Clearly we’re going to have a debate. David Cameron is quite keen on this idea. I’m not necessarily sure I want to indulge him, but there are other people who also want a debate, and I’m happy to listen to them instead. The topic, of course, is gay marriage, and it’s quite a talking point. Already, the Archbishop of York has slated the whole project, although he’s clearly just trying to appease the African bishops. The Catholic church in the UK has written to every Roman Catholic church in the land, ordering them to protest against the proposal, although a whopping 30% of Catholics support gay marriage. (These people are being excommunicated as we speak.) Meanwhile, Conservative MP after Conservative MP has ridiculed the idea of gay marriage citing reasons such as “it’s not natural”, and “marriage is for babies”.
That’s not to say there aren’t supporters of gay marriage. It must be accepted that the majority of them are gay, but there is even some heterosexual support for the idea. On top of this, many Anglican vicars are piling in to express their support for gay marriage, although of course these are the same heretics that support women bishops. David Cameron himself is vocally in favour of gay marriage, as he thinks it will make all the gay people vote for him.
Indeed, it’s a debate that’s been spreading like wildfire, and recently it made the big time and entered that well-known national ruminations center, the letters page of the Independent. Yes, my family buys the Independent. However, when a topic becomes so big that ordinary lay people like you and me can discuss it, then there need to be some guidelines.
You see, we can’t just make up whatever we want. We have to accept that, somewhere out there, in the real world, facts do exist. The grand pronouncements that we make (gay people are unnatural, etc.) must have some shred of reasoning, or evidence, to back them up. The issue being, of course, that it’s very hard to have all the evidence on hand, and coming up with reasoning is extremely hard on the spot. Far easier is to just repeat what you’ve already been told. I’d like to address that slightly. This is directed squarely at the anti-gay marriage camp, and it’s a selection of arguments that are completely and utterly invalid, and that should not be used. I don’t care if you have some proper arguments, because that’s what debate is for. These arguments, however, do not count.
Firstly, let’s start with that nonsense that homosexuality is unnatural. It’s honestly quite hard to justify this. Estimates on the number of homosexuals in the world vary, but it’s general considered that, in societies where homosexuality is not actively discriminated against, about 10% of the population is gay. That might not be much, but if you were on a bus with another twenty or so people, chances are, two of you are gay. If you take that same population and consider how many people on that bus are train-spotters, or professional artists, you might begin to realise that 10% isn’t especially small. It’s important to remember that being part of a minority does not make you abnormal.
We could also take a look at the animal kingdom. Almost every species of sexually reproducing, multi-gender animal has been observed to engage in some degree of homosexual activity. There are scientists who spend their lives trying to work out why. Assuming that homosexuality is unnatural, why is so much of nature engaging in it? Accepted, this doesn’t necessarily apply to humans. For example, rabbits eat their own dung. But then most animals don’t eat their own droppings, so humans are hardly unusual in this respect. If homosexuality is so popular in the animal kingdom, maybe we have to accept it as a fact of life.
Secondly, the argument that often comes up from the clerical side of the opposition is that marriage has always been between a man and a woman. This may be so, but it is not a valid argument. Take marrying a divorcee. Henry VIII removed that stumbling block to marriage, and now a good many people are living happily together. Tradition is never a reason in itself for something to continue the way it is, otherwise nothing would ever change. An acceptable argument is that God decreed marriage to be between a man and a woman, but then you must be able to explain why a state that governs both Christian and non-Christian alike must set its values on the Christian faith.
Thirdly is one that came up recently in the Independent. Gay people cannot have babies. There are two groups of people who really have an issue with this. The first is that selection of couples who are unable to have any children, for whatever reason. There’s a large group of people like this, and to say that marriage is about babies is, let’s face it, extremely offensive to the people who have to go through life without the ability to bring their own child into the world. Obviously there are alternatives, which is where the second group, which is made up of children in care and their parents. If traditional couples are able to adopt babies and raise a family with them, and not suffer undue stigma as a result of it, why should gay couples be any different?