Since 2004, there has been something called Civil Partnerships in the UK. Where same sex couples can enter into a legal committed relationship in front of a registrar and have the same legal rights and responsibilities as any other married couple.
Everybody I know refer to them as “married” and call the partners, “husband” wife” or ” spouse”
Most people have such a couple within their acquaintance and regard them as married the same as any other couple.
Yesterday our Prime minister, David Cameron introduced a bill to Parliament to ” legalise same sex marriage” which basically just changes the name, because at the same time still makes it illegal for same sex couples to be married in a Church of England church. ( the only official church a couple can get married in in England) as the church teaching does not allow it.
This has prompted a huge media debate and threatened the stability of the ruling Conservative party, as a lot of right wing Conservatives voted against the bill. David Cameron’s credibility as Prime minister has been called into question, as so many Conservatives rebelled.
Although there has been a huge media debate, I have not heard one ordinary person even express an opinion about this matter. Frankly I don’t think people really care that much, they are more concerned about the economy, austerity measures, unemployment, the horrible weather and the threat to the NHS.
So it baffles me why the PM should choose now to put this bill through parliament and stir up all these strong feelings
There are those who argue, usually from a religious perspective, that ” marriage is between a man and a woman, for the procreation of children”. Maybe in their religion this is all it means. They are entitled to their opinion, ( and nobody will be forcing these religions to marry same sex couples) but they are being branded as homophobic and bigoted.
Given that the majority of weddings in England now take place in a registry office or other registered venue, rather than a church, this is probably a minority view. But I respect the right of these people to have this view after all it is THEIR religion and their beliefs.
On the other hand there are those who argue, usually from a gay perspective, that if two people want to commit to each other, why should they be discriminated against? They also are entitled to their opinion, but I am not sure where this discrimination comes in. At the end of the day they have the same rights and responsibilities as any other married couple.
The pro camp have in turn have stirred up fears that if a church vicar refuses to marry a same sex couple, they will be dragged to the court of human rights and made to marry same sex couples against their will.
Given that the only people who can perform marriage ceremonies in this country are Registrars ( employed by the state and who have to be present at all non Cof E church weddings) and Church of England vicars ( for whom it will still not be be legal to perform same sex marriages) I don’t really see how this legislation changes anything other than the name.
The Church of England already will not marry divorced people and people of other faiths, because it is against their beliefs, this has always been accepted, so why is it thought that same sex couples will be any different?
My personal take is that “marriage” means different things to each individual at the time of the marriage and often this is never discussed beforehand, Both parties bring to marriage an idea of what that means and really it would save a lot of divorces if this was negotiated beforehand, but with stars in their eyes this does not seem very romantic to talk about.
. For some it is a lifelong commitment. For most, there are circumstances under which they could not tolerate continuing with the relationship.. ……although it is interesting to note that there is no legal requirement to promise anything to each other . It is only (by statute) necessary to declare that you know of no legal impairment why you should not be joined in matrimony and then to call upon persons present to witness that you take each other as your legal husband or wife.
For some ” marriage” is purely a love match. For others it has been arranged by their parents who they feel are wiser in these matters. For centuries “marraige” has been used for political power, money or to provide an heir For some it is purely business arrangement.
Sometimes it is expected that the roles of “husband ” is to be a provider or “wife” to be a carer and home-maker For others there is an expectation that each partner should contribute equally both financially and in caring/ home-making responsibilities.
For some it is to bring up children together. Sometimes people marry with no intention of having children together or are past childbearing age. They marry for companionship or to share their lives. .
There is usually, but not always, an expectation that each will be sexually faithful to each other. Some couples never have sex with each other for lots of complex reasons and this is not an issue for them.
I married three times. Each time with different expectations. The first was for love and for life, the second was for children, I expected it was for life , but realistically I knew that it may not be for life and the third was for commitment and companionship and hopefully for life!!. These expectations were specific to my age and circumstance.
Personally I have no problem with two people who love each other, making a commitment to each other and taking on legal rights and responsibilities Nor do I have any problem with couples having children together or not. What is important to me is the quality of that relationship, not the gender of the participants. But there again I do not subscribe to any specific religion and think of myself as liberal.
The bill was passed, so civil partnerships will now officially be called “ marriage” , although the general public has used that term for years. Only the people involved can tell whether this will make a difference.
But I am not sure this has been worth all the hassle, bad feeling and threat to the government that.this has stirred up within Parliament and the media.