Same-Sex Marriage and Biopolitical Tyranny


In a 2013 essay evaluating the Parliamentary bill on gay marriage, John Milbank observes that British “legislators have recognised that it would be intolerable to define gay marriage in terms equivalent to ‘consummation,’ or to permit ‘adultery’ as legitimate ground for gay divorce.” In these decisions, “the legislators have been forced tacitly to admit the different nature of both gay sexuality and of gaysociality. But such an admission destroys the assumption behind the legislation and the coherence of what the legislation proposes to enact.”

Milbank doesn’t think it will stop there. If gay adultery has no legal force, then, on the assumption of equality, heterosexual adultery will also cease to be grounds for divorce. After all, “if the binding and loosing of gay and straight marriage are stipulated in different ways,” then the distinctions that gay marriage is designed to eliminate is reinstated. In Milbank’s view, “secular thought will not so readily let go of the demand for absolutely equal rights based on identical definitions. In that case, we face an altogether more drastic prospect. Not only would ‘marriage’ have been redefined so as to include gay marriage, it would inevitably be redefined even for heterosexual people in homosexual terms. Thus ‘consummation’ and ‘adultery’ would cease to be seen as having any relevance to the binding and loosing of straight unions.”

  • Joe

    Marriage doesn’t change the nature of gay relationships. The monogamous gay couple who were always going stay together for decades will so do whether they are married or not. The couple who were likely to split up after couple of years won’t try and make it work because they got married. It’s all about the wedding for gay people – a big showy “special day” celebration. The marriage bit is socially meaningless.

    The same is increasingly true of straight marriages in the UK. It’s inevitable that the law will have to play catch-up with this social transformation.