Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Equal marriages

Here in the UK we’ve passed a bill to legalise gay marriage by a huge majority.  It’s expected that the first gay marriages will happen within a year.  This is excellent news: I can’t think of a single good reason why anyone would object to homosexuals marrying each other. 

And neither can anyone else. Oh, they can think of plenty of reasons, just no good ones. Here are some of the objections MPs made to the bill yesterday. There isn’t a good reason among them.
Who are we, this Government, or this country, to redefine the term marriage that has meant one man and one woman across cultures, across ages, across geographical barriers since before state and religion themselves?
-- TIM LOUGHTON, TORY FORMER CHILDREN'S MINISTER
Who are you to decide we can’t define marriage however we like? What makes you the arbiter of definitions? And one man one woman everywhere throughout history?  Really? There’ve been no examples of polygamous marriage? Or of polyandrous marriage? Appeal to tradition is never a good argument, particularly when it picks such obvious cherries.
The Government cannot possibly guarantee protection for churches or individuals with a traditional view because it cannot predict or control what happens in the courts.
-- JIM DOBBIN, LABOUR MP FOR HEYWOOD AND MIDDLETON
Churches need protection do they?  They seem to do quite a good job of protecting themselves. And individuals: what individuals are being harmed?  Some will certainly claim that public officials who are forced to do their job by marrying gay couples are being harmed. This is, of course, nonsense: it’s unthinkable that the same people could refuse to marry mixed race couples, for example. Some will claim that gay marriage offends them personally, but offence itself is not harm.  Nothing whatever will change in those people’s lives, while the lives of homosexuals who want to get married will be considerably improved. No harm done to anyone, as far as I can see.

Either way, the only ‘protection’ churches or individuals could possibly need is protection of their perceived right to discriminate.
It is not possible to redefine marriage. Marriage is the union between a man and a woman, has been historically, remains so. It is Alice in Wonderland territory, Orwellian almost, for any Government of any political persuasion to seek to come along and try to re-write the lexicon. It will not do.
-- SIR ROGER GALE, TORY MP FOR NORTH THANET
It turns out that it is possible to redefine marriage. You just go right ahead and do it. A thing is not impossible just because you personally don’t want it to happen.

Alice in Wonderland? You’re really saying that the idea of homosexuals marrying is absurd, nonsensical, deliberately foolish? It’s a thing that can’t be considered rationally because the very idea is deliberately dream-like and ridiculous?

And Orwellian? First, you’re comparing 1984 to Alice in Wonderland?  Really? And second, no lexicon is being re-defined. People’s rights are being re-defined. For the better, because it means more people get more of them.

But let’s not worry about rights, eh? Let’s worry about dictionary definitions because…..well, because there are no good arguments.

Which brings me to:
We should be in the business of protecting cherished institutions and our cultural heritage otherwise what, I ask, is a Conservative Party for? Indeed we are alienating people who have voted for us for all their lives, leaving them with no one to vote for.
-- EDWARD LEIGH, TORY MP FOR GAINSBOROUGH
What a horror show. Protecting organisations is more important than protecting people. Now where have I heard that before? If people really have nobody to vote for then so much for the political parties.

Advocating a moral platform solely to win votes or otherwise protect an organisation is itself pretty clearly about the most immoral practice that could ever be carried out.
What of further redefinitions? Will this be the last redefinition of marriage? I understand in the Netherlands and Brazil three way relationships are being legally recognised.’
-- ANDREW SELOUS, TORY MP FOR SOUTH WEST BEDFORDSHIRE
It’s the thin end of the wedge!!!! If you promote equality, the next thing you know cats will be marrying dogs!!! Any form of marriage I find icky is automatically wrong and everyone must agree!!!  If they don’t agree, then other stuff I don’t like might happen!!!!

Other arguments from MPs:
  1. We didn’t say we’d do it, therefore it’s automatically wrong if we do
  2. It has made churches sad and that cannot be allowed
  3. It has made me, personally, sad and that cannot be allowed
  4. Despite the fact that I never asked them, every single one of my constituents is against the bill and…. that is……somehow relevant, although I can’t say why
  5. Democracy is supposed to be about doing stuff for the majority. It’s not about doing stuff for everyone, regardless of whether they voted for us.  It’s not about building a fair society where everyone has the opportunity to be heard, even if they don’t always get what they want.  It really is quite amazing that some of our MPs clearly don’t have the first idea of what democracy is
  6. We have more important things to worry about. Obviously, government can and should do only one thing at a time
  7. Allowing same-sex couples to marry somehow devalues heterosexual marriages, but I can’t and won’t say how or why.
This would all be very depressing if we hadn’t ended up with the right result anyway.

What is a little depressing is the way this is being reported. Nobody seems to be saying “awesome, we’ve achieved something really important here, we’ve grown as a country and taken a big step toward equality”.

Instead, they seem to be saying “the bill was passed, HOWEVER, lots of Tories voted against it.”  They are saying “CAMERON SAYS this is a step forward.”

The BBC’s flagship morning news show, Breakfast, has given the entire story no more than three sentences, focussing entirely on the Tory rebellion aspect. Whether you’re happy about the result or not, there’s no denying that it is a big story. Breakfast, at the drop of a hat, will dedicate several half an hour slots to pro- and anti-hat dropping experts throughout the morning. They will endlessly debate the morality and practicality of the effect of gravity on headgear. But they barely and grudgingly mention this world-changing result and only then in the context of the Prime Minister’s supposed failure.  Odd.

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