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As Much Dignity and the Same Legal Effect as Marriage?

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Jun 04, 2013

I appreciate the (Anglican) Archbishop of Canterbury’s refusal to countenance the redefinition of marriage. Archbishop Justin Welby criticized pending legislation for abandoning “marriage as a normative place for procreation” and for undermining the understanding of the family as prior to the State. All of this is valuable.

But Archbishop Welby also stated that he was not opposed to the recognition of homosexual unions. “Stable and faithful same sex relationships,” he said, “should, where those involved want it, be recognized and supported with as much dignity and the same legal effect as marriage.”

To which the first logical response is one word: Why? Apart from the compelling interest of society in the procreation and raising of children in stable families, why should any random mutual commitment of two persons be privileged in the public mind and protected by the State?

And the second logical response is to wonder why Archbishop Welby, or anyone else, should wish to help maintain the fiction that the key to contemporary recognition of both true marriage and same-sex civil unions is the high value of stability and fidelity. This way of framing the issue is nothing but a charade.

On the one hand, these two aspects of marriage have long since ceased to be either encouraged or protected by the modern State. On the other, there is nothing in the nature and history of same-sex relationships which suggests they are either intrinsically or typically ordered to stability and fidelity.

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