BY JON ALEXANDER
I read a paper the other day that suggested the institution of marriage should be privatised. Now don’t roll your eyes, this is a good point. Currently, we rely on the church or state to allow us to marry, but why? Why if two people wish to complete their lives in this way do they need church or state permission? From the state’s point of view it’s money and registry of citizens, for the church it’s residual control and, some would argue, a desperate attempt to keep religion relevant.
I am gay. Personally I believe everyone should have the right to marry, gay or straight, but I’m not the marrying kind. I’ve attended five weddings in my life and they’ve all been great. Out of those weddings only one has failed and I sincerely hope the rest are happy and successful.
If you privatise marriage then as long as you meet the criteria of existing UK legislation and are British citizens then pay your money and have the best day of your life. Or if you live in Soapland, then enjoy a punch up, expect a revelation about your partner sleeping with a relative or your bride to drown in a hotel pool…whatever, just go with the flow….
The ritual of marriage has changed over the years. Historically, marriage was all about property rights and religions cleverly monopolised it making it their exclusive domain whereby they could pick and choose which marrying couples they permitted to undertake a ceremony. Nowadays church marriage is little to do with property rights and even less to do with church power.
Yes, I have been asked the question “if you don’t want to get married why are you pro-gay marriage?”. And my answer is simple really – I believe women are equal but I’m not going to have a sex-change; marriage is a basic right for all and I don’t believe we gays should be treated any differently because of who we choose to spend the rest of our lives with.
I’ve never understood the church’s objection to gay marriage in any other way than “marriage is something we have that you don’t and we want to keep it that way, so we’ll back that decision up by picking and choosing some religious passages”.
Well, church, here’s my riposte:
If it bothers you so much that Tim and Steve are getting married, can I suggest you either seek counselling or ask if you can watch the Honeymoon night…? Some gay porn may help you too.
I do also find it rather odd that adulterers, people who marry on a whim and divorce a year later, not to mention those on their second, third and sometimes even fourth marriages would be bothered that gay people would ruin the alleged sanctity of marriage. However, this said, I do believe it’s the right of the institution whether they or their employees want to officiate at these occasions.
Let the market decide: If Reverend X doesn’t want to marry Tim and Steve then that is perfectly fine, Tim and Steve should be able to take their business elsewhere.
Privatising marriage would allow them to find a provider who could provide them with the help and guidance they need whilst being able to offer competitive rates. Reverend X will either carry on as normal or lose couples – either way it’s for the market to decide. But at least Tim and Steve don’t have to go through the courts to force some poor old grumpy homophobic vicar to preside over their wedding who would rather not be there!