Yesterday on the BBC’s Question TimePhilip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, speaking about the Same Sex Marriage Bill said there was “no huge demand” for equal marriage, and that it made people angry.
He said: “This change does redefine marriage. For millions and millions of people who are married, the meaning of marriage changes. There is a real sense of anger among many people who are married that any government thinks it has the ability to change the definition of an institution like marriage.”
He continued: “I have just never felt that this is what we should be focusing on … There was no huge demand for this and we didn’t need to spend a lot of parliamentary time and upset vast numbers of people in order to do this.”
It is beyond doubt that for many, the move towards marriage equality is an upsetting development. However, what about the gay women and men of this country who have waited patiently waiting in the wings, being happy for their heterosexual friends, but unable to experience the joy of marriage in their own lives?
Is that upset somehow palatable because we are part of a minority? I myself find it perplexing that any move towards greater equality in the United Kingdom could be described as upsetting. Are you seriously telling me that when, not if the first same-sex marriage ceremony goes ahead, there will be weeping and wailing, and wringing of hands?
Perhaps there will be some, but I believe that to be a price worth paying.
Philip Hammond was vague in his language last night, and perhaps with good reason. For millions and millions of people, he suggests, the meaning of marriage changes. Oh really? How would that be? I expect that my neighbours who have been married for 50 years will feel just as married as they did before. This is not apocalyptic Armageddon. On the contrary, this is progress.
It is also extremely noble of Philip Hammond to act as spokesperson for the ‘Angry at Equal Marriage Movement’, however, it is also politically convenient. For instead of just holding a view in your own right, you can add credibility to that view by extending it, thus giving the impression that the same view is widely held by the electorate. The homogenous public who already think as you do, not!
Well rehearsed and hackneyed arguments against equal marriage include the somewhat entrenched position that marriage is between a man and a woman, as it says in the Bible.
I believe that creation is a continuous process, and that the world not only revolves, but evolves too. For me, creation did not begin on the first page of the Bible and end on the last. Instead, it is an organic, continuous process happening here and now.
As to hypothetical anger at the Government for thinking it has the power to change the definition of marriage, what utter rubbish.
The Prime Minister has stated he is a fan of marriage and that he sees no reason why gay people should not be able to participate in such a fantastic institution.
There is no change of emphasis with regard to what marriage is. It is a union of two people who love each other. There are many other things the Bible says we shouldn’t do.
Hands up if you have eaten a prawn recently. I rest my case.
As much as those who are against equal marriage go out of their way to suggest they are not homophobic, I believe it is very difficult to construct an argument against equal marriage without at least appearing so. Every argument I have heard has the implicit message, leave the status quo alone, it works fine for us, and the pesky gays have civil partnerships. It is repulsive, in my view to exclude vast numbers of the population from a well-loved institution from which you yourself are not excluded.
We are not asking for special marriage ceremonies where we can turn up in pink Cadillacs blasting air horns and blaring Madonna. We are not asking the straight population to annul their marriages.
We are asking for the same marriage right as others. It is condescending to be told as a gay person, by a largely straight Parliament that you have civil partnerships. I ask you, if the boot were on the other foot, would the same apply? Of course not, there would be moral affront.
As Chris Bryant pointed out, it is disingenuous of Philip Hammond to suggest that he is somehow a supporter of gay equality legislation. He is not, having voted against many gay equality reforms brought forward, including civil partnerships.
We are lagging behind on the world stage. Many countries already have equal marriage. Has the sky fallen in now? Certainly it hasn’t. I look forward to Monday and Tuesday, I hope they will be marked by progressive debate, and not the status quo. I look forward to celebrating the weddings of my lesbian and gay friends. Let’s hope I don’t have to wait much longer to do so.