Disclaimer: I don’t really know a whole lot about the ‘ins and outs’ of UK politics, so do forgive (and feel free to correct) me if I miss out certain important bureaucratic details…
This week, on Tuesday 5th of February, MPs in England voted in favour of a bill named the “Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill“, meaning that gay couples will, in the near future, be able to choose to get married in religious ceremonies (as well as being able to turn an older ‘Civil Partnership’ into a ‘Marriage’, provided the religious organisation agrees).
The exact voting figures, taken from The Guardian, were as follows:
• MPs have voted for the gay marriage bill by 400 votes to 175 – a majority of 225.
• More than half of the Tory MPs who voted chose to oppose gay marriage.
This ‘more than half’, was, I believe, around 136 to 134. Hats off to the 134 (despite them, by trade, not caring for the lower classes), but it’s the 136 representatives of some of the country’s genuine views towards homosexuality I wish to look at more closely…
But before I even begin, I’d like to say this: I have never seen (and will likely never see) a rational, reasonable argument against equal rights, whatever the area – be it sexuality, race, etc. You’ll always hear, in debates of this sort, the same few religiously-motivated arguments forming the opposition; and they’re all, always ridiculous.
Every following pseudo-argument was employed, if not word for word, by actual Members of Parliament here in the UK. I’m not making any of these up, and I expect you’ve all come across most of them, sadly.
So, here’s the first:
“In the beginning there was Adam and EVE, not Adam and STEVE!“
In response, a Twitter user by the name of Hugor Rifkind pointed out:
“For all we know, Adam lay back and dreamed of a “Steve” every time.. Maybe the “Eve” thing was like making do in prison.”
But, jokes aside, suppose that human life did begin with Adam and Eve (as even many Biblical Scholars admit is highly unlikely). Surely then ‘Steve’ (and perhaps another ‘Adam’) must have turned up somewhere along the incestuous line, no?
“Marriage is about family.“
Which is true, to a degree. But are marriages refused to infertile couples or women past childbearing age because of a lack of ability to reproduce? No – not even by many religious organisations.
And this is not just because there are alternatives that they could explore – IVF treatment, surrogacy etc - but because refusing them would be entirely wrong in it’s own right, even in the eyes of the religious organisations themselves.
Plus, who’s to say that same-sex couples cannot have a family? They, again due to some of the options mentioned above (as well as the extremely admirable option of adoption), simply can.
“Why change tradition?“
Why discontinue keeping slaves?
If your argument is ‘why progress for the better?’, you need to find a new one. Traditions are not necessarily traditions because they are right, in any moral sense. Bad traditions only stay alive because not enough people oppose them.
Nowadays, many do oppose the ‘tradition’ of discrimination against certain sexual orientations – even the religiously affiliated. That’s why this ‘tradition’ of marriage is being ‘changed’.
“What do we redefine next?“
Different people have different definitions of words in everyone’s use, and dictionaries are regularly rewritten.
In Sir Arthur Conan Dolye’s time, the word ‘ejaculated’ had a very different meaning. Then, it meant much the same as ‘declared’ or ‘exclaimed’ does now (leading to such wonderful sentiments as Holmes referring to Watson’s ‘ejaculations of wonder’ being invaluable to his art). That meaning has changed – and society still exists.
“Same-sex couples cannot consummate a marriage.“
This of all, was the one argument that made me double-take. I’m sure a fair few readers would have seen it in some form or another, but I had not. It shocked me.
The statement was a purely factual one – from the speaker’s warped point of view – and the calm assuredness with which it was said hit me quite hard. I got to thinking; why, or how, does this person have a position of any power whatsoever?
I mean, as it was so seriously presented as fact (and so obviously devoid of just that), the comment was all the more worrying. I would probably been less shocked if the speaker had said that he believed that same-sex couples cannot, in essence, have sex. But, again, he stated it as if it had some sort of real-world truth, which it very clearly did not.
In the wise words of my Aunty:
“He might need to attend your sex education classes. Or watch more ‘cable’ tv.”
But I’m sure Google will do…
These were the arguments coming from the people who voted against equality, but the overwhelming majority did the sane, reasonable, decent thing – with 400 votes to 175.
As annoying as it is to see such close-minded opinions still in circulation, I can’t really complain when they’re drowned out so heavily (or when they cause such a clear-cut crack down the centre of the Conservative party).
Happy LGBT History Month to everybody in the UK.