Gods and Gays

by clumsylawyer

There is currently a lot of discussion in the UK about gay marriage.  In 2004, an Act of Parliament was passed which brought Civil Partnerships into existence, allowing same-sex couples to join as civil partners.  Essentially same-sex couples were given the same rights as married couples, with a few differences, including:

  • They aren’t described as being ‘married’, being one another’s spouse, husband or wife.
  • There is no voidability on the basis of non-consummation.
  • A ceremony of civil partnership cannot have any religious content or be carried out on religious premises.

The government is now undergoing the consultation process to extend marriage to same-sex couples.  I am absolutely for this, but the proposals are still flawed.  Civil partnerships would be retained, but civil marriages added.  There is no proposal to permit same-sex ceremonies to include religious content.

Disclaimer: What follows are my own thoughts and feelings about the proposals put forward for gay marriage.  I do not intend to cause anyone offence with what I say, and if I do I apologise.  I would really welcome some discussion on this topic, so if you have strong feelings (either way) please comment!

Now, I am not religious.  I was baptised as a baby, but was brought up in an atheist family.  I respect others’ right to follow the religion of their choice, and expect in return to be respected for my decision to live my life religion-free.  So when I stumbled across this article, I got really quite angry…

It really riles me that the Church of England is given such privileged status when consulting on this legal issue.  I would like to point out that I completely agree that no religious institution should be forced to perform same-sex ceremonies, if this is contrary to their particular doctrine.  However, barring it for all couples is absolute overkill.  Amongst other things:

  • There are a huge number of different religions (not to mention different sects of particular religions), which have vastly divergent opinions on the matter of gay marriage.  Particularly telling is this quote from the same article above:”In April, prominent Church of England figures wrote an open letter to the Times newspaper saying the Church had “nothing to fear” from the prospect of gay marriage.”

    I refuse to accept that particular figures within the Church of England should be given the veto on this issue.  Give same-sex couples the option to have a religious wedding, and they can go on to discuss it with their particular church if they decide it is important to them.

  • The argument that gay marriage “undermines” the idea of marriage as a union between a man and a woman is complete bullshit.  Marriage has evolved astronomically over the centuries.  Women used to be first their fathers’, and then their husbands’ property.   Girls as young as 12 could marry in England as late as 1929 and there are records of kids as young as 2 having been married in England.  Marriage has changed before and there’s no reason why it can’t change again.  Not to mention an argument used by a friend of a friend:”Oh, Church of England, won’t you tell us more about the sanctity of your founder’s 6 marriages (two of which ended in execution)…oh hang on, weren’t you actually founded on the basis of wanting to change the laws of marriage?”
  • The UK is effectively a secular state these days.  Although lots of people find huge importance in the religion in their lives, it just doesn’t have the same impact as it once did, and the idea that a single religion (albeit one founded by the monarch) has the power to restrict people’s freedom in this way is wrong.  To quote Friend N:”If you believe that pork shouldn’t be eaten for religious reasons, don’t eat pork. If you believe that you shouldn’t show your hair in public for religious reasons, don’t show your hair. If you believe dudes shouldn’t marry other dudes for religious reasons, don’t marry another dude, dude. Same for ladies on ladies. But don’t stop me from chomping down on some pork with my naked head on display at my lady lady wedding. That’s not cool.”
  • The claim that marriage is effectively a vessel through which to procreate suggests that infertile and older straight couples shouldn’t be able to marry, which no-one appears to have suggested.  It also ignores the fact that gay couples can, and do, both adopt children and use assisted reproductive technology.  Whether the church likes it or not, there are children (whether biological or not) within these families.
  • Finally, Best Woman S pointed out a phrase on the Church of England’s own website:”You’re welcome to marry in church whatever your beliefs, whether or not you are christened and whether or not you regularly go to church. And, marrying in church has never been easier – there are more churches to choose from then ever before.”I cannot see how this stance can possibly stand with the argument that gay couples who are strong adherents of a particular religious doctrine ought not to be allowed to express their love in front of their god in the way that their church  suggests believers should.

I could go on and on and on for days on this topic, but I think I’ll leave my rant there.  The law is changing in the UK, and slowly but surely I truly believe that marriage will become truly equal for all people.  Until that time, I’m going to keep on ranting.

What are your views on gay marriage, and do you think it is more damaging for society to allow, or to deny it?  Do you think that religion should have any part in a legal marriage, whether for hetero- or homosexual couples?