Saturday, November 3, 2012, 10:15 by Fr Joe Borg
Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the most prominent figure of the Catholic Church in Scotland, has just been named as Bigot of the Year at the annual Stonewall Awards. The gay, lesbian and bisexual charity conferred the award on O'Brien for his strong opposition the legalisation of same sex marriages.
As is to be expected, the Church in Scotland is incensed. A spokesperson said that the award by Stonewall “reveals the depth of their intolerance and their willingness to attack and demean those who don’t share their views.” Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond, with whom Cardinal O’Brien crossed swords on many occasions because of same-sex marriage, said that the gay lobby was “clearly wrong to describe Scotland's cardinal in these terms, and in any case should reflect on whether pejorative titles like this do anything to enhance their cause.”
Andrew Brown, the well-known blogger of The Guardian wrote that “if all opponents of gay marriage are branded bigots, the word loses its force and risks becoming a jokey badge of pride.” This is quite true considering that over six hundred thousand persons in Great Britain have this year signed a petition urging the British government not to change the definition of marriage. Are they all bigots because they want the definition of marriage to remain that which has characterised human history that is the union of a man and a woman? This support for this definition of marriage is not done arbitrarily. It is a reflection of the complementary natures of men and women.
Don’t re-define marriage
The initiative was taken by the recently set up The Coalition for Marriage. This is an umbrella group of individuals and organisations in the UK that support the definition of marriage the way it has always been and they oppose any plans to change it. The Coalition is backed by politicians of different political persuasions, lawyers, academics and religious leaders. It reaches out to people of all faiths and none, who believe that marriage is the most successful partnership in history and should not be redefined.
The definition of marriage as between man and woman is not a passing convention but it is a deeply felt human necessity. This is probably why only ten out of the 193 member states of the United Nations have legalised same-sex marriage. It also probably explains why in all 31 referenda held in various states of the USA the people voted against the legalisation of same sex marriage.
The Coalition is the response to the drive to introduce same sex marriage in Great Britain. The Coalition is right to point out that such a step is not only about marriage between two men or between two women. The introduction of this institution means the redefinition of marriage; nay the destruction of the institute of marriage as humanity has always known it and benefitted from it.
Contradiction in terms
Same-sex marriage is a contradiction in terms. The Leftist and radical former master general of the Dominican Order, Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP, in an opinion piece published in The Tableof March 10, 2012, wrote:
“The Catholic Church does not oppose gay marriage. It considers it to be impossible. … … But ‘gay marriage’ is impossible because it attempts to cut loose marriage from its grounding in our biological life. If we do that, we deny our humanity. It would be like trying to make a cheese soufflé without the cheese, or wine without grapes.”
This does not mean that homosexuals cannot have humanly enriching and deep relationships. They can and in fact do have such relationships which can put to shame several relationships between heterosexual couples. It means that such relationships cannot be describes as marriage.
Civil partnerships: rights and duties
This does not mean that relationships between homosexual couples do not initiate rights and duties between the couple and with society as well as vice versa. There are several legal arrangements which can be set up to guarantee these rights. Several civil partnerships already amply provide for the fulfilment of these rights without redefining marriage or without putting a civil partnership on the same level as a marriage. In order not to equate civil partnership with marriage same-sex couples should not be allowed to adopt except perhaps in some exceptional circumstance. For example: One could consider that a widower who had fathered children through marriage would be allowed to take care for his own children even if he would then be in a homosexual relationship. The children’s welfare is always the main consideration. Although death and divorce may prevent it, the evidence shows that children do best with a married mother and a father.
Gay marriage: dangerous slippery slope
The Coalition draws upon a substantial body of evidence showing that marriage – as it has been understood for thousands of years – is beneficial to society, and that changing its definition would undermine that benefit and open up a slippery slope to other re-definitions of marriage. This is not fantasy. Consider these examples.
Holland introduced same-sex marriage in 2001. It has now given legal recognition to three-way relationships.
Mexico City introduced same sex marriage in 2009. They are now tinkering with the idea of having two-year-fixed-term marriages.
Canada joined the bandwagon in 2005. In British Columbia there is now an attempt to recognise polygamy using the same arguments used to justify same sex marriage.
Spain. A few years after the introduction of same-sex marriage in Spain the words mother and father have been banned from birth certificates and replaced by Progenitor A and Progenitor B!
The institution of same-sex marriage is gathering support even in Malta. Even in Malta opponents of this move are being dubbed as bigots by the gay-marriage lobby. The appellative is also addressed against those who counter-balance their position against gay marriage with their support the legitimate rights of those in gay relationships. This should not deter anyone, particularly Government whose proposed law on co-habitation adequately respects the balance there should between a definitive no position for same sex marriage and a definitive yes position for the respect of basic human rights of people in such relationships.