"Well there is always the House of Lords," my politics teacher told me during A-Level revision. "I mean its not really of any interest but it could come up."
There you have it. The significance of the House of Lords in a nutshell. The House of Lords debated the government bill on gay marriage and came out with an overwhelming majority. Brilliant. Well done men in robes and we all go home? Not quite.
As I listened to Lord Dear spew out his old-fashioned views on what marriage is. I thought to myself... why is this person having any say on and a potential threat to legislation? Who IS this man?! To refresh, Lord Dear underlined that 'marriage' is about the unity of a man and a woman and essentially for their procreation. The making of babies. Now no one could argue with the lack of same-sex couples to procreate, however I do have a few problems with this statement.
Firstly, since when was marriage about procreation? Out of all the heterosexual weddings I have been too, not once did I hear in the speeches, "Oh and we are marrying so we can have children. Cos cleverly that is what man and woman do don't you know."
At all the gay weddings I have been to, the couples say the same thing, that they are marrying for love. Not babies. Not a new house. Not for a new Audi estate. Love. This is shocking stuff!
My annoyance with Lord Dear's statements is that they represent an archaic notion of the sanctity of marriage that is delusional at best and at worst misleading and fuel for the fire of homophobic rhetoric. What is being portrayed is a comprehension of 'marriage' that existed 60 years ago. A notion that worked largely through religion and something that was based on fear and therefore a desire to control, something that permeated society and created this sense of marriage as some sort of contractual occurrence where man and woman can create children who aren't illegitimate.
This starting place for creating a family portrayed by Lord Dear and others is completely dysfunctional. It was these types of pure and sanct 'marriages' that created emotionally defunct families with ma and pa playing their part out of fear of what the neighbours might say and terror of breaking from a bond of marriage that was commenced upon largely to procreate! If this is marriage then forget it. The Lords should abolish it full stop!
Back to modern times, with Lord Dear's assumptions, what happens if a heterosexual couple marry in a church and then adopt? Does this diminish their marriage? Even more what happens if they have IVF treatment, then they are technically not 'making babies'? Or how about if a gay couple have a child through using one of the couple's eggs or sperm? Sex has not taken place but a child is being made? Has Lord Dear thought this through? Gosh, its complicated.
The truth is that marriage should be about love rather than a need to have some kids under the eyes of God. Love is universal and experienced through people of all creeds and sizes and color and sexuality. This sanctity of marriage being portrayed in the Lords is representative of old ideals that the majority of modern day society do not uphold, arguments that are as archaic as the institution itself.
This whole debate for me underlies another problem with the House of Lords. Yes, they came up trumps this time but some arguments put forward simply served to highlight how out of touch it is. Should we really expect a chamber made up of unelected peers who can often seem a million miles away from the real world to have a say on our legislation? Too often is this topic of the second chamber swept under the carpet, along with electoral reform, and it should be looked at seriously. With Lord Dear stating the bill had "no democratic legitimacy" I feel it is a case of the pot and the kettle.
As my politics teacher also said: "Young, it is the minor details that make up the overall picture". Does the House of Lords really have to stay nestled in its own sanctity of tradition and continue to escape the sweep of the democratic telescope ? I hope not.