When you mess with fundamental aspects of human biology and society you simply cannot predict all the consequences. However, the British may be better at this than other nations.
Here’s a good piece of lateral thinking on gay marriage that came up in a British House of Lords debate on the royal succession — legislation designed to end preference for the eldest son and allow a daughter to be first in line for the throne.
What if, said Lord True, a Conservative peer who is not opposed to gay marriage,
“What happens if we have a lesbian queen in a same-sex marriage who conceives using an egg implanted with donor sperm? The law should be clear, but this is a question that has not been thought through in the Bill.
Already British law says that only an “heir to the body” can succeed to the throne. The phrase, dating from the 18th century, was intended to mean direct biological descendants of the monarch. But today’s tinkering with the beginnings of life and parenthood mean this common law position on the succession could be challenged in future, Lord True pointed out. The succession law should clear up any doubt on the point, he said.
A government law officer said, after “much thought”, that the law was clear enough and there was no need to worry. Lord True withdrew his amendment but said he remained “troubled” by the by the questions raised by same-sex marriage laws.
“My concern is that as the law arises in the future, that understanding may be challenged,” he said.
“As same sex marriage becomes part of the settled life of our kingdom, as the Prime Minister intends, the law [on successions] will inevitably evolve.”
Despite withdrawing his amendment, Lord True said the questions it raised will have to be answered one day.
“This may seem fanciful or long in the future, but I believe Parliament should reflect on it,” he said. “I believe the question will inevitably arise.”
He is so right. Anyone who said 20 years ago that Britain, or the US or New Zealand or several other places would be conferring marital status on homosexual couples and giving babies to a couple of gay men would have been mocked and accused of scaremongering.
And look at us now. Queen Victoria would not have been amused.