And, I don’t think these are slippery slope arguments! There are real consequences! These are realities in places where SSM is allowed.
Change all the definitions?
If we take the following definition of marriage as our new legislated definition it’s easy to see why others are pushing to have their types of relationship given the same status as other marriages.:
Marriage is the union of two people (same sex or opposite sexes) who commit to romantically loving and caring for each other and to sharing the burdens and benefits of domestic life (see Grigis et al above).
The same arguments being used to push for Marriage Equality (ME) for same sex couples are being used to gain recognition for Polygamy (married to more than one spouse) Polyamory (more than one sexual partner of either sex), marriage between siblings and even paedophilia (if you doubt this one, google the Man Boy Love Association and see what their agenda is).
Are we going to open a door to this? You may say the government can legislate to prevent this. That it may do, but the arguments these groups use come from the same place as the arguments for marriage equality. If we truly want equality, why would we not allow others the same rights? There is of course no guarantee our governments will legislate this way, and groups like this have a cunning ability to hunt out loopholes in the law.
The rules of engagement
There is also one other consequence that may have very deep ramifications. It is the issue of free speech.
Sadly, the tone of the media and those who are pushing for a change has already had an impact on our freedom of speech and freedom of thought.
Once, if you disagreed with another person you were allowed to state your disagreement and let your arguments either win the day or not.
Now however, if you don’t automatically agree with the new definition you are labelled and bullied into silence. I have been called a homophobe, a bigot, and a hater by people who have objected to comments like those printed over the last few weeks. I can’t see where I have expressed ideas that match those labels, and I think most people who know me would agree, I am not like that. Maybe that’s a blind spot I have, but I have not been challenged on the points I’ve made, only labelled and bullied and told I have no right to speak.
This has certainly been the case in other countries too. People have even been taken to court for quietly protesting their objection to a change in definition, even while the law still supported the traditional understanding of marriage.
There is no doubt that the definition of marriage is very important. People wouldn’t speak out if they didn’t hold their views passionately. There can be no excuse however for speech that denigrates people for what they believe or who they are. I will be severely critical of those who agree with me but do so in a way that demeans others. And I will defend their rights to speak and argue in a civil way, as I would defend my own.
It needs to be said that we are at a point of significant decision. We need to weigh up all the consequences, intended and unintended. We need to state our case carefully and truthfully, without hiding our true agendas and without resort to insults. I suspect that won’t happen and both sides will be guilty of caricature and unhelpful rhetoric.
However, whatever the decision, we must take it with grace and charity.