Brendan O'Neill, a very strong libertarian and atheist, writes:
Anyone who thinks the introduction of gay marriage will give rise to a new era of liberty and choice should look at the Canadian experience. There, the passing of the 2005 Civil Marriage Act, which allows same-sex unions, unleashed a phenomenal amount of state meddling in families and relationships. Most notably, the state utterly overhauled the traditional language of the family, airbrushing from official documents terms such as "husband" and "wife" and even "mother" and "father". The Orwellian obliteration of such longstanding identities, which mean a great deal to many people, demonstrates that modern politicians are more than happy to ride roughshod over the majority in their desperate pursuit of some PC political points.
The Lib-Con consultation on gay marriage has hinted that words such as "husband" and "wife" could soon become a thing of the past, to be replaced by the sterile and soulless "spouse". In Canada, they've already done this. Following the passing of the Civil Marriage Act, all official documentation and legislation was amended, erasing "husbands" and "wives". And because same-sex couples primarily use reproductive technology to procreate, some Canadian legislation has been amended to replace the term "natural parent" with "legal parent". As one report describes it: "In short, the adoption exception – that who is a child's parent is established by legal fiat, not biological connection – becomes the norm for all children." Most strikingly, on birth certificates some Canadian provinces have replaced the term "father" and "mother" with "Parent 1" and "Parent 2".
Such tinkering with lingo, the replacement of words that have real depth and meaning for millions of people with bureaucratic terms that no normal person uses, reveals the social-engineering instinct that lies behind the gay-marriage campaign. Because this is not simply about elevating gay relationships, as we are so often told – more importantly, it is about demoting and devaluing traditional relationships, as built on marriage as it was once understood. Who in their right mind introduces their husband or wife as their "spouse"? What normal woman describes herself as "Parent 1" to her children rather than "mother"? No one does. The emergence of such vapid terminology on the back of the gay-marriage bandwagon shows that traditional identities will be trounced in the name of allowing political elites to look cool by backing gay marriage.
What message does it send to people who define themselves as husbands, wives, mothers or fathers when those ancient terms, so packed with moral purchase, are overnight replaced by bureaucratic BS? It doesn't matter, it seems. Those people and their identities count for little in the face of David Cameron's desire to look both caring and daring as he gives his blessing to gay marriage.