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As 2013 approaches I am hoping that there will finally be a change in the law which will effectively give same-sex partners the same rights to marry as those with opposite sex partners.

This article in The Guardian gives a real insight into the reality of civil partnership vs marriage.  Essentially a civil partner has all the rights a husband or wife receives under the law.  However, they are not allowed to have any kind of religious symbolism or content as part of the ceremony, effectively denying them the right of any kind of legally recognised ceremony that respects the couple’s spiritual or religious beliefs.

The Human Rights Act 1988 has specified a right to marry, but limited this to a man and a woman:

Right to marry

Men and women of marriageable age have the right to marry and to found a family, according to the national laws governing the exercise of this right.

Both the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church have been predictably vocal in their condemnation of the idea of same sex marriage; their reasons vary from the premise that marriage is between a man and a woman for the procreation of life, the old “God hates fags” brigade and of course recent claims that the move would be undemocractic, despite the fact that polls have shown that 3 in 5 voters support gay marriage. 

Probably the most ridiculous claim is that allowing same sex marriages will promote homosexuality ie, “encourage” people to deny their “intrinsic natural design” and we would all eventually turn into rampant Queens or convert to Lesbianism.  And of course there are those who constantly stress that since it all got legal there are more gay people in society.  But is this really the case?  I would say not:

Alan Turing’s homosexuality resulted in a criminal prosecution in 1952, when homosexual acts were still illegal in the United Kingdom. He accepted treatment with female hormones (chemical castration) as an alternative to prison.

Back in the bad old days when people had to hide their sexuality for fear of violence,harassment,  jail or even chemical castration in some cases it was a whole lot easier for the Churchs’ arguments to gain hold.   Of course there were just as many gay people out there, but they just kept quiet against a societal condemndation of the “perversion” of homosexuality.  Many people had gay/lesbian/bi friends but had no idea because the risk of coming out was just too great.

The problem the Church now has is since people have become more aware and accepting of other forms of sexuality nearly everyone knows someone who is G/L/B/TG and unsurpisingly they simply do not fit into the Church’s description of the degenerate, debauched, evil corrupters  set on undermining the backbone of good old fashioned heterosexual society.

To me, the only difference between civil partnership and marriage is one of semantics –  if you get married, regardless of your gender, it should be classed as Marriage and not subject to some kind of strange legal limitation based on gender. If we did this on the basis of race, colour or religion there would be uproar, and rightly so.   If we believe in equality as a society, which we all seem to claim we do, why are we continuing to allow our government to promote inequality by differentiating between forms of marriage, with one being seen as secondary or less valid than the other?

Hopefully the law will change this year and by 2014 we will finally get equality in our marriage system.  In the meantime we can at least feel reassured that not all members of the Christian Heirarchy are prejudiced idiots:

 In an interview with BBC Radio 4 on 18 November 2007, Desmond Tutu accused the church of being obsessed with homosexuality and declared:
“If God, as they say, is homophobic, I wouldn’t worship that God.”

Tutu has lent his name to the fight against homophobia in Africa and around the world. He stated at the launching of the book ‘Sex, Love and Homophobia’ that homophobia is a ‘crime against humanity’ and ‘every bit as unjust’ as apartheid. He added that “we struggled against apartheid in South Africa, supported by people the world over, because black people were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about; our very skins…It is the same with sexual orientation. It is a given.”