Fr James Lyons writes of his Submission to the Select Committee on the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill.
How would you describe a soldier of the Second World War era? The question was addressed to me from a member of the Parliamentary Committee hearing submissions on the Marriage Amendment Bill which requires the re-defining of marriage to include same-sex couples.
I appeared before the Committee on 22 November, with a personal submission that, broadening the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples would unnecessarily destroy a time-honoured understanding that marriage was exclusively a male-female relationship.
Further, marriage is related to family. It is through the union of male and female that our species continues. The fact that impotency, disease or age may prevent some couples from having children, is not an argument for including same-sex couples in the definition, as another member of the Committee suggested. In their exclusive relationship, such couples do not even have the potential to be biological parents.
While all couples are capable of a loving and faithful commitment, only a woman and man together can reproduce human life. The definition of marriage must respect that distinction.
A WWII “soldier” was invariably considered a male; but that definition has been extended in modern defence/warfare to include females. I was expected to concede that this showed any definition could change over time. The logic didn’t seem to fit, but logic tends to override emotion and the issue before the Committee is charged with emotion.
[Full] Submission to the Parliamentary Committee on the Same Sex Marriage Bill
From Fr James B Lyons, Parish Priest, Sacred heart Cathedral, Wellington
My opposition to the Same Sex Marriage Bill may well be expected, given that I am a Catholic Priest. But I am first of all a third generation New Zealander who loves this country and the rights we have as citizens.
However, every right carries a corresponding responsibility and I fear that the Same Sex Marriage Bill is proposing a right that, in reality, does not and cannot exist.
Members of the same sex cannot claim a right to marry without redefining marriage, which has always been understood as a union between male and female. Same sex couples can already seal their relationship publicly and I see no reason why a time-honoured appreciation of the female-male union in marriage needs to be destroyed.
It is through the union of male and female that the human race continues. Such a union is fundamental to human society. If Marriage is to include the union of female and female or male and male, it will no longer be related to family as we know it. It will no longer be the lynch-pin for social development.
Marriage needs to be preserved as the nursery of human life and the right to marry needs to be preserved for couples whose sexual union can reproduce human life.
The dignity of marriage demands an exclusive definition. It is already possible for same sex couples to have their relationship formally recognised in a civil union, but their own definition is incompatible with marriage.