The classical liberal case against same-sex marriage

The classical liberal case against same-sex marriage, by Augusto Zimmermann.

When one considers the proposed redefinition of marriage, one cannot help but notice the undeniably statist nature of the proposal. The state is effectively being asked to redefine the meaning of a millenary institution that, according to classical liberal philosophy is actually antecedent to the formation of the state. As John Locke pointed out in Two Treatises on Civil Government (1690), ‘the first society was between man and wife, which gave beginning to that between parents and children’. …

Note that marriage is about reproduction, in Locke’s view.

Although many express their admiration for Locke’s words as a major source of liberal-democratic theory, it is important to remind that he ‘explicitly based his entire thesis on Christian doctrines concerning moral equality.’ Marriage, according to Locke:

“Is made by a voluntary compact between man and woman, and though it consists chiefly in such a communion and right in one another’s bodies as is necessary to its chief end, procreation, yet it draws with it mutual support an assistance, and a communion of interests too, as necessary not only to unite their care and affection, but also necessary to their common offspring.” …

Where as same-sex marriage is promoted as freedom, a right, and reproduction in marriage is thoroughly ignored.

Same-sex marriage ‘has nothing to do with liberty’. It is rather an artificial creation by our powerful elites that ‘expands rather [than] diminishes the power of the state over our lives’. Therefore, as Brendan O’Neill correctly points out:

“The presentation of this as a liberal, or even libertarian, issue is highly disingenuous. For in truth, gay marriage massively expands the authority of the state in our everyday lives, in our most intimate relationships, the ultimate provider of validation to our lifestyle choices, while empowering it to police the cultural attitudes and consciences of those of a more religious or old-fashioned persuasions.” …

How marriage redefinition will be used to shut down traditional views and punish those who aren’t sufficiently PC:

As Heritage Foundation’s Ryan T. Anderson points out, ‘if marriage is redefined, believing what virtually every human society once believed about marriage … would be seen increasingly as a malicious prejudice to be driven to the margins of culture’.

Increasingly, the LGBT lobby is using anti-discrimination laws to prevent dissenting voices from expressing their views in the public square. Once same-sex marriage is legalised, there is a great possibility that the law will equate the traditional view of marriage with the notion of ‘homophobic’ bigotry. As a result, anyone who dares to criticise the ‘homosexual agenda’ will be subject to very harsh legal treatment. …

What of the rights of those who believe marriage should be between a woman and a man?

In a truly liberal society, everyone’s right is respected without infringing the rights of another. Nothing excuses undermining these basic rights of the individual in the name of so-called ‘marriage equality’.

For example, religious people have the right as anybody else to express their opinions freely. Their objections to same-sex marriage are not about an attempt to break any law or to impose discrimination upon gay people, but they reflect a mere disagreement on what the nature of marriage ought to be. They are just trying to remain true to their beliefs as their consciences dictate. They are not looking for trouble and they do not wish to deny any person, regardless of their sexual preferences their fundamental rights. They only ask not to be coerced into violating their own consciences and religious beliefs.

This leads to the important question of whether the push for such a change may be at least partially motivated by a disregard for religious liberty and freedom of conscience. For Australia and its alleged spirit of tolerance and open debate, this is an unprecedented situation. ‘It reveals an aggressive secularism dressed in the moral cause of anti-discrimination justice but with a long-run agenda that seeks to transform our values and, ultimately, drive religion into the shadows. …

Above all, this is about a new statism that seeks to dramatically alter the meaning of a millenary institution. The consequences for individual rights and freedoms (particularly religious liberty, free speech and freedom of conscience) will be absolutely devastating.

hat-tip Stephen Neil