Saturday, April 06, 2013

Canada's Precedent in Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage: Is There Any Valid Reason to Be Against Gay Nuptials?

You may remember that a couple of years ago, I wrote a post on gay marriage which, among other things, quoted a prominent constitutional theorist from the 1830s (Joseph Story: "Marriage is … in its origin a contract of natural law … It is the parent, and not the child of society; the source of civility and a sort of seminary of the republic") as well as a prominent constitutional theorist from today (Harry Jaffa: "…it is human families or their representatives, rather than "abstract" human individuals, who found or institute political communities" and "Only as one understands the priority of the partnership of male and female in the generation, nurture, and education of the young can one understand the relationship of individuality to community in the political order").

In case you're wondering why anybody — liberal, conservative, or neutral — would be against two consenting adults marrying (adding that such a position can only be ridiculous, not least because, in the immortal liberal words quoted by George Neumayr, "The political debate over gay marriage is over"), Clash Daily provides a response that mirrors my own post on the subject.
If homosexuals and heterosexuals are really “equal” before the law, then logically heterosexual marriage must collapse into being little more than a legal construct as well. Indeed, marriage and family become mere adjuncts of the state after the removal of the de facto conditions that make the traditional family a pre-political institution in the first place. No longer is family something that, in the words of Douglas Farrow, “precedes and exceeds the state.” No longer is the family a hedge against the totalitarian aspirations of the state because no longer is the family prior to the state.

This is not mere hypothetical speculation about what ‘might’ happen if same-sex marriages are legalized. Canadian theologian Douglas Farrow has shown that after Canada legalized same-sex marriage, even traditional marriage began to be spoken about as little more than a legal construct. In his book Nation of Bastards, Farrow criticized  warned that by claiming the power to re-invent marriage, the Canadian state “has drawn marriage and the family into a captive orbit. It has reversed the gravitational field between the family and the state… It has effectively made every man, woman, and child a chattel of the state, by turning their most fundamental human connections into mere legal constructs at the state’s disposal. It has transformed those connections from divine gifts into gifts from the state.”

Most people are not aware of how gay marriage will undermine the traditional family because it does so in ways that are subtle and ubiquitous.  However, once gay marriage is introduced into a nation, it undermines the integrity of every family and every marriage in the nation. It does this by rearranging the family’s relationship to the state. The state which legalizes gay marriage is a state that has assumed the god-like power to declare which collections of individuals constitute a ‘family.’ But by this assumption government declares that both marriage and family are little more than legal constructs at best, and gifts from the state at worst. In the former case, marriage and family lose their objective fixity; in the latter case, we become the wards of the state.

On the Nation of Bastards book's Amazon page, reviewer Paul Adams writes about Douglas Farrow's book (what another reviewer calls "the check-and-balance on government power that resides in the family — and that's husband/wife/children family, not 'we love each other ergo we are family.' It illustrates that divorcing procreation from marriage leads inevitably to a government that is not only 'big brother,' but 'mother and father' as well"):
By fundamentally redefining marriage, [Douglas Farrow] says, the state has appropriated the institution of marriage and turned children, indeed all citizens, into wards of the state. Marriage and family have always existed in relative autonomy vis a vis the state, resting as they do on the nature of human beings and the natural human family.

In a liberal society, marriage and family mediate between individual and state. As such they are indispensable to liberal democracy. They may or may not be recognized and protected by the state, but marriage and family in any case are not created by it. They are, by their nature and not the state's fiat, the way in which one generation turns from its own concerns to those of the next, requiring a sacrifice and commitment of the autonomous ego to a relationship ordered to procreation, fidelity, and a covenantal relationship involving man, woman, and any children that result from their union.

In abandoning this traditional understanding, Farrow argues, the Canadian state … has overturned the natural family, separating biological from legal parenthood to the point where the terms mother and father are replaced by parent 1 and parent 2. In a recent case, the Ontario Court of Appeals ruled that a child could have three parents - in which case it seems only a matter of time before the state decides that a child's three or more parents can all be married to each other.

 … in deconstructing marriage, the state is defeating a key institution that offsets its power and domination over society. The real contrast is not the bogus one between civil and religious marriage as the Canadian courts described it, but the one they ignored, between state and civil society.

It is true that totalitarian states invariably seek to undermine and subordinate the family and all of civil society, dismantling them and slowly grinding them up, in Nietzsche's expression, "into a random collection of individuals, haphazardly bound together in the common pursuit of selfish ends." That sounds right for Nazi Germany or Communist Eastern Europe, where all civil society, everything that stands between individual and state, is weakened and destroyed.

But Canada? It sounds far-fetched, but if Farrow is right, we can expect to see, as in Europe today, the increasing control of the state over children's education and socialization (home-schooling was outlawed in Hitler's Germany and just recently parents have been arrested for defying the law). Parents cannot be trusted not to raise their children in their own faith, whose values may contradict those of the state; parents will have fewer and fewer rights to exempt their children from the state's version of sex education and instruction in the moral acceptability of fornication. Professionals, denied protections of conscience, will be fired, not for "imposing their moral views on their clients," but for failing to impose the state's.

It's already happening.