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It’s about the sociology, not the sex

It is important after reading the recent headlines in the newspaper regarding Mark Pettingill and the judgment passed by the Chief Justice, to hear another opinion on the debate on same-sex marriage from a professional other than those of the legal fraternity. Their recent opinions in favour of changing the law have caused many in the community to question whether it is worth fighting against, given the players who have come out in favour of the changes.

Many have felt the inevitability of the change, not because they felt the change was “right” for Bermuda, but because they have disempowered themselves to speak up for what they inherently know to be true. That truth is, marriage is fundamentally the pairing of a man and a woman, who have come together to form and optimally raise a family. Anything other than that can do one, but cannot do both.

What I try to remind people in my day-to-day discussions is that a legal opinion does not equate to a truth. In 1893, it was “legally” decided that a tomato would be classified as a vegetable, even though biologically it was a fruit. Recently legal decision cannot change the nature of an object or an action, only how to view that object or action within a given context.

In California, one of the most liberal states in the union, the majority voted to maintain marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and it was the courts that overturned the will of the people and told them how they were to view marriage, and the context it was to be taken in. Hence, it meant not only redefining it to include same sex, but punishing those who maintained their viewpoint of the original definition, if that view infringed upon same-sex couples' ability to access any public services or facilities.

As the recent ruling has shown, once passed, there would be nothing that would be off limits, and although some SSM advocates state now that they just want to be able to have access to insurance, wills and access to their loved ones should they be admitted to a hospital, history has shown that there is always more that comes from this or any ruling.

An opinion piece in last Monday's paper made reference to a child from a union of two same-sex people. By definition, same-sex couples who have children together cannot have them with each other since that is still biologically impossible. Unless they adopt, that leaves them to split a child from one of the biological parents, which we have in abundance in our present rate of divorce. This has been one of the fundamental tenants that are glossed over by same-sex advocates. You don't have to be married to have children, but you improve the odds of those children living fulfilled, healthy lives when they are raised by their biological parents in an intact, nurturing home.

Governments should be fostering the lifestyle that has the possibility of best outcome. This does not mean that there are not marriages of opposite-sex couples who fail, but the Government should always work towards what is best for its majority. In the end, people should vote for or against issues, based upon informed consent, not on hearsay or passive indifference. But like any slippery slope, if you decide that two opposite-sex people getting married is denying the rights of two same-sex people, then how is that different to two same-sex people getting married denying the rights of three or more people being legally able to get married — known as polygamy?

If one is truly going to use the tenets of human rights, then it is not for those who want rights because they happen to be of the same sex, but because they are simply human. Under that, then we should examine the merits of why they seek marriage rights and should it be extended to all, regardless of their marital status. This can be done without “legally” redefining marriage.

•Henry Dowling, a family practitioner, is the chairman and president of the Bermuda Medical Doctors' Association and a member of the Bermuda Health Council

Topical issue: Ryan Anderson, a member of the conservative American think-tank the Heritage Foundation, was in Bermuda recently to present the case against same-sex marriage. In this photograph, people are seen hearing him speak at the New Testament Church of God, Heritage Worship Centre. The event was organised by a group going under the names Preserve Marriage and Concerned Citizens of Bermuda (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published December 14, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 14, 2015 at 1:30 am)

It’s about the sociology, not the sex

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