Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Why I Hate This Equal Marriage Debate

I support Equal Marriage, I just do. Like everyone who doesn't or does agree with me they feel strongly that what they think is right. It’s a matter of consciousness and a human right. There is no right answer and the only person who can answer the question is yourself. There are some very good reasons not to back gay marriage: you could not support marriage at all, you may be very traditional or deeply religious. However, and quite obviously if you read the previous lines, I don’t personally buy any of these.

What I can’t stand is the debate over this issue. A minority, but a sizeable one, on both sides are attacking each other in a way that is upsetting people and in some casing making lies. I'm going to give a brief synopsis on both sides and why this debate, not the idea or Bill itself, is just so bad.

Some in the campaign against gay marriage have been quite impolite to say the least and very hurtful. Cardinal O’Brien of Scotland likened gay marriage to ‘slavery’ and said that it was ‘grotesque’. Clearly this is rabble rousing rhetoric from the cardinal to try show how wrong  he believes equal marriage is. Cardinal O’Brien clearly, and rightly, has very religious reasons not to back gay marriage and that’s fine. But what is very rude is to use rhetoric like this on an issue and in a way that upsets many people. Even the Bible doesn't use words like this when describing gay people and I think it’s quite insensitive to use them.

There have also been lies spread about how gay marriage will impact on the Church, forcing them to carry out gay marriages. The case of Gas and Dobouis v France was highlighted as a case from the ECHR by the Telegraph to show that equal marriage would be forced on religious institutions. However, this legal case doesn't deal with gay marriage but legal rights of adoption in civil partnerships. The case actually resulted in France winning as the court held the right of the autonomy of France to decide on what extent it allows gay adoption. The Telegraph has every personal right to disagree with gay marriage but it shouldn't seek to lie in order to make people vote against gay marriage on the grounds of religious protection.

I’d like to also cite the problems with the pro gay marriage campaign too. It is wrong on a matter of consciousness to demean other people’s personal views on an issue so sensitive. This is what Ben Howlett had to say to Steve Baker MP when he disagreed with gay marriage:

What an utterly stupid and hurtful comment to make. Steve Baker has every right to disagree, especially considering how pro-liberty he is. Steve Baker has quite clearly outlined religious objections on the grounds that there needs to be greater acceptance in the Church of England. I don’t agree with Steve Baker, I think the Church of England has been given sufficient safeguards, but this gives Ben Howlett no right to say stupid things about votes for women. 

We can’t treat people who disagree with gay marriage as harking back to a Victorian past. My advice is don't demean anyone who opposes gay marriage as some mad fool. Nor can we treat people who disagree with gay marriage as bigots as many who support gay marriage have done. This is putting your system of values on to someone else, more dictatorship than liberalism I think. Unlike Gordon Brown, I can’t actually think of a situation when someone can be at all bigoted on a matter of consciousness.

So there you have it. A brief synopsis on both sides of why this debate has plunged into distaste and is quite frankly repulsive. I support the Bill and equal marriage but my advice to any passing MP who should read this blog, if I’m lucky enough to have an MP read it at all, is to vote with your heart not on silly arguments or fear of being called a bigot.

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