“Redefining marriage” at issue in England?

Gay MarriageIs there an issue of “redefining marriage” in England? Charlie Butts of OneNewsNow appears to believe so. So much so in fact that he elected to write an article about it for the American Family News Network. It begs the question of who this family is – most certainly not a gay one. No, the American Family News Network is an offshoot of the American Family Association founded by the religious right conservative Donald Wildmon, dedicated to purveying “Your Latest News From A Christian Perspective”. Quite why this group feels it has a monopoly on what a Christian perspective is is anybodies guess, but that goes for many such right wing so-called family groups.

It has to be wondered whether LGBTQIA Americans are “letting the side down” at the moment, because quite evidently, this was a slow news day. There must have been very little ammunition against Gay people in America on the day of publishing for this non-story to reach our screens! Why else would the author have written about such an irrelevant story? By the authors assessment, that issue of which he writes is unlikely to amount to anything anyway, so why would the American Family News Network pay such attention to something which is nothing to do with America, and in their belief, would prove inconsequential. That there are people in the UK who would like to see same sex marriage recognised as legitimate is no secret and it’s nothing new. Indeed, if there were a story worth a mention at all, it would be that the Liberal Democrats (a party currently in Coalition Government in the UK) voted to support Same Sex Marriage as a matter of policy -That was some time ago!

Lets cut to the chase here – is same sex marriage a redefinition of marriage? Only so if you define marriage as between a man and a woman… but that is not the definition of marriage itself. Indeed, here in the UK we have civil partnerships which were incorrectly described as marriages in all but name by those that created them! Clearly then, the concept of marriage is not especially perceived as being primarily between one man and one woman, but rather, is perceived as the loving union of two people before the state. It is NOT perceived as being before God by anybody but the religious, which is why in the UK, civil ceremonies exist.

So, perhaps redefining marriage is not the issue in England. Perhaps the possible existence of same sex marriage is an issue and a more accurate way of describing that issue. Indeed, that much is true, but again, Mr. Butts has the wrong end of the stick. In fact, a 2009 Populus opinion poll, as reported by The Times Newspaper, reported that 61% of people agreed that “Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships”, with just 33% disagreeing. Clearly, that’s a very definite suggestion that the “redefinition” of marriage “at issue” which Mr. Butts perceives is in fact the exact opposite of the issue that actually exists in England. Englanders aren’t “fighting back the horde of ‘gay activists’ trying to advance their ‘homosexual agenda'”. Englanders in fact realise that gay people deserve the same basic opportunities and rights as straight people, and they support gay marriage. The “issue” therefor is that of bigotry on the part of so called “pro-family” groups.

I guess the term “pro-family unless you happen to be gay” is a bit less catchy, but it’s closer to the truth. It is in fact the “pro family” groups that have the issue, not the rest of society. Considering the specifics of the article in question, the case being brought to the courts regarding marriage is not purely a “same sex marriage” issue. It’s an equality issue. It’s a question of why gay people and straight people should be segregated by law. It’s a question of what possible reason there could be for denying straight people the right to a civil partnership, and by comparison, why gay people should be equally be denied the right to marriage. Mr. Butts suggests that the case reeks of judicial activism, but judicial activism is when judges step beyond the realms of their station to make a point. It is quite within their station to make judgements on points of law, and that is exactly the task before them here. The judges are required to look both at whether there is a valid reason for denying civil partnerships to straight people, and if not, whether there is therefor a reason to deny marriage to gay people too.

In any case, regardless of the outcome of the case, public and political opinion is increasingly shifting in favour of same sex marriage, because the public is increasingly realising that there is no good and wholesome reason to deny it. The only unsavoury agents in the arena on this issue are in fact pro-family groups and religious right activists baying for the ability to discriminate and segregate… to oppress and hate.

So why the interest in UK matters from an American Family group? It’s probably the same reason that Fox News recently used footage of the student protests against tuition fee rises instigated by a right wing government as a suggestion that the people of the UK were following in behind the Tea Party movement of the US. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, and the student movement here has been consistently on the left, not the right. Far right groups and organisations want people to believe that they are not raving, ranting, hateful and regressive – to ensure it, they want people to believe that other major players in the world are in agreement with their views, and are prepared to lie about it and misrepresent the facts. This speaks of just how sinister they can be, and how much they are actually worth listening to.

Lies, deceit, hate, bigotry and intolerance are not pro-family. Perhaps that’s part of why gay people often make better parents.