Subscribe via RSS Feed

Same-Sex Marriage…Ending Discrimination?

October 30, AD 2012 8 Comments

It is amazing the way that the same-sex marriage debate has taken such a strangle hold on discussion and commentary in Western society. Who would have thought that in the space of just a few years popular opinion could swift to such a degree that to simply hold marriage as the union of a man and a woman could be labeled as intolerant? Yet this is where we are at.

One recent move for a change in legislation in Australia has come from the very small state of Tasmania where a bill to legalise same-sex marriage was introduced into the Parliament with Premier Lara Giddings imploring the members of the House to “open their hearts and minds to remove this last bastion of discrimination”.

Now if there is a buzz word in the same-sex marriage debate it is most definitely ‘discrimination’. In the 21st century it would be better to be accused of anything rather than be found to be discriminatory. Yet we seem to have forgotten what the word actually means and that each of us discriminate every day of our lives.

Discrimination is the act of making a distinction and choosing between differences. From choosing chicken over ham on your sandwich, to the government deciding that the aged pension will be given at 67 instead of 65; these are discriminations. Without the ability to discriminate, that is the ability to state that one thing is not another thing, we could not have a democratic society. A musical note only has value because of the silence that exists before and after that note, if we were to label the silence as unfair discrimination against sound and remove it, there would only be an ongoing noise.

So yes, upholding marriage as the union of one man and one woman is discrimination because it says that this particular relationship has certain qualities that others do not have. Marriage discriminates against children, widows, those in defacto relationships, people with a same-sex attraction and all those who for whatever reason are not married. However this discrimination says nothing about the value of those individuals, it simply says that they are not in the institution that is called marriage.

One marriage equality website boldly proclaims that, “Denying anyone the right to marry because of gender or sexuality is simply not fair”, but the reason that society is involved in the business of marriage has nothing to do with love, romance or even fairness. Society concerns itself with marriage because it is the normal means by which the next generation is conceived, born and nurtured into responsible citizens. Secular society has no more business legislating the living arrangements of men and women with a same-sex attraction than it does legislating that every citizen must dress in a particular colour according to the season.

There is of course unjust discrimination which involves making decisions against a person based on something such as their race or religion rather than individual merit. That however is very different to stating that because a person practices the Christian faith they are discriminating against those of the Islamic faith. We need to be very careful when it comes to flying the flag of discrimination. Just because we find ourselves outside a particular situation we might like to be in, does not mean we are being unfairly discriminated against.

What is more accurately behind the push for same sex marriage is the desire to declare that the marital love of a man and woman is exactly the same as the proposed marital love of two men or two women. Both heterosexual and homosexual couples might share similar emotional feelings but what gives marriage its unchangeable uniqueness is the sexual union. Marriage declares that a particular man and woman have made the free choice to engage in sexual union with only the other. And that union is naturally open to bringing forth life (whether or not it actually does is another matter). This is the difference that cannot be changed by legislation.

The push for same-sex marriage is part of the agenda to declare that there are no differences in society. It is a push to state that our maleness and our femaleness are irrelevant. However our sex is foundational to us understanding who we are and how we fit in the world. These differences are not problems of discrimination but signs of a unique complementarity. Government may succeed in legislating same-sex marriage but it will be a fruitless law to gain the popular vote. Legalising same-sex marriage would be as meaningless as legislating that day and night were the same.

About the Author:

Bernard Toutounji is an Australian Catholic writer and speaker. He writes a fortnightly column called Foolish Wisdom ( which examines afresh issues within news, culture or faith. One of Bernard’s favourite quotes comes from Edith Stein who said "All those who seek truth seek God whether this is clear to them or not". Bernard is married to Jane and they have two daughters.
  • Pingback: Social Justice Satanist Conversion Reformation Day | Big Pulpit()

  • Hieronymus

    An excellent reasoning, Mr. Toutounji, thank you. Unfortunately, our world is at present dominated by emotions. Many of us don’t think anymore, they FEEL. One of the worst mental aberrations – the tyranny of sentimentalism.

  • Yes! To state things in a slightly different way: Marriage is a relationship that grants kinship status because it a potentially procreative relationship. Therefore, when and if offspring are produced, the man and woman producing them will in fact be kin because they will then be part of the same family – their child’s family.

  • Elaine

    I dont understand why the states dont work on redefining Civil Unions instead of trying to redefine marriage.

  • “It is a push to state that our maleness and our femaleness are irrelevant. However our sex is foundational to us understanding who we are and how we fit in the world. These differences are not problems of discrimination but signs of a unique complementarity.”

    I think you really hit the nail on the head here. As someone trying to bring New Feminism to the surface I see this idea over and over and over again that men and women are interchangeable and that any supposed differences are completely coincidental and isolated. The radical Feminists of the Sexual Revolution really did a number on people’s ability to take a cue on who they are from their basic configuration. Instead they spend years wondering “Who am I?” when there were pretty good clues right from the start. Our sex is a great first place to start finding our purpose but sadly almost everyone ignores that as an insignificant part of who “I Am”.

  • David

    Same sex marital rights are not a priority for most Americans –

  • Bernard, I think you speak about the culture’s lost sense of femininity and masculinity so well here. Sexuality, I think, has become associated much more with whom a person is attracted to, rather than who he or she is as a man or woman. I’ve often thought that the gay rights movement seems self-defeating. That is, the reasoning is that no individual should be discriminated against only according to one’s sexual orientation, yet proponents of marriage equality seem, to me, to do just that: by emphasizing what apparently (as in, what is apparent to them) sets them apart from the rest of society, they are, in fact, reducing themselves to being defined solely by sexual orientation. We’re so much more, though! Sex, in the sense of being created male or female, is absolutely a part of who we are, but certainly not all there is to the human person.

    • Oh, and I was going to add this and forgot: if you’re not already familiar, I think, based on your arguments here, that you’d really enjoy the articles on marriage, the family, and sexual integrity on!