IN ALL honesty, I find it extremely disturbing that I feel compelled to put this in writing. That in the 21st century, I have been so angered by the intolerance and hatred expressed by so many people, I feel the need to explain why one group of human beings deserve human rights.
However, the shamelessly prejudiced attitudes held by many people with regard to the question of legalising same-sex marriage have, regrettably, made this absolutely necessary. First, I present a brief but concise list of how you will be affected by the legalisation of same-sex marriage:
1. If you do not identify as heterosexual, you will be granted the right to marry a person of any gender.
2. If you do identify as heterosexual, your right to marry someone whose gender differs from yours remains unaffected.
Secondly, I would like to point out a word which accurately defines those among us who disagree with same-sex marriage, but do not consider themselves to be homophobic: that word is homophobic. End of story. If you do not believe that a non-heterosexual person is entitled to the same human rights as a heterosexual person, newsflash: you are homophobic. You are prejudiced. You are intolerant.
Yes, so technically the definition of ‘marriage’ currently stands as “the formal union of a man and woman, recognised by law.” But it is worth pointing out that less than half a century ago, anti-miscegenation laws were still in place in some parts of the United States.
While no such laws were enforced here in the UK, the idea of it being illegal for two people of a different racial background to marry is (I hope) utterly alien to us today, but if it was acceptable to redefine marriage and work to abolish prejudice back then, why not now? The fact is that marriage is a man-made construct, and as mankind continues to evolve and adapt, so the definition of marriage should evolve and adapt with us.
As it stands, any two adults wishing to be legally married, for any reason, have the right to do so provided one is a man and one is a woman. This means that two people who do not love each other, but have decided to marry for business or tax purposes, have more right to legal matrimony than two women who love each other, live together, and raise children together.
It means that while two men who want to spend the rest of their lives together and have this partnership legally recognised will be rejected a marriage certificate, two people who have never even met will be granted one because one is a man and the other is a woman, and one simply wants to permanently move to this country.
Not to suggest that marrying for any other reason besides love is a bad thing, but it just seems completely absurd that those opposed to same-sex marriage often sanctimoniously claim it somehow corrupts the purity or the holiness of the whole thing when a third of all marriages end in divorce anyway, and many people choose to marry simply in order to get a few tax breaks.
Personally, I think marriage is a bit of an overblown affair anyway and that civil partnerships are a great idea. But that’s one individual’s opinion, and what gives anyone else the right to say who can and can’t get married, simply because it makes them a bit uncomfortable?
What heterosexual people need to understand is that the legalisation of same-sex marriage is not going to result in your stepping out of your house in the morning to find that homosexual couples are running wild in wedding dresses and top hats, chucking wedding cake at you in disgust at your heterosexual behaviour. No one is going to tell you that you and your partner can’t adopt children because same-sex couples have adopted them all and the orphanages are empty. You’re not going to apply for a marriage certificate only to be told that straight marriage is a bit unfashionable these days.
No, all that might happen is you get a wedding invitation from your next door neighbour who can finally marry the man he’s been with for the last ten years. You might be asked to read a passage from the Bible at your sister’s wedding to her female partner. You won’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Although you do risk hurting the people around you once they discover you don’t think they deserve the same rights as you. As long as the institution of marriage exists, it should be accessible by all who want it. Human beings deserve human rights – it’s really that simple.