Saturday, 8 November 2008

Marriage, shmarriage

The joy of Obama's victory has been slightly soured by the votes in California and elsewhere against gay marriages, confirmation - if that were needed - of Obama's extraordinary ability to draw on a wide variety of constituencies, including many that are hostile to gay issues. It's evident that part of Obama's appeal derives from the way in which he and his team have used his family in an iconic way, normative as Palin's horde could never be. If she was a hockey mom, Barack Obama was also a basketball pop.

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? 

11 comments:

Annie Wicking said...

If two people love each other and have lived and loved under the same roof for years, what is wrong with them showing the world that they truely do care for each other.

There are couple who have the big white wedding and within days are divorcing, is that not then making a mockery of the church?

Love above all things is the centre of the Church.

Love is a the centre of a marriage.

Just my thoughts.

Best wishes,
Annie

Charles Lambert said...

I've loved my partner and lived with him under the same roof for more than 20 years, Annie, and I'm all for showing the world. If the church were less powerful in Italy, I already would have done. I see very little evidence that love is at the centre of any church. What, in any case, does the church have to do with the civil rights of two male atheists?

Kay Sexton said...

Tony had been married before, so we couldn't get married in church, but a generous Canon agreed to give us a church blessing for our civil marriage. Why did we bother to get married? Because Tony had been married before, and I would have had no rights if we hadn't enacted a civil ceremony. Why did we have a church blessing? I actually cannot remember why I thought this was important, it was 24 years ago and today it seems daft to have asked the blessing of a Deity neither of us have ever believed in.

Absolutely everybody should be free to make a civil marriage. Everybody. Absolutely.

Charles Lambert said...

Absolutely, Kay. Let the church withhold its blessing if it wants to.

Annie Wicking said...

My point, Charles was the fact if the Church says God is love and that's at the heart of their teaching.

Why can't they see and understand that two people have shown the world that they are proclaiming this love to the world.

The way the Church is behaving it doesn't show much of its love to the rest of the world.

I agree with you, and I married by a civil service and feel my love to my much beloved is as strong as any Church White Wedding.. I was try to point out that mockery is made by people who take the vow before God and then within days they are divorce.

Where people like you and your partner marriage would most properly lasted a life time.

I hope I've made myself much clear this time.

Best wishes
Annie

Charles Lambert said...

Absolutely, Annie. Thank you for not giving up on me! I think we've understood each other perfectly now...

best
Charles

Annie Wicking said...

Much love and peace, my dear friend.

Annie

Anonymous said...

I love you Charles! You and Giuseppe are amazing human beings. Sometimes, that is all that needs to be said.
Tyla

Charles Lambert said...

Un bacio!

Ms Baroque said...

Charles, I agree that this was a dampener to the euphoria - but it doesn;t need to be a complete one. Of course Obama has used his family as an asset - they are one, too. Of course he's played the game, and it worked: he's elected. He is on record as saying he supports gay civil unions. The word "marriage" is so loaded, sentimentally and religiously - of course, that sentimental attachment to the "sanctity of marriage" will be pulling on both the yays and the nays, which is why some gay people have said they felt palmed off with a mere civil union - it's all or nothing. Which implies that calling something a "marriage" makes it more real.

In the USA at least, I feel that this semantics is the real issue, and that most people would support a civil union.

Or, putting it another way, if you talked about a civil partnership, meaning eg that each person is financially protected if/when the other one dies, I can't really imagine anyone much objecting to that.

In the USA, that is. Italy might be different!

David Isaak said...

Well, Prop 8 (if it survives court challenges, which it might not) doesn't eliminate the existing domestic partnership laws in California that have already been on the books for a decade.

So, much as I deplore the passaage of Proposition 8, it doesn't repeal any of the extensive rights already granted to same-sex unions in California. The battle is mainly over the word 'marriage.'