Hilary White

Redefining marriage threatens social advances of women, rights of children: UK law professor

Hilary White
Hilary White

LONDON, November 7, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The debate about same-sex “marriage” in the UK is not, as the government and other supporters would have it, about “equality,” “rights” or “fairness,” but about “using law to change the meaning of the social institution of marriage.” So says Julian Rivers, a Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of Bristol Law School.

Any new definition of marriage that would include partnerships not based on a single man and a single woman for the procreation and protection of children, would “unavoidably call into question its exclusivity, its permanence and even its sexual nature,” said Rivers in a report issued by the Jubilee Centre, “a Christian social reform organisation that offers a biblical perspective on issues and trends of relevance to the general public”. Titled “Redefining Marriage: a case for caution,” it is being submitted to the government as part of the ongoing consultation on “gay marriage.”

“Changing the legal definition of marriage will likewise reflect and support a different view of what marriage is and what it is for.”

According to Rivers, any such change will confirm and bolster the already dangerous trends of “excessive individualism of modern Western society, as well as the collapse of participation in all forms of social action.” It will “reduce” marriage to being only for “sexually-intimate companionship,” disconnecting the institution from its biological and societal functions.

It will also create a social threat to the wellbeing of children, Rivers said. Referring to the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, he said, “Every child has a moral claim on her natural father and mother, grounded in the fact that they brought her into being and that it is in principle good for every child to be brought up by her natural parents committed in relationship to each other and to her.”

“Breaking the intrinsic connections between marriage, childbearing and kinship risks the further commodification of children, in which children become ‘ultimate accessories’ – means to the ends of their parents, and ultimately subject to their agendas, rather than persons of equal worth, with an equal stake in the success of the marriage.”

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The notion that natural marriage “discriminates” based on sexual orientation is the basis of the argument for same-sex “marriage,” Rivers said. But the real question is whether this discrimination is unjust. Rivers argues that far from traditional marriage being unjust, it “secures the equal value of men and women,” and “promotes the welfare of children.” Civil partnerships already grant other types of unions full legal security.

“Any law which sets criteria for anything discriminates,” he wrote. While it is right to prohibit distinctions based on sex, race, religion or age in political life, business or employment, “sometimes it is right to draw distinctions even on these grounds.” He gave the example of the law that prohibits children under 16 from marrying.

The government’s proposals have failed “to distinguish rationally between relationships and arrangements which are and are not to be treated as marriage in law.”

Moreover, redefining marriage to create a new “gender-blind” institution will threaten the legitimate social advances made by women over the last 100 years.

“Marriage as currently defined is the central social institution which expresses the idea that men and women are equally valuable as men and women. It is only marriage which harnesses gender difference to the purposes of social cooperation.

“Almost all other ways in which difference is acknowledged – from sports teams to public lavatories – depend on segregation. Sexual union in marriage reinforces a comprehensive ‘together-in-otherness’ of male and female.”

Rivers said that the arguments against same-sex “marriage” coming from religious convictions are legitimate and need to be heard – particularly in a country where the great majority identify themselves as Christian – but are not the only arguments worth making. The government’s proposal, he wrote, fails to address “the fundamental question of what a marriage is, and thus it fails to identify and defend the boundaries of any new definition”.

“At root,” he said, the meaning of marriage is socially, not legally defined. It is not the law that makes marriage what it is, but the law that follows the “socially-given expectations”. Marriage itself, in other words, is the underlying, objective reality with the law merely following that template. 

He also warned that the creation of same-sex “marriage” will put a premature end to discussion of the open question of the impact on children of being raised in homosexual households. The popular opinion in government is that there is no “significant deficit” for children raised by two same-sex partners. However, Rivers wrote, “the distinctive gender roles of a father and a mother are important in the psychological development of children.”

“It must be at least possible that having two ‘fathers’ or ‘mothers’ will not compensate for the absent mother/father-figure.” Currently same-sex partners can both adopt and foster children; “redefining marriage will render these developments immune from reconsideration. Such confidence seems premature.”

The government has made arguments for “gay marriage” based on notions of “equality, stability and convenience” but, Rivers said, these are poorly thought out reasons for changing so fundamental an institution as marriage: “on closer inspection, these are respectively incomplete, speculative and negligible.”

The government was “disingenuous” in making a distinction between “civil” and “religious” marriage in its proposal, he added. The distinction is legally non-existent, and socially, “we don’t think of people as ‘religiously married’ or ‘civilly married’ they are just ‘married’.”

The government has made reassurances that religious groups will not be forced to participate in “gay marriage” ceremonies, but nearly all religious groups in the country have at least expressed serious misgivings in the light of several high-profile lawsuits against Christians who have opposed the homosexualist movement’s agenda in various ways. Christian marriage counselors and civil marriage registrars have already been sacked for refusing to participate and the government is currently arguing against freedom of religious expression at the European Court of Human Rights.

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Today’s chuckle: Rubio, Fiorina and Carson pardon a Thanksgiving turkey

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve
By Steve Jalsevac

A little bit of humour now and then is a good thing.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers.

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Lianne Laurence


BREAKING: Europe’s top human rights court slaps down German ban on pro-life leafletting

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

STRASBOURG, France, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that a German regional court violated a pro-life activist’s freedom of expression when it barred him from leafleting in front of an abortion center.

It further ruled the German court’s order that Klaus Gunter Annen not list the names of two abortion doctors on his website likewise violated the 64-year-old pro-life advocate’s right to freedom of expression.

The court’s November 26 decision is “a real moral victory,” says Gregor Puppinck, director of the Strasbourg-based European Center for Law and Justice, which intervened in Annen’s case. “It really upholds the freedom of speech for pro-life activists in Europe.”

Annen, a father of two from Weinam, a mid-sized city in the Rhine-Neckar triangle, has appealed to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights at least two times before, Puppinck told LifeSiteNews.

“This is the first time he made it,” he said, noting that this time around, Annen had support from the ECLJ and Alliance Defense Fund and the German Pro-life Federation (BVL). “I think he got more support, better arguments and so I think this helped.”

The court also ordered the German government to pay Annen costs of 13,696.87 EUR, or 14,530 USD.

Annen started distributing pamphlets outside a German abortion center ten years ago, ECLJ stated in a press release.

His leaflets contained the names and addresses of the two abortionists at the center, declared they were doing “unlawful abortions,” and stated in smaller print that, “the abortions were allowed by the German legislators and were not subject to criminal liability.”

Annen’s leaflets also stated that, “The murder of human beings in Auschwitz was unlawful, but the morally degraded NS State allowed the murder of innocent people and did not make it subject to criminal liability.” They referred to Annen’s website, www.babycaust.de, which listed a number of abortionists, including the two at the site he was leafleting.

In 2007, a German regional court barred Annen from pamphleteering in the vicinity of the abortion center, and ordered him to drop the name of the two abortion doctors from his website.

But the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that the German courts had "failed to strike a fair balance between [Annen’s] right to freedom of expression and the doctor’s personality rights.”

The Court stated that, “there can be no doubt as to the acute sensitivity of the moral and ethical issues raised by the question of abortion or as to the importance of the public interest at stake.”

That means, stated ECLJ, that “freedom of expression in regard to abortion shall enjoy a full protection.”

ECLJ stated that the court noted Annen’s leaflets “made clear that the abortions performed in the clinic were not subject to criminal liability. Therefore, the statement that ‘unlawful abortions’ were being performed in the clinic was correct from a legal point of view.”

As for the Holocaust reference, the court stated that, “the applicant did not – at least not explicitly – equate abortion with the Holocaust.”  Rather, the reference was “a way of creating awareness of the more general fact that law might diverge from morality.”

The November 26 decision “is a quite good level of protection of freedom of speech for pro-life people,” observed Puppinck.

First, the European Court of Human Rights has permitted leafleting “in the direct proximate vicinity of the clinic, so there is no issue of zoning,” he told LifeSiteNews. “And second, the leaflets were mentioning the names of the doctors, and moreover, were mentioning the issue of the Holocaust, which made them quite strong leaflets.”

“And the court protected that.”

Annen has persevered in his pro-life awareness campaign through the years despite the restraints on his freedom.

“He did continue, and he did adapt,” Puppinck told LifeSiteNews. “He kept his freedom of speech as much as he could, but he continued to be sanctioned by the German authorities, and each time he went to the court of human rights. And this time, he won.”

ECLJ’s statement notes that “any party” has three months to appeal the November 26 decision.

However, as it stands, the European Court of Human Rights’s ruling affects “all the national courts,” noted Puppinck, and these will now “have to protect freedom of speech, recognize the freedom of speech for pro-lifers.”

“In the past, the courts have not always been very supportive of the freedom of speech of pro-life,” he said, so the ruling is “significant.”

As for Annen’s pro-life ministry, Pubbinck added: “He can continue to go and do, and I’m sure that he does, because he always did.”  

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‘Soft racism’: German Bishops’ website attributes African Catholics’ strong faith to simplemindedness

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By Pete Baklinski

GERMANY, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) --  The only reason the Catholic Church is growing in Africa is because the people have a “rather low level” of education and accept “simple answers to difficult questions” involving marriage and sexuality, posited an article on the official website of the German Bishops' Conference posted yesterday. The article targeted particularly Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, the Vatican's prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and ardent defender of Catholic tradition.

First Things blogger Leroy Huizenga, who translated a portion of the article, criticized the article's view as “soft racism.”

In his article, titled “The Romantic, Poor Church,” Katholisch.de editor Björn Odendahl writes: 

So also in Africa. Of course the Church is growing there. It grows because the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and the people accept simple answers to difficult questions (of faith) [sic]. Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent.

Huizenga said that such an article has no place on a bishops’ conference website. 

“We all know that the German Bishops' Conference is one of the most progressive in the world. But it nevertheless beggars belief that such a statement would appear on the Conference's official website, with its lazy slander of African Christians and priests as poor and uneducated (Odendahl might as well have added ‘easy to command’) and its gratuitous swipe at Cardinal Sarah,” he wrote. 

“Natürlich progressives could never be guilty of such a sin and crime, but these words sure do suggest soft racism, the racism of elite white Western paternalism,” he added. 

African prelates have gained a solid reputation for being strong defenders of Catholic sexual morality because of their unwavering orthodox input into the recently concluded Synod on the Family in Rome. 

At one point during the Synod, Cardinal Robert Sarah urged Catholic leaders to recognize as the greatest modern enemies of the family what he called the twin “demonic” “apocalyptic beasts” of “the idolatry of Western freedom” and “Islamic fundamentalism.”

STORY: Cardinal Danneels warns African bishops to avoid ‘triumphalism’

“What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today,” he said during his speech at the Synod last month. 

But African prelates’ adherence to orthodoxy has earned them enemies, especially from the camp of Western prelates bent on forming the Catholic Church in their own image and likeness, not according to Scripture, tradition, and the teaching magisterium of the Church. 

During last year’s Synod, German Cardinal Walter Kasper went as far as stating that the voice of African Catholics in the area of Church teaching on homosexuality should simply be dismissed.

African cardinals “should not tell us too much what we have to do,” he said in an October 2014 interview with ZENIT, adding that African countries are "very different, especially about gays.” 

Earlier this month Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, instead of praising Africa for its vibrant and flourishing Catholicism, said that African prelates will one day have to look to Europe to get what he called “useful tips” on how to deal with “secularization” and “individualism.” 

The statement was criticized by one pro-family advocate as “patronizing of the worst kind” in light of the facts that numerous European churches are practically empty, vocations to the priesthood and religious life are stagnant, and the Catholic faith in Europe, especially in Belgium, is overall in decline.

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