I believe yesterday, 5th February 2013, to have been a significant day in our society as the equal marriage bill was passed in parliament. Gay men and women will now be able to have a legal, official marriage to match a marriage between a man and a woman.
I was incredibly lucky to have been raised in a family where I was around people of different sexuality, different races, and different religions all the time.I was raised to see them all equally, we never had a discussion that sometimes men love women, sometimes men love men, because I just knew. I have one uncle with a male partner, one aunt with a female partner, one uncle who married someone of a different race, and one aunt who is married to a man of the same race. Friends and family around me all my life that are diverse and interesting, but to me completely normal. Until school it didn’t occur to me that these relationships could be seen as abnormal, and even on discovery of that I didn’t understand why and to be honest I still don’t. This is how I plan to raise Miss Rose, and this new ruling will help.
On Twitter the variety of responses to this new bill is quite surprising to me. So many people celebrating it, finally we are completely passed the days where homosexuality was actually illegal, we are passed the days where being gay made you a second class citizen, and finally everyone is equal under the law, even if not in the eyes of everyone in the world. But so many people outraged. Outraged by something that I am shocked has taken so long to come around, outraged by equality, by tolerance, by recognising love between two consenting adults to be nothing more than a natural and valuable thing. Love. Surely what this comes down to is love. I value love more than outdated traditions and I hope Miss Rose will too.
Arguments have been raised that gay people being allowed to marry devalues and destabalises the institution of marriage. This argument confuses me. Miss Rose may turn out to be a lesbian, and if that is the case should she be fortunate enough to fall in love and get married then I don’t see how my “straight” marriage will be devalued by her marriage to her girlfriend. If marriage is to publicly acknowledge a relationship, protect the rights of our partners and combine assets and property, then does it matter what gender you are? So many people get married who aren’t even in love, it’s a marriage of convenience or a mad bit of fun in Vegas (yes Britney, that would be you) and that isn’t illegal yet often causes lots problems and drama for families as well as making marriage look like something you do for a bit of fun and a party (Katie Price… I’m looking at you here). They’re marriages ending in divorce sometimes just hours after the vows have been made. If two people are coming together with genuine real love, genuine respect, and genuine devotion that is doing more for marriage as a whole than some of the straight marriages that are happening every day.
Another argument is that marriage already has a definition and you can’t suddenly redefine a word. I hate to give you a quick history lesson… but remember Henry the Eighth? He created an entire branch of Christianity in order to change marriage. Before him divorce was illegal and any second marriages would have been considered polygamy, yet this redefinition is widely accepted. The idea that divorce should be illegal is incredibly outdated and plenty of divorce occurs within traditional Christian households. I wonder if the people of Henry’s time felt it was destabalising marriage? After all you promise to stay with that person forever and love them forever and never be with anyone else.
It isn’t that far back in our lives that anyone who wasn’t white was treated as a second class citizen. Ingrained racism was so much the norm that nobody batted an eyelid at the abusive comments and way black or Asian people were not given equal rights was totally accepted. Fortunately that is now seen, for the most part, as shocking. The days of socially accepted racism and abuse are seen as abhorrent, the idea that a black man couldn’t marry a white woman seems completely alien to most of us now. Why not? People are people regardless of colour. Why should it matter? Hopefully this new ruling will mean that the same is true of sexuality for future generations, that the idea that you don’t deserve equality based on your sexuality is as bizarre and disgusting an idea as not deserving equality based on colour.
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!