Friday, 2 July 2010

Turns out I do have something to say, after all

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

Brain still addled, so forgive me if this does not come out right.

I was just reading about the Civil Partnerships Bill passing in Ireland. For a country that only legalised divorce thirteen years ago, this is a huge step forward. I remember when civil partnerships came into law here; it felt like such a banner day. There were so many things that were good about it, most of all that the legislation was greeted almost universally with pleasure. I think some people feared that there might be an outbreak of mad homophobic shouting. In fact, there seemed to be more an underlying feeling of: why did you take so long?

It also fed into the early New Labour narrative of a different, kinder, more shiny Britain. When things started getting sticky, and the government I voted for began doing confusing and upsetting things, I kept thinking, over and over: peace in Northern Ireland, civil partnerships.

It is important not to take anything away from those great leaps. After all, America, the biggest, butchest, most First World nation of all, still does not have civil partnerships, although, confusingly, gay couples can get married in Vermont and New Hampshire. However, at a national level, same sex marriage is forbidden by the bizarrely named and oxymoronic (and just plain moronic) Defence of Marriage Act. It was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, which is one of the many reasons I still insist he gives liberals a bad name. (That, and the repeal of Glass-Steagall, and a twenty-one year old intern on her knees, but that really is another story.) I keep thinking and thinking, and I know I'm a big mess of stupid today, but I do not understand how banning marriage defends marriage. Surely the more people want to say I do, the happier and merrier and better.

BUT, and this but is getting bigger all the time, for all the goodness of civil unions, why can't we just have gay marriage and be done with it? Why, why, why? It starts to feel more and more as if The Gays are being thrown a sop. There you are, slightly inferior people, you can have 'marriage-like benefits', but don't think you can have the church and the dress and the official recognition of the state. See this big old sign that says Heteros Only? Just mark it, and be on your way.

I mean really. What would happen? Would all the heterosexual couples suddenly say: Oh my, The Gays are doing it, so now we won't? That is so illogical it makes my ears bleed. The only conclusion one can draw is that those defence of marriage people just don't like homosexuality, and want to punish it by not allowing it to join their club.

So why not throw open the doors and let the bells peal out? They've done it in Sweden and Belgium and Iceland and civilisation does not appear to have come to an end there. Happiness is not a zero sum game.

Alex Freyre and Jose Maria Di Bello marry in Argentina photo AP

(Photograph by the AP.)

Gay marriage photographer unknown via Jezebel

(Photograph by unknown; via Jezebel.)

Look at the delight on those faces. Why would anyone want to legislate against joy?

If you are craving more on this -  and why would you not? - there is a fabulous article from the AP here. It contains possibly the best line ever in a news piece: '
Scandinavia has had a long tradition of tolerance — and cross-dressing lawmakers and gay bishops have become part of the landscape.' I love the idea of those tranny lawmakers and gay bishops adorning the hills and fjords. Apparently, in Sweden, there is a parliamentarian called Frederick Federley who is also a drag queen called Ursula. Imagine how diverting that would be in the Palace of Westminster.

Stopping now. I have to go and put myself through the torture of watching Andy Murray try to beat scary Mr Nadal. I hope it will not be an exercise in British masochism. Go on, Andy.


  1. We are just trying to decriminalize homosexuality and facing huge opposition here!

  2. Butch? Yeah, I guess we are. I'M not, neither are most of the people I know, but I suppose from the outside looking in...? Funny when I hear/read generalizations about nearly 300 million people, but I understand, and more to the point, you are absolutely correct about aversions to homosexual marriage. We are up to our butch elbows is homophobes, more's the pity.
    Simply "hey, gorgeous" cows. You have the most handsome neighbors.

  3. Mystica - oh, good luck.

    Jean P - did not mean that individual Americans are butch! Imagine how mad that would be. Meant the USA as a world power: rich, with enormous global significance and a huge military- industrial context. So sorry for the confusion. And so glad you like the dear cows.


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