Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mean spirited marriage laws

Apparently, under current British law, if a married person changes sex, they are legally forced to end their marriage.  This makes no sense at all: they’re the same people.  Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to tease out the ‘reasoning’ behind this idea.  Oh, so you want to be treated in law as a woman now do you?  Is that what you want is it?  Well FUCK YOU, sunshine: two women can’t be married.  How do you like THEM apples?

Hey, what if a man and a woman get married and both change sex at the same time? Is it OK for them to stay married?

To his credit, Nick Clegg is trying to change this.  The proposal says:

  • Same sex couples will be allowed to marry in civil ceremonies.
  • Civil partnerships will be retained for same sex couples and religious trappings will still be banned in those ceremonies. This is important.
  • Transsexual people won’t have to end their existing marriage or civil partnership.
  • There will be no changes at all to religious marriage ceremonies.

I could live without the last point.  I don’t see why organisations should be allowed to discriminate solely because they’re religious. But it’s clear that Clegg needs to pick his battles and that would probably be too big a step at this stage.  It hasn’t stopped bigots from pretending that the changes will somehow undermine their marriages, though. 

This is an absolutely bewildering argument: the idea that allowing other people to marry somehow changes my marriage is beyond my comprehension. Does my legal position change?  My human rights?  Those of my wife?  What about our moral obligations to each other? Will people perceive our relationship differently if some homosexuals get married too?  No on every count. And yet people unashamedly use this argument all the time with straight (and po) faces.

The Face of Po

And while we’re on the subject of bigoted, moralistic, judgemental wankers, have a gander at the Archbishop of Westminster, the Everso Really Really Tremendously Very Reverend Indeed Vincent Nichols (reverend).

This celibate old man, with his complete lack of experience of marriage (and who from the picture is quite clearly Martin out of Frasier) has decided to stick his fingers in his ears and shout “la la la, I’m not listening.”  What homosexual couples have, he insists for no reason, is a ‘profound friendship’.  That’s not the same thing as a marriage, apparently.  Perhaps he thinks that heterosexual marriages are not profound friendships, but he probably means that heterosexual marriages have something extra that homosexual ones do not.  He’s right. They have the sleazy approval of sanctimonious bigots like him.

Vincent Nichols: We must protect true meaning of marriage, says Roman Catholic leader

Obviously the same person

I bet you’re wondering how disingenuous his arguments are, right?  Judge for yourself:

"Marriage is about bringing difference together. Different sexes, sometimes different families, different tribes. It's been used to bring kingdoms together. It's about bringing difference together, out of which comes a new start and a new life.

The gender difference is essential for its creativity and its complementarity."

This statement has a kind of fractal preposterousness.  It gets more ridiculous the closer you look.  He’s actually using the example of forced political marriages of yore to justify the denial of rights to ordinary modern citizens.  It’s hard not to feel sorry for Vincent.  He’s been trained to believe that rambling, nonsensical, dishonest arguments like this are valid.

He said it was "utterly astonishing" the consultation did not make reference to children.

"It is excluding things that are of the very nature of marriage.

What mention would it make of children, exactly?  Oh we all know what he means: if we pretend that marriage is all about producing and raising children, we can also pretend we’re not bigots.  It’s hardly a novel argument.  But seriously, Vincent, what could the proposal possibly have to say about children?  Once again, the more closely you look at his argument, the more it fragments.

"I think it's not in the long run a good idea to change, to shake, that fundamental idea of marriage in which a man and a woman call each other husband and wife."

But that’s the very thing, isn’t it?  That’s all the proposal says.  Slightly change a bit of language on some legal documents nobody ever reads or cares about anyway.

He said he hoped the consultation would be conducted in a "measured and reasonable" manner.

What is it with religious people and their passive aggressive threats?  What he means is that he hopes people will pretend that his bigotry is somehow OK. 

I think Nick Herbert might be my new hero:

Nick Herbert, the Home Office minister, said the Archbishop had a "sad misunderstanding" of the nature of homosexual relationships. "It is akin to a union between a man and a woman in a heterosexual marriage," he said. "What is wrong with wanting to show a commitment towards someone?"

He went on: "I don't seek to dictate to the Archbishop what happens inside his Church, what standards he sets and what he seeks to do. It would be quite wrong for me or the state to do so. But equally I wonder why he should seek to dictate the institution of civil marriage outside of his Church which is not a matter for the Church."

Indeed so.  None of his fucking business. Toward the end of her life, one of my grandmothers became increasingly obsessed with what she considered her neighbours’ starlings stealing the food from her own bird table, which was intended for ‘her’ blue tits.  I can’t help but think of her Starling Crusade when I see parochial, stupid, bigoted arguments like Vincent’s.

He said same-sex unions would "strengthen the institution" of marriage.

Agreed. How could it not?

By way of contrast:

Peter Bone, a Conservative MP, told the programme the twelve-week consultation was a "sham" and the proposals did not appear in party manifestos.

"If you are going to change something that's 2000 years old put it in your manifesto, see if people vote for you, and then bring it forward in the next Parliament."

He added: "This is not my party; it's the Coalition Government. It's because of a dirty deal with the Liberals behind the scenes."

Oh grow up, you little small tiny man. You’re exactly the kind of person the word ‘prig’ was invented for.

1 comment:

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