The Universal Declaration and Marriage Equality

Exercising Political Self-Reflection & Education

Consider the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Read it through. You can gain access to an English translation of it here.

     Now, reflect upon this and do so by connecting your thoughts to what you have heard and what you continue to hear from the advocates of “same-sex marriage” and “marriage equality”. Nurturing Justice has been discussing this for over ten years. You can find discussions on our earlier efforts to legislate “same-sex marriage” from the archive of broadsheets and other public-policy writings here. I hope you enjoy the search and I also trust that it will be truly edifying.

     Our repeated refrain is that marriage is not a civil right. That is a simple point, but whenever there is an argument for “same-sex marriage” or “marriage equality” you will hear this appeal to human rights, as if human rights are the criterion by which marriage – and its very existence as a human institution – is to be judged. Hence we hear again and again an appeal to the right of the individual person to be married. Anything less is viewed as a violation of human rights. To say that marriage is – as it has been for millennia – a male-female institution is to deny the enlightened view that human rights must be marriage’s basic criterion. Hence “persons” are those who get married, not male and female. This is the ideological view that total equality between a same-sex permanent relationship and “marriage” (as defined in the Marriage Act) is a denial of human rights. Indeed, marriage is assumed to be a human right, and because of that assumption, a same-sex relationship is considered, has to be considered, as equal to marriage. And what is equal is then the same. You will hear the logic repeated again and again.

     But now consider Article 16. It reads:

1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

     Now the question is this: if the States of Canada, UK, New Zealand, USA and other polities, either through their parliaments or by judgements handed down by their courts, have made allowance for “gay marriage” or “marriage equality” on the basis that marriage is a civil right, then we shall have to ask whether or not they are thereby foreshadowing a change to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? In fact, we have to ask whether they consider the Declaration to be deficient because it does not refer to marriage in the way they demand marriage to be understood – i.e. as a civil right.

     Indeed, with this movement taking on global dimensions, it needs to be asked whether we are in fact in the early stages of a redrafting of the Declaration. After all if marriage is what this libertarian-liberal view says it is, then those promoting “marriage equality” must be part of a “way of life” that must eventually seek to have the Declaration redrafted to comply with their (erroneous) view that marriage is a civil right. Hence, the effort in Australia to gain Parliamentary approval for “marriage equality”, as we suggested last time, is simply one localised attempt of a world-wide movement seeking to gain added political credibility for its libertarian contractarian sociological theory of human relationships. The error is not only about marriage; it is also about what Parliament can actually do via legislation.

     The other intriguing question is whether, with such a legislated and judicially demanded redefinition of marriage, these enlightened polities have already foreshadowed their lack of compliance with Article 16 (in letter and in spirit) since it clearly does not now refer to marriage in the way they have said it must be understood in their respective jurisdictions.

     The leaders of the governments of USA, UK and Australia were quite committed to ignoring the United Nations in 2003 as they formed their “coalition of the willing” to (illegally) invade Iraq. Why should such governments now continue to profess allegiance to the Universal Declaration and its view of marriage once they have embraced the fictitious and erroneous view that a same-sex relationship can be magically transformed into what it is not merely by means of a Parliamentary or judicial decree?

     The relationship of “marriage equality” to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is but one aspect of an ongoing mistake, a deeply mistaken view that has taken hold around the world that will have significant and longer-term consequences both at home and abroad. And eventually, sooner or later, this mistake, like all mistakes (including mistakes about the character of of human rights), is going to have to be corrected. That may be a long way off but it will come.

BCW 12.8.16 (Amended 8.9.16)


2 thoughts on “The Universal Declaration and Marriage Equality

    • Certainly the issue for us in Australia is whether, via the vote of a plebiscite, or legislation in the Parliament, or even a combination of the two, we would be willing as a nation to do justice to our adherence to the UN Declaration Article 16. Is it not time for Australian political discussion to consider how justice requires us to take a bold stand that queries the supposed “self-evidence” that has overcome Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA (and a few besides) concerning the institution of marriage?

      Don’t we need to be told by these “friends” why Article 16 as has been formulated and agreed to by signatories is somehow no longer relevant to our nation’s membership of the United Nations?

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