Marriage equality & discrimination

Image by nihan güzel daştan from Pixabay

Advocates for ‘same-sex marriage’ 1 rarely  focus on the real meaning and purpose  of marriage. Instead they assume that  equal dignity and the principle of non- discrimination demand the legal recognition  of same-sex relationships as marriages. This appeal to equality and non- discrimination gets things the wrong way  around. Justice requires us to treat people  fairly and therefore not to make arbitrary,  groundless distinctions.

Only women are admitted to women’s  hospitals and only children to primary  schools. We have programmes targeted at  Aborigines, refugees, athletes, those with  disabilities or reading difficulties, and so on. Thus privileging or assisting particular  people in relevant ways is not arbitrary but  an entirely fair response. And if the union of  a man and a woman is different from other  unions –  not the same as other unions – then  justice demands that we treat that union  accordingly. If marriage is an institution  designed to support people of the opposite  sex to be faithful to each other and to the  children of their union it is  not discrimination  to reserve it to them.  Indeed, in this pastoral letter we argue that  what is  unjust – gravely unjust – is:

  • to legitimise the false assertion that there is nothing distinctive about a man and a  woman, a father or a mother;

•  to ignore the particular values that real marriage serves;

•  to ignore the importance for children of having, as far as possible, a mum and a  dad, committed to them and to each other for the long haul;

•  to destabilize marriage further at a time when it is already under considerable  pressure; and

•  to change retrospectively the basis upon which all existing married couples got  married

1. Although we use the language of “same-sex  marriage” throughout this pastoral letter, we do not  consider that same-sex relationships can ever amount  to marriage. As we argue, the meaning of marriage  is confined to relationships between a man and  woman entered into voluntarily for life to the exclusion  of all others and which is open to the procreation of  children.

If we are right in this assertion and if the civil law ceases to define marriage as traditionally  understood, it will be a serious injustice and undermine that common good for which the civil  law exists.  Whether we are right depends upon what marriage really is…

I decided to come out of the closet (Father Alvaro)

The importance of marriage and family