The launch of The Coalition for Marriage (C4M) this week has set the cat amongst the pigeons.
David Cameron wants to make the redefinition of marriage, so it can include gay and lesbian couples, a key achievement of his time in office. C4M have a petition opposing this and in todays Daily Telegraph Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone has pushed back against the C4M campaign.
There is much to be said about all this, and much that is being said, so I’ll be brief here.
First of all, this all really has very little to do with equality. What is has to do with is advancing one particular belief system over another, long-established one. If true equality is the goal, then the Prime Minister’s aims are far too modest. True equality of sexual expression, recognized in marriage, would include many more options than allowing a gay couple to marry. Logically, it would include any sexual arrangement consensually entered in to.
Polygamy would be a good place to start. This, after all, has the advantage of a great deal of historical ‘normalcy’, having been practised in many cultures for all of recorded human history. Why should such an arrangement not be recognized as marriage within British law? (The obvious, immediate, answer is “because our Christian heritage has long deemed such an arrangement inappropriate” – but that is merely to beg the question about why gay ‘marriage’ is also unacceptable.)
Or, if a 14 year old girl (or boy) eagerly desires marriage to a 40 year old man, why should she (or he) be prevented from entering this relationship?
Or why should a brother and sister be prevented from marrying?
The answer to all these questions is that every society draws moral lines between what it considers acceptable and unacceptable, and by so doing – by definition! – creates inequality. Moving the line so that gay couples can marry does nothing to increase equality, it merely makes plainer the inequality experienced by other non-mainstream sexual choices. And it is also arguably unfair towards married heterosexuals as it fundamentally alters the definition of what their marriage is.
The fact that the agenda being pursued is not about equality is already clear from the rules governing civil partnerships. If civil partnerships had been genuinely fair, then the polygamist would have been able to formalize his relationships, or two sisters sharing the same house would have been able to enter a relationship that would have safeguarded them both financially. It was never about fairness or equality though, it was always about advancing a particular moral agenda. It was always about gay sex.
Many of us tread increasingly cautiously into the waters of commenting on the gay agenda. This is partly out of a wise circumspection, as there is no point stirring up a hornets nest if we don’t have to. It is partly from fear, because the political and legal climate is increasingly hostile to anything deemed ‘homophobic’ by the thought police. And it is also because we genuinely do not want to alienate or wound those who are gay.
But sometimes we just have to say that things are wrong, and the drive towards gay marriage is wrong. Saying this is beyond the pail politically – it means, for instance, that anyone holding this view would find it practically impossible to be selected as a candidate for any of the mainstream political parties. It means that if gay marriage is legalized and I refuse to recognize that relationship as genuine marriage there will be legal consequences to face. It means that a position supposedly born from a desire for equality effectively disenfranchises any who believe that this is an area beyond the competence of Government.
Let’s not just lie down and let David Cameron push this one through. Get onto the C4M website and sign the petition against it.