Gay marriage is a red herring – the state has no place in matters of the heart

Gay marriage vs traditional marriageEver since I got married, I’ve felt like I have to justify it. Why, in this day and age, would anyone do such an outmoded, unnecessary thing?

Well, apart from the romance of making a commitment to one person, forever, I had practical concerns too. I kept waking up at 4am, thinking that there was nothing to link us together if something happened. I was at university at the time, and feeling every inch of the distance between us. I wanted that piece of paper to say: this is my next of kin. We have chosen each other. 

Until extraordinarily recently, we denied gay couples the right to make this simple arrangement. And now, although we have Civil Partnerships, the whole field is a morass of inequality and judgement. If you’re heterosexual, you can marry but not choose the cut-down option of a CP (which, on balance, I think I would chosen); and if you’re in a same-sex couple, there’s a little bit of ceremony held back from you, which seems designed to point out that you’re not quite legit in the eyes of society.

This is not just a matter of rights, though. The tone of the debate, on both sides, shows the depth of prejudice that still exists. I am no more in favour of the view that states only a man and a woman should marry, than I am of that which argues for the use of marriage to somehow lend respectability to same sex couples.

I, for one, am heartily sick of hearing that marriage is a force for the good. Marriage is not a thing in and of itself; it is an umbrella under which a whole rainbow of behaviours exist. There are wonderful, happy, fulfilling marriages, and there are awful, abusive, destructive marriages. Equally, there are myriad good lives to be lived outside of marriage too, and, indeed, outside of pairing-off into a nice, neat little couple.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill is a big old red herring. The truth is that the state should butt the hell out of love. They should facilitate a basic way to register your next of kin – whoever they are – and then deregulate the rest of it, so that people can make whatever choice they want. The church could still carry out its irrelevant vision of ‘traditional’ weddings; and everyone else could make it up as they went along.

The question is, can all the Tories cope with a truly small state – one that doesn’t impose their moral beliefs on the rest of society? And can the rest of us bear to acknowledge that the world is made up of many different people?

, ,

8 Responses to Gay marriage is a red herring – the state has no place in matters of the heart

  1. Maggie Bob 05/02/2013 at 17:32 #

    Phew! Glad I’m not the only one who feels the need to justify wanting to get married – I was not (and still am not) a fan of weddings (at least, not as a participant) but I just knew I *needed* to marry my partner, simply for the security under law etc.

    Great post – thanks

    • Betty Herbert 05/02/2013 at 18:31 #

      I tend to get marriage guilt in these circumstances – here I am, flouting my right to marry and not really wanting to be part of it.

  2. Heather 05/02/2013 at 18:55 #

    Beautifully written piece and much I agree with. Essentially I see the issue shrunk to two key points: the right to choose; and the right not to be judged, by law, for it making that choice. The politicians, and the church, are reacting as though gay marriage would be compulsory not legal.

    You don’t like it? Don’t do it.

    • Betty Herbert 05/02/2013 at 19:31 #

      Exactly. And I also love the line that goes around FB all the time: ‘If conservatives don’t like gay marriage, they should stop having gay children.’

  3. Harper Eliot 06/02/2013 at 11:35 #

    I had no idea that straight couples couldn’t have civil partnerships. That’s somewhat ridiculous. If I ever find someone that I want as my next of kin, I would definitely want a civil partnership. That’s such an odd imbalance.

    Great piece. Very informative and thought-provoking.

  4. Korhomme 07/02/2013 at 19:59 #

    The advantage of marriage is the legal protection is affords to the spouse and kids should anything happen to you — you don’t get this when living together.

    Curiously, the legal bit of a church marriage is the signing of the register — the vicar is also a registrar.

    In much of Europe, the only marriage possible is a civil ceremony; you can have a union blessed by the church, but you can’t be legally married there.

    And I’d agree with you that a Civil Partnership ought to be available to straight people; it strikes me as much more appropriate today. In a CP, you don’t have to make any declaration, just sign the register. The downside is that when Herbert gets knighted, you don’t get to be Lady Betty ;-)

  5. Betty Herbert 08/02/2013 at 11:10 #

    Ha! If ONLY!

Leave a Reply