Thursday, 21 October 2010

Gay Marriage

Most of you will know I'm pro-marriage.  Not because my own experience has been particularly utopian, but because I believe making a declaration of commitment to another publicly is the ultimate compliment to the person with whom you wish to share your life.

Another reason I'm pro-marriage is that it gives any children a more stable environment in which to develop.  Of course it's not always so, but that 'piece of paper' can make a difference between making efforts to resolve issues or just packing bags and leaving.  It also legally protects both partners should things go wrong in a far less complicated way that a 'bidey in' relationship, which can require costly legal documents to ensure the security of both should things go wrong.

There will be those who disagree of course and say that many cohabiting couples do provide a stable home for their children and I don't disagree with them.  So often I hear younger couples saying, "We'll get married when we can afford it," when they already have children yet currently it only costs £93.50 to get married in a Scottish registrar's office. Is it because people don't want the legal commitment of marriage, do they feel it's unnecessary or do they want the commitment but with all the glamour of an extravagant white wedding day?  Possibly a combination of all three.

An opinion poll carried out for the Scottish Green Party found that 58% of people agreed that same sex couples should be able to get married.  If they'd have asked me the percentage would have increased to 59%.

Why should same sex couples be denied the same rights as hetrosexual couples?  There are no reasons which stand up to scrutiny these days.

Isn't it strange though, that within today's hetrosexual society it appears there is less need or regard for the institution of marriage and it's the gay lobby which is requesting access to what some consider an out-dated and unnecessary ceremony?  Good luck to them.  I've witnessed the serious financial cost one gay couple has expended in a bid to protect each other when, if they were treated equally, it could have cost as little as £93.50.

Let's rid ourselves of this 'civil partnership' legislation - which sounds more like a military pact - and promote marriage for all couples. Marriage isn't all about sex, it's far more complex.  If those who disagree with homosexuality in general can look beyond the sex angle, then they should see that it's only right any couple should be able to make the ultimate commitment to their partner.



RMcGeddon said...

I think you've misunderstood the civil partnership legislation SR.
Civil partnerships give gay couples all the rights that a conventional marriage would give them. (inheritance, tax breaks, benefits etc). This is long overdue like you said as it stops the previous situation where life long gay partners were unable to inherit from each other or take over the house etc.
The reason that you can't have a 'gay marriage' is because the UK isn't a theocracy like Saudi Arabia where religion and government are one and the same. Our government doesn't have the power to introduce legislation to force churches to perform 'gay marriages'. If they did then the government would be in charge of the churches.
There's absolutely nothing stopping gay couples from putting crosses and other decorations in the registry office during the ceremony but because of the division between state and religion in this country it's impossible to call it a 'gay marriage'.

RantinRab said...

The main reason, in my opinion, that gays want to get married is to say 'ya-boo' to the system and convention.

Fairy 'nuff, I suppose.

Keith Ruffles said...

"it only costs £93.50 to get married"

Do many weddings really only cost this much? Or come the big day do people like to, you know, splash out a little bit?

But otherwise I agree with the main thrust of the piece. Ironically it appears to be the supposedly all-inclusive church which is the main barrier to gay 'marriage' - as opposed to 'partnership' - and not government legislation, as RMcGeddon points out.

Joe Public said...

I disagree SR. In my opinion, only a couple - 1 of each gender - can "marry".

Gays may call their partnership / pact / relationship whatever they want, but it certainly isn't 'marriage'.

RantinRab said...

I got married in a registry office. Is it classed as marriage or a civil partnership?

And it cost less than 200 quid, all in.

Disenfranchised of Buckingham said...

What about, for example, two elderly sisters wanting the benefits of inheritance tax breaks etc that go with marriage?

Why should sex give you legal protection not available to siblings?

Heterosexual marriage has some justification as a means of protecting children. I'm not sure of any justification to give gays an advantage over other pairs, triplets, or communes.

subrosa said...

Possibly I have RM, but many people get married without any religious content in the ceremony. It doesn't have to include a religious content.

Perhaps I'm being rather naive here but what then is the difference between these civil partnerships and marriages other than a registrar is needed at a marriage. I'm not sure about a civil partnership but, as it's law, I should think they are.

Why should it be called a gay marriage? A hetrosexual marriage isn't called a hetrosexual marriage is it.

Am I missing your point?

subrosa said...

Fair enough Rab right enough. There are far more important things in this world to concern ourselves with.

RMcGeddon said...

Rab. You're officially married. Unless your partner is a man ;)

subrosa said...

Well that's the registrar's fee her Keith. Of course you can spend as much as you want on all the accompanying celebrations.

Just recently a couple I know married without telling any of us. It just cost them the price of the registrar and some flowers for the bride. The witnesses were folk they knew who worked in a shop near the registrars and they managed to get the 15 minutes off.

Then they threw a wonderful party the following weekend. They give them a couple of times a year so none of us was surprised at the invitation.

subrosa said...

Marriage isn't defined these days as it used to be when I was young Joe. It's not held in regard much as far as I can see yet people still do it.

subrosa said...

That's where I'm confused now Rab. Someone will help us out.

Keith Ruffles said...

Ha very true, although I think if I suggested a wedding for less than a hundred quid to my other half I don't think I'd get a very positive response ;)

RMcGeddon said...

SR. Marriage doesn't have to have any religious content but it's still a' marriage' under UK law if it's between a man and a woman.
Civil partnerships are held in designated buildings by someone who has been trained by the government for the purpose of performing 'civil partnerships'. Often it's performed by members of the humanist society who also perform the non religious funerals.
It shouldn't be called a 'gay marriage' as there is no such thing under UK Law. Only heterosexual couples can be married.

Budvar said...

It's impossible for gays to "Marry", as JP said you need 1 of each gender.

A marriage has 2 legally binding parts, the ceremony and the consummation. A marriage can be annulled if the consummation part has not taken place as in the eyes of the law the marriage never took place.

subrosa said...

That is a conundrum Buckingham and one which has been through the courts a few times I think. The solution is a costly well-designed pile of legal documents, similar to what some do because, for various reasons, they can't marry. Not ideal by any means and, as I was once told, courts don't have to acknowledge these documents.

I would agree that we should all be treated equally and therefore situations like that should also be considered when passing any legislation.

subrosa said...

Ah thank you Budvar. I should have researched the definition - my fault but time is very limited this week.

What's the solution? Change the law concerning marriage?

Anonymous said...

You can have a marriage of tastes, or colours. The word "Marriage" has nothing to do with religion, and need not be anything to do with people.

If gays cannot marry, ie one of the basic rights that other people have, then they should pay less tax. After all they are second class citizens and should pay for the second class situation they are in with second class taxes.

In France although a couple may have a ceremony in church the actual wedding is conducted by the civil authorities. Does that make it a civil partnership?

subrosa said...

You never know until you try Keith. You may be pleasantly surprised - especially if you suggest the saved money could buy something she's hankered after for years.

Oh and also offer to buy her the best outfit money can buy. That may work. :)

subrosa said...

Tris I really don't know the answer. I've posted on something which I thought was simple but it seems it's much more complicated.

Anonymous said...

No, you were right SR.

If gays are human beings, and full members of our society, and what they do is not any longer against the law, which I assume it isn't, then there is no earthly reason why they should not marry.

Some churches may refuse to marry them, as they refuse to marry divorced people, or people of different races, and that is up to the churches, although they might like to take into consideration that we give them an awful lot of leeway on some matters of law, like sex discrimination, and religious discrimination, and sexuality discrimination already.

(I mean what other organization would get away with either not employing women at all, or refusing them promotion...?)

As you can see from the definition of the word marriage, several differnt usages have nothing to do with a partnership between a man and a woman.

1. a. the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc.
b. a similar institution involving partners of the same gender: gay marriage.
2. the state, condition, or relationship of being married; wedlock: a happy marriage.
3. the legal or religious ceremony that formalizes the decision of two people to live as a married couple, including the accompanying social festivities: to officiate at a marriage.
4. a relationship in which two people have pledged themselves to each other in the manner of a husband and wife, without legal sanction: trial marriage.
5. any close or intimate association or union: the marriage of words and music in a hit song.
6. a formal agreement between two companies or enterprises to combine operations, resources, etc., for mutual benefit; merger.
7. a blending or matching of different elements or components: The new lipstick is a beautiful marriage of fragrance and texture.
8. Cards . a meld of the king and queen of a suit, as in pinochle. Compare royal marriage.
9. a piece of antique furniture assembled from components of two or more authentic pieces.
10. Obsolete . the formal declaration or contract by which act a man and a woman join in wedlock.

RMcGeddon said...


There's absolutely nothing to stop same sex partners calling it a 'marriage'. They can call it anything they like actually. Can put it on all of their invites. Can decorate the reception with marriage posters etc.
But under UK Law it's not officially a 'marriage' and will never be called this on any official documents. This is because our govt isn't a theocracy like in Saudi Arabia where the state runs the religion and they are interchangeable. Our laws don't allow the state to introduce legislation to force churches to marry people. In official terms the word 'marriage' is a legal term for a marriage in church between a man and woman.

RMcGeddon said...


I should have said..

In official terms the word 'marriage' is a legal term for a marriage in church ( or registry office / officially sanctioned building etc) between a man and woman.

Budvar said...

The thing with trying to treat people "equally" is the fact that no matter how you want to slice it people are not equal.

How do you solve the problem of the blind guy down the road who wants to be a fighter pilot or the quadriplegic who wants to be a brain surgeon, change the definition of "Fighter pilot or brain surgeon?

We could go down the pythonesque road of Tris and her fellow travellers by stating that although the blind can't actually be fighter pilots no matter how much they want to be, which is no ones fault not even the Romans, but we should fight for their *RIGHT* to be fighter pilots as it's symbolic of our struggle against oppression.

How did Reg put it again? Ah yes "Symbolic of her struggle with reality more like".

subrosa said...

That's very true Budvar. Equality is defined differently by all of us.

However, RM has me confused. Perhaps it's different in Scotland but this year I was at a marriage ceremony which was outside and taken by a non-denominational layman. The couple, as far as I know, were married.

Maybe they had a civil ceremony earlier or later. I don't know.

subrosa said...

Tris, I still think that if a religious person doesn't want to carry out a religious service for anyone ie baptism, marriage, funeral etc they should be allowed to refuse as long as they provide a replacement.

Also why should an organisation employ women or men? People should be employed for their suitability for the job not their gender or anything else.

I think the definition most closely related to me in no 9. :)

wisnaeme said...

I have to say, if two adults people share a home together and share the responsibilities and obligations of living together be that hetrosexual or whatever. Be they closely related as in brothers or sisters (you can choose your friends,partners, lovers ect but not your relatives)
... then their individual wishes in that partnership (understanding)to provide and protect their HOME sharer's best interests in the event of unfortunate happenings such as illness or death must take precidence. It matters not one jot what constituency that partnership is made of. ... that is only right and proper.
On a personal note; I was a partner to a lovely lady for years until her death parted us. Even though we were partners and share the same home together and the responsibilities and obligations of such, during her long illness I felt frustrated, indeed angry that obstacles were put in our way that would not be the case if we had been married ...and so married we got ...for five weeks. ...and waving that little piece of paper made previous obstacles disappear, both before and after her death.
...and so I have to say if two people related or not, hetrosexual or not decide to or have made a commitment to Home share, perhaps for years past then the law of the land should respect and protect that and them ...and make that same commitment to them, without discrimination or imposition of status quo, erzart state values on what they decide is proper or not.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Rosie, 'gay marriage' is just another part of the jigsaw, designed to break up the fabric of our society along with mass immigration without controls, sex education in young children, lack of individuals' rights, the deceit of our political classes, etc, etc, etc. Now if LGBT persons want to get into a relationship with each other, that is perfectly fine with me and if they make some sort of legally binding commitment to each other, they should have all the rights that a married couple should have IMO. But, they cannot in the eyes of the Christian Church be married, because that has to be between a man and a woman. Now of course, you can go through a 'registry wedding' and be legally married, but until a few years ago many Churches wouldn't have recognised that as a marriage. Perhaps, this is an occasion when there should have been more intransigence on the part the Christian Churches, regarding their definition of marriage.

Budvar said...

Property rights issues have nothing to do with marriages. Governments can legislate (and in most cases already have) things like inheriting council tenancies etc. I can leave my property to the cats home if I so choose, so if light on the loafers Larry wants to leave his house to his "special friend", he can.

Pension rights are a bit of a thorny issue I'll concede, but it's swings and roundabouts with benefits. At present if I and my live in girlfriend go to sign on for income support, we can't make separate claims, we get paid as a married couple whether we're married or not. If Larry and his friend do the same, they can claim as separate individuals and are better off than me by about £30 a week.

If all gay couples who live together were paid benefits as a married couple same as I, the squeals of outrage from the gay community would be deafening.

Also DL, the definition of "marriage" is a legal construct the ins and outs of which have much to do with children and rightful heirs, and being married in front of a vicar or registrar has no irrelevant in the eyes of the law, you're just as married either way.

As I said before, 2 single sex persons cannot be "Married", as the definition of marriage because of the consummation bit not being able to take place.

The government could legislate a change in the definition of Marriage, in much the same way they could legislate the definition of a cat to a dog but in reality it would still be a cat.

JuliaM said...

Can't agree with this one - civil partnerships provide the advantages of marriage without forcing society to change the definition of the word to accommodate something it's never been.

Rantin' Rab is correct - the fuss over 'gay marriage' is being pushed by people who want to rub the noses of 'straight spciety' in their hollow victory, and for no other reason...

Sue said...

As has already been stated, a civil partnership is as legally binding as a marriage. Marriage (the whole white dress etc...) is a religious ceremony (which is why I didn't have one).

Don't you think it's a matter for the church to decide?

English Pensioner said...

I couple recently said to me that they "couldn't afford to get married", so I asked why? It seems that they (and their parents and friends) don't think it is a "proper wedding" unless they spend a fortune on fancy cars, a reception for hundreds and a honeymoon in some exotic location. I'm a bellringer at our parish church, and some of the "spectaculars" (and wasted money) just leave us speechless. We have a theory that the length of a marriage is inversely proportional to the amount spent on the ceremony!

I remember a few years ago, our previous Rector responded to a couple who "couldn't afford it" by telling them to make an appointment at the Parish Office and to come along on the day in their ordinary clothes with just two friends as witnesses and he would marry them free of charge, paying the statutory costs from the church funds if necessary!

The cost of the actual marriage at under £100 is far less than many couples spend on a good night out and there can be no excuse for not getting married on cost grounds.

Another thing that I can't understand is the couples who claim that they "don't believe in marriage" and then bring their children along to be baptised!

Weird! But then my daughters tell me I' old fashioned (but they did both get married)

subrosa said...

Hi wisnaeme. I can understand your frustration at doors being closed to you because I've experienced it myself. In fact a decent lawyer told me that the only way my home and myself could be protected was by marriage. That wasn't so long ago.

No matter how many legal documents are drawn up courts can refuse to acknowledge them.

Entirely agree there should be something in law for those life-sharing regardless of the relationship.

subrosa said...

DL, that means I was never married because I was never married in a church. So therefore it was a civil partnership? I don't think so.

It's long before I was born that the CoS ignored civil ceremonies so it is some time ago.

subrosa said...

Now that's an aspect of it all that I never even considered Budvar and of which I have no knowledge at all. It extends the debate somewhat doesn't it? Good point.

subrosa said...

Aye Sue. I said the clergy ought to decide and ought to be allowed to refuse if they see fit - with the understanding that another may be happy to perform the ceremony.

Sue said...

I do love the Scottish accent.. I can almost hear you say "Aye Sue" :)

subrosa said...

It's something that's never left me Sue. I tried to get rid of it once when I was a teenager and my family moved to the SW. Made an appointment with a speech therapist clutching my 10 bob note and told her I wanted to speak like my Dad's secretary.

My Dad's secretary had recommended the woman because she'd used her. She didn't tell me it was because she had a very bad stutter as a child but Jenny spoke beautifully I thought.

The therapist refused to take me on. Gave me a short lesson in how to slow down, put endings on various words and her last words of advice were' Never lose your accent. It will see you through life far better than a void English one'.

I think she was right. I've always been called something related to Scotland with Scotty, the Scot etc. when abroad. All in the most friendly way.

Grogipher said...

Hi there SubRosa, and thank you for this blogpiece.

I have to say that you are correct in your assumptions, that the law in Scotland is different from that in England and Wales. Your marriage, despite it not being held in a Church, is most definitely a marriage, just the same as if your ceromony was in the Registrar's Office or indeed the lovely one I attended in the grounds of Broughty Ferry Castle.

Unlike the assertion made earlier on about Humanists celebrating Civil Partnerships, this isn't legally binding anywhere in the UK yet, although the Equality Act (in England and Wales) will allow CPs to be carried out by religious or Humanist celebrants.

Just now there are very few differences between marriage and CPs - mostly to do with recognising ceremonies in other nations, adultery not counting as grounds for divorce in CPs (why not?) and no need for consumation. There are other slight irregularities in the tax system that I could look up for you, if you wanted to know.

I agree with you entirely that it's daft to have a same-but-different approach. Many heterosexual couples do still, as you say, think marriage has to be religious, or see it as a religious institution, and thus avoid it, and many religious homosexual couples would love their own minister to bless their relationship (not to mention many ministers would love to do so)!

I think France's model is the best, having a secular legal half, and leaving the religions to do their own thing, without interference from the state. I would settle for opening up both marriage and CPs for both sets in the meantime, as that would be the only justifiably fair way, but don't really see the need for two separate systems in the long run.

subrosa said...

Thanks for that Grogipher. Aren't the laws south of the border coming into line with ours soon? I'm pleased to hear marriage is legal up here. :)

Aren't we more like the French rather than the English? If I remember, it's the presence of a registrar which is the important aspect to a marriage in Scotland. The rest is just flamboyance and as much of it as you wish.

Still, for those who do feel they would like a religious service a few folk I know have waited a while then had a blessing in church or even had one the same day.

RMcGeddon said...

Grogipher said...

" Unlike the assertion made earlier on about Humanists celebrating Civil Partnerships, this isn't legally binding anywhere in the UK yet"

Like the majority of your comments this isn't true. I've been to civil partnership 'weddings' in England and can confirm that they are legally binding.

" many religious homosexual couples would love their own minister to bless their relationship (not to mention many ministers would love to do so)!"

There is nothing stopping this from happening which is why it happens frequently. It just can't be officially recorded as a marriage.

" I would settle for opening up both marriage and CPs for both sets in the meantime, as that would be the only justifiably fair way, but don't really see the need for two separate systems in the long run."

It's nothing to do with need. It's the way the law is in the UK. Unlike in theocracies like Saudi Arabia the govt hasn't got the powers to legislate and force churches to have legally binding marriage ceremonies.

hatfield girl said...

Marriage doesn't concern itself only with the relationship between two (in our culture) individuals participating in a marriage. It regulates permitted relationships between kinship groups, generations, spiritual relationships like godparenthood, etc., and generates new relationships, which are governed by a marriage.

If we choose to ignore gender as a characteristic to be regulated within marriage (as understood in our western, Christian culture) do we set aside too marriage characteristics that govern, say, incest?

Marriage is a fundamental organising principle of our society - as is gender, generation, kinship, affinity etc. I'm not saying that we cannot change these principles, but if/when we do we should consider the ramifications of these changes and be sure we are not too-narrowly defining these organising principles and their function and part in the structure of our society and its morality.

subrosa said...

A very thought provoking post HG. You're right that marriage does create extended 'family' and also regulates certain aspects of society which our culture has demanded over the centuries.

Much more complicated a subject than I first thought so perhaps I may have to change my opinion slightly and put a codicil or two on it.

Stewart Cowan said...

Guess what, Subrosa - I disagree!

The definition of a marriage is the joining together of one man and one woman.

That's what it means. End of.

As Rab says, above,

"The main reason, in my opinion, that gays want to get married is to say 'ya-boo' to the system and convention."

This was the intention of the homosexual pioneers in the 60s. More than that, they wanted to destroy conventional families.

As Dark Lochnagar writes above,

"Rosie, 'gay marriage' is just another part of the jigsaw, designed to break up the fabric of our society along with mass immigration without controls, sex education in young children, lack of individuals' rights, the deceit of our political classes, etc, etc, etc."

That's absolutely right.

As Aristotle said (not above!),

"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal."

Come on, Rosie, walk down Real Street with us on this one ;)

subrosa said...

Hi Stewart, good to see you. :)

I appreciate why you disagree and yes, I would agree the definition is that, but in recent years definitions have changed haven't they. The obvious example is gay which use to mean happy.

I'm going to give further thought to Hatfield Girl's comment and the others. Will get back to you if you don't mind.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Rosie, I'm sorry to tell you then that in the eyes of the CoS, you are a fornicator, a devil woman and an Irish trollop. Your only course of action is to pop into the nearest Church and be properly done, before you kick the bucket and Peter disnae let you into the imaginary sky.

Stewart Cowan said...

Hi SR,

With regards to "gay marriage" I asked Ed Miliband on his blog why he thinks he has the right to change definitions of words. He didn't reply.

@Dark Lochnagar,

Most of the churches are confused as well. They seem to have forgotten that Christ said, "sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee."

subrosa said...

Hi Stewart. Goodness me, you didn't expect a politician to answer such a sensible question did you?

I find we're too quick to accept the American definition of words these days.

subrosa said...

Dl, I'll take your comment as a compliment. I could be called a lot worse. I could be called a unionist. :)

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