Fair Marriage

Hands up on this one – I have no overriding wish to get married!

I’m actually quite happy with our three year old civil partnership. It was a public affirmation of our eleven year relationship, the chance to show and share our commitment to each other – and that is what we REALLY wanted out of it.

However, I can understand the desire of those who wish to go that one step further and have a marriage that is equal before the law. You might think that such a relatively minor change in the civil law would have gone largely unnoticed. It should have, and, in some quarters, it will. But, listening to some of the hysterical screaming from the christian right, you would think that homosexuals were demanding the introduction of satanic blood sacrifices in primary school assemblies.

I have yet to hear a sensible argument against marriage equality, but I have heard and read a great deal of misinformation and scaremongering.

It’s claimed that equal marriage would lead to the breakdown of society and that it would devalue heterosexual marriage. They don’t, however, say how! Turn the argument on its head. How will your being married affect my civil partnership? Simply put, it doesn’t. The state of your relationship affects your marriage, and if it’s that fragile that it can’t survive a redefinition in law then you need either counselling or a divorce lawyer.

It’s claimed that marriage is for the procreation of children and that redefining it will lead to children suffering. On the day that CAFCASS revealed that applications for children to go into care are at record levels it doesn’t take much to debunk that one. Some people make lousy parents and how their relationship is defined in civil law does not affect that and will never do so.

As an adjunct to that I found this argument on a christian right web site. “Parents are denied the opportunity of having sons and daughter’s in Law and the joy of becoming grandparents.” [sic] How does that work, then?  Gay people get married and then, err, umm … … … No, still don’t get it? Of course you won’t, it’s clearly a load of old cobblers and, what’s worse, was written by a former teacher!

It’s claimed that equal marriage will lead to polygamous marriage, to consanguineous marriage, even to bestial marriage – none of which are in the current consultation (nor ever likely to be), but all of which have historic precedents! The argument is disingenuous and, frankly, insulting.

It’s claimed that marriage is given by god and cannot be redefined by man. This ignores history. The very existence of the Church of England stems from mucking about with marriage!

No. There really aren’t any arguments against equal marriage that hold water. Or, if there are, they haven’t been made yet.

So what’s really going on? I suggest that the answer lies in fear! The christian right’s increasingly hysterical caterwauling is showing off its naked terror of christianity losing its clout – its power to control the lives of others. And in the process it’s displaying an unwholesome and obsessive prurience. The church wielded such power for centuries, but since the Enlightenment it has been in retreat. They are losing their position of privilege. They know it and it scares them.

What saddens me, though, is that in their desperation the christian right have resorted to some very nasty tactics. When anyone has the temerity to question or challenge them they claim they are being persecuted for their beliefs. They call analysis of  their arguments “persecution”. They call rejection of those arguments “persecution”. They claim that their freedom of speech is being denied. But “freedom of speech” does not mean “nobody is allowed to react to anything you say”. (It isn’t a difficult concept!) They call gay rights campaigners “fascists”, “nazi”, the “gaystapo”. Yeah, like the Third Reich thought we were absolutely fabulous! They should read their history books rather than the bible. They should remember the pink triangle, the thousands of homosexuals who were genuinely persecuted – imprisoned, starved and killed for no other “crime” than being different.

And then there is the christian right’s obsession with homosexual sex – their insulting suggestion that a gay relationship is only ever about sex, about promiscuity. Their arguments stem in part from their conviction that a person can choose their sexual orientation – something for which there is no reliable evidence and which is easily tested. Try doing it!

But, I’ve got news for anyone who thinks we’re all promiscuous, predatory cottagers. Alex and I spend more time eating junk food and watching films than we ever do shagging. And, in any case, whatever made what we do in the privacy of our own home YOUR business.

I was once told by a religious straight man that gay sex was wrong because the penis was meant to go into a vagina and that anything other than that was wrong. So I asked him “Have you ever had a blowjob?” That was twenty years ago and I’m still waiting for an answer. The fact is that human sexuality is as diverse as humanity itself. It is not for me to comment on what others do behind closed doors, beside that it should be consensual, and I have no desire to do so. I’d just appreciate it if they extended the same courtesy.

The religions do not own marriage. The concept of it as a union between two individuals predates recorded history and occurs across the world in all cultures, theocratic or not. It wasn’t exclusively invented at the dawn of the Abrahamic faiths and it certainly doesn’t “belong” to christianity.

Civil government has a duty to set out and protect the rights of all its citizens. There are many areas in which the state should not intervene and the personal relationship is one such. Civil government also has a duty to ensure equality before the law. Civil marriage is either for everybody or nobody. That’s why I support it.