Gay Marriage Rights: Who’s Getting Married?

Gay Marriage Rights: Who’s Getting Married?

I wandered into a corner shop a few days ago and saw a tabloid headline along the lines of, “SNP Gives Gays Rights to Marry in Church”. I found this annoying on many levels, though admittedly I never read the article. Here are just a few of my thoughts.

I’ll begin by making the point clear that I have no issue whatsoever with gay people being married, or civil union, or whatever. Generally, I think all marriage is a farce be it gay, straight, or otherwise.

My initial thought regarding the headline goes back to the debate concerning the origin of rights. Are rights innate and inalienable? This means that every human being possesses rights simply by virtue of their existence and no one can morally violate these rights. The opposing view is that rights are given or granted by governments.

A right is a moral claim to an action or thing. The Classical Liberal stance of modern libertarians is the each person has a moral claim to their life, liberty, and property and with these rights comes the responsibility to exercise these rights without infringing on the rights of others. It is the role of government to protect these rights.

Rights may be innate and inalienable, but ultimately all rights are derived from force. I have the right to my justly acquired property, but this rightful claim does not stop a thief bent on stealing it. I need to back-up my claim with force.

In modern society we have given to government the power of force with the brief that this force must be used only to defend individual rights. However, what has happened is that governments choose which rights to defend and this essentially gives them the power to determine the practical application of rights.

I have an innate and inalienable right to my justly acquired property which government officers defend through the police and the courts. However, government has decided it will also defend the “right” of every person to a free education. This means that government, through the threat or use of force, will take a percentage of my property to be used to pay for another person’s “free” education.

Theoretically, it cannot be argued that a person has an innate and inalienable right to an education provided at the expense of others. Practically, a person does have that “right” because the government is willing and able to use its monopoly on force to provide that service to all.

So what that headline is really saying is that the Scottish government in the form of the Scottish National Party, that holds the majority seats, is willing to use government force to ensure that gay people can marry in a church. The implications of this are mind-blowing.

First-off, in the name of equality let’s forget the word church. It could just as well be a synagogue or a mosque. So if a gay couple seeks to be married in a religious ceremony and the religious leader refuses on the grounds that homosexuality is forbidden by the religion, then the couple may petition the government through the courts to use government force against the religion, as represented by the religious leader, in order to guarantee the “right” to marry in a church.

I do not believe it will come to this. The SNP has a history of making empty and irrational promises that it cannot legally keep. For example, in the last election they promised that if elected they would close the trident nuclear missile base, which they have no legal authority to do and have not attempted during their current administration.

Since government has the monopoly on force a primary question in political philosophy is what should be the appropriate scope of government. The SNP has shown that they see no limitation on the government use of force and justify their actions with moral sentiments. They will violate the natural, innate, and inalienable rights of the citizens in order to defend and protect whatever “rights” they decide people should have.

The American Declaration of Independence outlines the natural rights as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This last bit, the pursuit of happiness, was invoked once by the United States Supreme Court despite the fact that the declaration is not law. The case in question involved an inter-racial marriage and the court ruled that you can marry whoever you want in your pursuit of happiness. I believe the same applies to gay marriage.

Putting aside all the nonsense about love, marriage is and always was a contract. The man as the producer was promising his production to the woman in exchange for exclusive access to her reproduction. This is why a man could divorce his wife if she proved barren and why adultery was seen as a criminal offence. Both were contract violations. Likewise a woman judged a potential suitor according his character and/or wealth because they indicate his ability to uphold his end of the contract.

A contract is essentially trading rights. I have a rightful and moral claim to my property which I am willing to trade for the property that you have a rightful moral claim to. I can also trade my liberty for property as an hourly “wage slave”. In marriage, a man trades a life time of his production and his freedom in exchange for the life she produces from her womb. This is why the man was seen as the master of the house. He pays for the position by upholding his end of the contract.

Since marriage is a contract, then there is a place for government as the defender of individual rights. Government cannot decide who can and cannot enter into a contract, but it has an obligation to ensure that both parties uphold their contractual arrangements. If marriage is a contractual obligation, then there is a place for government. If marriage is union with nothing binding the couple together save mutual feelings, then there is no place for government.

Today, women no longer need a man’s production and family law is such that he has no legal claim to the production of her womb. Men and Women no longer have anything to trade. Instead, people marry for love and divorce at record levels. Marriage has become church sanctioned and government approved living together. It is the appendix of modern society. A vestigial organ kept for sentimental reasons. This is why marriage rates in the West have also plummeted.

I understand that gay people want to get married so that they can reap the same benefits and legal status that governments grant to heterosexual couples. I understand the emotional attachment of marriage, the ceremony, the traditions, and all that. I understand the social kudos to be had by the likes of President Obama and the SNP when they come-out in favour of gay marriage. But if social forces have rendered heterosexual marriage a farce, then gay marriage is to me like people trying to board the Titanic after it has hit the iceberg and everyone else is trying to get off.

Read the parties official statement on gay marriage.

Daniel Logan-Scott
This post was written by
Is a writer from Los Angeles, California and has been living in Glasgow, Scotland for the past fifteen years. His written works focus on the Cultural Philosophy and History of the Romantic Era (1776-1929).

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