“The main reason for the state to be involved with marriage is children,” says Prof David Paton, an industrial economics lecturer at the University of Nottingham and a supporter of the Coalition for Marriage, a group arguing that traditional marriage is beneficial to society and would be undermined by a definitional change. “It seems reasonable for the state to treat the one type of relationship from which children can directly result in a different way to others, and this is the basis for marriage laws,” says Paton.
Not all marriages will result in children, he concedes, and also suggests that issues such as pension rules or inheritance may require the state to recognise alternative relationships in different ways.
But the same-sex marriage law is not about this, he says. “It’s about changing the very definition of marriage to encompass other types of relationships that are inherently different. That is both unnecessary and carries the risk of weakening the legal structure designed to encourage the attachment of children to their natural mother and father.”