Monday, 18 January 2010

Independent: Marriage should be an inclusive institution

17.1.19? by Inka Stafrace, Malta Gay Rights Movement, Mosta

We refer to the letter by Paul Kokoski entitled No evolution of marriage (TMID, 5 January).

Mr Kokoski bases his whole argument on incorrect statements and misinterpretations of history.

Mr Kokoski claims that “marriage is an institution that predates civilisation”. The very fact that he refers to marriage as an “institution” implies that it is a product of civil or organised societies. He puts forward his own very conservative Christian view of what marriage ought to be by limiting it only to one man and one woman who must do nothing else but produce babies.

His definition excludes polygamous marriages such as those entered into by Muslim men and women. Polygamous relationships have also occurred in various Asian societies and even the Canadian Arctic. Not to mention that the ancient Roman society he holds in high esteem also had the custom of several men sharing the same woman. Therefore – contrary to what he claims – marriage has been, and still continues to be, redefined by the trends and needs of society at a given time. Marriage evolves according to the nature of the human relationships occurring within a particular society.

The fact that the Bible condemns homosexual acts is one example in many that the Bible was written by humans who at times mistook God’s word for their own. Slavery and incest are accepted in the Bible too, and it is unquestionably a product of the times it was written, as is anything the Bible says about homosexuality and to a large extent the role of women in society.

Homosexuality is simply part of human nature and human behaviour, and whether there exists a “gay gene” or not is irrelevant. There was never any evidence of the “straight gene” either.

Mr Kokoski’s amateur attempt at contributing to the world of psychology by thoughtlessly claiming that the psychological problems of children born in the 1970s and 80s are a direct product of divorce and birth out of wedlock is offensive to all involved – single mothers, children, distant loving fathers and not to mention psychologists. If the union between a mother and father is no longer a loving one, many couples opt to separate out of love for their children rather than the other way round. Children are emotional sponges and if there is one role to get right as a parent is to surround children with happiness, not misery.

An equally frivolous statement is “once legal the state’s coercive power will punish those who refuse to embrace gay marriages”. Perhaps Mr Kokoski is confusing the terms “freedom” and “punishment”. By allowing marriage equality, the law is merely recognising one’s right to a private and family life, rights which are fundamental in their nature and which are inherent to all human beings.

Contrary to what Mr Kokoski claims, when the law does not allow marriage equality it is punishing the individual because of his or her sexual orientation; it is depriving individuals of their fundamental rights.

The term “punishment” implies deprivation. How is the public official being deprived of anything if he is officiating at a same-sex marriage?

Claiming that the only main function of marriage is procreation undermines its very purpose. In today’s society people get married because they are in love and they want to love each other, irrespective of whether they can have children or not. And in today’s society some people also get married with the intention of never having children. Has this never occurred to Mr Kokoski? According to statistics published by the NSO, in 2008 a total of 76 brides got married at the age of 50 and over. It would be naïve to expect these unions to produce offspring, but their marriages are no less valid because of this.

On a final note, public morality is indeed a most important issue and so we should ask ourselves what is public morality in regards to homosexuality if not merely the difference between acceptance and tolerance. Tolerance suggests a position of an undefined superiority as opposed to acceptance which suggests an easier attitude of live and let live. Gay, lesbians and transgender persons are not asking for special treatment in regards to public morality. If heterosexuals couples are not allowed to hold hands in the street then homosexuals should not be either, but if straight couples are allowed to show affection in public, then so should everyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation.

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