Monday, 19 March 2012

Civil Partnerships: Simply not good enough?

by George Hope

Denying homosexuals the use of the term marriage deliberately defines them as 'others' in the eyes of the law and civil society.

Throughout history, people have ostracised others for the colour of their skin, their gender, religion, political beliefs, and even physical capabilities. But we wouldn't let such things happen in Britain, would we? Think again. The debate on gay marriage is in full swing; some within the Catholic Church are standing firm in an attempt to stop our elected representatives from passing a law allowing gay couples to wed. Cameron wants to push through legalisation allowing gay marriage: “I am not for gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative; I’m for gay marriage because I’m a Conservative.”

A major opposition to gay marriage concerns reproduction. It is true, of course that a homosexual couple cannot procreate naturally. My question would regard whether procreation is the only condition for marriage. Surely, therefore, we should ask a couple before they get married whether they are planning on having children; or, even more controversially, deny marriage to couples who are unable to bear children naturally, a problem that affects as many as one in three of us. The only real condition for marriage should be love, and it is not for me, you or the Church to prevent any individual from marrying whomsoever they want.

Lynne Featherstone, the equalities minister said: "I believe that if a couple love each other and want to commit to a life together, they should have the option of a civil marriage, whatever their gender," she said.
"Today is a hugely important step as we consider how to lift the ban on civil marriage for same-sex couples. This is about the underlying principles of family, society and personal freedoms."
An interesting argument recalls the "separate but equal" claim, the exact words used by segregationists in America after the abolition of slavery. There is an illogical aspect to referring to civil partnerships and marriages as equal. If ‘marriage’ is a religious union, then the word should not be used to refer to non-religious marriages between a man and a woman. If it is not a religious term (my view) then marriages and civil partnerships are the same thing as long as equal rights are protected, so we should not use different words.
Human beings are different. We come in different shapes and sizes, colours and creeds. Embrace difference, and don’t make the same mistakes that have divided and stigmatised humanity for generations.

Daniel Rollins' response arguing why localisation of same sex marriage would be undemocratic:

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