So, after a day of listening to ponciful old men talk about why I shouldn’t marry my girlfriend one day, parliament has seen some sense and passed the Same Sex Marriage Bill.
The day has seen some interesting points made by my friends and acquaintances*, such as:
‘Who cares? Gay people are ambivalent about same sex marriage’
‘Why are gays trying to assimilate themselves into a heteronormative tradition when we could be smashing patriarchy?’
‘Why would we want to get married by an institution that actively opposes homosexuality?’
‘Marriage is just a financial bond made to tide a couple over until they die’
And so on and so forth.
I agree that a lot of my gay friends are ambivalent. Some of them are even cynical and don’t believe that marriage works for anyone. And a lot of my friends (who are self-identifying queers) believe marriage to be a patriarchal cornerstone which seeks to perpetuate tired, sexist gender roles. And I agree with all of these points… to a point. Some of my friends are ambivalent, but then some of them are gay and they’re dying to marry their partners. But there’s nowt less romantic than getting down and one knee and saying to one’s girl:
‘Will you, love of my life, civil partnership me and will you have a baby with me (and an anonymous sperm donor I found at the London Sperm Bank)?’
Some of my gay friends are actively looking forward to calling their partner their husband or their wife. And I want that for them and I believe the rest of the country should too. I think that is the decent thing to want because, really, who is anyone to say that legally consenting and mentally sound adult #1 should not marry legally consenting and mentally sound adult #2? Who, in the post-Enlightenment years, gives a shit?
Some of my friends are cynical about marriage in general and that’s a completely different discussion altogether.
Some of my friends believe that marriage props up the patriarchy. I believe this would be true if gay and lesbian people were getting married to people of the opposite sex. But they’re not. And a lot of same sex couples are well aware of what the patriarchy is and what it does, and many are well aware of what heteronormativity is and what it does, but they still want to get married to their partners. To say that same sex marriage automatically equals the political same as that of opposite sex marriage is, I believe, dishonest.
As for the idea that all religious institutions are opposed to homosexuality: well, as a whole, yes. But I do believe that some religions – or, at least, sub-sects of some religions – are starting to change their mind about this. Also, one can very easily omit any religious overtones from their vows. That’s essentially a registry wedding anyway.
And to the argument that marriage is just a financial bond… well so is co-habitation and having kids and getting a joint bank account and going on holiday together. Sometimes marriage isn’t about money. Sometimes it’s about this really queer thing called love. And sometimes it’s not. Either way, it’s our choice now. And more choice is a precursor to more choices again. And that’s how you smash a patriarchy.
** apologies for the brevity of this post, but I could be here all night giving a full and comprehensive account of why I was and am all for the same sex marriage bill. And anyway, I don’t think anyone would have read it if I did.