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Monday, 26 November 2012

Wendell Berry on Homosexual Marriage

Wendell Berry's views on the issue of "homosexual marriage" displays an anarchist approach to the issue, that is a questioning of the role of the state. Homosexuals he argues, (perhaps paradoxically given the history of state involvement that has been significantly to the disadvantage of homosexuals):
... have invited the government to make a public judgement about people's sexual behaviour, which ought to be none of the government's business, so long as the behaviour of the people is not abusive of other people. Government approval of anyone's sexual behaviour is as inappropriate and as offensive to freedom as government disapproval. The government's interest in people's living arrangements should go no further than "domestic partnerships" which ought to give the same legal protections to widowed sisters or bachelor brothers or friends, or "partners" living together as married couples. Justice, and (with luck) compassion, should be the government's business. Let sacraments, such as marriage, be the business of religions and communities. ("Letter to Daniel Kemmis" in The Way of Ignorance and Other Essays p.145)
Cultural meanings, Berry is suggesting should not be the business of government. This is an issue which has not yet been seriously debated. Neither those in favour of government legislation for homosexual marriage, nor the churches who wish to cling to their situation of relative legal privilege in their opposition to this initiative with respect to marriage and its meanings seem to have explicitly addressed this issue.

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