Issues more important than definitions

David M Steele (Letters, 19 July) writes: “I have one question… to ask Tim Hopkins of the Equality Network concerning a statement… where he says: ‘In fact, many same-sex couples will want to call each other husband and wife.’

“I find this bizarre and yet another assault on the English language. How do they decide which one will be the husband and which the wife if they are both the same sex?

“Are we going to have to ­redefine the meanings of these two words just as we would have to redefine the meaning of the word ‘marriage?”

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I am sure Mr Hopkins meant that each man in a same-sex marriage might want to refer to the other as his husband, and each woman in a same-sex marriage might want to refer to the other as her wife.

But Mr Steele’s letter is interesting on a deeper level, since he presents his concern in terms of having “to redefine the word ‘marriage’”.

What is the problem? We adjust to changes of language all the time. No doubt once upon a time people would have defined “swan” as referring to a white bird, but now, following the discovery of certain birds in Australia, we have no problem in speaking of black swans.

In general, people who complain about gay marriage “because it changes the meaning of the word” are disingenuous.

Their real objection comes from another source.

Paul Brownsey

Larchfield Road


David M Steel’s letter, asking that the words “husband”, “wife” and “marriage” should continue to “mean what they have always meant”, suggests to me that there is a way out of the current morass on the issue of same-sex relationships.

We hear every day of new words and usages being created to reflect the dynamic nature of modern society. Languages evolve naturally.

Why, therefore, should we not simply create new terms to cover new human relationships? The traditional term “marriage” could continue to define the union between a man and a woman as husband and wife.

It would not be necessary to re-write the current dictionary definitions. New terms could be created to describe the new and different nature of same-sex unions.

It is perhaps up to those who would be affected by same-sex unions to suggest which terms would be most appropriate and least ambiguous.

This would remove all 
aspects of judgment or prejudice from the current 
debate and replace them with a simple search for verbal 

Lindsay Matheson

Largo Road

St Andrews

Homosexual ideology has wrecked the peace of the Church of Scotland, fractured the Church of England, destabilised and confused the politics of Scotland and inverted the common meaning of language, specifically of the words “marriage”, “husband” and “wife” – basic concepts of human society.

This micro-minority has caused large-scale misery for many and politicians cannot admit the harm that is being done by such falsehood.

(Rev Dr) Robert 

Blackburn & Seafield Church

MacDonald Gardens

Blackburn, West Lothian

Can the writer of your editorial (18 July), or any other enthusiast for same-sex marriages, answer the following question: what name is to be attached to the definition: “union of one man and one woman with the aim of procreation”?

Or does the definition not merit a name?

David Hamilton

North St Andrew Street


David M Steel asks why I wrote in my letter (17 July) that “many same-sex couples will want to call each other husband and wife”. He thinks this makes no sense.

That is because he has 
misquoted me! I wrote 
“husband or wife”. Many married men couples will want to call each other husband, and many married women couples will want to call each other wife.

People will understand that perfectly well, I think.

Tim Hopkins

Equality Network

Bernard Street


The uniting of two men or two women will not constitute true marriage no matter what parliament enacts.

Two men or two women uniting cannot procreate. In that respect they cannot be equal to a man and woman who are married.

If the Scottish Parliament enacts such legislation it will be a terrible curse upon the Scottish nation.

We have been cursed enough already. Jerusalem did not listen to the prophets and what terrible devastation befell Jerusalem.

Jamus and Helen Smith

Murray Terrace