There will be readers who may be offended by my points in this post and I’m prepared to hear your arguments if you disagree with anything I’ve said. Please engage with the debate, but I ask you to treat it with sensitivity and respect. Thank you.
This is one of those posts that I’ve been mulling over for a while now and it has just been begging to be written….but I don’t know what to write or how to write it!!
I’ll tell you what’s in my mind; forgive me for burbling on.
There is massive debate at the moment over the legalisation/implementation of gay marriage here in the UK. There was a parliamentary vote last night that was passed in favour of it and the general consensus is that this is a good thing.
But is it?
My gut feeling is that marriage is a life-long commitment between two people who love, respect and care deeply about each other and that it shouldn’t matter what gender those two people are, or what their sexuality is.
But I’m swayed over several things, the first being a vague, back of the mind type feeling that it is “inappropriate”. I couldn’t tell you why I feel that, it’s just that there is something ringing a bell somewhere deep in my mind that “it shouldn’t be allowed”. But then I come back to the statement above – that marriage is between two people who love each other etc.
Then there’s the biblical instruction. We are told that relationships between same-gender couples is unnatural and is against God’s law….but that was the Old Testament and we all know that Jesus came to spread the word of love and compassion, and to subvert the old into the new, to overturn the old laws and to make a new covenant. So is it a biblical “instruction”, or is it something that we should be challenging along with the old laws of purification and sacrifice for example?
There is the thought that marriage exists in order to bring children into the world in a stable, established family. Well we all know that THAT is a load of old tripe don’t we! How many children are born to single mothers with no intention of living with the father in ANY sort of relationship, let alone a married one? What about families who can’t have children biologically and turn to adoption or foster care to provide a stable home for children? What about marriages that turn violent and abusive where children are used as pawns in a game of power and control between two people who don’t love each other any more? What about couples who get divorced? What about parents who are widowed with children to look after? What about people who want to get married yet have no intention to have children AT ALL?
Do all of those cases conform to the so called ideal of a marriage and married life? I would say not.
So what then of couples who are of the same gender? Are they not capable of bringing children into a loving family environment by the means of fostering? Adoption? Donor insemination? Are they any more or less likely to get divorced than heterosexual couples? Are they more or less likely to turn violent towards each other than straight couples? Are they more or less likely to lose a partner to accidents, cancer, old-age etc than other couples?
So if a gay couple are capable of providing a loving home for children, with a stable family life with two parents who love each other, then why can’t we accept that their commitment to each other is just as valid and recognised in law as a heterosexual couple’s marriage?
Why does the word “marriage” only have to apply to the formal recognition of the commitment between a man and a woman? Why can’t it apply to the formal recognition of the commitment between two men, or two women? We already have civil partnerships in this country, so why the problem with same-sex marriages?
Which brings me to another point: In the interests of equality, why are civil partnerships only between homosexual couples? Why can’t they be between couples of the opposite gender? If there is a difference between civil partnerships and marriages, then why can’t both be open to both? It doesn’t make sense to me. Which brings me back to my starting point and I’m wondering why if heterosexual couples want to be in a civil partnership (and there are people who do want a formal relationship but who don’t want to get married) and are satisfied with that, why do homosexual couples want to be married and why can’t they be satisfied with a civil partnership instead?
What is about marriage that is so attractive to couples of all sexualities?
I can only answer from my own perspective, which is a mixed one really. I have been married to my husband for almost 22 years, having got married at the tender age of 20. We have had our ups and downs – some significantly more DOWN than up – and we are at a stage now that I couldn’t ever have foreseen if you’d asked me back at the start. Our understanding and appreciation of each other only gets deeper as the years progress, and the friendship we experience is like no other. We still have problems (who doesn’t?!) but we share an outlook on life and a vision of the future. Our lives are built on “we” not “I”, and there is not a decision or action that I take that doesn’t involve my husband in some way, and he is the same. Even to deciding what to watch on TV or what to eat for lunch, there is a discussion, a compromise, an agreement or whatever (sometimes we agree to disagree and end up doing something that neither of us wants to because to do something else means disappointing or hurting the other).
Now, does that way of life exist with couples who aren’t married? I’m sure it does, so what is the magical attraction of MARRIAGE? It can’t be the sex can it? Everyone knows that the first thing to go when you get married is your sex life haha!
So why the problem with saying that marriage is only for some people and not others?
My head says no to gay marriage (that vague uncertainty buried at the back of my mind), by my heart says why the hell not? If two people are so loved up with each other that they want to share the intricacies and the intimacies of everyday life for the rest of their lives, then why not allow them to get married and show the world that they are committed unit?
The more I think about it the more my heart is overruling my head and I am in favour of gay marriage. But I’m mindful that we are referring to it as “gay marriage” and not just “marriage”. It just goes to show how far we have got to go to be fully equal if we differentiate it as “gay” and “normal” marriage doesn’t it? Love is love, and marriage is marriage, end of.
It will be interesting to see how this argument plays out in parliament and in the press in the weeks and months to come.
- Gay marriage: what’s in a word? (telegraph.co.uk)
- Letters: Civil partnerships are fine – for gay people and heterosexuals (guardian.co.uk)
- More equal than others: marriage, relationships and prejudice (thefword.org.uk)