You would have to have been living in a cave for the last few months to have missed that the idea of gay marriage is causing quite a stir amongst clergy and politicians alike.
Two weeks ago every Catholic parish priest, all 2500 of them, read out a letter to their congregations denouncing the government’s plans to legalise same-sex marriage. They claimed it was the moral ‘duty’ of all Catholics to fight plans for marriage equality.
Clearly same-sex marriage is not something the Church is happy with, puts the sanctity of marriage in question it so it would seem. The thing that confuses me with this whole debate is simply: why?
Same-sex couples have been able to legally formalise their relationship since 2004, enjoying all the legal benefits of marriage. A marriage by another name: why then the need to push further and legalise same-sex marriage? Initially I thought that it was an issue of religion, that same-sex couples could have their relationship confirmed in the eyes of God. However, a small amount of research later reveals that the proposals only affect civil marriages and there would be an outright ban on same-sex marriage ceremonies in religious buildings.
So this equality would only apply to civil marriages. We already have this and it’s called Civil Partnership. Even more confusingly, same-sex couples would still be able to enter into a Civil Partnership if they preferred. In my opinion the attraction of legalising same-sex marriage is to be able to celebrate the sacrament of marriage with my partner, ‘to have to hold til death do us part’. Civil marriage is a civil partnership by another name, is there the need to force this change when all the benefits of marriage are already open to same-sex couples? Marriage is a religious term and should stay in the domain of the clergy.
For true equality opposite-sex couples should be allowed to enter into a Civil Partnership. Interestingly, the government has abandoned plans to allow this – equality? Only for some. This all seems hypocritical and poorly thought out. Here’s a proposal: if you cement your relationship in the eyes of God in a religious ceremony then you have entered into marriage; if you do this in a civil ceremony then you have entered into a civil partnership. This should apply to both same-sex and opposite-sex relationships. A new vocabulary may need to be adopted but in my eyes, that would be equality.