Will they be happy when they kill off marriage?

By PETER HITCHENS, Mail on Sunday
November 30, 2003

The campaign to abolish marriage in this country is now close to success.

It is amazing how quickly it has happened and how a tiny faction of extremists have smashed a centuries-old institution in a few decades.

The latest blow - civil partnerships for homosexual couples - is both cunning and heavy. Politicians love to pretend they are giving when they are taking away, and they also like to portray the defenders of marriage as intolerant bigots. This plan achieves both these things at once.

By giving the privileges of marriage to homosexuals, the Government is, in effect, creating a 'marriage lite', which will eventually be extended to any two people who care to set up house together, on far less stringent conditions than those demanded of married couples.

And anyone who objects will be smeared as a 'homophobe', when, in fact, the argument is about something else altogether. Marriage has privileges because it is valuable to society.

Married couples were granted respectability, security, legal protection and tax breaks in return for making a binding public commitment to do something brave, difficult and immensely valuable.

If those privileges are given to everyone, they cease to be privileges.

The promise to stay together for better or worse meant that children could grow up in a stable home, which all research shows is the best thing for them.

And it gave us all a chance to have a private life, not subject to governments or employers or landlords. This was best put by, of all people, D.H. Lawrence, author of Lady Chatterley's Lover, who said: 'It is marriage which has given man the best of his freedom, given him his little kingdom of his own within the big kingdom of the state, given him his foothold of independence on which to stand and resist an unjust state.'

And he warned: 'Break it and you will have to go back to the overwhelming dominance of the state, which existed before the Christian era.'

We live in an age of everincreasing state interference in our lives. The law pokes its nose into our homes in ways undreamed of 30 years ago and is taking a growing interest in what we say and think as well as what we do.

Meanwhile, global big business, which thinks nothing of switching 10,000 jobs to India to save money, regards us all as fodder, scorning our private needs and turning every day into a weekday, something which even Stalin was not able to do.

These forces see the married family as a rival and an obstacle.

The state wants to take over the roles of husband and father, while business wants mothers out at work within days of giving birth, if they can't be persuaded to have abortions in the first place.

With such giant allies, the ultra-feminists are in sight of achieving what they thought they wanted - a country without marriage, family life, fathers or husbands.

I wonder if they will like it when they get it?

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