This article by Brendan O’Neill in the British magazine The Spectator has been getting some attention in recent days. Here’s its subtitle:
Rather than striking a blow for individual liberties, the dogma of gay marriage is stifling them.
Here is its opening:
Has there ever been a sweeter-sounding, more goosebump-inducing phrase than ‘Freedom to marry’? Everyone likes freedom (even illiberal politicians pay lip service to liberty), and who doesn’t love a good wedding? Marry these two things together (pun intended) and you end up with an endorphin-releasing buzzphrase that will make anyone grin wildly.
So it has been following Senator David Leyonhjelm’s unveiling of the Freedom to Marry Bill. Across Oz, right-minded people who think gays must be allowed to get hitched experienced paroxysms of joy at the introduction of this new phrase into the political vernacular. Sure, those of a leftish bent had trouble computing the fact that it’s a classical liberal politician who’s championing their most beloved cause. But the instant they made peace with this seeming anomaly, they, together with small-l liberals, gay-rights activists and the Age-reading patrons of non-chain coffee shops across the land (well, in Melbourne), were giving themselves adrenalin rushes by whispering those three magic words: ‘Freedom to marry…’
I hate to rain on this fabulous parade, but there’s a massive problem with this happy-clappy rallying cry. And it’s this: everywhere gay marriage has been introduced it has battered freedom, not boosted it. Debate has been chilled, dissenters harried, critics tear-gassed. Love and marriage might go together like horse and carriage, but freedom and gay marriage certainly do not. The double-thinking ‘freedom to marry’ has done more to power the elbow of the state than it has to expand the liberty of men and women. There are awkward questions the ‘freedom to marry’ folks just can’t answer. Like: if gay marriage is a liberal cause, how come it’s been attended by authoritarianism wherever it’s been introduced?
Consider France. Hundreds of thousands of French people — or ‘bigots’, as the gay-marriage lobby brands anyone who disagrees with it — marched against the legalisation of gay marriage in 2013. And they were beaten and tear-gassed by riot cops. Parisians in t-shirts celebrating traditional marriage were arrested for holding ‘unauthorised protests’. In the words of Parisian writer John Laughland, critics of gay marriage were turned into ‘ideological enemies’ of the French state. It’s a funny expansion of freedom that so violently pummels the right to protest.
Read more: The Spectator