Posted by Tania Kindersley.
The rain fell. I rather oddly ate quiche for lunch. I never eat quiche, not through prejudice, but mostly because I do not much fancy it. I had a sudden seventies moment and had some. It rather reminded me why I don’t eat it very much. There’s nothing wrong with it, but there’s nothing hugely right with it either. If I were a whizz at pastry, I might make my own, but I’m mostly in ham sandwich territory just now, on account of the book.
I did work. I snuck a peek at the Chester Vase. I was dimly aware that Andy Coulson was saying things to Lord Leveson which seemed to be making people on Twitter snigger and make naughty Rebekah Brooks jokes. And then I, rather randomly, followed a link to MOMENTOUS NEWS. I mostly shun the erratic use of capital letters, preferring the quiet dignity of italics. But sometimes capitals are the only things which will do, and this is one of those times.
The MOMENTOUS NEWS is that Barack Obama has declared himself in favour of gay marriage.
This is huge for about twenty-seven reasons. The farther reaches of the Republican and Religious Right have been saying many disobliging about gay people lately; Mitt Romney even let a spokesman go, apparently because of his sexuality. North Carolina recently added an amendment against same sex marriage to its constitution. There appear to be some people who genuinely believe that homosexuality is the work of Satan. I do not think they are being metaphorical.
So, for President Obama to say this is a truly historic thing.
When I read the story, I felt incredibly happy. I also felt oddly relieved, as if I had been holding my breath. I had not realised how much I minded about this. I watch a lot of Rachel Maddow via the miracle of the internet, and she covers the darker shores of the argument quite a lot, so perhaps it had gone into my consciousness like a thorn, and lodged there.
I’ve never really understood the argument against gay marriage. There are lots of arguments with which I do not agree which I understand perfectly. I am a fairly big government person, but I completely get the small government side, and think it makes some good points. (I believe in government on quite an emotional level, and am willing to admit my faith in it may sometimes be misplaced.)
But the idea that two people may love each other and want to commit their lives to each other and then are told they may not because of their gender seems to me inexplicable.
I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, say the true believers. But why? Marriage used to be between a white man and a white woman; interracial matches were outlawed. No one could explain that either. History moved on; it moves now. The young people do not understand the fuss. (This is when I love the young people very much.) They have gay friends, they have straight friends; the vast majority of them cannot see the difference.
Oh, civil unions, people say. There is a faint whiff of the throwing of a bone. Chew on that, Gays, and let us get on with our day. You can have your piece of paper, but you can’t have real marriage, because you are not good enough. You are not quite up to it, like the Straights are. It slightly reminds me of the time when women were not allowed a university education, because it was felt their intellects were not up to it. The ladies were sentimentally lauded as the angel in the house, but could not go to Oxford in case their tiny pink brains exploded.
I was really pleased about civil partnerships, because it was so much better than what went before. One of the happiest days of my life was going to one, in the blinding sunshine of south London, holding a fat bunch of tulips. I called it a marriage; it felt like a marriage; it is being lived as a marriage. Now I think: come on, let everyone have the real thing. This odd first class, second class situation makes no objective sense.
I felt incredibly proud when David Cameron declared his support for gay marriage last year; I like very much that some Tories are calling it a truly Conservative argument instead of harrumphing about tradition. There is some backwoods backlash, but I really hope the Prime Minister sticks to his guns. They are great guns.
Beyond anything, it is a simple matter of fairness, and I think the British like fairness very much.
Love is love, says my wise sister. When you see love, why would you try and tell it it comes in the wrong variety? We need more love, not less. If people are so devoted that they wish to promise love in sickness and health, for richer for poorer, we should put up bunting. The human heart beats and yearns and lifts and falls just the same in the chests of all sexualities; it knows no difference.
All the same, there are people for whom there really does seem to be a difference, and that is why I think what President Obama did was brave, and fine, and, most of all, true. So I am hanging out more flags.
Despite the rain, I took some garden photographs:
Red the Mare, from yesterday, when there was some light:
Myfanwy the pony:
Pigeon, with patient, waiting for the ball face:
And yesterday's hill, as today it is hiding bashfully in the murk: