State could replace marriage with civil union
As a non-Catholic, I would like to comment on Brendan Butler's observation (Write Back, April 13) that "the Catholic Church is often portrayed and perceived as opposing progressive human rights issues as in the continuing debate on marriage equality".
I think this whole matter is based on a semantic ambiguity. Marriage, as traditionally understood by all major religions, is the union of a man and woman for the primary, though not exclusive, purpose of begetting children and providing them with a secure and stable environment in which to grow up.
With this definition, "gay marriage" is an oxymoron and, therefore, its non-existence involves no human rights infringement.
That members of the gay community want their long-term relationships recognised by the state is understandable, but this does not give them the right to redefine the word "marriage" and insist that others accept this new definition.
Perhaps the solution is for the state to abolish the term "marriage" for the civil act and replace it by some other name, such as "civil union", carrying the same legal rights and duties, leaving marriage as a purely religious act in which it takes no interest.
Unfortunately, I perceive that the underlying purpose of the current agitation is not to attain such recognition, per se, but, rather, to have same-sex sexual activity treated as perfectly normal and acceptable - something which opponents find objectionable.
Once this aspect is removed from the debate, most of the latter, as Mr Butler observes, "will welcome our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to enjoy the same status regarding civil marriage as their other brothers and sisters".
MARTIN D STERN
Salford, Greater Manchester