Robert Hampton

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15th December 2012

Barry and Harry should Marry
Posted by at 5.05pm | No responses | Gay, In the News

As Jonathan Freedland points out, the gay rights campaign has moved along at terrific speed over the past decade or so. In 2000 we had Section 28 and an unequal age of consent. Now, not only have these anti-gay laws been overturned but we have comprehensive equality legislation.

As part of that gay rights push, Tony Blair’s Labour government introduced civil partnerships. These “almost-but-not-quite marriage” arrangements allowed same-sex couples to have their relationships recognised by the state, while keeping the m-word reserved for “traditional” couples.

So far, so good. However, “separate but equal” is still unequal – not least because British civil partnerships are often not recognised overseas (even in jurisdictions which recognise same-sex marriages). I suspect most heterosexual couples would be upset if their union stopped existing every time they went on holiday abroad.

With all this in mind, the news that the coalition government is pushing forward with same-sex marriage legislation is welcome.

There has been significant opposition from many sources. The Coalition for Marriage has amassed 600,000 signatures from people who do not want marriage “redefined” (note to C4M: extending marriage to same-sex couples will not change one bit the nature of any existing marriage). The Daily Mail, meanwhile, has pulled out all the stops, with scaremongering stories claiming that birth certificates would refer to “progenitors” instead of “mother” and “father”; or that people would be arrested for speaking out against gay marriage.

Despite all that, David Cameron has said he remains personally committed to changing the law. I’m not sure why he is so enthusiastic. If, as some have suggested, it’s a calculated ploy to show how modern the Tories are nowadays, it’s not working terribly well – the Commons debate on December 11 was dominated by Conservative MPs condemning the proposals, some with dire warnings of Biblical fire and brimstone should same-sex marriage become law.

It’s not just politicians. Some Church leaders are unhappy too. While some religious organisations – including the Quakers, Reform Judaism and Unitarianism – are in favour, the Catholic Church and Church of England are firmly against the proposals. For this reason, the proposed law makes clear that any religious organisation will be able to opt out of offering same-sex marriages.

For the Church of England, it goes even further – it is proposed to explicit ban the Church from marrying same-sex couples. Some in the Church are actually unhappy about this. According to one report, the Bishop of Leicester was one of those upset about this provision, because “it gave the impression that the Church of England were unfriendly towards gays.”

Yeah, I think we’ve already got that impression, actually. Unfortunately, this messy compromise does mean that if the Church decides to change its mind in the future (perhaps after listening to more enlightened figures such as The Bishop of Buckingham), we will have to come back and revisit this legislation again.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church remains firmly against any such plans. Let’s not forget that Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, called same-sex marriage a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”.

Watch the video below and see if you agree:-

And that is why the pro-equality voices will win, because we have love and commitment and humanity on our side. Meanwhile, all the anti-gay side has is emotional (hysterical?) claims about the “sanctity of marriage” and a continuing obsession with anal sex.

Congratulations to Anglican Mainstream, who seem to think about gay sex more than the average gay man does.

The bill is likely to be a conscience vote for all three major parties. I disagree with this: it’s a matter of equality and not conscience. But with all three main political parties in favour, the law should pass (although it will face a more difficult time in the House of Fossils Lords) and we will see the first marriages conducted in 2014.

With that in mind, I have to ask: who wants to marry me? Anyone? Hello? Joseph Gordon-Levitt?

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