Shifting the Marriage Conversation

Getting the Marriage Conversation Right - A Guide for Effective Dialogue William MayEmmaus Road Publishing, 2012; 82 pages, $5.95 When the socialist government of France began to move ahead with plans to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples, some observers were surprised at the very significant public opposition that resulted. On January 13, 2013 many hundreds of thousands of people—perhaps a million—gathered in Paris to oppose publicly the government’s socialengineering agenda. Close observers might have noted that the demonstrations avoided some of the “gay rights” framing so commonly imposed on the debate over the meaning of marriage, not least because some of the prominent voices in favor of retaining the understanding of marriage as the union of husband and wife were associated with the gay-rights cause. These latter, like others of their fellow citizens, recognize that a social institution uniting mothers and fathers in children’s interest benefits all members of society. The French demonstrations had a relentless focus on children and their opportunity to be raised by both a father and mother. This focus on children’s wellbeing runs contrary to the way advocates of redefining marriage would like the discussion to proceed. In a recent interview a reporter asked my response to homosexuals who felt they were hurt by current laws retaining the understanding of marriage as the union of a husband and wife. I sensed some incredulity in reaction to my answer that regardless of the types of relationship an individual desires, that person would benefit from living in a society that recognizes and promotes the unique and uniquely valuable bond of a man and a woman oriented towards social goods—the most important of which is children’s opportunity to be reared by a mother and father. Those advocating same-sex “marriage,” by contrast, would frame the issue by first reducing marriage to a private relationship oriented towards p
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