Merv Duffy is wrong, dangerous, and unnecessary

Stuff has posted a “head-to-head” on the debate over marriage equality, pitting a Catholic priest (representing XXXX New Zealanders, according to the last census) against a Presbyterian minister (representing XXXX New Zealanders, according to the last census) and just coincidentally publishing the inflammatory, judgemental Catholic’s side of things first.

Things like:

When civil societies gave legal recognition to marriage they were describing a pre-existing reality, they were not defining something new. Marriage was recognised as being about procreation – having children – and the present law does not recognise a marriage as valid unless it is consummated by ordinary sexual intercourse.

Unfortunately, that’s a breach of good ol’ Commandment 9 (the one about “bearing false witness”, you heathens.)  When NZ civil society, at least, gave legal recognition to marriage (at least, as far back as records go), there was precisely zero mention of intercourse.

I can happily concede that maybe the original 1955 version contained clauses about bloody sheets being hung out windows, but my Google-fu is lacking in this regard.

And anyway, then we’d just have a knockout argument for the fact that the state has happily “redefined” marriage hugely throughout history without the collapse of civilisation resulting.

Law holds up ideals to society as well as setting limits; it has a teaching role. Widening the definition of marriage will blur this teaching.

Father Judgey and I agree here:  the law of a society does hold up ideals.  And our law is pretty cool (comparatively) on the treating people equally front.  So to me, of course, legalising same-sex marriage only strengthens the law’s upholding of our society’s most fundamental principles.

For Father Judgey’s argument to work, you have to believe that our current law is “teaching” us something about gay people, and that “teaching” is basically:  they’re icky.

After prophesying the downfall of NZ civil society (a catastrophe miraculously not brought about by the legalisation of homosexuality in 1986, or the “redefining” of marriage so husbands weren’t allowed to rape their wives any more in 1985, or even the decriminalisation of sex work in 2003), Father Judgey just gets silly:

The same departments will incur another significant expense as every marriage document and database has the words “bride” and “bridegroom” removed and replaced by some bland gender-neutral term.

Oh sweet Jesus, no.  Some poor civil servant’s going to have to find+replace two whole words?  Where does it end?

Except … oops, that looks like another lie, because “bride” and “bridegroom” appear a whopping 6 and ZERO (okay, 3 if you count “groom” but remove all the press releases about pedophiles “grooming” their victims) times on the Department of Internal Affairs website.

In fact, a close study of the Births, Deaths and Marriages section of DIA’s website reveals that, in order to conduct the massive upheaval of language which same-sex marriage will bring about, we may have to replace the current legally-required wording:

“I AB, take you CD, to be my legal wife/husband”

With something like:

I <full name of party 1> acknowledge that I am freely joining in a [marriage] with you <full name of party 2>.

Which is already the wording used in civil union ceremonies.  In fact, we don’t need to change anything there if you’re really that married (sorry) to the gendered terminology: just allow for the fact some ceremonies will involve two husbands and some two wives!

Thank god.  I was a bit worried there.  I thought one of our Roads of National Significance might have to be shortened a few meters to pay for a nationwide copy-paste exercise.

Father Judgey finishes up by saying that we’re such a ~tolerant~ society already, why do we even need marriage equality because obviously there can’t be a real problem, it’s just icky gay people making a fuss.

Which … is another lie.  There are clear legal differences between marriage and civil union.  We need marriage equality because we currently have marriage inequality, and in a “tolerant” society that’s actually a problem.

Finally, we’re back to the defensive “oh sure, I may be a voluntarily perma-celibate dude parroting the dogma of the Catholic Church, but ~marriage~ totally predates the Church’s teachings on it!”

This is (1) veeeeery interesting in terms of trying to deflect “stop pushing your religion on us” rebuttal; and (2) MORE BULLSHIT.  Per Wikipedia, the idea of one-cis-man-one-cis-woman-baby-making marriage is not universal across cultures nor history.  We’ve had – and have – polygyny, polyandry, unmarried solo parents, and entire royal families based on sibling intermarriage.

So that’s apparently one Catholic priest’s response to marriage equality: lies, lies, and lies.  Just what Jesus would have done.


  1. Mr Wainscotting

    There will be so many people I’ll have wanted to punch through the internet by the time this is all over, that I may seriously need to start saving for a new monitor in case I need one by the time the house votes on it…

  2. MJ

    I really, really wish one of the anti-marriage equality people would answer the question I’ve been asking of all of the ~MARRIAGE IS FOR BABEEZ~ posts/opinions: I am engaged, to a dude, and am clinically infertile. Will you be lodging a formal objection to my marriage?

    • QoT

      It has been very, very interesting how none of the antis have addressed that point yet. I’d brace for some smarmy “God / mysterious ways / plan” bullshit when they do though.

        • MJ

          The last person who got all ~God’s plan~ on me was during an abortion debate. In the context of “If God didn’t want people to be pregnant then they wouldn’t be pregnant”. Two weeks after my (fourth) miscarriage. Which they knew about.

          And that’s the story of the last time I punched someone in the face.

          • QoT

            Screw principles of nonviolence, that’s a seriously righteous time to punch someone in the face.

        • MJ

          Yeah I’m pretty anti-violence myself but I had basically no other response but that one.

          I don’t fucking regret it, either.

    • Mr Wainscotting

      They usually respond, in my experience, with some kind of wishy washy, “well *most* couples are totes fertile. It doesn’t matter if there are a few that aren’t because they’re still hetero and it’s ok for a few to fall through the cracks. But teh gayz can’t procreate at all no matter how fertile they are so they shouldn’t have marriage.”

        • QoT

          Silly Draco, with your facts ‘n’ shit. You know that what Father Judgey really means is that a pee-pee and another pee-pee can’t make baybees. And a hoo-ha and another hoo-ha can’t make baybees either. It’s just that good moral men like Father Judgey can’t say “peepee” or “hooha” because they’re bad words. Now take your heathen modern science and the reality of mixed families and go sit in the naughty corner.

  3. Pingback: Update for 1 August 2012 | Protect Families
  4. Pingback: Keeping on talking about marriage equality « A Bee of a Certain Age
  5. Pingback: Keeping on talking about marriage equality « The Lady Garden