Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Same Sex Marriage and Me

Image courtesy of Stonewall
I am a huge supporter of the Same Sex Marriage bill, and I was thrilled at yesterday's victory in the House of Commons. The bill still has to be passed by the House of Lords, but the overwhelming majority vote yesterday means it's unlikely to be rejected. A day to remember in the history of human rights.

Unfortunately, today I had it brought home to me that there is still a long way to go before gay people are seen as equals by a lot of people. Listening to a debate about the issue on the Jeremy Vine show, a person I have always respected chose to share their views on the matter. I was horrified to learn that they simply deemed the issue as 'not that important', and saw the entire thing as a waste of the government's time. There was also a few slightly skewed opinions about homosexuality in general, but I am willing to put that down to the generation that this person grew up in. I'm not here to throw words like 'bigot' and 'homophobe' around, as trading insults does nothing for the cause.

Gay or not, the real issue of the the Same Sex Marriage bill is one of basic human rights. Of course it's important enough to be discussed in parliament. A minority, yes, but homosexual and bisexual people are a part of this country, and their rights are absolutely as important as everything else going on. It won't affect a lot of people, but to those that it does affect, it's the difference between being seen as 'unnatural' and being 'just like everyone else'.

There was a particular point given to me that marriage should only be between two people who can have children. I put forward the fact that many straight married couples are unable to have children naturally, and for whom adoption or surrogacy are the only options. Backed into a bit of a corner, the person with whom I was speaking decided that those people shouldn't have families then, either. I don't happen to think that they really believe that to be the case. Or rather, I hope that they don't. I think that they realised that this particular point held little water and panicked.

The government are currently trying to tell us that marriage, family and commitment is the key to a healthy country. How would it be fair for them to then say 'but only some of you'? Religion has the opportunity to opt out, and I expect that many will. Unfortunately, the tradition of religion is far harder to change than that of the law. You only have to consider the  issue of women bishops to see that.

Love is love. Some people love boys, some girls, some both. It may seem trivial to you, but I assure you that, for many, it is incredibly important and is seen as a real step towards acceptance and true equality.

We live in the twenty first century. The very concept of the traditional family is changing. Our ideas need to keep up.

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