I recently had the misfortune to come across a website campaigning against the right for gay people in the UK to get married. It was called the Coalition For Marriage / C4M and as of the time of writing, has over 450,000 signatories to its petition which calls for the government to keep marriage “one man + one woman”. It claims to be an umbrella organisation which “reaches out to people of all faiths” — except gay people of faith, obviously.
It’s a faintly embarrassing stab at justifying the argument against gay marriage. There are four topic headings: “Marriage is unique”, “No need to redefine”, “Profound consequences” and “Speak up”. Each one of them has a paragraph of poorly-argued rhetoric against the right of gay people to be joined in marriage.
The first point, “Marriage is unique”, argues that “marriage reflects the complementary natures of men and women”, and points to the long history of marriage always being “the union of a man and a woman”. Of course, in olden times, there were no gay people, as the histories of ancient Greece and Rome accurately reflect. Similarly, only the combination of female/male individuals results in a complementary experience — no two men or women have ever fitted well together as a couple. These facts are undisputed… right?
“No need to redefine” is perhaps the most unwittingly hypocritical of the claims, as it explains patronisingly that “civil partnerships already provide all the legal benefits of marriage”. Those shrewd gays! Of course the only reason they’d want to marry is for the tax breaks! They’re probably not even gay! Just couldn’t get a woman to fancy them. There’s clearly no cases where two people of the same sex just plain ol’ love each other, and want to have an all-singing, all-dancing wedding celebration instead of a stuffy legal procedure. No.
This point is expanded by the plainly false “it’s not discriminatory to support traditional marriage”. Sorry — yes it is. In what conceivable way is restricting a ceremony celebrating two individuals’ love for one another to people of a specific sexual orientation not discriminatory? But wait, there’s more: “no one has the right to redefine marriage for the rest of us”. Oh… except you, apparently. The government of the country actually do have that right, just as they control every other legal proceeding in the country. While marriage may be rooted in religious and spiritual tradition, the only part of it that is legally enforceable is the part where the papers are signed at the end. The rest is fluff.
Point 3, “profound consequences”, is, I think, a joke. “If marriage is redefined, those who believe in traditional marriage will be sidelined”. Of course they will – poor old victimised straight people will be kicked out of their churches and prayer groups as hordes of rampant gays descend upon their places of worship with Will Young records and hotpants. Scaremongering aside, it’s hard to imagine how they could top this astonishing act of doublethink — surely those in favour of gay marriage are already being sidelined? But no: keen to outdo itself, they follow this with “couples seeking to adopt or foster could be excluded”. While this makes the wrong assumption that gay couples can’t currently adopt (they can), it stumbles on its own hypocrisy once more: even if they couldn’t adopt, surely that would mean gay couples are already excluded? So… it’s not discriminatory, but it’s okay if gays are excluded from marrying and adopting.
Best of all, this point ends with the hysterical addendum of “if marriage is redefined once, what is to stop it being redefined to allow polygamy?”. Yes! Or what if they redefine it to allow marrying animals? Or inanimate objects?! What if they force us all to marry squids in the sea and raise their deformed, mutated, chimeric squidling children, squirting ink in our faces as we try to teach them to hate gays?!!?! I ask you.
Last of all they acknowledge the controversy of what they’re preaching and add: “people should not feel pressurised to go along with same-sex marriage just because of political correctness. They should be free to express their views”. Except, of course, if those views include pro-gay marriage ones, which, we should remember, “would inevitably have to [be taught] to children”. Invoking the “political correctness gone mad” card is a smooth move by the C4M team — Daily Mail readers and sheepish Home Counties bigots will love this Jeremy Clarkson-esque call to arms. Yes, ban the gays! They bloody love political correctness!
The existence of this entire site (and its subsequent almost half a million signatories) has boggled my mind. I can’t believe there are that many people who genuinely think that allowing gay couples to formally express their love and devotion to one another will DESTROY THE VERY FABRIC OF SOCIETY FOR ALL TIME. It’s homophobia gone mad! Do they genuinely believe nonsense like “people’s careers could be harmed”? Whose careers? The people who make websites advocating no to gay marriage?! I can’t think of a scenario where allowing gay couples to marry will genuinely impact on any straight person’s life. The ‘worst’ it could lead to is a wider definition of a concept that’s existed for thousands of years and has evolved countless times through that period.
Tradition for tradition’s sake is pointless: something is passed down from generation to generation because it has some inherent value and meaning for that generation. If it stops being useful in the current age it becomes an heirloom, a relic of the past, like your granddad’s old pocketwatch or a homophobe from Gloucestershire. If we refuse to allow definitions to change and adapt as society does, then the things they define ultimately die and become memories rather than living, breathing things. I can’t understand why anybody would want to do this to something they so obviously believe in.
Part of me wants to put up a rival website called ‘Coalition for White People’ which replaces all references to gay people and same-sex couples with ones to black people instead. It could campaign to remove black people from British society, since “throughout history Britain has always been the nation of white people. If black people are allowed in, those who believe in traditional whites-only society will be sidelined”. Remember: “it’s not discriminatory to support traditional whites-only society”. Then I remember that the actual C4M website is already beyond parody.
We live in a world with effectively unlimited resources for communicating like this — creating campaigns, petitions, sharing views and dialogues. Please, C4M and your supporters: don’t waste these resources, not to mention your lives, preaching discrimination and prevention to other people just trying to live theirs. Go home, love your partner if you have one, and stop trying to tell other people how the fuck they should love theirs.