage and wish to continue reading until the end, hopefully, there can at least be some more understanding of the stance to support the current definition.
Archbishop Timothy Costelloe has issued a letter to clarify the Church’s teaching on this matter. It can be downloaded at www.perthcatholic.org.au
This article’s aim is to clarify that supporting the current definition of marriage is not necessarily born out of hate, not seeking to unfairly discriminate and that any changes may still affect those who support the current definition who aren’t marriage celebrants.
It’s not about hate
Some would say that any opposition to same sex marriage comes ultimately from hate, bigotry and homophobia. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that people who are attracted to the same sex “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” If Catholics have not always been the best example of that, then there should be sincere repentance. On this issue, however, the support of the current definition of marriage comes first from a place of respecting, appreciating and valuing the unique nature of the love between a man and a woman in it’s potential to create life and so it deserves a special recognition and status based on that potential.
It may be difficult to understand how one can maintain the unique dignity of marriage as between one man and one woman while being respectful of the dignity of the person who experiences attraction to the same sex. Hopefully, this can be presumed of those who support the current definition of marriage just as those who support the current definition can presume that those who support a change are good willed, loving people who are concerned for the welfare of same-sex attracted people. Openly gay people who do support marriage as between one man and one woman include Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana (of Dolce and Gabbana), Keith Mills and Paddy Manning (Irish gay rights activists), Joseph Sciambra (online blogger) and more.
It’s not about unjust discrimination
Some would say that this recognition is discriminatory because it excludes relationships where this potential is not possible simply because they are between two men or two women. The current definition also excludes relationships that are not intended to be lifelong or where the couple do not wish to make a legally binding commitment to one another. It’s not to say that there is any less love, sincerity or sacrifice in these relationships but, when all these elements are combined (permanency, fidelity, formal commitment, life), should such relationships not require unique recognition?
Justice does mean that, at times, certain groups or individuals do receive differential treatment based on sex (eg. women’s hospitals), race (eg. indigenous programs), age (eg. primary and secondary schools) etc to the exclusion of others (men, non-indigenous and adults, respectively). The current definition of marriage does not exclude those who do experience attraction to the same sex but still would like to enter into a formal, lifelong commitment to a person of the opposite sex. While not common, these do happen and the relationships can still be happy and fulfilling.
It’s not about marriage celebrants only
At the moment, there is consensus from both sides of the debate for religious protections but only to marriage celebrants. There is no guarantee for other institutions: Will faith-based schools and universities be banned from teaching what they believe in regards to marriage? Will faith-based agencies be forced to provide marriage preparation to same-sex couples? Will religious groups be penalized if they decline requests for their premises (such as church halls, school halls etc) to be hired for celebrations of same sex marriages? Will funding to faith-based schools be cut if they do not toe the line meaning possibly higher school fees and/or less resources, programs, staff?
In the two years since the Supreme Court decision on same sex marriage in the USA, there have been those who owned bakery, florist, photography businesses or properties often hired out weddings either forced, fined thousands of dollars or even close down because they declined to be involved in a same sex wedding. There’s also been several judges resign for the same reason as well as pastors having their sermons subpoenaed and the CEO of Mozilla who resigned in part because of a public shaming campaign for financially supporting the cause of marriage as one man and one woman.
Over the next several months, Australians have the opportunity to consider deeper about issues that we probably have taken for granted before but now are pivotal for all in our country. Hopefully it can be a time when we can all have discussions with each other while presuming the best in each other and that we all do want what is best for our country and society.