Britain’s House of Commons Passes Gay Marriage by Big Margin

Britain’s House of Commons passed gay marriage with a vote of 400-175 Tuesday with predictions that the House of Lords will follow suit. 

The following analysis by the New York Times seems to indicate that the vote exposed weaknesses in the Prime Minster’s position. I do not  understand British politics enough to know if this is true.

What I do know is that this law is a change of huge magnitude which will have reverberations throughout British society. The destruction of marriage as the core institution entrusted with the birth and rearing of children is no small thing. It is also not the result of gay marriage.

Rather, gay marriage is the result of the decades-long destruction of the family that people in the West have wreaked on themselves. Gay marriage may be a huge blow — I would say the final blow, but I think there will be other deconstructions of marriage to follow this — but it is not the primary cause of the destruction of the family.

As I said in an earlier post, Marriage is a Mess and Homosexuals Didn’t Do It. 

The New York Times article describing the vote reads in part:

LONDON — The House of Commons voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to approve a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in Britain, indicating that the bill is assured of passage as it moves through further legislative stages.

But in a major setback for Prime Minister David Cameron, who championed the measure, it appeared that more than half of the lawmakers in his Conservative Party voted against it or abstained.

After a six-hour debate, the Commons vote was 400 to 175 for the bill. The legislation, which applies to England and Wales, would permit civil marriage between same-sex couples, but specifically exempt the Church of England and other faiths from an obligation to perform such ceremonies. Some faith groups, including the Quakers, have said they want the legal right to perform same-sex marriages.

The bill still has to pass in the House of Lords, where delaying tactics by opponents are possible, but Mr. Cameron has said he plans to have it enacted into law sometime this summer.

Although 127 of the 303 Conservative lawmakers voted for the bill, 136 voted against, with 5 abstentions and 35 who registered no vote at all. Those voting against included two cabinet ministers, eight junior ministers and eight whips. The opening to the revolt came when party leaders decided to make the issue a so-called free vote, allowing lawmakers to break with their party without fear of disciplinary action.(Read more here.)

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  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    It did not surprise me. I actually would have been shocked if it failed. But nonetheless it’s a disasterous decision. To think that two people of the same sex can now be called husband and…ur…husband or wife and wife or whatever absurdity they want to be called is laughable. Modern life has become a farce.

    • Bill S

      Manny,

      Modern life is not a farce. If you only knew. We are living in the best of times. I forget which Pius it was that condemned modernism, but he couldn’t be more wrong. Our attitudes and opinions are improving almost on a daily basis. We know more today than we did yesterday. The Catholic Church sticks out like a sore thumb because it opposes practically all change. Change is essential to our progress and our ultimate survival. The House of Commons is made up of rational people who see that it isn’t right to deny the happiness of others for no good reason. Progress is good. You should learn to embrace it.

      • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

        “If I only knew”?

        I don’t need supercillious remarks by someone who considers himself my superior. I damn well know. Too well.

        And you’re wrong. The Church embraces lots of change. You’re too biased against it to notice.

        • pagansister

          Really? the Church embraces lots of change. Please give an example, Manny, of a recent change.

          • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

            Universal healthcare, end of the death penalty, evolution, have you heard of Vatican II with going to vernacular mass, and so on and so on. You people that are biased believe what you want to believe.

            • pagansister

              “You people”? That’s cute.

          • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

            universal healthcare, end of the death penalty, mass in the vernacular, evolution, ecumenism, and so on and so on. Have you heard of Vatican II? The church changes when reason dictates, not because it’s popular in the culture. You people who are biased only believe what you want to believe.

            • Bill S

              Manny,

              Reason dictates that the Church change more drastically and frequently. Change is what drives progress. Without it, we wouldn’t be here sending messages over the world wide web. The Church and people like you have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. To say that you don’t take well to change would be a massive understatement.

            • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

              Oops, sorry for the double post. I was having trouble with the internet last night.

            • pagansister

              Universal healthcare with a tinge of the faith thrown in, such as no access to an abortion, no birth control allowed, not even comdoms to prevent the spread of AIDS (just continue to reproduce and spread disease). However, I will grant you that in a lot of cases, the Church as helped many people in many countries.

              • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

                That’s right. We don’t support the murder of children. And giving out condoms only spreads AIDS.

                • Bill S

                  This came up before. You can google the report by the Center for Disease Control about the use of condoms. Condoms have to be bad for you in order you to justify your faith. We can look at the evidence and use our brains.

                • pagansister

                  Seriously, Manny? Condoms spread AIDS? Good Grief! Won’t go into the abortion issue or the morning after pill. Been there, done that. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the Pope actually support condoms in some country or other, to prevent AIDS? Whether he did or not—I’ll keep my stocks. :-)

    • pagansister

      It’s called “life”—and reality. Manny, Why shouldn’t 2 consenting adults be allowed to marry? How does that have anything to do with your everyday life? What will you have to change? Absolutely nothing. Marriage isn’t a word that says “only heterosexuals can commit to each other’?

      • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

        Oh please. The answers are all over the Catholic and Evangelical blogs here on Patheos. You don’t need me to reiterate them. The whole notion that two people with the same sex organs can marry is ABSURD. I commit myself to my dog. She’ll be with the family her entire life. Commitment is a meaningless criteria. You guys with this position have undergone a complete failure of reason. All you’re doing is reacting emotionally.

        • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

          Bill I have no interest in listening to your advice. Please keep your supercillious comments to yourself. Progress is in the eyes of the beholder. Let me give you some advice. You’re obviously a sucker for whatever seems novel. Go back to school and learn about eternal values.

          • Bill S

            OK Manny. Peace.

        • pagansister

          There is a problem with emotion, Manny? You still didn’t answer how this will cause you to have to change any part of your lifestyle or job or eating habits, your neighborhood, the stores you shop in etc. or your Catholic faith even. HOW will this have any thing to do with YOU PERSONALLY? Telling me to check out other Patheos sites doesn’t answer my question at all. This question was for you and apparently you can’t answer it. Oh well.

        • pagansister

          On other thing—-you mentioned you have a commitment to your dog—-do you have one to a wife? Or not?

  • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

    Everyone knows where I stand on the issue. Marriage is an institution that the state has an interest in because it has an interest in seeing the future citizens of that state raised in a stable, loving environment. In other words, marriage is about protecting children. The mass acceptance of contraception has obscured the real purpose of marriage, and the acceptance of divorce has destroyed the stability aspect. You are right that it wasn’t the homosexuals that destroyed marriage. So now all we have left is a temporary “love license” which is absurd on its face, for either homosexuals or heterosexuals.

    I recently read an article by Richard Aleman, who worked on the campaign to define marriage in Minnesota (ultimately, unsuccessfully) and I’m excerpting a piece of that article here, because I think it is very good:

    “Basically, what we have are two competing definitions of marriage in our society: a conjugal definition and a revisionist one.

    The conjugal definition acknowledges that government issues marriage licenses because marriage serves a public purpose. We know that when men and women come together they have sex, and sex makes babies. This has tremendous consequences for the common welfare, and so government wants to unite men and women and tie them to any children born of their union. Marriage is an exclusive, presumptively procreative and permanent contract between a man and a woman, which regenerates society and provides enormous benefits for the common good. Marriage is not, from a civil perspective, the public affirmation of love. If this were the case, government would be issuing love licenses, not marriage licenses, and this is obvious since friendships or courtships are not issued licenses. So marriage’s public purpose is to unite a relationship that is potentially life giving, legally binding parents to the children they create.

    The revisionist definition views government’s role in marriage as the public affirmation of love and commitment, and that any marriage should be limited to two consenting adults, regardless of gender. From their perspective, marriage between one man and one woman is too exclusive and discriminatory.

    The problem is, if marriage is simply the public affirmation of love and commitment, there is no logical reason why marriage should be arbitrarily limited to two consenting adults. On what grounds should marriage exclude polyamorous relationships, polygamy, bigamy or any other arrangement? The reason why marriage is between two adults is obvious: it takes one man and one woman to procreate. So while other relationships may be valuable, they are not marriage.

    Our second argument was that marriage is a child-centered institution. All things being equal, the best life chances for a child is in a home, raised by his or her mom and dad. Moreover, because children are born to a mother and a father, they have a right to both, above the interests and desires of adults. Because children are the weakest and most vulnerable in society, it is government’s job to ensure they are protected and treated justly.

    The development of children impacts the community and the flourishing of the family in a variety of ways, so marriage is also a social justice issue. When we examine the outcomes of children raised in a home without a mother and a father, those outcomes are not generally positive. Although some will argue personal experience when debating public policy, it is important to note that personal experience cannot trump the experience of our society as a whole. Forty percent of our nation’s children are raised without a father. That’s a tragedy, not an alternative family. So, no, “The kids are [not] alright.”

    However in an effort to avoid this evidence, our opposition chose to rely on shoddy theories that children can be raised in loving homes with two parents, regardless of gender. This is precisely the indoctrination our children are receiving in schools. Gender differences, from their perspective, are social constructs. In other words, there is no such thing as male and female—we made them up out of thin air as part of our patriarchal attempt to manipulate the sexes. Men used to be from Mars and women used to be from Venus but thanks to some “deep thinkers” with the latest insights, we now know better. Strategically, it follows that if your claim is that children are best raised in a home with two loving adults regardless of gender, you have to discard the differences between mothers and fathers and how those differences shape child development.

    But mothers cannot father and fathers cannot mother. In fact, a recent New York University study concludes that fathers impact teen sexual behavior. What’s more, thanks to Mark Regnerus’ study comparing adults who were raised by parents in same-sex relationships compared to traditional ones, we see that children fare better both materially and emotionally, when raised in a home with their mom and dad.”

    • Bill S

      For the sake of this post, let me redefine “Catholic” to mean just the real, practicing ones and not the lapsed ones and people like me who oppose most Church policy. These Catholics should support and counsel one another on how to live good Catholic lives. But, just as I am intruding in these discussions, Catholics intrude into political issues that hardly even concern them. Gay marriage is probably the defining example of this meddling. Much time, money and energy was spent opposing it this past election, which could have been directed to more important needs.

      It is a shame that the Catholic Church as chosen to alienate gay couples. I’m sure many of them would make good Catholics, but that will never happen given the Church’s stand on the issue.

      • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

        “Catholics intrude into political issues that hardly even concern them.”

        What marriage is, and how close to that ideal people live, concerns everyone. It determines what kind of a society we will have. The law, too, has a role to play. If the law explicitly gives an erroneous description of what marriage is, society as a whole will suffer.

        • Bill S

          “If the law explicitly gives an erroneous description of what marriage is, society as a whole will suffer.”

          That certainly states the Catholic position in a nutshell. That is like a hypothesis that hasn’t been proven under the scientific method. And the argument for it would be that we can’t afford to perform the experiment because if the hypothesis is correct, the results will be catastrophic.

          It is like the professor who warned that the research to find the Higgs boson would create a black hole that would swallow up the earth.

          Massachusetts is doing just fine with gay marriage. And I am aware of the Catholic Charities fiasco, but you can blame the Cardinal Archbishop O’Malley for that one.

          • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

            Bill,
            All I can say is that it would take a lot more than a few years to gauge the effects of gay marriage. And I wonder how fine Massachusetts is really doing, anyway (never mind the effects of gay marriage)

            • Bill S

              Agreed. I’m not sure I would even know what to look for if I were trying to determine its effect on society. What exactly are we expecting? Massachusetts isn’t any worse off than anywhere else in the country. Like Bill Clinton said: “It’s the economy, stupid.”

          • pagansister

            I used to live in RI, and hope that the MA example of allowing gay marriage will slide over into that great little State.

            • Bill S

              Right now we are bracing for a blizzard of epic proportions.

              • pagansister

                Stock up really well, Bill S. I’ll be thinking of you. Lived in RI for 18 years, and have been thru some major snows, but apparently this one will be just as you stated. Take care, stay warm, and if possible, in touch. (if you don’t lose power).

                • Bill S

                  The governor has placed a ban on driving effective at 4 PM. The news said it is a fine of $5oo or one year in prison for violating it. It’s not as bad as excommunication and eternal damnation, but still. They don’t want a repeat of the stranded cars in the blizzard of 78.

                  • pagansister

                    Hang in there—-and obviously the governor is very serious! By now you probably have much snow on the ground. In 1978 we lived in Baltimore.

      • http://coalitionforclarity.blogspot.com/ Robert King

        What part of Dave’s argument is either A) Catholics intruding on political issues that hardly concern them, or B) alienating to gay couples?

        • Bill S

          Well, for A, it really isn’t that much of a political issue now that the elections are over. It is in the Supreme Court’s hands anyway with Prop. 8 and DOMA. As far as B, I know of one priest in Boston who has a large gay attendance at his mass and sympathizes with gays. But, for the most part, I thing gays are leaving the Church and not coming back. Dave is just expressing the Church’s opposition to gay marriage which alienates them.

          • http://coalitionforclarity.blogspot.com/ Robert King

            Dave is expressing philosophical arguments that have no basis in or dependence on Christian revelation.

            The Catholic Church happens to accept those arguments as valid and as binding, not for doctrinal reasons but for philosophical reasons.

            The Church also accepts arguments that murder is wrong (but self-defense is acceptable), and that theft is wrong (but that some confiscations of property are not theft). Yet no one cries boo if the Church supports civil laws against murder and theft. Nor does the Church have any problem letting the State do the enforcement on those crimes.

            In other words, the Church’s opposition to gay marriage does not arise because of some theocratic motive, but because the Church happens to buy into the philosophical position which understands procreation and the rearing of children to be an essential part of marriage – a philosophical position shared by Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and every other pre-modern society.

            To attack Dave’s argument because it is “Catholic” is not only incorrect, it is a distraction from actual argument. At best, it is a logical fallacy; at worst, it is rank bigotry.

            I have for years asked people to give a logical argument in favor of same-sex marriage, or even to really engage the arguments in favor of traditional marriage. All I hear are appeals to emotion, or attempts to make borderline cases somehow normative.

            If you have a real argument against such arguments as Dave puts forth, please give them.

  • HermitTalker

    There is a simple but profound distinction to be made; opposition to equating marriage which is designed for a M and W to bear, and oe adopt children, and rear and care for them until they are ready to “fly the nest” which today requires a primary College degree or trade.profession as all of us are living longer and the last couple of generations are emotionally maturing more slowly, The Church absolutely requires that all humans be respected for their innate sacred dignity, regardless of size of shape, ethnicity or gender or religious choice or none or orientation sexually from conception to natural birth. We all resognise that we are all prone to prejudice based on any or severeral of those differences, BUT we daily pray, meditate, hear homilies and attend Sunday Eucharist regularly to allow the Holy Spirit do His two roles; clean and sweep our souls of hate and fill us with His life and the sweet smell of holy living. Many people live celibate lives, alone or with others as do monks, nuns and diocesan clergy. That includes same gender people, who deserve every social protecetion but are by Natural Law forbidden to exercise genital activity. That is immoral because it is unnatural, same as owning slaves or shooting Moslems for the “sport” of it. PEACE to us as we do our best, one day at a time.

    • Bill S

      I agreed with everything you said until you got to: “That is immoral because it is unnatural.”

      Catholics have coined the term “Natural Law” and have gone on to define it by what they think everyone should know. As you know, we have the laws of nature such as gravity, etc. So it could be said that gravity is a natural law. There is nothing unnatural about sex that is not between a man and a woman or that otherwise does not lead to procreation. Of course, if you want to use the catechism as your reference book, that is fine as long as you realize that what you are reading is by Catholics for Catholics and only as a guide for certain kinds of behavior. Don’t assume that there exists a “Natural Law” that everyone knows. We have innate moral values, but these differ from person to person and culture to culture. But there really is no “Natural Law”, unless you are talking about a law of physics, chemistry, thermodynamics, etc.

      • SteveP

        BillS: As you tout progress as knowing more and more every day, may I suggest you read Aristotle regarding natural law and note his era.

        • Bill S

          I cut and pasted a response to you but it landed up above, somehow.

  • SteveP

    It is simultaneously amusing and sad that some look at the Victorian Empire as the height of human arrogance effected via paternal colonialism. I say this action, on the arrogance meter, far surpasses that thought: here we have the State colonizing the pelvis bringing male and female to neuter androgyny.

    Hopefully the upper House will stem the madness.

    • Bill S

      And tell me again how this affects anyone else but the ones the law is written for?

      • SteveP

        BillS: I did not realize you are a UK subject. Perhaps you can lead us in the Quietism you propose.

        • Bill S

          If that means that I stop posting, forget it.

  • Bill S

    While it is a relatively new practice that same-sex couples are being granted the same form of legal marital recognition as commonly used by mixed-sexed couples, there is a long history of recorded same-sex unions around the world. Various types of same-sex unions have existed, ranging from informal, unsanctioned relationships to highly ritualized unions. A same-sex union was known in Ancient Greece and Rome, in some regions of China, such as Fujian province, and at certain times in ancient European history.These same-sex unions continued until Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. A law in the Theodosian Code (C. Th. 9.7.3) was issued in 342 AD by the Christian emperors Constantius II and Constans, which prohibited same-sex marriage in ancient Rome and ordered that those who were so married were to be executed.

    • pagansister

      Gee, Bill S, here I thought that same gender couples are totally new to our 21st century! Just kidding. Thanks for the history above—-interesting.

      • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

        As long as there have been homosexual people, there have been same-sex unions, but it was never called marriage, except for maybe a couple of insane emperors.

  • FW Ken

    Dave -

    I agree with your points, but the gay rights advocates would return with the complaint that we have marriage for sterile couples, so why not same-sex couples. I have given this some thought because my mother remarried at the age of 70 and lived happily for nearly 14 years. In the normal course of events, offspring was not expected, so what interest would the community have in their relationship?

    I submit that marriages provide a normative forum for the care we need as life progresses, and that the community has an interest in stable relationships in which that care occurs, even without the possibility of children. I watched my mother and step-father care for one another through sickness, and finally death. Of course, theirs was a Christian marriage, but they were also wed civilly.

    I’m opening the possibility of same-sex marriages, or at least civil commitments, but stipulate that same-sex relationships would need to demonstrate characteristics of heterosexual relationships in terms of stability and use of community resources. Of course, they don’t, and hence, they can remain private relationships, more or less on the order of couples who just shack up.

    As to the effect of same-sex “marriage” on me, I’m a single guy who pays taxes. I pay for police response when the neighbors are screaming and threatening to kill each other. What is the rate of family violence among same-sex couples? I pay for family couples that handle divorce, property, and custody issues. What is the divorce rate among same-sex couples? Or other measures of stability? So what do I get for my money? Well, I get a more stable community, relatively civilized children, or at least kids who aren’t running the streets all day (school taxes, you know).

    • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

      “I agree with your points, but the gay rights advocates would return with the complaint that we have marriage for sterile couples, so why not same-sex couples. ”

      I have never thought that this was a very good argument. It is not the government’s job to police which couples are fertile, as a lot of times supposedly infertile couples are fertile anyway. Basically, a man and a woman are a reproductive pair, and any kind of fertility test or age cutoff would be government meddling.

      I am somewhat positive towards your point that another purpose of marriage could be to ensure care for people. The only problem is that if marriage is just temporary anyway, what is the point, as it does not really ensure anything.

  • FW Ken

    family courts, not family couples.

    And I don’t even have the phone to blame, since I’m on the desktop.

    :-)

  • http://jessicahof.wordpress.com/ Jessica Hoff

    This measure was in no manifesto and is highly undemocratic, and our law makers wonder why they are held in such low esteem.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      The same thing is happening here Jessica, with the same result: Contempt for our lawmakers.

  • FW Ken

    Well, Dave, nothing is permanent in this life, but I think stability is a factor worth considering. Children remain the primary state interest in marriage, of course.

    By the way, the claim that the Romans had legal same-sex marriage had been thoroughly debunked over at Longenecker’s. More propaganda, apparently.

  • FW Ken

    In biology, 9 out of 10 changes are fatal. You can call that “progress”, I suppose, but it begs the question of towards what you are progressing.

    • Bill S

      Surely, you can’t be against change and progress?


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