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NO! to Civil Union Bill


NO! to Civil Union Bill. Why the Government must promote marriage.

Civil unions will never ultimately satisfy same-sex ‘gay’ activists when they are still denied access to marriage. The government should play no role in providing a legal framework for same-sex relationships that treats such partnerships as functional equivalents to married couples. The two different forms of relationships while having aspects in common (friendship, domestic sharing etc) are fundamentally, radically and undeniably different. The law must recognise these differences and not be used as a means of social engineering. The introduction of civil unions will do irreparable damage to society by undermining the institution of marriage. The government must play a vital and strategic role in upholding and promoting marriages because of the special and unique qualities that are foundational to this form of human relationship, particularly the benefits it confers on society.

Introduction

Today the New Zealand parliament is expected to vote on whether or not to send the Civil Union Bill to a select committee for consideration as part of a process that could lead to it being enacted into law. The general policy statement to the Bill states:

“The purpose of the Bill is to establish civil union for different and same sex couples. The Bill provides for different sex couples who want formal recognition of their relationship but for whatever reason do not wish to marry. Providing a mechanism for same sex couples to formally solemnise their relationship is part of the Government's objective of creating a positive human rights culture. The Bill will address the current situation in which same sex couples cannot receive legal recognition of their loving and committed relationship.”

The Bill creates a new form of legal relationship between two persons as young as 16 years of age - a registered civil union - that would equally apply to couples in same-sex relationships and those in heterosexual relationships. Those under 18 years of age who wish to enter a civil union will require the consent of a guardian (note the term parent does not even appear in the bill). If the guardian chooses not to give consent, the young person can appeal the matter to a Family Court Judge for a ruling.

Prime Minister Helen Clark told NewstalkZB (21 June 2004) that questions as to whether the legislation would give gay couples the same status as heterosexual married couples were “really not that relevant”. And why not? Because “nobody should be disadvantaged,” she said. In her mind the question of the true status of a couple under he law - one which has or has not entered into the new civil union or marriage - is irrelevant.

All distinctions that may or may not exist regarding status can be disregarded, she asserted, once this Bill and its companion legislation, the Relationships (Statutory References) Bill become law. The latter seeks to create a level playing field so that no couples in same-sex or heterosexual relationships (de facto, civil union or marriage) will be at an advantage over any other(s) with respect to benefits under the law. The Civil Union Bill provides social recognition and registration rights to all couples 16 years of age and over, same-sex or heterosexual, if they want it.

However, Miss Clark insists that her Government Bill will not allow same-sex couples who enter a civil union to get married. So much for a level-playing field say embittered ‘gay-rights’ activists! Many same-sex couples demanding the right to marry will not be taken in by this “double-speak”. Those that support the introducton of the civil unions she favours over marriage, do so in the knowledge that the ‘gay’-activists in the Labour Party - such as Chris Carter and Tim Barnett, supported by Miss Clark - intend to wait until public opinion turns in favour of ‘gay-marriage’ and then amend the Marriage Act. They see civil union as a stepping stone towards their final goal - ‘gay’ marriage - and will do all they can in the meantime to win over public support for it based on spurious human ‘rights’ claims.

The Relationships (Statutory References) Bill, introduced alongside the Civil Union Bill, if enacted into law, will pave the way for legal ‘justifications’ for amending the Marriage Act be specifically defining marriage as open to same-sex couples. At present the Act is free of gender-references.

Even though she is married, Miss Clark has never been an advocate of traditional marriage. It is well known that she married under a certain degree of ‘duress’ and out of ‘political expediency’. She has admitted on several occasions that had a civil union been an option at the time she was contemplating marriage to Peter Davis, she would have opted for it and never got married. David Benson-Pope, the Labour Party Minister who has introduced the Civil Union Bill to Parliament, takes the same position. Both have gone public recently with these personal views, a clear sign of desperation in the light of crumbling support among MPs for the Bill ( see NZ Herald 23 June 2004, p. 1. “MPs under pressure as civil unions lose support”)

Marriage is only for heterosexuals Miss Clark insists: “The Government is not - underline - not, changing the Marriage Act”. What she really means is that the change allowing same-sex couples to marry will not be made until the ‘gay-rights’ juggernaut drags her Government and other hangers-on to the next item on their agenda - so called ‘gay marriage’.

The questions of comparative relationship status (civil union versus marriage) are relevant to same-sex couples who want to know whether or not on entering a civil union they will have the same status as heterosexual married couples in terms of accessing benefits under the law. It is disingenuous for the Miss Clark to brush aside the important issue of status comparisons by suggesting that because marriage and civil union relationships will be functionally equivalent under the law, in terms of equality of advantages, that status issues are settled by this and can be brushed aside.

Surely the fact that the Bill does not open the way for same-sex couples to marry indicates that it has limitations from a ‘human rights’ ‘gay’-perspective, if marriage is seen as a right for all couples regardless of gender. This is why gay activist groups are saying that the bill does not go far enough and should grant same-sex couples functional equivalence to heterosexual couples in terms of access to marriage and/or adoption of children

For those who think that the creation of a new legal relationship under this Bill undermines, demeans and degrades marriage the question of the real status of marriage relative to the new civil union is very important.

Marriage is a civil union and it is one that the state has a vital and vested interest in as we shall see, and for very good and compelling reasons.

The Prime Minister has recognised that Government must take a vital interest in marriage. Her interest however, is not driven by the honourable motive of upholding the unique institution of marriage. Rather, her interest appears to be driven by an obsession with redefining it to satisfy the demands of a tiny minority of vociferous homosexuals and lesbians that she closely allied with. Creating civil unions is a step along that process. She knows that the strident demands for civil union are most definitely not driven by heterosexuals in de facto relationships. Most do not want a bar of it and despise a government that attempts to meddle in their private living arrangements. Many view civil unions as being on the same level as pet registrations.

Why is marriage a government concern in the first place? There are at least three reasons.

First of all, marriage between a man and a woman has the potential to produce additional people, who are neither consenting nor adults. The wellbeing of these children is important both for their sake and for the sake of the society as a whole, whose future these children represent. This consideration obviously does not apply to homosexual unions.

This key point is also highlighted by Sam Schulman, who drawing on columnist Maggie Gallagher, points out that:

‘the modest request of gay-marriage advocates for “a place at the table” is thus profoundly selfish as well as utterly destructive for gay marriage “would require society at large to gut marriage of its central presumptions about family in order to accommodate a few adults’ desires.”’ (Commentary June 20, 2004)

Schulman continues:

“James Q Wilson, Maggie Gallagher, Stanley Kurtz, and others ‘ including William J. Bennett in The Broken Hearth (2001) ‘ are right to point to the deleterious private and public consequences of instituting gay marriage”.

“To grasp what is at the other edge of that wedge ‘ that is, what stands to be undone by gay marriage ‘ we have to distinguish marriage itself from a variety of other goods and values with which it is regularly associated by its defenders and its aspirants alike. Those values ‘ love and monogamous sex and establishing a home, fidelity, childbearing and childrearing, stability, inheritance, tax breaks, and all the rest ‘ are not the same as marriage. True, a good marriage generally contains them, a bad marriage is generally deficient in them, and in law, religion, and custom, even under the strictest of moral regimes, their absence can be grounds for ending the union. But the essence of marriage resides elsewhere, and those who seek to arrange a kind of marriage for the inherently unmarriageable are looking for those things in the wrong place.

“The truth is banal, circular, but finally unavoidable: by definition, the essence of marriage is to sanction and solemnize that connection of opposites which alone creates new life. (Whether or not a given married couple does in fact create new life is immaterial.) Men and women can marry only because they belong to different, opposite, sexes. In marriage, they surrender those separate and different sexual allegiances, coming together to form a new entity. Their union is not a formalizing of romantic love but represents a certain idea ‘ a construction, an abstract thought ‘ about how best to formalize the human condition. This thought, embodied in a promise or a contract, is what holds marriage together, and the creation of this idea of marriage marks a key moment in the history of human development, a triumph over the alternative idea, which is concubinage.

“Let me try to be more precise. Marriage can only concern my connection to a woman (and not to a man) because, as my reference to concubinage suggests, marriage is an institution that is built around female sexuality and female procreativity. (The very word “marriage” comes from the Latin word for mother, mater.) It exists for the gathering-in of a woman’s sexuality under the protective net of the human or divine order, or both. This was so in the past and it is so even now, in our supposedly liberated times, when a woman who is in a sexual relationship without being married is, and is perceived to be, in a different state of being (not just a different legal state) from a woman who is married.

“Circumstances have, admittedly, changed. Thanks to contraception, the decision to marry no longer precedes sexual intercourse as commonly as it did 50 years ago, when, for most people, a fully sexual relationship could begin only with marriage (and, when, as my mother constantly reminds me, one married for sex). Now the decision can come later; but come it almost certainly must. Even with contraception, even with feminism and women’s liberation, the feeling would appear to be nearly as strong as ever that, for a woman, a sexual relationship must either end in marriage, or end.

“This is surely understandable, for marriage benefits women, again not just in law but essentially. A woman can control who is the father of her children only insofar as there is a civil and private order that protects her from rape; marriage is the bulwark of that order”.”

Second, as National Review Editor Stanley Kurtz points out, ‘men and women are inherently in very different positions within a marriage. The inescapable fact that only women become pregnant means that male and female situations are never going to be the same, no matter how much “gender neutral” language we use or how much fashionable talk there is about how “we” are going to have a baby. Laws must make them jointly responsible for the baby that she alone will have. This consideration likewise does not apply to homosexual unions.’ (NRO Online 3 June 2004).

This key point is also highlighted by Sam Sulman who states:

“Why should I not be able to marry a man? The question addresses a class of human phenomena that can be described in sentences but nonetheless cannot be. However much I might wish to, I cannot be a father to a pebble ‘ I cannot be a brother to a puppy ‘ I cannot make my horse my consul. Just so, I cannot, and should not be able to, marry a man. If I want to be a brother to a puppy, are you abridging my rights by not permitting it? I may say what I please; saying it does not mean that it can be.

“In a gay marriage, one of two men must play the woman, or one of two women must play the man. “Play” here means travesty ‘ burlesque. Not that their love is a travesty; but their participation in a ceremony that apes the marriage bond, with all that goes into it, is a travesty. Their taking-over of the form of this crucial and fragile connection of opposites is a travesty of marriage’s purpose of protecting, actually and symbolically, the woman who enters into marriage with a man. To burlesque that purpose weakens those protections, and is essentially and profoundly anti-female.

“Radical feminists were right, to an extent, in insisting that men’s and women’s sexuality is so different as to be inimical. Catharine MacKinnon has proclaimed that in a “patriarchal” society, all sexual intercourse is rape. Repellent as her view is, it is formed around a kernel of truth. There is something inherently violative about sexual intercourse ‘ and there is something dangerous about being a woman in a sexual relationship with a man to whom she is not yet married. Among the now-aging feminists of my generation, no less than among their mothers, such a woman is commonly thought to be a victim.

“Marriage is a sign that the ever-so-slight violation that is involved in a heterosexual relationship has been sanctioned by some recognized authority. That sanction is also what makes divorce a scandal ‘ for divorce cannot truly undo the sanction of sexual intercourse, which is to say the sanction to create life, with one’s original partner. Even in the Jewish tradition, which regards marriage (but not love) in a completely unsacralized way, divorce, though perfectly legal, does not erase the ontological status of the earlier marriage. (The Talmud records that God weeps when a man puts aside his first wife.) This sanction does not exist for homosexual couples. They are not opposites; they are the same. They live in a world of innocence, and neither their union nor their disunion partakes of the act of creation. “This brings us back to the incest ban, with which marriage is intimately and intricately connected. Indeed, marriage exists for the same reason that incest must not: because in our darker, inhuman moments we are driven toward that which is the same as ourselves and away from that which is fundamentally different from ourselves. Therefore we are enjoined from committing incest, negatively, and commanded to join with our opposite, positively ‘ so that humanity may endure.

“Centuries of laws, policies and traditions have grown up around marriage as a union of a man and a woman. Now the demand is that all those laws, policies and traditions simply be transferred automatically and en masse to an entirely different union that chooses to use the same word (gay ‘marriage’).” (Commentary June 20, 2004) This brings us to our third point made by Schulman.

“Marriage, to say it for the last time, is what connects us with our nature “ with how all of us, heterosexual and homosexual alike, came to be. It exists not because of custom, or because of a conspiracy (whether patriarchal or matriarchal), but because, through marriage, the world exists. Marriage is how we are connected backward in time, through the generations, to our Creator (or, if you insist, to the primal soup), and forward to the future beyond the scope of our own lifespan. It is, to say the least, bigger than two hearts beating as one.

“Severing this connection by defining it out of existence ‘ cutting it down to size, transforming it into a mere contract between chums ‘ sunders the natural laws that prevent concubinage and incest. Unless we resist, we will find ourselves entering on the path to the abolition of the human. The gods move very fast when they bring ruin on misguided men.” (Commentary June 20, 2004)

The family is a natural and universal institution and is the first unit of society.

Families are intergenerational and men and women are drawn to each other for coexistence and reproduction and marriage secures an environment for nurturing children. The family, as well as being the fundamental social unit, is a small and domestic economy. Families, not individuals, form the basis of our society. Our government should support policies that strengthen family and recognise the value of intergenerational networking. All sexual relationships should not be placed on the same level. The government should value policies that promote marriage. Policies that encourage and sustain marriages as beneficial to New Zealanders and especially their children.

As Stanley Kurtz states:

“As a social and legal institution, marriage exists not because it is a universal right but only because, historically, certain human communities have decided that this particular form of personal alliance between a man and a woman both needs and deserves societal encouragement.” (Commentary September 2000)

We need a government that does all within its power to uphold families, marriage and the rights of children to have a mother and a father.

Marriage does have intrinsic value and despite modern trends it is still far more stable than any other relationship. It provides the best environment to bring up children and and therefore should be held in highest esteem.

Conclusion

Civil unions will never ultimately satisfy same-sex ‘gay’ activists when they are still denied access to marriage. The government should play no role in providing a legal framework for same-sex relationships that treats such partnerships as functional equivalents to married couples. The two different forms of relationships while having aspects in common (friendship, domestic sharing etc) are fundamentally, radically and undeniably different. The law must recognise these differences and not be used as a means of social engineering. The introduction of civil unions will do irreparable damage to society by undermining the institution of marriage. The government must play a vital and strategic role in upholding and promoting marriages because of the special and unique qualities that are foundational to this form of human relationship, particularly the benefits it confers on society.

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