Nothing new about it

There’s a line that turns up in every extended debate around marriage equality. It is the notion that same-sex marriage is a “new” right, not extension of existing rights.

Gay “marriage” is a special right. The queers already have the right to marry someone of the opposite sex just like everyone else.

The central bit – “special rights” – has even lent itself to the name of an anti-gay political action committee in the United States.

This argument is so stupid that it falls under the heading of “I can’t believe I have to do this” but it comes up so often that, well, here we go.

For the argument that seeking the “right to same-sex marriage” is seeking a new and/or different right from opposite-sex marriage to be considered valid, there’s something that has to be done first.

Proponents of the argument must demonstrate that there exists a real difference between the privileges, duties, obligations, and rights conferred on the members of a same-sex marriage, and those conferred on the members of an opposite-sex marriage.

Let me help; there isn’t any.

As far as the law is concerned, in modern society, the conjugal role of a man and a woman in marriage are identical – there’s no role or privilege assigned by the law exclusively to either the male or the female member of an opposite-sex marriage. Though in the past this was different, those were the days of women as chattel, dowries, and horrific gender inequality, mandated by state and church. Since we’ve realised that women are people, the legal sanction of gender roles and privileges have been dropped into the dustbin of history where they belong.

The partners in an opposite-sex marriage, as regards their privileges and so on, are identical to the partners in a same-sex marriage.

I’m going to pre-empt the inevitable “but what about the children” cry, by reminding readers that reproduction has got nothing to do with the price of eggs in China. Remember; raising children is governed by state and territory adoption laws in Australia that operate independently of the Marriage Act.

Then there’s the matter that the state doesn’t require a couple to reproduce for the union to be valid; refer p.113, lines 6-9, of Perry, et al. v. schwarzenegger et al. 2010 – the case in California where Proposition 8 was struck down (note this ruling has been upheld).

If the US is too exotic for you, this issue has been addressed much closer to home;

Apart from the stated purpose of procreation relied upon by the Attorney-General, we accept, as did the trial judge, that marriage has a particular status. Like the trial judge, we reject the argument that one of the principal purposes of marriage is procreation. Many people procreate outside marriage and many people who are married neither procreate, nor contemplate doing so. A significant number of married persons cannot procreate either at the time of the marriage or subsequently — an obvious example being a post-menopausal woman. Similarly, it is inappropriate and incorrect to suggest that consummation is in any way a requirement to the creation of a valid marriage. [emphasis added]
Kevin and Jennifer (2003) 30 Fam LR 1, 153 (Nicholson CJ, Ellis and Brown JJ)

So, to recap; for the line about same-sex marriage being a “special right” or a “new right” to be within a light-year of valid, you have to demonstrate that there is a real, material, legal, difference between the rights and obligations conferred on the spouses in same-sex marriages and those conferred on the spouses in opposite-sex marriages.

And there isn’t, so you can’t, so drop it and stop embarrassing yourself in public.

Sources and References