Christian Democrats hinder gender neutral marriages in Sweden

Today, the two Christian Democrats Göran Hägglund (Party leader) and Stefan Attefall finally stated their opinion on same sex marriages in the Swedish newspaper SvD. Not very surprisingly, the answer is no – at least for now. They motivate their stand on their opinion that the State should not be neutral when it comes to how a society ought to be formed. The foundation for a good and healthy society, so they say, is the family. To me that can be true for some people, but for others the answer is of course more complicated than that. Different people have different choices and it should NOT be up to the State to intervene in people’s own private choices. This will now hinder the government to change Swedish laws to the better. The Christian Democrats have already bottom-low ranking on the polls; I don’t think the voters will approve to this and I don’t think this will give the boost in popularity I think Hägglund and the rest intended it to constitute.

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About tegis

This blog belongs to Carl-Mikael A. Teglund - tegis. Swedish emigrant with a heart for languages, philosophy, history, and politics (classical liberalism in the European tradition). Go ahead and look, read, or listen. I'm sure you will find it interesting.
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8 Responses to Christian Democrats hinder gender neutral marriages in Sweden

  1. John Simon Ritchie says:

    The problem is children’s rights to legal parents, safety and structure, which will be much harder to safeguard if the law allows for any kind of legal relationships. This is a real issue, which I think too many libertarians tend to overlook in their quest for personal freedom.

    I also think that the Christian church (which I as a heathen despise) should not be forced to accept anything in particular which they don’t want to accept. They are a club with a rapidly diminishing membership, increasingly irrelevant with their medieval, intolerant Middle Eastern views on women, gays, morality etc. Let them wither away on their own.

    Anyone can enter into a relationship with anybody as it is. Anyone can inherit anybody as long as it’s stated in a will. Let’s do what we’ve always done -ignore the church and the morality it has forced upon us.
    But at the same time, let’s accept the fact that society _is_ built on the family, whether that fact is politically correct for the Left (and apparently, some libertarians as well) or not.

    Possibly the best solution is to find a way for gays and lesbians to formalize their relationships in another way, while recognizing the difference between heterosexual couples and homosexual ones. At the same time, all state resources to the church should be abolished, and all church-owned land should be sold. Leave them to their bizarre morality, as long as they can finance it on their own.

  2. Giulia Guidi says:

    “Different people have different choices and it should NOT be up to the State to intervene in people’s own private choices”.

    Same sex marriages are a topic that puzzles me somewhat.

    On the one hand, I agree with you on the principle that government should not interfere (at least not too heavy-handedly) with how society is formed and develops, or with its citizens’ private choices.

    On the other hand, marriage is not only a private choice, but also a public act: Through marriage, the State sanctions and recognizes a private choice, making it official and, thus, of public relevance.

    This is the reason why I find same-sex marriages to be a very complex issue: My indecision depends perhaps on the dual nature of marriage, which is both an interpersonal relationship and an official act. Marriage is both public and private.

    One could also (tentatively) argue that, by officialy sanctioning a private choice, the State always intervenes in a positive, affirmative way in its citizens’ private choices, and does so (almost) as actively and heavy-handedly as is would by not permitting it: There is in fact a significant difference between permitting a choice (for instance, allowing homosexuals to form steady couples) and giving it official sanction (by marrying these couples.)

    That said, it is still possible to argue in favor of same-sex marriages from an “affirmative action” point of view, according to which gays are a weak minority whose unions should be officially sanctioned in order to strengthen and highlight their position in society. Since I am not very fond of affirmative action policies, I would not be convinced by this argument, but it would nevertheless remain a legitimate point.

    An argument that actually could convince me (and, in part, already has) is the questioning of the legitimacy and function of state-sanctioned marriages between both heterosexuals and gays. Why do certain personal relationship need to be sanctioned by the State? Why is it so important, or needed, in modern societies? Is it really necessary? Does it have positive consequences? If so, for whom?

    These are, in my opinion, the questions that we should be asking.

    “But at the same time, let’s accept the fact that society _is_ built on the family”

    As a conservative, I would say that society is built on individuals, who are social beings and have a natural, spontaneous tendency to build families (and to form other groups and communities.) Government should tehrefore not interfere with this natural tendency.

    But, apart from helping sustain and support those families who are raising children, why do these natural, spontaneous unions need to be specifically sanctioned and recognized by the State? If they are already natural and spontaneous, they should not need any further “artificial” encouragment!

    PS: I know, I am a very weird conservative! 😉

    Best regards,

    Giulia 🙂

  3. tegis says:

    As a libertarian, I would say that there’s no such thing as society (quote Thatcher) ;). Society is only a construction that we do not need for other things than the sole things we cannot do ourselves, such as protecting everyones conception of liberty and life plus guarding the nation from outside threats. That is why a “state” was created in the first place, you had a guy with some more money than others who was able to build a castle and then he said to the poor farmers that if they gave him crops and valuables they were very much welcome to his lair when pirates attacked the village etc. etc.
    You get my point here. Thus, state should not interfere in anything that goes beyond these frames. The only reason why this could be questionable would be if there are more things that we cannot sustain ourselves. With this rhetoric one might argue if health care ought to be included in this conception. Freedman argued that the state also has the responsibility to take care of those who are unable to achieve this freedom at any point, such as children. We should not however take away the adult individuals right to govern their own life. Then we have a nanny-state.
    Because that marriages is only something that is created in our minds and only has a intrinsic meaning for the individual who’s performing the act, no one else has the right to decide over this free person’s individual choice or preference. If I want to, according to old Norse traditions, slay a goat and drink mead and dance around backwards a stone in order to celebrate my wedding, I should be able to do so. And neither you nor a State are allowed to stop me! 😉

  4. Giulia Guidi says:

    Hi!

    I found your reply so interesting that I wrote a very (perhaps excessively) long response to it: I apologize in advance for my long-winded, hallucinated digressions! 🙂

    “As a libertarian, I would say that there’s no such thing as society (quote Thatcher) ;). […] Society is only a construction that we do not need for other things than the sole things we cannot do ourselves […]. That is why a ‘state’ was created in the first place.”

    Well, in my opinion one should first of all be cautious and careful not to confuse “society” and “State.”

    Although I am a conservative, I clearly prefer the libertarian (and “classical liberal”) conception of State to the social conservative one, which is too collectivistic, anti-individualistic, authoritarian and intrusive for my taste.

    Also my conception of society is not the typically social conservative (or socialist, for that matter) view that Thatcher – rightfully – disliked.

    I do, however, believe that any empirical observation of how human beings interact with each other within a group (and the self-same fact that we tend to form groups) does inevitably lead to the conclusion that, although formed by separate and independent individuals in their own right, any group of human beings makes up a more complex and integrated entity than a mere collection of single individuals: I call “society” the organizational and interpersonal, relational and hierarchical network that exists between the separate individuals that form a group (and I call such group a “social group.”) Sometimes I might extend the meaning of the noun “society” to refer to a “social group,” although such extension is not very rigorous.

    In conclusion, I find it a bit extreme (and un-empirical, or abstract) to deny the existence of such a network of inter-group relationships and hierarchies (a “society”) and other group-binding constructs (which may be called “culture.”)

    Please, observe that I do not “worship”, or favor, the collective, social side of our dualistic human nature, but I find it hard to flat-out deny its existence for merely political or philosophical purposes. Likewise, I also dislike those who deny and try to downplay the strong individualistic component of human nature.

    In defense of the libertarian and liberal viewpoint, I will however concede that more damage has been caused (and is likely to be caused) by an excess of collectivism, rather than by an excess of individualism.

    The only difference between a libertarian and me is that libertarians seem to be quite intransigent (militant, one could say) and always thinking in prescriptive and programmatic terms, describing exclusively “how things should be” (Government should not interfere, individual freedom should come first, etc.), whereas I prefer to think also (but not only) in descriptive and empirical terms, taking also (but by no means only) into account “the way things are” and the manner in which individuals tend to organize and regulate themselves naturally and spontaneously (let us call it “society”), as well as individual freedoms, need and aspirations. In other words, I seek a more “realistic” compromise.

    “I should be able to do so. And neither you nor a State are allowed to stop me! ”

    By no means do I wish to stop gay unions or prevent anyone else from getting married 🙂 : I simply disapprove of State-sanctioned (civil) marriages. I do not think that they are necessary, nor meaningful, or logical in any conceivable sense.

    I believe in spontaneous, consensual unions of free and independent individuals, which may be somewhat formalized for the sole reason of protecting and supporting a couple’s children (thus curtailing a whole score of financial benefits to which spouses are currently entitled.) In a modern, dynamic society it is not necessary for the State to officially recognize or give sanction to any interpersonal relationship.

    Therefore, I would simply abolish the institution of (civil, State-sanctioned) marriage as it is currently known and administered.

    In fact, as a libertarian you might perhaps appreciate the fact that State-sanctioned marriage is a relatively modern invention, a institutional tool introduced with the sole purpose of giving government control over the traditionally cultural-religious custom of marriage. Before its institutionalization, marriage did not imply any governmental involvement and entailed no fiancial “welfare” entitlements or benefits whatsoever, nor did it have anything to do with the State: It was solely and exclusively a religious ceremony, or a “tribal” ethnic custom, or ritual.

    In my opinion, the State has no business sanctioning (or prohibiting) any consensual union between two adults. If two Christians, or Muslims, or XY (religion or culture of choice) wish to enter into (holy) matrimony with each other, they should of course be free to do so according to their religion or culture’s rules, customs and prescriptions. This private “matrimony” should not, however, have any official or public value, status or meaning, nor should it entail any privileges, benefits and so forth.

    Since I have only reached this conclusion very recently, some of my past (and no longer actual) opinions might contraddict it.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my two (or two-hundred, given the impressive length of this comment) cents’ worth and have a great day! 🙂

  5. Giulia Guidi says:

    PS: I am a (cultural) conservative in that I value and wish to protect, celebrate and foster cultural traditions, but I am a liberal in that I believe that the best and most effective way to foster and protect something is to get the government out of it ASAP! 🙂

  6. tegis says:

    Those inter-group relationships and hierarchies are worth absolutely nothing if they aren’t built on consent and approval from each and every individual that participate in them. Otherwise they are equal as fetters and shackles.
    We form our own culture today, of course with a background on what we already have in our backpack of knowledges and experiences etc. They world is becoming more individualistic and why would it be extreme (and un-empirical, or abstract) to admit this? It is just a fact! Ask the hippie in Christiania in Copenhagen, Denmark how Nordic he or she is, ask the businessman in the business blocks in Nairobi in Kenya how many things he has in common with African culture.
    We create our own world. There are people who fight this movement – e.g. Al Quida and conservative Christians.

    I agree with you that the State should not interfere with marriages. But there we have a juridical problem as well. We have to have courts and other institutions who are clarifying juridical rights and protect property rights etc in cases of a divorce etc. For instance, polygamy ought to be legalized (if it is a result of active consensus and approval) and all my wifes should have their legal rights clarified if I die, right? =)

    “I seek a more “realistic” compromise”
    Let me quote my guru (she’s not but it’s fun to pretend) Ayn Rand as a response to this:
    “n any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit”. 🙂

    Giulia, I really enjoy your comments and it is always nice to have a witty person commenting and debating on my page! 🙂

    Chau!

  7. Giulia Guidi says:

    “Those inter-group relationships and hierarchies are worth absolutely nothing if they aren’t built on consent and approval from each and every individual that participate in them.”

    Ehm… I am not sure that all social relationships are the result of a choice, of a decision. Some of them could be the consequence of external, uncontrollable factors – a case of “force majeure.”

    The essential thing is never to accept them passively if one thinks that they are not fair, just, beneficial, or desirable – It is always possible to try to change these societal relationships for the better.

    Whoever disagrees with this point is of course a “reactionary” (what an ugly Marxistic adjective, but – alas – the best I can come up with right now) stick-in-the-mud. There is, in my opinion, a significant difference between being conservative and “reactionary,” although some conservatives can be backward-looking and fatalistic as well.

    By the way of “changing things for the better,” another liberal tenet I wholeheartedly agree with is that the “best” for “society” is the result of each and every individual trying to pursue their own personal best interest. Consequently, the necessary condition to achieve the “best for society” is to allow each citizen the maximum possible amount of freedom to “pursue their happiness.” [This was a small homage to your “guru!”] 😉

    I therefore also understand (and partially share, actually) your visceral distaste for the term “society” and the concept (construct? generalization? model?) it expresses, since such concept has been often used as an excuse and a justification to annihilate the individual, deny or curtail individual freedom, worsen living conditions and exploit, or enslave, people.

    But, then again, I am speaking (writing, actually) about the way things are, while you refer to the way things should be. In my opinion both discourses serve an important function and complement, balance and enrich one another.

    “They world is becoming more individualistic and why would it be extreme (and un-empirical, or abstract) to admit this? It is just a fact!”

    Not only do I admit it and recognize such fact, but I cherish it and deeply rejoice for such an immensely positive and beneficial development!

    In fact, if I did not appreciate and recognize the fact that things are developing in the direction described above, I would probably not be a conservative: I like being a conservative in a liberal world. I would detest being a conservative in a conservative world… In that case, I would probably become a libertarian! In fact I like traditions, but only if they can be “chosen” and adopted as a conscious and free lifestyle choice, and never imposed and forced upon anyone in an authoritarian and “tribal” manner.

    So, whenever I feel that the conservative side is taking over or going too far, I try to step up and put things in perspective, opposing the abuse or excess, with no fear of confrontation or qualms about making enemies or alienating friends: I guess I am the kind of person who feels too uncomfortable being on the winning side! 🙂

    Maybe I am just a very traditionalistic and tradition-loving liberal, after all! 😉 Help: I think I am having an identity crisis! 😀

    “In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.”

    How interesting! My all-time favorite novel, Howard’s End, explores exactly this compromise and what it entails (although the heroine, Margaret Schlegel, is perhaps more of a “social liberal” than a libertarian.) The author, E.M. Forster, seems to reach your (and Rand’s) same conclusion. 🙂

    “There are people who fight this movement – e.g. Al Quida and conservative Christians.”

    Absolutely, I totally agree: It is the same kind of opposition that led up to the rise and (unfortunate) success of the communist ideology, which was simply a reaction to the second industrial revolution.

    Such high-impact, large-scale and fast-paced social (please, forgive me) and economical changes can cause panic; a menacing sense of threat; fear of the unknown; disorientation and confusion; loss of previous – and often well-established and deeply ingrained – privileges and entitlements; adaptation anxiety; psychological discomfort, stress, logistic difficulties, etc.

    In such a chaotic and fast-changing climate, it can happen that those who have lost (or are on the verge of losing) a large share of power and privileges, might try to exploit this generalized discomfort by fuelling the fire of discontent – although in my opinion it is important to underline the fact that some chose to do so more violently (such is the case of Al-Qaeda) than others (although Rush Limbaugh is no joke! Just kidding!).

    “I agree with you that the State should not interfere with marriages. But there we have a juridical problem as well. We have to have courts and other institutions who are clarifying juridical rights and protect property rights etc in cases of a divorce etc.”

    As far as property issues are concerned, I have one word for you: “prenups!” 🙂 There is nothing about property issues and non-child-related spousal benefits and rights that cannot be settled in the basic, old-fashion way, i.e. by a private contractual agreement!

    You are however right in all cases when children and minors are involved. In that case, I would simply draw up a legislation that applies to all possible “registered” unions (keep in mind that, in this hypothetic scenario, State-sanctioned marriage would not exist anymore.)

    This “escamotage” would limit the epithet of “marriage” to the religious and/or traditional symbolic union (thus pleasing the conservative opposition), while allowing anybody to register and formalize their union for their children’s sake and protection.

    I am however fully aware of the fact that, since I am too lazy and confrontation-averse to ever become involved in politics, this hypothetic dream-scenario makes me nothiing but your typical Monday-morning quarterback! 😉

    Thank you for such a sharp and insightful reply and keep up the good work: I am really fond of reading your well-written and ever-interesting blog!

    Ciao ciao! 🙂

  8. Giulia Guidi says:

    PS (Clarification): The novel Howard’s End explores the compromise between a liberal and a conservative “Weltanschauung,” not between good and evil.

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