Thank you, Brian Greig, for summing up the ultimate outcome of the same-sex marriage campaign in four crisp sentences: the abolition of marriage altogether.  

Mr Greig is a former Senator from Western Australia who was the first open homosexual in Federal Parliament. In 1999 he told the Senate that no gays and lesbians he knew wanted same-sex marriage. (See yesterday’s Conjugality.) Now, in a letter to The Australian, he explains why he has changed his mind.

The purpose of the campaign, he says, is to attain “respect and recognition”.

“I see now that exclusion from such a fundamental social and legal institution as marriage runs to the heart of the prejudice and stigma gay and lesbian people still face.

“Marriage matters because it’s about respect and recognition. Marriage acknowledges and embraces same-sex couples within families and communities in a way that de facto laws cannot.

“Marriage equality says to gay and lesbian people, the war is over, there should be no more discrimination, isolation, hurt and ridicule, we’re sorry for what you went through and we welcome you as equals.”

So, “marriage equality” is really not about equal benefits but about social status.

There are two problems with this.

First, the majesty of the law can grant access to public benefits; it cannot guarantee that your neighbour will shake your hand and invite you to a barbeque. If gays and lesbians still feel socially marginalised after legalisation, what then? Will there be laws to enforce cheery smiles?

Second, it leaves marriage without a purpose. Notice that Greig does not mention the word “children” once. But children are the only rational justification for the enormous financial and social investment that the government is making. There are hundreds of laws which confer rights, benefits and privileges to marriage between a man and a woman.

The government is not spending this money to honour the  love and commitment of a mother and father, to increase their self-esteem, or to confirm their social status. There is only one pragmatic reason for this colossal expense: ensuring that children are raised in the best possible circumstances.

Sooner or later, under a thorough-going same-sex marriage regime in which kids are an optional extra, governments will start to pare back those expensive rights and privileges. Why not? If marriage is no longer performing a value-adding social function, ditch it.

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet. 

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet. He lives in Sydney, Australia.