Let me knock Richard III and Chris Huhne off the top of the news – I’ll be voting for gay marriage in the UK’s House of Commons tomorrow. If I could vote twice for it then I would (i.e. I could vote twice, but I would have to go both ways). Why? Well, for me, there’s no single hard, penetrating argument, although campaigns on both sides would have us believe otherwise. In my constituency, the argument is of course framed by Christianity, if you will. I’ve had nothing from anyone from any other faith and I have a sneaking suspicion why; which I’ll allude to at the end. That’s a teaser, so stay with me.
On the one hand, I think the theological arguments against gay marriage are pretty weak, to tell you the truth. Theology is a bit like astrology – you try to be a bit (or a lot if you’re, say, Aquinas) intelligent, but when things get tricky you refer to ‘the leap of faith’ and go all circular. Theology’s a pseudo-academic discipline defined as such by an unbreakable meta-theory. Yep. So let’s not take folk telling us that Jesus, you know, liked the poofs but wanted them to just stop bumming each other and also all that other disgusting stuff they do, like kissing, too seriously in academic terms. I can’t be bothered to go over the basics but the Testament’s a politically-put-together series of intellectually mid-range (compare it historically to the Upanishads) texts from the olden days. In the end, you can play a Matthew against an Epistle to the Galatians if you like. Intellectually it’s all a bit pathetic.
And yet, a lot of my constituents base the way they live on that Testament. And they try to, and do, live decent lives. So if they say, as they do, that they don’t like the gay marriage thing because it ‘sells the pass’ on the whole ‘Christian marriage’ thing, then I respect their view because it’s worth the same in our democracy as anyone else’s (and a lot of those anyone-elses contribute a damn sight less to the wellbeing of their communities, by the way). We live in a democracy, right? People get freedom of religious observation, right? I mean, these people don’t want child-sex made mandatory or to mate with aliens. They just want to say they have a pretty conventional belief in God and that this has implications for how they see the gay marriage thing. That’s allowed. It’s more than allowed; it’s a fundamental part of what it is to live in a democracy. So these people are not ‘bigots’. Bigotry, for the wee boys and girls who use the term before they’ve learned how to pay tax, we should reserve for something much larger in life. In Scotland, I’ll reserve bigotry for the way the Scottish and British establishment still treats Catholics.
Did I digress there? Anyway, a lot of decent people in the Falkirk area, the majority – working, bringing up their kids, contributing to their community, thinking about the world — say they don’t want gay marriage.
On the other hand, a lot of folk arguing for equal marriage take a simple ‘equalities’ message for granted. I’ve had no letters at all from folk who want the law changed. That’s because they think it’s a done deal. That’s about as cynical as lobbyists could get. It turns out that gender and sexuality aren’t related to cynicism. ‘Equality’ is all you need to argue, devoid of any thoughts about what it is you want equality for. Really? Equality for any kind of sexual or emotional preference? So sod the generic ‘equalities’ lobby – it’s the laziest thing I’ve ever witnessed in action. The ‘equalities’ lobby argues like children. Christians argue like grown-ups who have some experience of life. They don’t think they’re intellectual – not the ones I’ve met. They’ve just taken a view on what amount to the Good Life. The kids just wail.
But you have to take a view in the end. And, actually, mine is just based on love and democracy. That’s all.
We get to decide what the rules are; not Paul, Aquinas or anyone else. Most people, I think, are informed by their instinctual distaste for what gay guys get up to together when they’re together (which for most is as regularly or rarely as straight people, btw). But that really isn’t good enough. Not for Scotland and Britain, it isn’t.
This isn’t an intellectually pure argument – if you want one and you’re not a bore I’ll give you it – but my instinct, my view, gleaned in large part from many conversations with constituents, is that we’ve already decided as a society that gay folk should have full equality. A lot of people don’t want to think about ‘that sort of thing,’ and anti gay-marriage lobbyists capitalise on that, but in the end the same ‘most folk’, when you sit in their living rooms, agree it’s fair and right. Love sits at the heart of it, actually. In Falkirk, everyone should be allowed to love and to express that in the same way; fuck however they like, bring up kids well, get married. They might not like the way I say it, but I think Falkirk folk would agree if put properly to the test.
And Falkirk’s Muslims? Call me out on this, but I think that they’re too busy getting on with business and helping to fix the UK economy. So there.
Marriage for all, regardless of sexuality, it is.