Now Belgium, Canada, Netherlands and Spain all have passed the same sex marriage bill, all on the grounds of equal rights.
The first question to ask is, what is a right and what makes it something that everybody is entitled to?
Surely not all rights are equal rights. Prince Charles has the right to inherit the English throne once the Queen is dead. But can I say, “Equal rights! Equal rights! I should have the same right to the throne as well. Now, once Elizabeth II dies I become Celine I, no more House of Windsor but House of Yeung”? There just are rights which, if you are not entitled to them, then you are not entitled to them and there is no talk of equal rights. Whenever we argue for the entitlement of a group of people to something we have to explain why they have that right. Equal rights itself is never a sufficient argument.
Ah, but you say, surely everybody has the right to marry. Now consider this. We say women have the right to vote. Being who they are, they should have equal rights, they should be allowed to do the same thing other people are doing. And so they say, homosexuals should also be allowed to do the same thing other people can. It’s a matter of equal rights.
But is it the same thing that they are asking to do which other people are doing, namely getting married???
Ah, obviously no, this is why they need to redefine marriage. They are asking to be allowed to do something in fact nobody else is doing, i.e. uniting with the same sex. So the so-called “equal rights” argument is out. Now the second question is, do we have the right to redefine marriage?
This leads to the question: under what situation is redefining something at all plausible?
According to stupid Celine, there are only two such situations but marriage does not seem to fit into either of them.
- The first situation is where the definition is of something we invented ourselves. If we invented the DVD, and now we prefer calling something else also DVD, it’s up to us.
- The second situation is where, although we didn’t invent the thing defined, we invented the concept for convention and/or for classification. We didn’t create the whales, but we invented the term mammals to conveniently group the kind of animals which give birth to live young, and nurse their young on milk etc. If we prefer calling something else mammals, again it’s up to us.
But there is a third kind of definition: we were already acquainted with something, and only then did we give it a label. In this case the definition is purely a label; it describes what we already mean rather than a prescription of what is to be fitted into a name. And in this case, there is just no such thing as redefining something! Or at least, there is no past example of redefinition! We cannot redefine marriage because it belongs to the third kind of definition instead of the first two. We did not invent the union between a man and a woman, and we did not invent the concept of the union. We always know what it is, we just give it a label. It just doesn’t make sense to redefine it – same-sex unions just are not marriages.
The concept of mass is not a counterexample to my argument. Although it’s redefined in modern physics, in Newtonian physics it’s still the same thing. In this case it’s ok to redefine something even if it falls into the third category above, as the new definition is made in a different context. But now the same-sex marriage bill is passed in the same old context as before. It just doesn’t make sense.