I’ve been contemplating all day about what I should write about for my first blog post on this new site and why it should be about something important to me. Not only to me should it be important, but it should be important to all of those who endorse equality, as I believe that equality is something that we should strive for. The UK government is seeing one of its most popular bills (minus the religious factions opposing the bill) going through parliament – the ‘Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill’. This bill is only the start however, and I believe that if we want true equality, we must go further than Same Sex Marriage (SSM), and introduce civil partnerships for mixed sex couples.
SSM – as David Cameron so neatly put it – will give same sex couples the right to be involved in the institution of marriage. Despite his keenness to see this bill turn into legislation, he has put a clause in the legislation which allows people whose religious beliefs disagree with people who aren’t heterosexual, to opt out of allowing same sex couples to marry. This – to anyone who has been blessed with the gift of sight – is discrimination. Those who support the right of two homosexual people who love each other to wed aren’t asking religious figures to approve of their sexuality. They aren’t asking the men and women of faith to change their sexuality. What they are asking for however, is that they carry out these services, because there is absolutely no reason to oppose the service – even on a religious basis as the argument is often presented.
Seeing as the New Zealand MP, Maurice Williamson, puts it best, I’ll quote an extract from his speech which powerfully argues the case for SSM:
“All that [same sex marriage] is doing, is allowing two people who love each other to have that love recognised by way of marriage … I can’t see what’s wrong with that for love nor money, sir. I just cannot. I cannot understand why someone would be opposed. I understand why people don’t like what it is that others do, that’s fine; we’re all in that category. But I give a promise to those people opposed [to SSM] right now, I give you a water tight guarantee promise: the sun will still rise tomorrow; your teenage daughter will still argue back with you, as if she knows everything, your mortgage will not grow, you will not have skin diseases, or rashes or toads in your beard. The world will just carry on. So don’t make this into a big deal. This is fantastic for the people it affects, but for the rest of us, life will go on.”
Listening to this speech, I was in awe. I was in complete adoration of the delivery, content of the speech, and its powerful nature. I can only echo the above sentiments and tell (Lord) Norman Tebbit that despite his claims, Same Sex Marriage will not lead to a lesbian queen. SSM despite the desperate need for it to be passed as law is not sufficient to create true equality in this area, something greater is required – heterosexual civil partnerships.
Marriage allows – currently, subject to much needed change – a man and a woman to make their love official through the religious institution of marriage. However, what about those people for whom the concept of marriage is unthinkable? To those people who will not – who cannot – be seen to endorse an institution, which has for far too long, forced two people who aren’t in love to wed. Civil partnerships allow the two people to seal their love, have it recognised in marriage, but not to be involved in an institution which feels wrong on so many levels. It would allow people to call their other halves “partners”, which to some symbolises to a greater degree what they want from their relationship, what message they want to convey as a couple. The term can demonstrate a greater sense of love and devotion to one and other.
The basic argument is the same for the introduction of both of these policies: for equality to be achieved both measures aren’t desirable, they are wholly necessary. Same sex couples should have the right to choose between whether they marry their other half, or enter a civil partnership; but this choice must be open to heterosexual couples too. Just as we can’t discriminate against LGBT people, neither can we morally discriminate against heterosexuals and not allow them to have a choice. Choice is key. People deserve the right to choose.
By Ronan Valentine
He can be found on twitter: @RRJValentine97