Tuesday, 31 January 2012

I'm Not Getting Married In The Morning - or the one after, or ... (ad infinitum)

There is an awful lot of energy being expended in these dog days of January by people eager to share with us their views on the hypothetical subject of gay "marriage". On the one hand we have the Archbishop of York being quoted in the Daily Telegraph (not sure which of those two I'm less inclined to believe) and on the other we have lots of angry people who practice same sex sexual activity (with, I suspect, varying degrees of enjoyment) getting hot under the collar. Sitting here, engaged with neither the Archbishop, nor The Daily Telegraph, and certainly given the temperature in my draughty house, no plans to engage in any sexual activity of any kind, I find myself ruminating.

It is as ever a question of language, and within our shared language, of vocabulary. Let me be clear. I know of at least as many dishonest, damaging and corrupt heterosexual partnerships as I know of honest, life enhancing and joyful homosexual ones. It's not about that. What it is about is the relationship between Church and State and how those two institutions seek to control behaviour. If gay people want to be 'married' in the eyes of the State then their first port of call is the legal requirement placed by the State on Ministers of Religion to act as cheap Registrars. If the State wishes to regulate who can and can't be 'married' for fiscal or other purposes then it should go ahead and attempt to do so. If the Church wishes to determine who is and who isn't entitled to the Sacrament of Marriage, then good luck with that. Off you pop and give it a whirl.

If there is any chance at all that well adjusted grown ups are going to be allowed to look at their internet in peace, watch their bulbs sprout in their gardens, and settle down to shag the person they want file a joint tax return with, then Peter Tatchell and John Sentamu had just better get used to the idea they are talking about entirely separate things. Might be an idea if they both agreed to stop using the word 'marriage', and then who knows? They might just settle down. After all - neither of them is going to settle down with Robert Mugabe.

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