You may have noticed on my introduction page (Just up there. It says ‘Hello’) that I mention my lovely wife.
And she is lovely too. But she’s not really my wife. Obviously, since we are both girls. We could be civil partners, should we so desire. But we really don’t desire. We would like to be wives.
We would like to get married.
There are other factors, mostly financial, that stop us tying the knot. But I am determined to hang on until we can get married, and call it married, because I can see no reason whatsoever that we shouldn’t be able to. ‘Marriage’ is just a word – it doesn’t actually belong to any faith or denomination.
I don’t like the term ‘Civil Partnership’. It sounds dull and businesslike, and was created purely to placate the people who don’t want marriage for non-heterosexual couples, and as a sop to those who do. Although it could have a place: if we are going to have equality, let’s do it properly. Same sex partners should be able to get married, and different sex partners should be able to get… Civilled. Or whatever we’re going to call it. Partnered? CP’d? Civilpartnershipped? Let those who want to do it choose what they put on the invites, anyway.
I don’t want that, I want marriage.
Oh, and I don’t want it to be called Gay Marriage, either. Just marriage. No ghettoisation, please. As the excellent stand up Bethany Black said recently on twitter (@BethanyBlack), we don’t go gay shopping for our gay toilet rolls, gay tomatoes and gay biscuits, and pop them all in our gay shopping trolley…*
People have tried to bring procreation into the argument, but marriage isn’t only allowed for people who are going to have children. There’s no special clause in there where you have to promise to breed. If that were true, then infertile people wouldn’t be allowed to get married. Neither would people who don’t want children. And they are. I even know some of them. Anyway, gay people can have children. Lots of them do; and guess what, they don’t just have gay children, either.
The bible may talk about marriage being between a man and a woman to bring forth children, but it has a lot to say about all sorts of things. Like stoning adulteresses, and not eating shellfish, and coveting oxen, and keeping concubines and… I’m not Christian! So why should it apply to my choices in life? The bible isn’t the law. None of it is. Various religious bodies have been picking and choosing which bits of the bible they want to take notice of and which they want to ignore for years. There is no bit of scripture that is relevant to this debate, unless it’s any of the stuff that nice chap Jesus said about love and respect for others, whoever and whatever they are.
If there is any religion that has ever had any legal relevance to The State and The Law in the UK, it’s the good old C of E, which exists purely because Henry VIII wanted to redefine marriage. Okay, yes, there was a bit of Catholic burning went on at the time, but it all worked out in the end! And even that isn’t relevant to this debate, because we’re not talking about Christian marriage for Christians, we’re talking about marriage as a concept.
All of which leads me to ask why, in our brilliantly multi-cultural, multi-faith society (whatever the Daily Mail says) is marriage in a Christian church still a special thing, but not in any other temple or designated place of worship? Jewish and Quaker marriages get a special authority, but just them. Why not everyone else? Do we not have religious equality? Why give rabbis special powers, and not Imams? Why does the law not apply to all religions equally?
I refer to recognised religions, by the way. But, once you say ‘all religions’ people start getting creative about how you define ‘religion’, and it could all get a little complicated, and we really don’t need complications.
So, let’s simplify things.
Why not make everyone have to get a legally registered, secular person to authorise their marriage?
Whatever they believe.
You can have a religious ceremony if you choose, and of whatever kind you choose, but you still need to sign an official document in front of a registered official to do the actual deal. You can be legally joined to your partner of choice by fulfilling the legal requirements to do so, and any further issues with your dogma or deity are between you and them to resolve.
Oh, and just as most jobs, and indeed laws, are not allowed to discriminate against anyone due to colour, creed, gender, age, disability, sexuality, height, hair colour etc, neither are the designated marriage officials. They are representatives of the law, and if the law says it’s okay for homosexuals to get married, then they need to marry homosexuals. With a smile and a congratulatory handshake at the very least. If you want to perform religious ceremonies, join the priesthood.
There is nothing illegal any more about being gay, and we are never going to go back to it being so. In which case, gay people should have the same rights and liberties as straight people. All the same rights and liberties. All the time. I cannot see any just argument against this.
Please note: this is not going to bring forth anarchy. It won’t mean that next, people will be able to marry their dog, their daughter or several concubines. None of those things are legal, and nor are they likely to ever be.
Letting people of the same sex get married WILL NOT LEAD TO CARNAGE. Society will not break down. Everyday life will carry on just as before if two adults, of whatever denomination or gender, are able to legally demonstrate their commitment not to fuck around and be recognised as a family unit. And they can have a big party and people will buy them toasters and decent sets of knives, and everyone will get drunk and someone will throw up somewhere inappropriate, and there may be tears, and embarrassing episodes on the dance floor.
Is that too much to ask?
I don’t think so.
I would like to marry my lovely Laurie. Let’s make this happen.
And when it does, you’re all invited.**
(*Unless we’re feeling particularly camp that day. Okay, so sometimes we do. But that’s NOT the legal term for it!)
(**You may not all be invited. Some of you are weird. Yes, you. You know who you are. But you can come and stand outside with banners protesting about our destroying all that is good and holy. And I will defend your right to do that just as strongly as my right to declare my love for another person in a public and legally binding way. But you can’t be in the photos. Sorry.)