I have been asked to say something more in favour of gay marriage – and I do so gladly, because frankly I can’t see what the fuss is about. A couple of years ago someone asked whether I supported the idea and I was a bit flummoxed, because I thought it was already legal.
It is one thing for religious leaders to object, and they are absolutely entitled to their point of view. There is no call for gay marriage to be politically imposed on churches or mosques or any other religious institutions – or, if there is such a call, it is emphatically not one I would support.
Most religions, if strictly adhered to, require a belief in all sorts of more or less peculiar things –dietary, moral, metaphysical or whatever. But that’s fine. That’s the privilege of faith, and faith consoles billions of people around the world and helps to give meaning to our lives.
The key thing about faith – at least in this country – is that you can choose whether to believe or not, and you can pretty much choose how to observe your faith. But you can’t (really) choose where you are born, or the laws under which you grow up whether you are gay or straight. And marriage is an ancient human institution that is far older than any of the religions that are practised today. It may well be beloved by God, but no religion has ever had a monopoly on marriage.
It is one of the building blocks of humanity. It has been here since before the Stone Age, and now it needs to move beyond the Stone Age. In so far as marriage is a legal and secular recognition, by the state, of a union between two people, then that institution needs to move with the times.
We live in a society where we do everything we can to remove discrimination between human beings, whether on grounds of disability, race, gender or sexual orientation etc. We don’t think it fair that one lot of people should have a privilege, under the law, which is denied to another lot.
Marriage is an institution that can bring great happiness. It is a formal acknowledgment, by society, of the love and bond that can exist between human beings. It provides stability and comfort. Far from dying out, marriage is on the increase – especially in London. Why on earth would we deny it to anyone?
Independent Voices has launched a campaign to legalise same-sex marriage. To read more about our Equal Partners campaign and sign the petition, click here.