Thursday, at (ultra-conservative Catholic) Witherspoon Institute’s blog, we are informed that “Paul Coleman serves as senior counsel and deputy director of ADF International, where he specializes in international litigation with a focus on European law. He is also pivotal in developing an allied network of likeminded lawyers and organizations throughout Europe and abroad.” Who knew? It is in that vein that he offers a piece titled: “The UN’s Push for ‘Same-Sex Marriage’.” 

This is a rather esoteric polemic for those of us who are not literate in international law. I profess profound ignorance. Bear with me while I quote just a couple of paragraphs for context. There is a more important point to be made.

The United Nations has begun openly advocating a controversial position on one of the most divisive issues facing its Member States. Even worse, the UN position does not enjoy support in international law. Over the past few years, many UN bureaucrats have decided to ignore the consensus-led processes laid out in the UN Charter in order to advance the idea that individuals possess a right to same-sex marriage.

The arguments seem strikingly similar:

No Right to Same-Sex Marriage under International Law

In fact, binding UN documents support the traditional understanding of marriage as a particular kind of relationship only possible between a man and a woman.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares in article sixteen that “Men and women . . . have the right to marry and to found a family.” Similarly, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”), which is one of the ten core international human rights legal instruments, states in Article 23 that “the right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family shall be recognized.” It is difficult to interpret such statements as promoting anything but a traditional view of marriage; the drafters of these documents indisputably intended for this language to refer to unions between men and women.

Coleman seems to be conflating international law with UN advocacy. This goes on for almost 2,100 words with a glaring omission. What happened to the parade of horribles? What awful things have happened in Spain or any other country that has embraced marriage equality?

ADF is yet another Christian organization seeking to export anti-gay doctrine to other parts of the world. Mr. Coleman is content to make an arcane legal case to a lay audience without making a single argument in support of the idea that gay couples should not enjoy marriage as a basic human right. Is supposedly ignoring the “consensus-led processes” of the United Nations sufficiently persuasive for Coleman’s purposes?

Or, is it just possible that they have run out of bad arguments? Opposition to marriage equality was never really about some abstract notion of a destructive effect on society. Not at all. Opposition was always based on either the teachings of the Catholic Church with the will of the Vatican to impose those teachings on everyone else and the essential homophobia of some non-liturgical Protestants. Reversing the normal critical thinking process opponents started with a religious conclusion and then concocted porous arguments in support of that which was preordained. It was always like squinting to see a message in a cloud formation or straining to find a message in 60s hard rock played backwards. At least there was a rare message in reverse-rock.

Perhaps Mr. Coleman is unwilling to make an attempt at secular reasoning. It is more likely that, in his orbit, it is a given that same-sex marriage is evil. Hopefully the absence of secular logic will have the same result internationally that it had in the United States. The addition of Ireland to the equality community last year gives me hope. The progress of anti-gay laws in the Russian Federation dictates caution.

By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.