The abandonment of marriage
Published in: Daily Mail
Today's Queen's Speech is expected to include a proposal to give gay partners the same 'rights' as married people. The argument is based on equality. Since gay people are just as capable as heterosexuals of forming permanent, loving relationships, it is said to be discriminatory and even cruel to deny them the same benefits as those enjoyed by married couples, such as inheritance tax exemptions or pension rights.
But this is not actually about discrimination at all. It is not about equal rights. Its effects will not stop at gay people. It is rather the latest lethal offensive in the campaign to destroy the whole concept of 'normal' sexual behaviour bound by a set of recognised rules and thus undermine marriage, the fundamental bulwark of our society.
Indeed, we can already see clear evidence of this in the government's intention, on implementing this new law, to remove marriage from all official forms. At a stroke, marriage will quite simply be obliterated from official life. From being a privileged institution on account of its fundamental role in creating social stability, marriage will now pass into a kind of bureaucratic purgatory, deliberately marginalised as a private arrangement of no great consequence. This is little short of a declaration of war on the institution that remains of the greatest significance to the vast majority of people in this country.
The ostensible reason is to prevent discrimination on grounds of sexuality. But this whole premise is fundamentally wrong. There is no discrimination, because married couples don't have 'rights'. The state rather gives them privileges in recognition of the specialness of marriage. Indeed, this is the only sexual relationship in which the state properly has any interest at all.
This is because marriage is not a love affair. It is an institution which hedges a sexual union between a man and a woman with a dense network of law, custom, privileges, pressures, tradition and ritual, because that union is the crucible of human identity which needs special protection.
That identity is created solely by the union of man and woman; only that union creates the blood relationship; marriage solemnises and sanctifies that union for that reason; and the state has an interest in giving marriage special privileges because if personal identity becomes damaged (as it so often does in fragmented or dismembered families) the social consequences can be appalling.
To give such benefits to non-married people is to hollow out marriage. It takes privileges that flow from the most solemn promise that can be made and distributes them regardless of the absence of any promise at all.
It is, indeed, no more than a rip-off charter. It would not only allow promiscuous gays to take advantage of the benefits while remaining in legal partnerships; by not even requiring a gay relationship to be consummated in order to qualify, it opens the way for friends to declare themselves in civil partnerships in order to grab the benefits on offer.
In other words, it will usher in a free-for-all that makes a mockery of law, morality and basic social values. How can any responsible government even contemplate such a nihilistic piece of social vandalism?
Some might say that since only a few people are involved, surely it is only compassionate to recognise that they crave the same things in life - loving companionship, stability and security - as heterosexuals. Indeed, there are certainly grounds for compassion (although many of these needs can already be met through private legal arrangements).
But if society is damaged, this argument becomes no more than sloppy sentimentality. Marriage, which provides the glue that holds society together, has long been under assault from our culture of hedonistic individualism. It is most threatened by irregular heterosexual behaviour, notably the rise of cohabitation which, through its inherent instability, is now the main driver behind the inexorable and terrifying increase in unstable families and fatherless children.
Despite being ostensibly reserved for gays, civil partnership rights will create an unstoppable momentum for extending them to heterosexual cohabiting partners. In addition, is it not equally unfair that two devoted sisters, for example, who may have lived with each other for decades, should be excluded from this 'rights' free-for-all? Or polygamous people? Or members of communes? And once heterosexual partners are given these privileges, marriage - already consigned to official limbo - will become even more stripped of meaning.
Gay partnerships, in short, are a means of destroying monogamous heterosexual marriage as our prime social and legal institution. That is, indeed, what the more honest advocates of gay rights acknowledge, in order to remove - they think - the stigma accompanying sexual behaviour that is not considered the norm. Since homosexuality is not the norm, it follows that the heterosexual norm has to be destroyed. The whole gay rights agenda is therefore a direct, outright attack on heterosexual, monogamous marriage.
But if that goes down the pan, then eventually so too will personal autonomy, which is the product of monogamous marriage and the bedrock of our freedoms (such as the freedom of minorities, including gays). This distinguishes us from societies where family structure takes very different forms and where personal freedom is compromised or non-existent, and minorities (especially gays) suffer as a result.
To many people, it is simply astounding that so much of our political life is now taken up with the gay rights issue. Tony Blair came to power on a commitment to shoring up marriage. Instead, from the start his administration has appeared to be obsessed with gay rights. Virtually the entire shopping list of the gay rights lobby group Stonewall, which seemed so outlandish when it first appeared, has now been delivered by this government.
Indeed, it is no surprise that the guidance on obliterating marriage was drawn up by the Women and Equality Unit headed by Angela Mason, Stonewall's former chief executive, and answerable to Patricia Hewitt, the ultra-feminist Cabinet minister who once said that marriage no longer fitted in modern Britain.
People might still wonder, however, why an agenda espoused by such a tiny minority - and one that is distinctly totalitarian in its attempts to intimidate its opponents into silence by smearing them as prejudiced - has gained such purchase inside the Blair government.
To answer this, one has to see the gay rights movement for what it really is: a highly organised, pan-western movement which uses victim culture to advance its interests, with the result that personal liberty and independence of thought and action are undermined by the triumph of the most powerful interest groups over the weak.
History is studded with tyrannical regimes which tried to undermine marriage precisely because it is the principal line of defence for individuals against state power. If one thinks of the extent to which this government wants to control the way people think and act to ensure compliance with 'acceptable' behaviour, it immediately becomes clear why the gay rights issue lies at the very heart of the life-and-death struggle known as the culture wars -- and why that struggle itself is the most crucial and defining political battleground bar none in our self-centred, unthinking and lemming-like society.