But the prop 8 vote has set me thinking about where to go next, not only in the USA but in other places, such as Italy, where there is continued resistance to the recognition of gay unions. Both here and in the States, ickiness at the idea of gay sex among heterosexual men and some women is being manoeuvred into something more substantial and discriminatory by religious bodies, from the Phelps family to the Vatican to the Mormons, who see marriage as what they term a sacred bond. For the sake of argument, let's suppose they really believe this and aren't merely frothing at the mouth about perverts and fags and the second coming and all the rest of the odd mindset of evangelofascism, a word that's almost as ugly as the phenomenon it describes. Let's suppose they genuinely do want to protect what they see as a sacrament from 'the gays'.
Well, I come from a generation when nobody I knew, gay or straight, wanted to get married. Marriage was seen as a cage rather than a bond, along with mortgages - and look what happened to them. Times changed, people came to realise that marriage provides legal and financial security, and a host of other benefits that have nothing to do with sacrality. The state recognises this by allowing people's marriages to be recognised by both secular and religious structures. And that's the problem. Those people who've chosen town halls or registry offices to get married in have signed a civil contract. God hasn't blessed their union. And that's their choice. And that choice should be made available to those people regarded as anathema by churches. Because, in most cases, it's mutual. The churches can keep their approval for those who want it.
What I'd like to see is all those straight couples who married without God's blessing coming out to defend the opportunity of others to benefit from the bundle of basic civil rights provided by state-recognised marriage, or civil union, or registered partnership, or whatever we want to call it. Right now, the churches are claiming to protect an institution on behalf of people who don't care a dried fig about church recognition. Isn't it time these people opened their mouths?