Marriage in the UDHR

In his article arguing against gay marriage, Cardinal Keith O’Brien twice referred to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, saying that article 16 clearly defined marriage as a relationship between a man and woman. In my response to his article I made the assumption that he, at least, knew what he was talking about here and explained that the UDHR shouldn’t be seen as set in stone and that it should be changed if it no longer reflected the way that society sees marriage.

I should have checked exactly what the UDHR says. The Cardinal is overstating his case a little. Article 16 says this:

  1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
  2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
  3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

No matter how closely you read it, there is nothing in there which implies that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. It doesn’t even imply that a marriage should be between two people.

I find it impossible to believe that the Cardinal is confused about the meaning of Article 16. He must know that it doesn’t say what he claims it says. He was lying to us in the hope that no-one would check and call him on his lies.

This just goes to show the importance of always checking primary sources.

Update: The Cardinal was interviewed on the Today programme this morning. I’ve just listened to the interview and I was disappointed to hear that he repeated this lie a number of times.

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