Freedom and equality are the hallmark values of advanced western democracies. The case for deconstructing marriage in Canada is based largely upon these ideals. It is said that adults are entitled to the freedom to determine the gender and number of their sex partners, as well as their own living and child-rearing arrangements. “Privileging” marriage has come to be seen as an unacceptable infringement upon freedom and an unlawful imposition of inequality.
The contrary view defends the traditional position that marriage is the appropriate context for sexual activity and childbearing, precisely to protect freedom and equality. While the modern trends appear to bring about more freedom and equality, abolishing marriage as a privileged institution will result in less freedom and less equality for the next generation.
Marriage is society’s normative institution for regulating both sexual activity and the rearing of children. The modern alternative idea is that society does not need such an institution: no particular arrangement should be legally or culturally privileged as the ideal context for either sex or childbearing. Although gay marriage is the current hot-button topic, it is a parenthetical issue. The more basic question is whether society needs the institution of marriage at all.
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