Argument: For many years, I have been in love with my cat. I now want to marry her.
Objection: Marriage is between two human beings. It cannot be between a cat and a human being.
Response: Marriage is a human institution and has taken many forms over human history. There is absolutely no reason why it cannot change again to take account of interspecies relationships.
Argument: Marriage has recently been extended to include same sex relationships. I would now like it to be extended to include relationships between a cat and a human being.
Objection: Even if same sex marriage is accepted, it remains a relationship involving mutual consent. It is not analogous to a relationship between an animal and a human being.
Response: Please see my earlier response. What marriage involves is purely a matter for human, social decision. Different features will occur at different times. There is no reason why consent should always feature as an aspect of marriage. The key analogous feature here is the existence of love and mutual dependence.
Argument: There is a social benefit in recognizing interspecies relationships by marriage.
Objection: There is already a mechanism for recognizing that relationship –ie ownership. By linking completely different sorts of relationship within the same institution, you are undermining the nature of marriage.
Response: Although you keep harping on about ‘the nature of marriage’, I have already shown that there is no such nature –it is a human construct. So what are the benefits of constructing marriage in the way I suggest? Well, the current institution of ownership does not reflect the love and mutuality that is at the heart of marriage: by encouraging people to think of pets as things to be owned rather than as partners in a lifelong relationship, we see the terrible social consequences in terms of the abandonment of animals that results. By replacing ownership with marriage, human partners will be encouraged to take responsibility for their animal partners and, in the case of breakdown of the relationship, will be forced to take continuing responsibility for their dependents.
Argument: The only people opposed to this are religious.
Objections: Even if this is true, so what? Don’t we have a right to make our case? Catholic arguments at least are based on an understanding of human nature which was articulated by Graeco-Roman philosophy and engages with the concerns of the non-religious world.
Response: Many of us who support interspecies relationships are not religious. We should not have to have our views dictated to by believers in a bronze age god. But even amongst the religious, there is no consensus on this. There is no clear statement in the Bible that marriage between species is wrong. There are certainly statements against types of sexual behaviour with animals, but none which rule out committed relationships of the sort envisaged. In a modern go ahead
, there should be no laws which are against the free exercise of love, unless there is a clear reason on the ground of harm to have them –and in this case there is not. Scotland
Very many good and socially important people have strong relationships with their cats and prefer them to human beings. What right do you have to stop them celebrating that love in a dignified manner?
[I had thought this was satire or at least a reductio ad absurdum. I discovered it wasn’t:
A GERMAN postman has "married" his obese and asthmatic cat, saying he wanted to tie the knot before his pet died here.]