The marriage debate has made for some unlikely bedfellows

Conjugality, the blog on the future of marriage that comes from MercatorNet, reports that “Preserve Marriage Washington” has filed a petition against the state’s new law allowing same-sex marriage (SSM) after collecting more than twice the number of signatures to block the law. The issue now goes to a state referendum later this year. It seems that if Washington follows the pattern in 30 other states, opponents of the new law will win.

In addition to Washington, three other states will vote on same-sex marriage this autumn. Maryland voters will decide whether to uphold SSM legislation passed earlier this year; Maine will revisit a marriage equality bill overturned by voters in 2009; and Minnesota is considering a constitutional amendment to ban SSM, similar to one adopted by North Carolina in May this year.

Conjugality comments that advocates of SSM have “so far been unable to post a victory” in a voter referendum on the subject. Voters have gone to the polls more than 30 times since 1998 to have their say. Those supporting a redefinition of marriage have lost every time. In the Church, when the body of the faithful, inspired by the Holy Spirit, upholds magisterial truth we call it the “Sensus fidelium”. It seems that the American public have their own common sense version of this: a sturdy wish to defend the status quo on marriage because instinctively they know it is the right thing to do.

That’s the American scene. Colin Hart, the campaign director of the Coalition for Marriage in the UK, reminds us that next Thursday, June 14, the Coalition’s public consultation on rewriting the meaning of marriage will close. He writes, “We know that public opinion is on our side. Our petition has been signed by almost 550,000 people”. He points out that seven out of ten people want to keep marriage as it is and asks, “What will marriage mean when your children or grandchildren walk down the aisle? Will it mean what it does today, or will it mean something different?” Do contact if you need advice on answering the Government’s consultation document. The SPUC also provides a briefing booklet with its own guidelines which is very helpful.

When this subject is raised on a Catholic blog site such as the Herald’s, it always provokes many (predictably) angry posts accusing us of “homophobia” and prejudice among other insults. Thus I was glad to discover that Spiked, “the independent online phenomenon dedicated to raising the horizons of humanity by waging a culture war of words against misanthropy, priggishness, prejudice, luddism, illiberalism and irrationalism” is also challenging the Government’s proposals to redefine marriage. Spiked, I hasten to emphasise, has no religious affiliations of any kind; indeed, its contributors take pride in their combatively secular approach to all moral questions. They are not pro-life. They are also republicans rather than royalists. Yet on this emotive issue they can recognise illiberalism (and misanthropy; you have to be misanthropic not to want to privilege the natural setting for the begetting of future members of the human race) from 100 paces.

Editor of Spiked, Brendan O’Neill, wrote an article earlier this year that argues “The gay-marriage juggernaut has nothing to do with liberty and everything to do with providing the elite with a new moral mission.” It is well worth reading for its hard-hitting deconstruction of the London metropolitariat. He is supported more recently by Sean Collins, a New York writer, who again from a secular perspective, has declared in a robust article “Why I’m coming out against gay marriage”. To summarise Collins’ arguments: he states (like O’Neill) that “the gay marriage campaign is elitist and believes its opponents are “bigots”; that “same-sex marriage is not a civil right”; that “traditional marriage and the family are worth defending from state intrusion”; and that “the question of gay marriage has yet to be fully decided.” In his conclusion he declares, “Well, count me out. I will not join the cultural elite’s bandwagon, a bandwagon that runs on self-flattery and the demonization of ‘backward’ voters. Critics of the same-sex marriage campaign are here and we’re not all bible-thumping Christians – get used to it.”

I should add that at the Herald we would not describe ourselves as “Bible-thumping Christians” either (no offence intended against our Evangelical brethren); we would argue from Scripture, tradition, the natural law and the “sensus fidelium” to keep marriage as it is. Sometimes worthy causes find unlikely bedfellows: thanks Spiked, for your ability to cut through the humbug and hypocrisy of the media elite’s current “crusade”.