If you live in Britain, and have an opinion on the proposal to allow same-sex couples to have a civil marriage, please go to the Home Office web site and complete their consultation questionnaire. It shouldn’t take any longer than 10 minutes to do, and will ensure that the Home Office receives a large number of views.
If you don’t yet have an opinion on the matter, have a read of my views, and then make your own mind up.
It probably won’t surprise you that I am very much in favour of marriage equality – allowing couples to marry regardless of their sexual orientation. My reasons are:
- It’s achieving equality. Right now, depending on your sexual orientation, you can either have a marriage or a civil partnership. This isn’t fair – nobody chooses to be gay, straight or bisexual. It’s not a lifestyle choice. Having one set of rules for one type of people and another site for another type is discrimination, pure and simple. If, say, black people were banned from getting married and had to get civil partnerships instead, there would be outrage.
- It will save the marriages of transsexuals. At present, if a man and a woman are married, and the man wishes to undergo a sex change to become a woman, then by law the marriage must be dissolved – even if the couple still love each other. It doesn’t even convert to a civil partnership – the couple would have to acquire that later, at an extra cost. To me, that’s totally wrong.
Some people seem to think that allowing same-sex couples to have civil partnerships is good enough. Don’t get me wrong, I think civil partnerships are a great idea, and their introduction in 2005 was a massive step forward for gay rights. For the first time, same-sex couples could have the same legal rights as different-sex couples, including the right to a civil ceremony that is very similar to marriage. But it’s not the same – it’s still one set of rules for one group, and another set for another group. This consultation will remove that distinction, and provide one set of rules for everyone, regardless of gender.
I do, however, feel that this consultation could go further. As it stands, the Home Office are only consulting on civil marriage – i.e. non-religious ceremonies. Even if same-sex civil marriages become legal – and I hope they do – religious organisations won’t be able to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies (although they can offer blessings as now). There are some religious groups out there, like the Quakers and Unitarians, who would like to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies if legally allowed to do so. I don’t think all religious institutions should be forced to marry same-sex couples, but those institutions that want to do so should be allowed to do so. If you agree, note this in the comments on the consultation.
And a final word. As you know, Christine and I are getting married ourselves next year. We’re fortunate that we’re a different-sex couple who love each other. I really hope that, in the future, my same-sex friends who love each other will be able to do the same. Please, do your bit and fill out the consultation. Thank you.