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On Gay Marriage

9:16 AM, Jun 18, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Christopher Caldwell, writing in the Financial Times

Governments in other western countries have sought to pass laws allowing gay citizens to marry. Always this involves bending to a powerful lobby. Often, since voting publics do not reliably approve of gay marriage even after publicity campaigns, it means being parsimonious with the truth. Barack Obama professed to consider marriage a matter for “a man and a woman” even as he staffed his justice department with legal activists who passionately disagreed. Mr Cameron may not be more cynical than Mr Obama. But his conversion to the cause of marriage rights, announced at the Tory party conference last autumn, has brought him into conflict with the established Church of England and Wales. The resulting clash clarifies the gay marriage issue in all countries.  

Gay marriage is not a core issue of civil or human rights. We know this because it did not cross the minds of the great thinkers who devoted their lives to considering civil and human rights systematically: Frederick Douglass, Leo Tolstoy, Gandhi, Martin Luther King junior. It was only in the mid-1990s, in Hawaii and elsewhere, that gay marriage became a public cause. The activists who sought it were often viewed as curiosities more than politicians. Their views have since swept the world. In 2004, Britain passed a Civil Partnership Act that accorded gay couples all the practical rights of marriage; but clearly the right to call these partnerships marriages, of equal standing, is all-important. The government is in transition from enforcing tolerance of homosexuality (an expansion of citizenship) to enforcing approval of it (an expansion of censorship).

For refusing to place life-long homosexual relations on the same moral plane as heterosexual ones, the Church of England has been accused by the gay-rights group Stonewall of holding “a masterclass in melodramatic scaremongering”. This point makes some superficial sense. On one hand, you have a 2,000-year-old faith as professed by a 500-year-old Church that for centuries set the moral tone of the world, from Putney to Punjab. On the other, you have a 15-year-old lobby, representing what may yet turn out to be an ideological fad. Why should the former fear the latter?

Whole thing here

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