I am currently listening to Radio 4s the Moral Maze on the issue of gay marriage tonight. It seems we have heard about little else recently and it is all starting to get a bit yawn worthy. My own view on this is simple; the same sex couples I know seem to me to be every bit as "married" as anyone else. I consider friends in civil partnerships to already be married. Friends/ colleagues in long term relationships I also consider married. It seems to me that marriage in a spiritual sense occurs when a couple decide to commit to each other and a wedding ceremony is really a formalisation of something which has (hopefully) already occured. This is of course a comment on the spiritual/ emotional element of marriage, marriage as an agreement conferring legal rights and responsibilities does require a formal contract. On that issue, CPs have the legal status of marriage; the whole of this debate really is over the ownership of a word/ concept.
One of the problems around the gay marriage debate is that there are so many different views, and there is no doubt that many people of faith do feel very strongly that marriage can only occur between a man and a woman, that it involves the coming together of genders whose complementary biological function is to procreate. Some gay people feel discriminated against and feel that the view that marriage can only occur between a man and woman is "heterosexist". Other gay people feel that civil partnership is preferable to marriage and that marriage is a tradition with its roots in the ownership and subjugation of woman. I don't believe that the move to introduce marriage for all is accompanied by an intention to get rid of civil partnerships - this does beg the question as to whether, if marriage is extended to same sex couples, that civil partnership should be extended to opposite sex couples?
As someone who is married - and very committed to that marriage- I would prefer it if the institution I am in did not exclude same sex couples. I also agree that marriage as a historic construct has its roots in patriarchy and oppression - although I am not sure this really matters if one does not feel oppressed or controlled! I consider that my relationship is an equal partnership. If I was in a civil partnership with my husband, our relationship would be exactly the same. A while ago I asked Mr M if he would consider converting our marriage to a civil partnership if this option were to be extended to all in society. He wasn't sure at the time, but yesterday he told me that he would prefer us to be in a civil partnership than a marriage.
Isn't he a sweet old fashioned thing? You'd better watch this space!;)