Backbenchers plot mutiny. The churches are aghast. Nadine Dorries, truly the barometer of our times, has been good enough to once again give of her considered opinion. Yes, the gay pride parade has minced back into town. The House of Commons is at the time of publication debating the government’s gay marriage legislation. Allow me to furnish you with the particulars.
The coalition proposes to afford same-sex couples all of the legal rights of heterosexual marriage. But rest assured: religions would not be required to conduct any ceremony that contravenes their particular strand of bigotry. The expectation is that Labour and the Liberal Democrats, together with many Conservatives, will unite into a parliamentary majority. But a sizable minority of Tories, perhaps as many as 100, are strongly against the changes.
It is often posed that marriage between a man and a woman forms part of the natural order of society (whatever that is) and that this tradition must be maintained for the good of all. The idea of “tradition” is particularly arresting. Longevity may be its hallmark, but it gives no guarantee of morality. See also patriarchy.
This argument also overlooks the changing nature of heterosexual marriage even in this country. Do these arch-traditionalists send their daughters down the aisle with a dowry of barnyard animals? And in answer to the assertion that the nuclear family is best for children, need I point out that the ability to produce offspring is not concomitant with the ability to raise them? Just ask social services…
Much religious opposition to the plans can be summed up thus: God made me do it. Yet, at least in the Christian sphere, this is based on a delightfully uncritical and selective reading of scripture. For example, Leviticus thunders that “whatever in the water does not have fins or scales; that shall be an abomination to you.” Consequently, I hope that the Catholic Church’s homophobe-in-chief, Pope Benedict XVI, is as opposed to oysters as he is to gay marriage. Ever the modern pontiff, I expect he will tweet about them shortly.
Finally, much is made of the democratic mandate for the changes. Nigel Farage, keen to demonstrate that UKIP dislikes more than just Belgium, finds strong opposition among people “in my village pub in Kent.” Nadine Dorries, an MP whose status as a sensible person can only be said to have risen yet further in recent months, wails that the changes will lose her party some four million votes. Worryingly, a senior party member from Somerset has already resigned.
Arguments against gay marriage are frequently as incoherent as they are ridiculous. Thankfully, progress seems inevitable, and if that means a few daft old codgers are put out, so be it. They’re a dying breed.