Yes, equality is all very well and lovely, and when talking about same-sex marriage, we're largely in agreement about it - perhaps with the exception of religious whack jobs and imbeciles (though it's no coincidence that a Venn diagram of the two would show large areas of overlap). But when I hear yet another queer bemoan the fact that they can't marry, I can't help but think of those head-bobbing dogs people keep in the backs of their cars, that can only nod along with the drift.
Think about it - why do we want marriage? It is, by its very nature, exclusive. The problem with the same-sex marriage campaign is that it sanctifies the institution so that it promotes a two-tier society - the smug-marrieds (courtesy Bridget Jones), and the failing, dysfunctional others.
What about single parents? What about alternative families with three or more parents - perhaps where there are two biological parents and then any number of adoptive parents? What about families where grandparents bring up children? What about polyamourous relationships? What about couples that simply choose not to marry? Statistically, one in four children in the UK are brought up in a one parent household. Research also shows that 45% of babies are now born outside of marriage, and a 10th of all families with children are now stepfamilies.
Are we as society to tell these people - these children - that their families are somehow inferior to those where a couple is married? David Cameron seems to think so: "I back marriage and I think it's a wonderfully precious institution. When you grow up in a strong family, you learn how to behave, you learn about give and take. You learn responsibility and how to live in harmony with others. Strong families are the foundation of a bigger, stronger society." So, by default then, weak families produce ill-behaved, uncompromising, irresponsible, unharmonious people? That's not sanctimonious at all, Mr Prime Minister. Indeed, marriage has become such an oppressive dictum that it filters right through our politics.
I personally can imagine nothing more patronising that my Right Honourable friends telling me that my love life is to be given their stamp of approval, because I don't need it. I don't need my relationship legislated over. Shouldn't two adults be able to decide their affairs by themselves without the state stepping in to dictate the terms of their relationship? It strikes me as the height of state mollycoddling, not to mention state surveillance.
Let's not forget, marriage has a rather atrocious history and the motives for it have been procreation and perpetuating patriarchal power. It is an innately heteronormative, even sexist, institution: the getting down on one knee, the ring - the cost of which is symbolic of the man's financial ability to 'look after' his woman, - the bouquet tossing, the name changing etcetera. And let's not forget, until as recently as 1991, rape was legal within a marriage, while single mothers were - and still often are - disowned and stigmatised as 'sluts'.
Feminism has worked so hard to destabilise the nuclear family and erode the rigid gender roles in marriage, so why are we so desperate to buy back into it? Why do we want to be part of an institution that has been the architect of such inequality for so long? Why do we want the churches and mosques and synagogues to recognise our relationships when they have persecuted us for so long? Why are we so eager to prove that we'll conform obeisantly to this iniquitous institution?
When Kim Kardashian divorced Whatever-Mr-Favour-of-the-Month's-Name-Was after 72 days, stars of the lesbian reality TV series The Real L Word wrote an open letter chastising Kim for her frivolity with marriage, something they honour and cherish and so desperately wish was their right. Journalist Patrick Strudwick recently wrote a similar article claiming, "As marriage declines, those who want to protect is should be begging gay people to wed. For we can offer a priceless gift: detoxification." Detoxification? Really, if I ever get married I'd quite like the liberty to abuse and trample all over the sanctity of marriage thank you, and not be held to some higher moral code.
The LGBT position on same sex shouldn't be the apologist line of, "We'll be good, we promise"; it should be we want it because we want equality, not because we have any desire to get hitched. In fact, if we do "fatally weaken" the feckless institution as Lord Carey claims we will, all the better. Instead of jumping on the elitist, discriminatory and archaic bandwagon of marriage, we should be campaigning for its permanent dissolution.
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