NOM BLOG

British Scholar Takes Up the Case for Redefining Marriage and Finds it Wanting

 

Julian Rivers is published widely in constitutional law, legal theory, and law and religion studies. He is Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of Bristol Law School, an editor-in-chief of the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion, and a member of the advisory board of the Ecclesiastical Law Journal.

In the current issue of Cambridge Papers, he takes up the case for redefining marriage and finds it wanting.

Here is the summary:

"The Government's proposal to introduce same-sex marriage seems to rest on reasons of equality, stability and convenience. But on closer inspection, these are respectively incomplete, speculative and negligible. As currently defined, marriage secures the equal value of men and women. It also promotes the welfare of children. By contrast, the new definition of marriage will unavoidably call into question its exclusivity, its permanence and even its sexual nature. Such an unravelling of marriage is too high a price to pay for a proposal which fulfils no practical legal need."

And here is his conclusion:

"The proposal to change the current definition of marriage depends on a sense that the man-woman criterion confers no distinctive social goods and represents an arbitrary limitation. But this is not the case. Marriage affirms the equal value of men and women, and promotes the welfare of children. Moreover, the logic of equal recognition and radical choice means that the boundaries of any new definition will be far more vulnerable. Challenges to its exclusivity, its permanence and even its sexual nature will be unavoidable. Marriage risks becoming any formalised domestic arrangement between any number of people for any length of time. On such a trajectory, marriage will eventually unravel altogether."

You can read the entire piece here.