The House of Commons have voted in support of a bill which will mean that the gender of the participants in marriage will no longer matter.
On the one hand, I have a sense of pride that this significant event is happening in my lifetime. On the other, I can’t understand why it is necessary – marriage (as I understand it) is a way for people to show they’re in love and I don’t understand why it was ever the case that the gender of the participants would matter.
The most common arguments seem to be a) the state should not be able to redefine marriage; b) marriage is for procreation and raising children; and c) the bible says marriage is between a man and a woman/homosexuality is a sin. I’ll start with a).
A friend found a wonderful quote from the debate, from a Conservative MP, Nick Herbert:
“If marriage hadn’t been re-defined in 1836, there wouldn’t be any civil marriages; if it hadn’t been re-defined in 1949, under 16-year-olds would still be able to get married; if it hadn’t been re-defined in 1969, we wouldn’t have today’s divorce laws – and all of these changes were opposed.”
From this, it is clear that the state has already meddled in the definition of marriage and I would anticipate that if you asked most of the nay-sayers, they would agree (at the very least) that under-16’s should not be getting married.
Moving to b), that marriage is for procreation and child-rearing. This would indicate that infertile, heterosexual couples or those who don’t intend to procreate were also barred from marriage, which of course is not the case. Further, homosexual couples do (through adoption or surrogacy) raise children.
c) is probably the most contentious, because any argument I try and make can be met with “you’re discriminating against me” by those following the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Islam, Christianity). The very first argument i want to make – and the one which I am fairly confident can’t be countered with shouts of discrimintaion – is that we are not a Christian (or Jewish or Muslim) country. It will take another blog post to fully explain myself, but my argument is that if we are a nation of any faith rather than being secular, then we are Heathen and should be proud of this. If we are not a Christian country, then it doesn’t matter what the Bible says when it comes to how marriage is defined.
The argument that the Bible says that marriage is between a man and a woman ignores that the Bible also refers to polygamous marriages. I would also draw attention to this article from the (normally bigotted) Daily Mail, which refers to same-sex church marriages being enacted historically; it seems the aversion to same-sex marriage is a more modern phenomenon.
Finally, the argument that homosexuality is a sin is usually supported by the verse in Leviticus (which, by its wording always implies to me that it’s ok to lie with another man if you act as a woman in that relationship) – a verse that is in amongst a lot of other laws that are ignored utterly. Other people have gone through this better than I. The Bible also, as far as I’m aware, does not refer to female/female relationships, only male/male, yet the current definition of marriage disallows this also.
Another Biblical reference I hear a lot is to Sodom and Gomorrah, whereby we are told that God got cross and killed everyone because they were gay. I don’t know how many people who spout this haev actually read the relevant scripture, but the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were not homosexual – as best I read it, they shagged anything that stayed still long enough (more like bonobo monkeys). Not only that, but the ‘righteous man’ God chose to save, Lot, proved his righteousness by offering his daughters up to be raped by the lustful multitude. That is not a righteousness that I can support.