Clare’s question about yesterday’s Garvan Hill post on the Irish Government’s confusion of language, truth and logic needs a reply. She asked: In what way do you imagine any straight marriage would be different, after marriage equality? Do you think the partners would no longer love each other, or no longer complement each other, or what?
In the real world different things need different names. If we do not give different things different names we can get very confused.
In this case the two types of partnership we are talking about do share a number of things, desire, commitment and, above all love. But each has distinctly different modes of expressing that love physically. In one case, that of a man and a woman, a very distinct set of consequences can follow from the act of love. This makes the totality of the man and woman partnership radically distinct from the man and man or woman and woman partnership. To say that this difference is radically different is not in itself to elevate the one over the other. It is a simple matter of fact.
If, in our language – and as a consequence, in our laws – we do not signify that difference we will confuse things in a serious way. Our laws depend on clarity of language – knowing what we mean when we speak. Understanding what a law obliges requires understanding the things that law is about. This requires that our naming of things fits the realty of things.
If I give the name ‘marriage’ to the binding commitment of persons in any sexual relationship I create confusion. Issues surrounding consanguinity, consummation, generation of offspring, and many other elements have to be encompassed in our laws governing marriage between men and women but have no relevance in the relationships of same sex couples. Trying to cater for both with the same law is to no one’s interest – other than that of the Anarchists who have now jumped on to the Yes bandwagon.
However, if we keep the term Civil Union, or Partnership, for one and Marriage for the other, the laws needed for the benign regulation of each can be framed appropriately. There is no denial of equality in this. In fact it is enabling us to do what is of the very essence of equality, giving to each what is his and her due.
To come back to the flawed concept of equality, by looking again at the case of our two diplomats, we can see that the logic of the “Yes to equality” campaign would require us to meddle with language to achive their “equality”. If the posting was to Russia, and one diplomat did not speak Russian but did speak Chinese, to treat him “equally” we can resort to calling his Chinese by the name Russian, and, hey presto, we can ignore the difference in their skills and send either of them off to represent us in Russia.
The “Yes to equality” campaign, not so ably, but very ruthlessly, led by our elected parliament is still flying in the face of language, truth and logic.