Thursday, 11 October 2012

Same-sex marriage: it's good and it's conservative...

Ah, Boris Johnson, you mad-haired goofball, you. Pretty much most of the time I look at you and wish Siobhan Benita was the mayor of London but once in a blue moon, you make sense. In your own buffoonish way, of course. In last night's Evening Standard, there was a jolly old column by London's Conservative mayor that I agreed with wholeheartedly. BoJo wrote in support of same-sex marriage, recalls that he once thought it was already legal and was chuffing-well surprised to find that it's not. Well, not yet. 

Other leading Conservatives including Prime Minister David Cameron, Culture Secretary Maria Miller and Home Secretary Theresa May have all publicly voiced their support for marriage equality in Britain. Maria Miller got a round of applause (mostly from younger Conservatives, there were also some pursed lips in the crowd) for her positive statements on the matter yesterday at the Conservative Party Conference. 

Miller said: "I still believe in marriage. It's part of the bedrock of our society. The state should not stop two people from making the commitment to be married unless there's a good reason. I don't believe being gay is one of them."

Good. Now can we please just get on with making it legal and then we can all move on with our lives?

It is precisely because letting gay couples marry shouldn't be a big deal that it should become law. Live and let live. Peace out. If some churches don't want to conduct same-sex marriages, that is their business. I believe the conducting of same-sex marriages should be down to the conscience of the individual minister. I know of vicars who'd happily conduct such weddings and others that would not. 

Why would anyone want to be married by someone who clearly disapproves of their relationship is a mystery anyway. As there are no plans to force ministers of any religion to conduct same-sex marriages, if someone's only objection is "The Bible says no!", there will still be plenty of places where they can go and hang out with likeminded people. The issue of "Where will I find a cake topper for Cedric and Barry's wedding?" will probably never be an issue in their lives.

Marriage is, first and foremost, a civil contract. The religious bit is optional. You will still have to sign a civil document saying you're legally wed. This is where the "But if we let gay people marry, next we'll have people marrying their dog or their toaster!" argument is completely ridiculous. Dogs and toasters are not consenting adults. They are not capable of signing legal documents. Why are people even trying that argument on?

Likewise, the argument about marriage being about having kids is stupid. Yes, starting a family is a big deal for a lot of couples. But what about infertile couples? Couples who choose not to have kids? Couples who are too old to have kids? If you're making marriage all about baby-making, you're going to have to tell these people as well that they'd better call the wedding off. And given that gay couples can already adopt and society hasn't crumbled as a result, surely it'd be a good thing if same-sex parents want to make the big public commitment statement in support of maintaining a stable family life.

David Cameron said he supports gay marriage because he is a conservative. And let's face it, no matter how cool any of us think we are, getting married is a pretty conservative thing to do. At least outwardly. What married couples get up to behind closed doors is nobody's business, even if it is, shock, horror, gasp, cover the kids' ears, an open relationship and they consensually involve other people in their sex life. Yes, this is how some heterosexual married couples behave. Get over it. You're not required to join in. Equally, what gay couples do behind closed doors is nobody's business but theirs. The obsession some gay marriage opponents have over the mechanics of gay sex borders on that of a curtain-twitching stalker.

Once same-sex marriage is legalised here in the UK - and I do believe that will happen - life will go on much the same as before. Nobody will be forced to have a same-sex marriage. Plenty of gay couples are probably perfectly happy remaining unwed, just as plenty of heterosexual couples are - but the difference is that everyone will have the choice to get married or not. 

Civil partnerships for gay couples were a great leap forward in equality but letting such couples call their relationship a marriage would be a way to show respect, to honour their relationships. To say: "But I tolerate gay couples and their civil partnerships!" is, frankly rude. People we "tolerate" tend to be people we don't get along with or don't really like, but we have to be polite to them because they're colleagues or family or a friend of a partner. Nobody wants to be merely "tolerated".

I haven't got much new to add to the debate suffice to say that I look forward to the day when I can look back at this blog posting and laugh at how bizarre it was that we used to deny a significant proportion of the community the right to get married. Britain has an economy to fix. Let's quit farting about with gay marriage arguments and let it happen. And with the average wedding in the UK costing a rather insane £21,000 these days, not to mention the expenses guests face just to attend the damn things, more weddings can only be a good thing for the economy. What conservative can argue with that?


  1. God ... I bet her Maggieness would spiralate in her yet to be consummated grave if she heard about pro-gay conservatives

  2. Pro-gay conservatives because that makes them more conservative. Well done, Mr. Cameron. This is fantastic on multiple levels: first, it give me the outcome I want to see but second, and more importantly, it will do Dave in. Hopefully after all the bills are signed and this ridiculous segregation ends. Great post! Adorable pooch! Cheers, @bapesaurus

  3. Good piece. Great doggie! Have tweeted both. ;)

  4. Thanks all. Andy, what's your Twitter name? I'd love to follow.

  5. And well said, Simon Callow: