Sydney Archbishop on Same-Sex ‘Marriage’: Evolution or Deconstruction?

An examination of 5 common slogans in the debate

Here is the full text of a lecture given Wednesday by Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney.  The archbishop’s address is titled: Same-Sex ‘Marriage’: Evolution or Deconstruction of Marriage and the Family?

It was a lecture in the Defence of the Faith series, hosted by the Order of Malta.

* * *

My thanks to the Order of Malta for inviting me to address a topic of vital importance for the Australian community today.

The campaign to redefine marriage has recently gained such momentum – with now three and soon four bills before the Commonwealth Parliament – that many think it is inevitable; this can leave those with misgivings feeling that they are already losers in a done deal. Some think it’s the inexorable progress of liberty and equality – which leaves the doubters ‘on the wrong side of history’. In this context supporters of classical marriage are presumed to have no real arguments to offer. So tonight I want to offer some reasons – not decrees from on high or from the past, not expressions of hatred or prejudice – but reasons I hope anyone can understand. I also hope you find these reasons persuasive and helpful in proclaiming and witnessing to true marriage among your families, friends and colleagues. But even if you disagree with me on this matter, I hope tonight’s talk will help you understand why Australian law has always held, and many people still hold, that marriage is for people of opposite sex.

I will examine five common slogans in this debate – that it’s all about justice, that sexual differences don’t matter, that it’s all about love, that it’s all about the numbers and that it doesn’t affect me. Along the way I will be offering some reasons for preserving the classical understanding of marriage rather than redefining it to include same-sex ‘marriage’ (SSM)[1].

“It’s all about justice!”

Recently, Sydney Morning Herald journalist Michael Kozoi wrote that all opposition to SSM stems from hatred, pure and simple.[2] But if that were true, then all the recent high-profile converts to SSM were previously homophobes or liars, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Penny Wong and others. If they weren’t in fact bigots when they previously thought and said marriage was for a man and woman, then it shouldn’t be presumed that those who now hold that view are bigots either.

In reality, of course, we all know and love someone with same-sex attraction. We recognize that people of the same sex can love each other, sometimes deeply; that they express this in ways that seem similar to the ways married men and women express their love; and that some people want to commit to this in a public ceremony. They are usually good-willed people, who feel they are missing out on something precious. Because we want the best for them, we feel the tug of the view that everything that makes opposite-sex couples happy should be open to them too. We want no more of the discriminatory or violent treatment that such people often suffered in the past and sometimes still suffer.

After all, God made every person unique and irreplaceable, as His beloved images in this world, and if God loves people with same-sex attraction, so must the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the recent bishops’ pastoral letter, Don’t Mess with Marriage, teach that every human being, regardless of race, religion, age, sex or sexual orientation deserves our reverence; that all forms of unjust discrimination must be opposed; that everyone is entitled to justice and compassion; and that the challenges of healthy and chaste friendships are for every human being, whatever their attractions.[3] If Christians haven’t always talked that way or walked their talk, we should repent and do better in future.

But when it comes to what the law is or should be, not all differential treatment is necessarily unjust. Women’s hospitals are closed to men; programmes for Indigenous Australians are targeted to them; primary schools enrol only children. These different treatments aren’t discriminatory because the differences upon which they are based are reasonable ones. Women, children and Aborigines merit particular assistance. So if our marriage laws recognize and support man-and-woman relationships for good reasons the preservation of those laws will not necessarily be unjust to other kinds of relationship. Under any marriage law some relationships won’t be recognized as ‘marriage’ – siblings, mere cohabiters, “throuples” etc. – but unless we know what marriage is, we can’t judge whether this restriction treats all citizens justly. To put it another way: we all support marriage equality – treating all real marriages equally – the question is: what is a real marriage?

“Sexual differences don’t matter!”

Until recently the answer to the question what is marriage was obvious: every serious culture, religion, philosophy and legal system in the world understood marriage as “the union of a man and a woman, to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”. So it is that a man and a woman undertake not merely to live together but ‘to have and to hold’ as ‘husband and wife’, i.e. to do what husbands and wives do, including engaging in acts of love-making that are potentially life-making.

But if marriage is a natural institution that pre-exists Church and state why should governments get involved at all? For one reason only: because the ‘marital acts’ that bring children into the world also seal and express the ‘marital unions’ that provide for the long-term nurture of those children. Marriage binds those whose love-making was life-making both to each other as husband and wife and to those children as mother and father. The benefits to children of having the contributions of both a Mum and a Dad, committed to each other and to them over the long haul, are well-established in human experience and social science research.[4] In that sense, marriage is the best Department of Population, Health, Education, Welfare and Crime Prevention we’ve ever come up with! Other friendships may do other good things and be worthy of support; but only marriage unites a man and a woman and directs their complementary sexual-reproductive natures to the having and rearing of children. And that is why, uniquely of all human relationships, states have an interest in their success.

The Catholic Church, following the clear teaching of the Old Testament, of Christ Jesus and of the Apostle Paul, has always taught that marriage is that unique institution whereby “a man leaves mother and father and cleaves to his wife so that the two become one flesh”[5] and so may “be fruitful and multiply”.[6] Recent popes have explored the rich significance of our sexual differentiation as male and female and of marriage as a comprehensive bodily, emotional and spiritual union – one that brings and holds together people and values that otherwise have a tendency to fall apart: men and women, sex and love, love-making and life-making, babies and parents. St John Paul II, for instance, elaborated a contemporary “theology of the body” in which the long tradition about sex being for marriage and marriage being for man and wife was shown to be rich in argument and profound in implications.[7]

In his recent, much-praised encyclical on caring for the environment, Laudato Si, Pope Francis also suggests we must accept ourselves in our bodily being, our masculinity and femininity, accept the Creator’s gifts specific to our own sex and to the opposite sex, encounter someone different and find mutual enrichment in bringing those gifts together in marriage.[8] The difference and complementarity of man and woman is the anthropological reality “at the foundation of marriage and the family”; marriage should not, this Pope suggests, be the subject of endless manipulation according to passing ideological fads.[9]

Of course, this ancient wisdom that marriage is inherently opposite-sex is not peculiar to Catholics: Christians share it with Jews and Muslims; the three great Abrahamic religions share it with the other world religions of the ancient world and since; the world religions share it with more local ones, for example, Australian Aboriginal and Pacific Islander religions; and religious traditions share it with most secular philosophies, legal systems and cultures.[10] Though customs around marriage vary between cultures and over time, there is remarkable consistency about these four dimensions of marriage: that it unites people of opposite (but complementary) sex; that this union is intended to be faithful (“to the exclusion of all others”); that this union is potentially fruitful (“to have and to hold” each other as “man and wife” do and so open to children); and that this union is final (“till death do us part”). In almost every case a fifth dimension has been that this union is regarded as sacred.

“It’s all about love”

Over the last few decades there have been some very real advances in appreciation of romance and intimacy in marriage, in respect for the dignity of women and children, in the sharing of lives and responsibilities between spouses and in the theology and pastoral care of marriages. Yet even as our understanding of relationships has been enriched in these ways, modernity has found itself in a mess about marriage. In just a few decades we’ve moved from a situation where almost everyone in the West got married and stayed married to one where most people of marriageable age are not married: they live singly or in a series of more temporary relationships. Eventually one of these relationships may settle into being a sort of ‘de facto’ marriage. At some point, perhaps when a couple are thinking of having children, they may decide to solemnize it. But after years of try-before-you-buy and habitual non-commitment, many find they cannot sustain actual marriages once entered. Some try again – and fail again. Many eschew child-bearing altogether; some want children but in limited numbers, later in life, after achieving other goals. Many children now grow up without ever experiencing the love and care of a mother and father committed to each other and to them over the long haul; that makes them in turn less likely to aspire to and achieve stable marriage themselves. We all know and love people who have suffered from family breakdown; every serious social scientist and thoughtful economist understands the costs of this. Theories abound about the whys and wherefores of all this, but the what is undeniable: never before in history have we been so unsuccessful at marrying.

If we are not as good at entertaining and sustaining marriages as we were in the past, it is surely significantly because we are at least ambivalent about the defining dimensions of marriage as faithful, fruitful and final. So too the notion of marriage as a sacred act has been abandoned by many. And now another dimension, the sexual complementarity of marriage – the very thing which points beyond the union itself towards family life – is also being questioned. All that may be left at the end of this half-century-long unpicking of marriage will be an emotional-sexual bond that places the wishes of adults for long-lived intimacy above all else.

Some will say: no problem. Marriage in their eyes is merely a very flexible label for an institution with no intrinsic meaning; like Humpty Dumpty they think a word like ‘marriage’ means precisely whatever they want it to mean. Five of the nine judges in the recent U.S. Supreme Court case said as much: marriage is constantly evolving and really a matter of self-identification and social convention.

Reflecting such a ‘marriage is what you make it’ approach, there have been many experiments in recent years. In 2004 the French President approved Christelle Demichel’s ‘wedding’ to her deceased boyfriend, a policeman killed two years before by a drunk driver.[11] About ten posthumous marriages are now registered each year in France.[12] In the same year a former soldier, Erika La Tour, fell in love with the Eiffel Tower and, after a ‘wedding’ ceremony, took Eiffel as her surname.[13] The French experiments continue: in 2013 the mayor of Saint-Jean-de-Fos conducted the ‘wedding’ of a woman to a mediaeval bridge – the menacingly-named Pont du Diable in Céret.[14] Before you make comments about the French, the ‘bride’, Jodi Rose, was an Australian!

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in 2009 Amy Wolfe Weber announced that she was to ‘marry’ a rollercoaster ride.[15] In 2012 a Seattle woman, Baylonia Aivaz, was ‘wed’ to a building set for demolition; she called it a ‘gay marriage’ because she believed the building had a feminine personality.[16] The following year Florida woman, Linda Ducharme, took a more masculine ferris wheel for her husband;[17] the Catholic priest who performed the ceremony has since left the priesthood.[18] And this year Yasimin Eleby of Houston, having failed to find a husband by age 40, decided to ‘marry’ herself in a ceremony conducted by three ministers of religion.[19] Before you say “only in America”, I could point to cases of people purporting to marry themselves in Britain, China, Holland and Australia;[20] or trying to wed dead people,[21] buildings, vehicles and other inanimate objects,[22] virtual ones[23] or non-human creatures.[24] In 2010, for instance, a young Toowoomba man, Joseph Guiso, took part in an emotional wedding ceremony with his labrador in the presence of family and friends.[25] In 2010 the Daily Telegraph reported that a Korean man had married his pillow.[26]

It goes without saying that some of these people should be seeing a doctor rather than a wedding celebrant and that there is much more to a marriage than a wedding ceremony. Clearly, lines can be drawn between marrying persons and marrying objects. But the hyper-emotionalised approach to marriage finds some of these developments hard to resist. In the U.S., for instance, there is now a campaign for legalized polyamory. The National Geographic channel recently ran a sympathetic series on polygamy in America, Cambridge University Press in the U.S. published a book In Defense of Plural Marriage and only yesterday the New York Times ran a sympathetic op-ed piece entitled “Is Polygamy Next?”[27] The ‘throuple’ is fashionable at present: three people purporting to marry each other at once. In 2013 a lesbian threesome made international headlines: two had already married each other under the Massachusetts SSM law but now a third joined their union, solemnized by a minister of religion and regularised by a complex civil arrangement; with the help of artificial insemination their baby will have three mothers but no known father.[28] Earlier this year a Thai ‘gay’ threesome made similar headlines after being married by a Buddhist priest: “Love is love, after all,” they said.[29] Most recently a bi-sexual severally-married Los Angeles throuple made headlines as they told of their bedroom antics and resulting children.[30]

My point in raising these aberrations in contemporary conjugality is not to equate them with SSM: not at all. It is, rather, to point out that what most SSM advocates and most SSM opponents have in common is a view that these are not marriages. “All you need is love” really isn’t enough. And if we agree on that, then we agree that we need some concept of what marriage is, what its ends, limits and scope are.[31]

“It’s all about the numbers!”

The intensification of the campaign to redefine marriage to include SSMs has been due to a number of factors, including:

  • populist ones: opinion polls suggesting between 60% and 72% of Australians favour change[32]
  • party political ones: the wedge politics within the major political parties has been as important as that between them
  • commercial ones: the decision by major corporates to throw big bucks at the campaign, as happened in Ireland[33]
  • cultural ones: ‘Anglos’ and a few Latin nations seem especially interested in SSM
  • international ones: in particular, developments in Ireland and the U.S.

It has been argued by SSM advocates that ‘conservative Catholic’ Ireland’s overwhelming vote in favour of SSM proves the tide of history has decisively turned and everyone should now get on board. But hold on… First, it is hard to recall when progressives last asserted that we should follow Ireland’s legislative lead: would they also favour its rather restrictive abortion and divorce regimes? Would we normally follow the polling result of a country whose total population is smaller than Sydney’s? Secondly, how ‘conservative’ and ‘Catholic’ Ireland really is today is a complex matter, as that country has experienced rapid secularization following entry into the E.U. and the clergy abuse crisis; the factors favouring social change in Ireland may make the “if it can happen in Ireland, it will happen everywhere” line dubious. Thirdly, just how overwhelming was support for this measure in Ireland? While it’s true that 62% of those who voted, voted in favour, what is rarely mentioned is that only 60% of voters turned out for the poll: whatever those low polling numbers indicate, barely more than a third – only 36% – of eligible voters actually voted for legalising SSM in that country.[34] Fourthly, if even 100% of voters thought that only Catholics can marry or that Irish people can marry their whiskey bottles that surely wouldn’t settle the matter: we would still have to ask what is marriage?

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v Hodges, which found a right to SSM hidden in the U.S. Constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses, is also said to be a pointer for us.[35] Again I wonder… First, because instead of citizens or MPs making this law, an unelected elite of nine judges did so; that’s not the way Australians, at least, like to decide such important matters.[36] Indeed, the most recent polls suggest more Americans now oppose the court’s decision than support it and that support for SSM has declined as a result of the Supreme Court’s flouting of democracy.[37] As Chief Justice Roberts put it:

This Court is not a legislature. Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us. Under the Constitution, judges have power to say what the law is, not what it should be… Today, however, the Court takes the extraordinary step of ordering every State to license and recognize same-sex marriage… The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment. The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this Court’s precedent… As a result, the Court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the States and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs. Just who do we think we are?[38]

What’s more, only the barest majority – five out of the nine judges – favoured overturning the definition of marriage in most American states. Of course, the Supreme Court majority might be more enlightened than the citizens and legislators of those states, but it has not always been so: that same court long defended slavery, minimal worker protection and racial segregation, and still supports the death penalty, negligible gun control and abortion on demand, even when a majority of citizens have inclined to a more enlightened view. The legal arguments in the majority judgment are in fact so weak that it embarrasses some SSM advocates.[39] We might also ask why the few countries favouring SSM, rather than the vast majority of nations not tilting in that direction, get all the airtime.

Senator Eric Abetz recently observed that the Austrian legislature’s overwhelming vote against SSM (110 MPs to 26) went more or less unreported in Australia, while prominence was given to the yes vote on Pitcairn Island, a country with a population of 48![40] Far from being some sort of outlier, Australia’s current marriage law reflects international law and the laws of the overwhelming majority of nations (172 of U.N.’s 193 members).[41]

“It doesn’t affect me!”

Some people would say: this doesn’t really affect me. Governments can decide who is married civilly and Churches who is married religiously. Just as secular marriage doesn’t endanger religious marriage, so SSM won’t undermine opposite-sex marriage. It’s really no big deal, so why don’t believers just zip it?

Well, first, because Catholics and other Christians are not members of a cult, living in some closed-bracketed community quarantined from the rest of corrupt humanity. Our ability to live marriage well is itself much affected by whether there is a healthy marriage culture around us. As marriage has been unpicked in various ways over the past few decades, Catholics and other believers have not been immune to the effects.

What’s more, our vocation is to be in and for the world, like leaven helping it rise up to God. As the Second Vatican Council famously said, “The joys and hopes, griefs and anxieties of the people of this age are joys, hopes, griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.”[42] Because such things as marriage matter so much to ordinary people, they must matter to the Church. At a time when so many people are so confused about marriage, when many are afraid or uninspired to marry at all, or find sustaining a marriage difficult, or grow up without ever knowing a stable marriage-based family, this would be the worst time for Christians to silent about marriage. With humility and compassion, never hatred or holier-than-thou-ness, we must propose true marriage not just for our sake but for everyone’s.

My next reason for thinking we should stay involved in this debate is that, for all the ‘no big deal’ talk marriage is in fact ‘a big deal’, something very precious and worth preserving. When men and women get together in this particular way, even people with not much faith, they almost always surround it with ceremony because they know something-bigger-than-ordinary-life is going on here and want Someone-bigger-than-ordinary-people to bless it. They understand that there is a mystery at stake that is deeper and hopefully more enduring than passing emotions and fading passions. By a strange natural and supernatural mathematics the one plus one that makes two in an ordinary couple makes one in a married couple: for individually men and women are sexually and reproductively incomplete; only by uniting ‘as one flesh’ do they become complete in this respect. That one-flesh union consummates their promises and brings children into the world. Of course some marriages are infertile; most marital acts are so. Everyone’s always known this too, but the point was that for every marriage that does bring a child into the world, that child has a Mum and a Dad. So one plus one equals two for a courting couple, but by vows and one-flesh union then makes one; then as a result of that one-flesh ‘marital’ union uniquely suited for life-making, their one plus one may makes three and maybe four and more…

Thirdly, I have argued that knowing what real marriage is we will understand why it is not arbitrary or discriminatory to regulate and support it in various ways. What is unjust and untruthful is to say in our laws that there is nothing distinctive about male and female, husband and wife, father and mother, or nothing important about bringing the two halves of humanity together in marriage. It is unjust to children to say having a Mum and a Dad shouldn’t matter. It is discriminatory towards those already married or who would like in future truly to marry to redefine marriage in a way that reduces it to emotions and sex.

Advocates of SSM claim that those who favour opposite-sex marriage will be unaffected by this change and that any legislation will include religious ‘exemptions’. Yet that already frames religious liberty as toleration by an enlightened majority of an eccentric minority. What’s more, some Greens MPs have opposed any such provisions for religious bodies or openly admitted that any exemptions will be temporary, just to get SSM laws across the line.[43] Everywhere SSM has been legalised people have been vilified, denied business or employment, even prosecuted for not cooperating in SSMs. Ministers of religion may be protected, but that’s a tiny proportion of believers. Christian colleges and wedding venues have been obliged to accommodate same-sex couples. Catholic adoption agencies have been forced to place children with same-sex couples or close. Christian employers have been required to extend spousal benefits to ‘same-sex spouses’. Health professionals have been punished for denying AI or IVF to ‘same-sex spouses’. Teachers have been required to teach and parents forced to put their children in classes that promote SSM and homosexual activity.[44] Further examples of harassment and discrimination in the name of this latest political correctness abound.[45] Several of the judges in the recent US Supreme Court case admitted religious liberty was seriously at risk.[46]

Lest we imagine that the Australian SSM movement would be uniquely tolerant of those with a different view, consider the case of the Deputy Chief Psychiatrist of Victoria who in 2012 was forced to resign his position on that state’s Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. His crime: he had told a Senate Inquiry that children do better on average with a Mum and Dad rather than being in a single or same-sex parent family.[47] People hosting or speaking at an Australian Christian Lobby conference on marriage last year were subjected to such intimidation and vilification – including being labelled as Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis – that some speakers stayed away.[48] Recently the SSM lobby in Tasmania has threatened the Catholic Archbishop with an anti-discrimination suit merely for distributing the bishops’ pastoral letter on the subject.[49] Without doubt the legalisation of SSM would seriously threaten religious liberty in this country.[50]

Fifthly, I think we should resist encroachments by government into the private sphere. We don’t want politicians or bureaucrats telling us who we should love or how or for how long or who we should have sex with. The only friendship governments and bureaucrats properly get involved in is opposite-sex marriage because it is the nursery of the next generation and so dramatically affects the community’s future.

Finally, most advocates of SSM say they simply want what others have got – stripped of unnecessary elements such as sexual-reproductive complementarity and orientation to children, and then re-mythologized as romance aspiring to longevity, celebrated with public ceremonial and given legal recognition. But tonight I have argued that to admit SSM would not be to broaden the group of those to whom marriage is open but rather to change altogether what it is we call marriage; that this is not the further evolution of marriage but its further hollowing out, not liberation of that institution from the confines of religion and prejudice so much as deconstruction of that institution. Ironically, in trying to widen the pool of those who have access to it civilly, we actually deny everyone a chance at the real thing.

Conclusion: be not afraid

The push to redefine marriage in Australia is not the done deal some think it is and those who resist it are not all bigots without reasons to offer as some suggest. Too much of the supposed ‘debate’ over the issue so far in Australia has been slogans, emotional spin and almost unprecedented public bullying of opponents. The real debate has hardly begun and we should resist been railroaded into this social change too quickly. That said, I must confess some admiration of the highly motivated and well organised minority[51] who have so effectively used the media, corporations and law to press this change on the general public. I only wish that the ‘silent majority’ of Australians, who enjoy the benefits of real marriage, would stand up for that institution with a similar passion and effectiveness.

Some think the way to sure up all friendships is to treat them as marriages. Perhaps this is because modernity has forgotten how to love. That sounds odd in a culture saturated with love songs and talk of ‘making love’. Yet the most common “How to?” and “What is?” questions asked of the Google search engines are “How to love?” and “What is love?”[52] Modernity struggles with any kind of love that goes beyond feelings and intimacy: the cross-shaped, self-giving, Easter Day sort of loving rather than the heart-shaped, self-pleasing, Valentine’s Day sort of loving. I believe that the SSM debate highlights the crucial importance of recovering healthy non-marital friendships – self-giving, other-directed, generous and chaste. We must learn again the arts of loving. These habits of heart that are no monopoly of the married, but the truly married are models for the rest of us of persevering in loving despite radical differences, of commitment and self-sacrifice for the sake not just of personal or even mutual goals but of yet-to-be-met children and a yet-unknown future society.

Marriage is a precious patrimony of humanity, just too important to be treated as anyone’s plaything. The further deconstruction of marriage is not inevitable – nothing is, except death and taxes – nor is it desirable. So do not be afraid to spread the good news about marriage and family. Speak the truth, always in love. God bless your efforts in supporting this great cause.

[1]       I distinguish ‘same-sex marriage’ (SSM) from the ‘opposite-sex marriage’ but with inverted commas implied around the word ‘marriage’, since whether SSM is truly marriage is precisely what is at issue.

[2]       Michael Kozoi, ‘We should call arguments against marriage equality what they really are – hatred,’ Sydney Morning Herald 6 July 2015: www.smh.com.au/comment/we-should-call-arguments-against-marriage-equality-what-they-really-are-hatred-20150706-gi5ybd.html

[3]       Catechism of the Catholic Church §2358; Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Don’t Mess with Marriage: Pastoral Letter on the ‘Same-sex Marriage’ Debate (2015).

[4]        See e.g. P Amato, ‘The impact of family formation change on the cognitive, social, and emotional well-being of the next generation,’ The Future of Children 15 (2005): 75-96; B Ellis et al., ‘Does father absence place daughters at special risk for early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy?’ Child Development 74 (2003): 801-21; T Finn, ‘Social science and same-sex parenting,’ National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly 13 (Autumn 2013): 437-44; C Harper and S McLanahan, ‘Father absence and youth incarceration,’ Journal of Research on Adolescence 14 (2004): 369-97; L Marks, ‘Same-sex parenting and children’s outcomes: A closer examination of the American Psychological Association’s brief on lesbian and gay parenting,’ Social Science Research 41 (2012): 735-51; E Marquardt, Family Structure and Children’s Educational Outcomes (New York: Institute for American Values, 2005); S McLanahan and G Sandefur, Growing Up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps (Cambridge, Ma.: Harvard University Press, 1994); M Regnerus, ‘How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study,’ Social Science Research 41 (2012): 752-70; W Wilcox et al., Why Marriage Matters: Twenty-Six Conclusions from the Social Sciences (2nd ed., New York: Institute for American Values, 2005); W Wilcox, ‘Reconcilable differences: What social sciences show about the complementarity of the sexes and parenting,’ Touchstone 18 (Nov 2005): 36-45; M Somerville, ‘Children’s human rights and unlinking child-parent biological bonds with adoption, same-sex marriage and new reproductive technologies,’ Journal of Family Studies 13 (2007): 179-201; K Young and P Nathanson, ‘Redefining marriage or deconstructing society: A Canadian case study,’ Journal of Family Studies 13 (2007): 133-178; D Sullins, ‘Emotional problems among children with same-sex parents: difference by definition,’ British Journal of Education, Society and Behavioural Science 7 (2015): 99-120.

[5]       Gen 2:24; Mk 10:1-16; Eph 5:21-32.

[6]       Cf. Gen 1:27-28. For examples from the tradition see the notes in Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons (2003).

[7]       St John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio: On the Christian Family in the Modern World (1981); Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body (trans. M. Waldstein, Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 2006). This work build on a tradition including: B Ashley, Theologies of the Body (Braintee MA: John XXIII Medical-Moral Research & Education Center, 1985); P Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (New York, Columbia UP Press, 1988); R García de Haro, Marriage and the Family in the Documents of the Magisterium: A Course in the Theology of Marriage (2nd ed, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993); J Medina Estévez, Male and Female He Created Them: On Marriage and the Family (San Francisco: Ignatius, 2003); K. Wojty³a, Love and Responsibility (trans. Grzegorz Ignatik, Pauline Books and Media, 2013). Benedict XVI made some related points in: Deus Caritas Est: On Christian Love (2005), 3-9. There is an enormous literature commenting on John Paul’s thought in this area, including books by D Asci, B Guevin, R Hogan, J Kippley, J LeVoir, A Percy, M Prokes, K Schmitz, W Schu, Angelo Scola, M Shivanandan, V Walsh and C West.

[8]        Pope Francis, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home (2015), 155.

[9]        Pope Francis, Address to Participants in the International Colloquium on the Complementarity between Man and Woman Sponsored by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 17 November 2014, 1; ‘Pope reiterates view that same-sex marriage is “anthropological regression”,’ Zenit 3 January 2014: www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-reiterates-view-that-same-sex-marriage-is-anthropological-regression; ‘Pope Francis to Schoenstatt movement: Marriage never been attacked so much as now,’ News.va 27 October 2014: www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-to-schoenstatt-movement-marriage-neve; Elise Harris, ‘”What is being proposed is not marriage” – Pope calls for defense of family,’ CNA/EWTN News, 26 October 2014: www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/what-is-being-proposed-is-not-marriage-pope-calls-for-defense-of-family-12766/. Cf. ‘Same-sex marriage: Irish vote ‘defeat for humanity’ says Vatican official,’ BBC News 27 May 2015: www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-32900426.

[10]      Cf. CDF, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons, 2.

[11]      P Broughton, ‘Wedding joy for bride who wed dead groom,’ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/1455148/ Wedding-joy-for-bride-who-wed-dead-groom.html.

[12]    “French woman marries boyfriend one year after he died,” Daily Telegraph 16 November 2009  www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/ europe/france/6581612/French-woman-marries-boyfriend-one-year-after-he-died.html.

[13]      A Simpson, ‘Woman with objects fetish marries Eiffel Tower,’ The Telegraph 4 June 2008: www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/ howaboutthat/2074301/Woman-with-objects-fetish-marries-Eiffel-Tower.html.

[14]    www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2356774/Australian-woman-Jodi-Rose-marries-bridge-France-gets-mayors-blessing.html

[15]    Sasjkia Otto ‘Woman to marry fairground ride,’ Telegraph 5 August 2009 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/ howaboutthat/5972632/Woman-getting-married-to-fairground-ride.html.

[16]    E Pfeiffer, ‘Seattle woman “marries” building to protest its demolition,’ The Sideshow 30 January 2012: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ sideshow/seattle-woman-marries-building-protest-demolition-224250710.html.

[17]      T Jivanda, ‘Florida Woman marries giant ferris wheel called Bruce,’ The Independent 18 November 2013: www.independent.co.uk/ news/world/america s/florida-woman-marries-giant-ferris-wheel-called-bruce-8947143.html.

[18]    She is interviewed at: www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=mY64l69DNQA.

[19]      ‘Woman marries HERSELF in emotional wedding ceremony after failing to meet “the one” before the age of 40,’ Daily Mail Australia 28 January 2015: www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2928352/Woman-marries-emotional-wedding-ceremony-failing-meet-one-age-40.html.

[20]    Re Grace Gelder: C Huang, ‘London woman marries herself after being single for six years,’ Aol.com 6 October 2014: www.aol.com/ article/2014/10/06/london-woman-marries-herself-after-being-single-for-six-years/20973249/; re Jennifer Hoes: Craig Johnson, ‘Is self-marriage for you?’ HLN 17 October 2012: http://www.hlntv.com/article/2012/05/31/self-marriage-woman-marries-herself-would-you; re Liu Ye: ‘Chinese man married himself,’ Culture Town 10 March 2013: http://culturetown.org/chinese-man-married-himself/; re Chen Wei Yih: ‘Taiwanese woman to marry herself,’ Telegraph 22 October 2010 www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ worldnews/asia/taiwan/8080685/Taiwanese-woman-to-marry-herself.html;  re Sam,my Power: S Fuda, ‘Ex Sydney radio host Sammy Power has married herself – yes herself – in a bizarre ceremony to celebrate life,’ Daily Telegraph 8 July 2014: www.dailytelegraph.com.au/entertainment/sydney-confidential/ex-sydney-radio-host-sammy-power-has-married-herself-yes-herself-in-a-bizarre-ceremony-to-celebrate-life/story-fni0cvc9-1226980818126.

[21]    Chadil Deffy of Thailand ‘married’ his deceased girlfriend Sarinya Kamsook: Nick Enoch, ‘Died and groom: Grief-stricken bridegroom marries DEAD girlfriend in grim Thai ceremony,’ Daily Mail 18 January 2012: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2087909/Grief-stricken-bridegroom-Chadil-Deffy-marries-DEAD-girlfriend-grim-Thai-ceremony.html#ixzz3faqC6BKO.

[22]      Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer ‘married’ the Berlin wall: Richard Alleyne, ‘Woman married to Berlin Wall for 29 years,’ Telegraph 27 May 2008: www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/2035996/Woman-married-to-Berlin-Wall-for-29-years.html; Davecat ‘married’ a blow-up doll: ‘Davecat tells how he married a RealDoll named Sidore Kuroneko Davecat tells how he married a RealDoll named Sidore Kuroneko,’ News.com.au 4 October 2013: http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/relationships/davecat-tells-how-he-married-a-realdoll-named-sidore-kuroneko/story-fnet09p2-1226729924053; Maria Griffin ‘married’ a Ford truck: Kim Fusaro, ‘Girl marries truck,’ Glamor Weddings 13 April 2011: www.glamour.com/weddings/blogs/save-the-date/2011/04/breaking-news-girl-marries-tru. See: www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/objectophilia-fetishism-and-neo-sexuality-falling-in-love-with-things-a-482192.html.

[23]      K Lah, ‘Tokyo man marries video game character,’ CNN International Edition 17 December 2009: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/ asiapcf/12/16/ japan.virtual.wedding/.

[24]      Uwe Mitzscherlich ‘married’ his cat: ‘German man marries his dying cat,’ BBC News </em>3 M2010: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8658327.stm; Barbarella Burchner ‘married’ two cats: R Styles, ‘Woman celebrating decade of marriage to two pet cats,’ Daily Mail Australia 6 January 2015: www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2898715/Woman-celebrating-decade-marriage-two-pet-CATS-says-never-happier-no-plans-human-husband.html ; Sharon Tendler ‘married’ a dolphin: ‘Woman weds dolphin,’ The Age 30 December 2005: www.theage.com.au/news/world/woman-weds-dolphin/2005/12/30/1135732715098.html; Charles Tombe ‘married’ a goat: ‘”Man marries goat” captivates million,’ Telegraph 3 May 2007: www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1550479/Man-marries-goat-captivates-millions.html; Ngurah Alit ‘married’ a cow: ‘Bali teen marries cow that seduced him,’ www.whatsonxiamen.com/ news12770.html; Bimbala Das ‘married’ a snake: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Orissa-woman-marries-snake/ articleshow/1609295.cms.

[25]      Joseph Guiso ‘married’ a dog: ‘Puppy love: man marries dog,’ Toowoomba Chronicle 1 December 2010 www.thechronicle.com.au/news/ man-marrys-dog-city-first-toowoomba/710538.

[26]    ‘South Korean Lee Jin-gyu “marries” pillow lover Fate Testarossa,’ Daily Telegraph 16 March 2010: www.dailytelegraph.com.au/ lifestyle/south-korean-lee-jin-gyu-marries-pillow-lover-fate-testarossa/story-e6frf00i-1225841359729;

[27]      http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/polygamy-usa/; Ronald Otter, In Defense of Plural Marriage (Cambridge University Press, 2015); W Baude, ‘Is polygamy next?’ New York Times 21 July 2015: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/07/21/opinion/is-polygamy-next.html?referrer=&_r=1. See also: M Cook, ‘Polygamy comes out of the closet,’ MercatorNet 17 December 2013: www.mercatornet.com/conjugality/view/13280; S Burrows, ‘Polyamory is next, and I’m one reason why,’ The Federalist 30 June 20145: http://thefederalist.com/2015/06/30/polyamory-is-next-and-im-one-reason-why/; F Deboer, ‘It’s time to legalize polygamy,’ PoliticoMagazine, 26 June 2015: www.politico.com/ magazine/story/2015/06/gay-marriage-decision-polygamy-119469.html#.VZYCr_mqqko.

[28]      D Li, ‘Married lesbian “throuple” expecting first child,’ New York Post 23 April 2014: http://nypost.com/2014/04/23/married-lesbian-threesome-expecting-first-child/

[29]    F Haque, ‘Meet the world’s first gay married throuple,’ by New York Post 27 February 2015: http://nypost.com/2015/02/27/ thai-throuple-believed-to-be-worlds-first-gay-married-trio/; Carolyn Moynihan, ‘The advance of the “throuple”,’ MercatorNet 9 March 2015: www.mercatornet.com/conjugality/view/15750.

[30]    ‘How this Brit wooed two gorgeous women into his throuple,’ Daily News 13 April 2015: www.nydailynews.com/news/world/brit-wooed-2-gorgeous-women-throuple-article-1.2183501.

[31]    As Pope Francis has observed, if marriage is viewed simply as a commitment to give and receive emotional satisfaction, then it can be reconstructed at will; but call it what you like, the new invention will not really be marriage: Evangelii Gaudium: Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World (2013) 66 http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/ papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html.

[32]    E.g. Lisa Cox, ‘Poll shows growing support for same-sex marriage,’ Sydney Morning Herald 15 July 2015: www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/poll-shows-growing-support-for-samesex-marriage-20140714-3bxaj.html.

[33]    Conservative estimates put one American activist lobby’s investment in the Irish plebiscite alone at $A150m.

[34]      www.referendum.ie/; M Cook, ‘What lies ahead for marriage in Ireland?’ MercatorNet 25 May 2015: www.mercatornet.com/ conjugality/view/what-lies-ahead-for-marriage-in-ireland/16212.

[35]      Obergefell v Hodges 576 US xxx (2015). Critiques include: ‘After Obergefell: A First Things symposium,’ First Things 27 June 2015: www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2015/06/after-obergefell-a-first-things-symposium; ‘The Supreme Court has legalized same-sex marriage: Now what?’ National Review 27 June 2015: www.nationalreview.com/article/420420/same-sex-marriage-obergefell-supreme-court; H M Alvaré, ‘A decision that’s unfair and disenfranchising,’ Crux 25 June 2015: www.cruxnow.com/life/2015/06/25/ supreme-court-gay-marriage-is-constitutional/; R T Anderson, ‘Marriage and the constitution: What the court said and why it got it wrong,’ Public Discourse 1 July 2015: www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/07/15247; M J Franck, ‘Thanks for everything, Justice Kennedy,’ Public Discourse 29 June 2015: www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/06/15235/; S Girgis, ‘After Obergefell: The effects on law, culture, and religion,’ Crisis Magazine 20 July 2015: www.crisismagazine.com/2015/after-obergefell-the-effects-on-law-culture-and-religion; G Weigel, “Ruling says it all: law is an ass,” Catholic Weekly 1 July 2015: www.catholicweekly.com.au/article.php?classID= 1&subclassID= 2&articleID=14359.

[36]  J Albrechtsen, ‘A social revolution left in the hands of lawyers,’ The Australian 8 July 2015:  http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/ columnists/a-social-revolution-left-in-the-hands-of-lawyers/story-e6frg7bo-1227432812080.

[37]    Dominic Bouck OP, ‘More Americans oppose Obergefell v. Hodges than support it,’ First Things 20 July 2015: www.firstthings.com/blogs/ firstthoughts/2015/07/more-americans-oppose-obergefell-v-hodges-than-support-it; M Gallagher, ‘Another new poll: Support for gay marriage falls, religious liberty concerns skyrocket,’ The Pulse 20 July 2015: http://thepulse2016.com/maggie-gallagher/2015/07/20/ another-new-poll-support-for-gay-marriage-falls-religious-liberty-concerns-skyrocket/.

[38]    576 U. S. ____ (2015) 2-3,11,23 Roberts, C. J., dissenting.

[39]      E.g. C Cooke, ‘A few thoughts on today’s Obergefell Supreme Court decision,’ National Review 26 June 2015: http://www.nationalreview. com/corner/420381/due-process-gay-marriage-gay-marriage-decision; M Perry, ‘Obergefell v. Hodges: An imagined opinion, concurring in the judgment,’ Social Science Research Network 27 June 2015: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id= 2624022.

[40]      E Abetz, ‘The fight for same-sex marriage in Australia is far from over,’ Sydney Morning Herald 1 July 2015: www.smh.com.au/comment/ comment-eric-abetz-on-gay-marriage-20150701-gi26gi.html.

[41]      The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights couches most rights in terms of “Everyone has…” or “No one shall…”. However the right to marriage is couched as “Men and women… have the right to marry and found a family” (Art 16). Only with respect to that right is male-female sexual differentiation made explicit because it is predicated on the view that marriage is (only) between a man and a woman. As of 3 July 2015 Wikipedia listed 22 countries in which SSM is or will be performed legally: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico (states thereof only) Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay.  See also ‘At a glance: same-sex marriage around the world,’ SBS News, 7 October 2014 (updated 29 June 2015): www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/10/07/glance-same-sex-marriage-around-world: this list does not include Mexico, which is included in Wikipedia’s list: hence I have counted 21 nations.

[42]      Vatican Council II, Gaudium et spes: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, 1: www.vatican.va/archive/ hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651207_gaudium-et-spes_en.html.

[43]    The Australian Greens declare: “For years, the Greens have said that blanket exemptions from national equality laws for religious organisations – particularly for those receiving government funds to provide a service, like schools, hospitals and shelters – is unfair and contrary to the values of a caring society”: http://greens.org.au/LGBTI. The NSW Greens say “The Greens will work to… remove religious exemptions from the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act”:  http://nsw.greens.org.au/equality.

[44]    References to these and other cases in Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Don’t Mess with Marriage: Pastoral Letter on the ‘Same-sex Marriage’ Debate (2015).

[45]      See R Reno, “The public square: rewriting nature’s law”, First Things 243 (May 2014): 3-4 and K Kersten, ‘Legislative bullying’ in the same edition: 21-2. In 2014 the City of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, threatened Christian ministers who refused to perform same-sex weddings with 180 days’ imprisonment or fines of $1000 per day’s delay: ‘Christian ministers told to perform same-sex “weddings” or face jail,’ National Catholic Register, 20 Oct 2014: www.ncregister.com/daily-news/christian-ministers-told-to-perform-same-sex-weddings-or-face-jail/#ixzz3GjolTjVL. In Houston City, subpoenas have been issued to pastors compelling them to adduce any sermons in which they discuss homosexuality, gender identity or the city’s mayor: T Starnes, ‘City of Houston demands pastors turn over sermons,’ Fox News, 14 October 2014: www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/10/14/city-houston-demands-pastors-turn-over-sermons/. In Denmark, gay couples now have the right to marry in any church they wish irrespective of the views of the priest who has charge of the church: R Orange, ‘Gay Danish couples win right to marry in church,’ The Telegraph, 7 Jun 2012: www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ denmark/9317447/Gay-Danish-couples-win-right-to-marry-in-church.html. In Colorado a baker was found to have contravened the state’s anti-discrimination legislation by refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex “wedding” and will no longer sell wedding cakes: ‘Colorado baker to stop making wedding cakes after losing discrimination case,’ CBS News, 31 May 2014: www.cbsnews.com/news/ colorado-baker-to-stop-making-wedding-cakes-after-losing-discrimination-case/. In Oregon, a couple faces bankruptcy for similarly refusing to bake a same-sex “wedding” cake: C Moynihan, “Bakery owners face bankruptcy after a discrimination finding”, Mercatornet, 9 Oct 2014: www.mercatornet.com/conjugality/view/14924. See also B O’Neill, ‘Breathtaking conformity,’ Mercatornet, 12 Apr 2013 (originally published on Spiked): www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/breathtaking_conformity.

[46]    See: R T Anderson, ‘Will marriage dissidents be treated as bigots or pro-lifers?’ The Federalist 14 July 2015: http://thefederalist.com/2015/07/14/will-marriage-dissidents-treated-bigots-pro-lifers/; S P Bailey, ‘Here are the key excerpts on religious liberty from the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage,’ Washington Post 26 June 2015: www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/06/ 26/here-are-the-key-excerpts-on-religious-liberty-from-the-supreme-courts-decision-on-gay-marriage/; M Branaugh and S Ogles, ‘What churches and clergy should note from the same-sex marriage ruling,’ Christianity Today 26 June 2015: www.churchlawandtax.com/blog/2015/june/what-churches-and-clergy-should-note-from-same-sex-marriage.html; M Caspino, ‘Does Supreme Court’s marriage decision protect religious entities?’ National Catholic Register 26 June 2015: www.ncregister.com/daily-news/does-supreme-courts-marriage-decision-protect-religious-entities/; E Green, ‘How will the U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex-marriage decision affect religious liberty?” Atlantic Monthly 26 June 2015: www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/06/how-will-the-us-supreme-courts-same-sex-marriage-decision-affect-religious-liberty/396986/.

[47]    F Farouque, ‘Anti-gay marriage professor quits equal opportunity board,’ The Age 15 May 2012: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/ antigay-marriage-professor-quits-equal-opportunity-board-20120515-1yo4i.html.

[48]      T McIlroy & B Westcott, ‘Hyatt Hotel defends booking for Australian Christian Lobby’s anti-gay marriage conference,’ Sydney Morning Herald 22 Oct 2014: http://www.smh.com.au/act-news/hyatt-hotel-defends-booking-for-australian-christian-lobbys-antigay-marriage-conference-20141021-1196rn.html.

[49]      A Shanahan, “Same-sex lobby threatens Catholic archbishop over booklet,” The Australian 4 July 2015: http://www.theaustralian. com.au/national-affairs/state-politics/same-sex-lobby-threatens-catholic-archbishop-over-christian-booklet/story-e6frgczx-1227427550649

[50]    See D Laycock and A Picarello (eds), Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty: Emerging Conflicts (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008).

[51]    Persons identifying as ‘LGBTI’ account for less than 2% of the Australian population and only 0.7% of all Australians who identify as being in any form of ‘couple relationship’ are a same sex couple. The issue rates very lowly in terms of the importance Australians put on it: unprompted, only 1% of Australians identify redefining marriage as an important issue. Even GetUp’s own recent survey of over 30,000 supports ranked it at the bottom of their list, with only around 2% identifying it as an issue of any importance.

[52]    www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2246275/Google-Zeitgeist-2012-Skyfall-Whitney-Houston-Justin-Bieber-Selena-Gomez-internet-searches.html

 

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