boring boring gay marriage

And if a man shall lay down with another man, they shall be forced to consider booking the hotel earlier next time

It’s March 2012 and the biggest, brightest and most contentious political discussion in contemporary Britain is “Should marriage be redefined so as to incorporate anyone who loves anyone else?”. Flying over one highspeed railtrack of comment is the Religious Express (taking in ‘militant atheism’, ‘dangerous secularism’, ‘tetchy Alpha course preachers’, that sort of thing), whilst clickity-clackiting over on the political branch line is the Post-Blairite Social Policy local stopping service. And lo, didst the resulting points problem outside the station inconvenience us all.
The gay marriage debate is so boring. Redefining marriage to incorporate same-sex couples should be no more contentious than redefining junk food to incorporate Innocent smoothies (oh come on, have you seen the sugar content?). What we get instead is a protracted circus of moral handwringing and social commentary straight from the Big Book of the Bleeding Obvious.  Cardinals whinge, social conservatives clear their throats and homosexual couples are cultural vandals smashing bus-stops with SkullCandy headphones
It should come as no surprise that the religious vox-pops sound to me like echoes of an historic age. In centuries gone by, the words from former Archbishops of Canterbury would be treated with absolute respect because in most cases the holders of that position had long since died and their words were coming through the foam-mouthed babbles of Mrs Humendthwump, the poor-house cleaner. As the old joke puts it so clearly, marriage is an institution and I have no desire to be put into one of those. Whether the persons involved are of the same sex or otherwise is of neither great personal concern; nor should it stoke too may fires amongst the sage old voices of the various Churches.

Christians have every reason to walk upon this subject’s ground with care because of the rules and regulations laid down by the teachings on which their belief is based. Same-sex marriage is not explicitly forbidden, leaving many of the on-high pronouncements conclusions of opinion rather than scripture. And these opinions speak in the accent of panic and confusion, of a form of nostalgia. Remember when every man and woman you met in the street were married and every child was looked after and cared for? Happiness in all its forms, and the only way to pronounce ‘homosexual’ was like Norman Evens or Cisse and Ada.

The debate is boring because, broadly speaking, everything which the Moral Compass Corps. attacks is drenched in the same stodgy mess of paranoia, prejudice and judgement. What results from this is the turning of an interesting subject into a dirge; it’s like Homer Simpson doing impression of white-noise. Redefining marriage to include same-sex couples is the natural extension of civil partnerships, which has not caused the country to collapse or existing divorce rates to sky-rocket anymore than they were doing already. I can’t even consider it particularly important if the redefinition happens immediately or after the next election; it’s an inevitable extension of a common sense policy, one of the rare moments when Blairite social tinkering actually did something good.

What is boring is how tired both sides of the argument sound. We all know circumstances, some very close and personal, in which the claim that marriage between a man and woman does not extend very far beyond “a vague commitment” does not match reality. Settling down with someone for the rest of your life can be a decision made beyond religious considerations – it’s stunning that we still have to frame arguments within these constraints.

Being against the redefinition is not the same as being homophobic, of course. But the ballpark as open gate and I can see the usual suspects limbering up to play. Let us try and keep this year’s political debate getting lost in the moral maze; this is not the year to be “social commentaried” to death….