So you didn’t officiate then?

Last Friday night was culture night in Belfast, as it was elsewhere in Ireland. I officiated at the marriage of two men on the front steps of the Merchant hotel before an audience – make that congregation – of several hundred people. (Several hundred times two, for we went through the ceremony twice, at 7.30pm and 9.30pm). The wedding had been organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the Rainbow Project, and Amnesty International, in order to highlight the fact that Northern Ireland is now the only place in the UK and Ireland where same-sex marriage is not performed or even recognised, putting us on the same footing as Niue, Tokelau and the Cook Islands, territories that have opted out of New Zealand’s legislation.

So you didn’t officiate at an official thingie, did you?

Entirely fair to argue that it should be possible to so officiate in NI, but not to claim, in the same paragraph, that you both did and were not allowed to.

99 thoughts on “So you didn’t officiate then?”

  1. “putting us on the same footing as Niue, Tokelau and the Cook Islands, territories that have opted out of New Zealand’s legislation.”

    Err no. That’s bollocks. The Cook Islands don’t even permit consensual male sodomy, let alone civil partnerships. Tokelau and Niue permit it, but doesn’t allow civil partnerships.

    Northern Ireland goes up to civil partnerships but not gay marriage. The difference between those being that adultery has a bearing on gay marriage but not on civil partnerships.

  2. Funny place, Northern Ireland. Corbyn’s mates in the IRA had few qualms about killing 12 year old boys in Warrington in protest at being governed by the British, but being forced to accept London’s rules on gay marriage doesn’t seem to trouble them. I suppose this is progress, of a sort.

  3. I once saw a Question Time from Belfast during which an audience member asked for the practical differences in Law between civil partnerships and marriage. Only the Rev Iain Paisley Jnr was prepared to answer; he said there was none. David Dimbelby tried to press the others but they made it clear they were preoccupied with the lighting configuration in the studio.
    So, are thee any practical differences?

  4. So Much For Subtlety

    The wedding had been organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the Rainbow Project, and Amnesty International

    Ahhh, the other Axis of Evil.

    And that would be the Irish (as in Republic of) Congress of Trade Unions would it?

  5. @Ironman, here in the slightly more rational part of the Island of Ireland, the identified differences were the laws of adoption. The unknown unknowns concerned the references to “marriage” in the constitution.

  6. Ironman,

    You can check the official thing here

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/comparison-of-civil-partnership-and-marriage-for-same-sex-couples

    The difference is adultery. And even then, it’s adultery with someone of the opposite sex, because they basically have marriage laws which include that. So, the only reason you’d want gay marriage over a civil partnership, rights-wise, is because you think your partner wants some pussy occassionally. Which is hardly a strong foundation for a gay marriage.

    “Gay marriage” is classic Iron Rule of Campaigning Organisations, that even when they’ve done the job, they don’t go away. They just keep chasing weirder and weirder bogeymen. “We don’t have equal marriage rights” “uh yeah, you do” “it’s not called marriage”. I mean, seriously, who the fuck cares what it’s called?

  7. So Much For Subtlety

    The Stigler – “I mean, seriously, who the fuck cares what it’s called?”

    The point is not to campaign for gay marriage. There is roughly zero interest in Gay marriage in the Gay community. The aim is to bully the rest of us into compliance. To silence anyone who might point out that they are unhappy because they have issues, not because everyone hates them. And to get access to the children.

    So what it is called and what rights it grants is irrelevant. We allowed them a civil partnership so they naturally moved on to campaign for “marriage”. What are they going to campaign for next?

  8. Amnesty International? I remember sending letters and cards to people cast in prison for their beliefs. Collected for them on the street in the 80s. Now it’s abortion, gay marriage and jihadis who’d like to murder me in my bed.

    No support from me. Fuck ’em.

  9. I mean, seriously, who the fuck cares what it’s called?

    Progressive wankers that’s who…

    If you go back to the 60’s the gay movement was furiously anti-marriage. But as the gay rights movement has been subsumed into the overall leftists “lets smash the fuck out of society” movement, they realised that destroying marriage from the inside was much more effective. Just like they’ve done to education, policing, the NHS, well just about the entire public sector etc. etc.

  10. The Stigler

    Suppose I don’t want to call them.married, because I don’t believe men can be married to men and women to women (sorry, I don’t). In NI I’m right in law. In the rest of the UK, however, am I.now legally obliged to accept that they are ‘married’?

    Please do note, I wholly agree with the rights granted under civil partnership legislation.

  11. I’m sure this has been discussed before and our genial host can confirm, but I think Portugal has exactly the right system:

    Only their equivalent of a civil partnership has standing in law, so “marriage” becomes a purely religious matter. So you have complete choice and can’t plead discrimination:

    – civil service only
    – civil + marriage
    – marriage only
    – neither

    Gets round all the objections from gays and straights. Only the squirrels can complain.

  12. Ironman,

    Checking the etymology, you’re quite right. According to Wikipedia “ultimately derives from Latin mātrimōnium, which combines the two concepts: mater meaning “mother” and the suffix -monium signifying “action, state, or condition”. So, marriage is about “making mothers”. “Gay marriage” is, technically an oxymoron.

  13. I officiated at the marriage of two men on the front steps of the Merchant hotel before an audience – make that congregation – of several hundred people. (Several hundred times two, for we went through the ceremony twice, at 7.30pm and 9.30pm).

    Q. How much attention do you need?

    A. All of it.

    The wedding had been organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the Rainbow Project, and Amnesty International

    Romance isn’t dead.

    I had even had myself ordained for the occasion – in the United States, admittedly – by the American Marriage Ministries (AMM). The AMM has but three tenets, the first of which states that all people, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, have the right to marry.

    What about age, number of marriage partners and genetic relationship?

    In this, it puts most of the churches in Northern Ireland to shame.

    Glenn doesn’t understand this “religion” business.

    Malachai and Michael, though they exchanged vows on the steps of the Merchant on Friday night, though they said “I do” before all those people, and kissed as newly married couples the world over do, did not exchange rings. Friday night, after all, was just a rehearsal. They are saving the rings until their next wedding day.

    Ferfuckssake. How many wedding days do they need?

    Until, as Malachai said to me, they are truly equal. It can’t come soon enough.

    Poor bastard. The law can’t make anybody truly equal.

    This is like how transsexuals want to be women. Sorry, but ye canny change the laws of biology. You can get the law to declare that they are women, but it won’t give them XX chromosomes or ovaries or the experience of being born female.

    So, gay marriage. You can legislate for it till the sun burns out, fill up the courts with recalcitrant Christian cake bakers, and have wedding after wedding – each more fabulous than the last. But is it “truly equal” to your Mum and Dad’s marriage?

    Nope.

    There’s a qualitative difference to a man and a woman uniting in marriage and starting a family (which is, remember, the whole point of the institution – if we weren’t sexually dimorphic mammals with long gestation periods and high investment required in weaning and rearing our offspring, we’d never have invented marriage. Fish are perfectly content without it) and two men or two women deciding they want to formalise their relationship and adopt African kids and/or Pekinese dogs.

    They just aren’t the same. So “equality”, as is usually the case, is an illusion.

    I suspect he means equality of esteem. But good luck trying to force people into thinking it’s a wonderful thing that their son won’t be supplying them with any cute grandchildren.

  14. Employers give benefits to marrieds, not to civil partnerships. That’s the difference. And it’s BIG!

    The proper response from the marketplace is that employers should stop all marriage benefits. See how much support “gay marriage” gets after that!

  15. Employers give benefits to marrieds, not to civil partnerships. That’s the difference. And it’s BIG!

    The proper response from the marketplace is that employers should stop all marriage benefits. See how much support “gay marriage” gets after that!

    Or, because gay marriage doesn’t hurt anybody, why not just allow it?

  16. Gamecock, Matthew L – what benefits are we talking about here? My employer doesn’t give a shit about anybody’s marriage status.

  17. Steve: It’s a cost/benefit analysis. The cost is, to a rounding error, zero. There doesn’t need to be much benefit to top that, so even if your employer doesn’t I think the existence of one or two that does is enough.

  18. Going back to Ironman’s post, and a genuine question:

    What is the practical difference between marriage and civil partnership?

  19. All the companies I have worked for provide benefits for those in civil partnerships (medical insurance, life insurance etc) and have done for as long as I can remember.

  20. Steve,

    “But good luck trying to force people into thinking it’s a wonderful thing that their son won’t be supplying them with any cute grandchildren.”

    It’s funny how some parents are, though. You meet these people who say “we’d be just as happy if our kids were gay”. And I’ve met people whose sons came out, liberal people, and you know, if it happens, you probably won’t be.

  21. Glendorran,

    “What is the practical difference between marriage and civil partnership?”

    As I said earlier: if your partner commits adultery (and that’s male/female sex, as adultery in marriage is specifically penis/vagina sex) that counts as grounds for divorce in a marriage, but not in a civil partnership. The link earlier shows the differences but everything else is things like: marriages are recorded in the marriage register, civil partnerships in the civil partnerships register.

  22. “What is the practical difference between marriage and civil partnership?”

    Separate-but-equal has been tried. It doesn’t work.

    By the way, all this malarky about marriage being for the kids is irrelevant in today’s society. If a man and a woman don’t want to or can’t have children, should we ban them from getting married too? If a gay couple *have* children, why can’t they get married? And yes, gay couples can have children even without marriage – by adoption, or by sperm donation, or by surrogacy. Same methods straight couples who are infertile often use.

    The difference is that with a gay couple you know that the child is wanted and planned, unlike the “whoops we got drunk and forgot the condom” accidents straight couples have all the time.

  23. The Stigler:

    Sorry, missed that one earlier.

    And at the risk of repeating myself, doesn’t the approach used in Portugal solve all of these problems?

  24. GlenDorran: I prefer the French method. Marriage is purely a civil thing. If you want to have a religious marriage then you can, and the churches can define that however they want.

  25. Matthew L:

    That sounds absolutely fine to me (and I’m probably getting mixed up on how the Portugese system works based on my half-remembers reading of blog posts here).

  26. Anon – yes. And I think a lot of the psychodrama around gay marriage stems from that fact.

    Matthew L – By the way, all this malarky about marriage being for the kids is irrelevant in today’s society.

    Indeed. It’s relevant to tomorrow’s society, assuming there is one.

    Mark “Rent Boy” Renton was both right and wrong when he observed that in the future, there’d be no men and no women, just wankers.

    There’s no future without children. We in the West may contracept and abort and wank our way into oblivion, if it amuses us. But we’ll just be supplanted by more traditional and fecund cultures.

    If a man and a woman don’t want to or can’t have children, should we ban them from getting married too?

    Irrelevant. Marriage was invented for the sake of the kiddies. That’s what it’s about as an institution. We’re free to forget that, of course. But that way lies the fate of the lonely wankers.

    gay couples can have children even without marriage

    I’m not sure you understand how reproduction works.

    The difference is that with a gay couple you know that the child is wanted and planned, unlike the “whoops we got drunk and forgot the condom” accidents straight couples have all the time.

    My Mum tells me I was an accident, not a mistake.

  27. “Irrelevant.”

    Then gay marriage should be equally irrelevant. if we permit one, why not the other?

    > I’m not sure you understand how reproduction works.

    Did you not read the bit where I listed the ways they can have children, all of which straight married couples also use?

  28. Matthew L – Then gay marriage should be equally irrelevant. if we permit one, why not the other?

    Gay marriage is irrelevant. It’s daft. Two men can’t be a husband and wife. Who does the cleaning? It’s a silly frivolous fad for a silly frivolous age.

    Homosexuality is as old as Homo Sapiens, but we somehow managed to get by without gay marriage till about five minutes ago. The Ancients enjoyed their oysters and their snails, but still lived up to their patriarchal duty to obtain a wife and put babies in her.

    Did you not read the bit where I listed the ways they can have children, all of which straight married couples also use?

    You listed the ways in which people can acquire children, or ways in which they can make a baby with a third party.

    This, also, is besides the point. The point of marriage is having children. The point of children is that they are our future.

    That a small percentage of people use complicated medical intervention to obtain a small number of children isn’t here or there.

    We’re not going to sustain a civilisation on the strength of test tube babies and lesbians armed with turkey basters. The numbers just don’t add up.

    You’re thinking of this from the wrong perspective. The modern perspective, which is a solipsistic quest to be haaapppyyy. Marriage isn’t about being happy, that’s just a lucky and by no means guaranteed perk.

    I’m thinking about this in the broader sense of how we can ensure Western civilisation is still a thing come the next century. Marriage used to be the core institution in our society’s survival strategy. That – and not carriage rides and cakes and confetti – is what it’s for.

    We seem to have forgotten that, and gotten marriage confused with weddings. More the fool us.

  29. “Gay marriage is irrelevant. It’s daft. Two men can’t be a husband and wife. Who does the cleaning? It’s a silly frivolous fad for a silly frivolous age.”

    It might be for you but clearly it’s relevant for some people. What’s the justification for prohibiting it? It almost seems like it’s because it hurts your feelings.

    ” The point of marriage is having children. ”

    OK, so explain to me why we should allow childless marriages between straight people (for example, two 70 year olds) and not between gay people.

    “We’re not going to sustain a civilisation on the strength of test tube babies and lesbians armed with turkey basters. The numbers just don’t add up.”

    That makes no sense at all. Do you think that if we have gay marriage it somehow prohibits straight marriage? Can you show me where birth rates have changed after gay marriage has been legalised?

    “I’m thinking about this in the broader sense of how we can ensure Western civilisation is still a thing come the next century”

    Right. Gay marriage is going to destroy Western civilisation. That’s inane.

    “Marriage used to be the core institution in our society’s survival strategy”

    I seriously dispute that, but even if it was the case – marriage has been evolving continuously for thousands of years. This is not a major change compared to when we shifted from marriage as a property transaction to marriage as two people loving each other.

    ” Marriage isn’t about being happy, that’s just a lucky and by no means guaranteed perk.”

    That boat sailed decades ago. Explain to me why continuing to prohibit gay marriage will somehow turn back time?

  30. JuliaM: Gay couples don’t abuse children at a higher rate than straight couples. Lesbian couples abuse children at a considerably lower rate than straight couples, so by your logic only they should be allowed to foster.

  31. Matthew L –

    It might be for you but clearly it’s relevant for some people. What’s the justification for prohibiting it?

    Eh? We don’t prohibit it. NI does. Personally, I wouldn’t have voted to pass gay marriage though. Because I don’t see any upside in redefining the concept of marriage.

    OK, so explain to me why we should allow childless marriages between straight people (for example, two 70 year olds) and not between gay people.

    Because we don’t really care about geriatrics, so long as they refrain from doing 50mph in the overtaking lane.

    That makes no sense at all. Do you think that if we have gay marriage it somehow prohibits straight marriage?

    No. I think the more we, as a civilisation, escape into fantasy, the less likely that we’ll endure. This is just another one of the pointless fantasies of our age of indulgence.

    Another fantasy – and much, much more dangerous than two blokes in wedding dresses – is 30-something women who think they’ve got all the time in the world to become mothers.

    The trajectory is the same though: feels over reals. Wishful thinking over fact.

  32. “Eh? We don’t prohibit it. NI does.”

    We’re talking about the situation in NI.

    “Because I don’t see any upside in redefining the concept of marriage.”

    As a non-smoker I don’t see any upside in smoking, so let’s ban that too.

    “Because we don’t really care about geriatrics, so long as they refrain from doing 50mph in the overtaking lane.”

    We don’t care about gay people either, there’s less of them than horny geriatrics, so that doesn’t answer my question – why continue the prohibition?

    “I think the more we, as a civilisation, escape into fantasy, the less likely that we’ll endure. This is just another one of the pointless fantasies of our age of indulgence.”

    Ah, so when you say “feels over reals” you’re actually talking about yourself. Because there’s no evidence for that at all – it’s just your feeling. That’s not enough reason to deny marriage to gay couples.

  33. Matthew L has it.

    Most of you just don’t like the idea of people being gay. That’s your argument is based on.

    ““I’m thinking about this in the broader sense of how we can ensure Western civilisation is still a thing come the next century””

    Steve, get your own blog why don’t you? You’re fucking hilarious!

  34. Arnald, that’s what arguments against gay marriage boil down to. There’s only three underlying arguments.

    1) “Won’t somebody think of the children” – irrelevant. Having children and marriage are not related any more, and this predates the gay rights movement.

    2) “My religious text prohibits it” – move to a theocracy then.

    3) “I don’t like it” – usually from the staunchest libertarians around when it comes to things *they* like that others don’t.

  35. Matthew – As a non-smoker I don’t see any upside in smoking, so let’s ban that too.

    You’re comparing apples with Marlboros. Gay marriage wasn’t ever “banned”. Nobody was daft enough to ask for it to be legislated for till about 10 minutes ago. Then it suddenly became the most urgent issue EVAH* and anybody who disagreed was suddenly a gay-bashing hatey hatemonger.

    * Until the next one.

    Ah, so when you say “feels over reals” you’re actually talking about yourself.

    Sure, why not?

    I’m a father. So I’m populating the future with little Steves. Genetically superior supermen, like Ricardo Montalban in “Wrath of Khan”, but with better mullets. Together we will rule the Earth and terrorise William Shatner.

    I feel like this is a noble endeavour, and a damn sight more productive than emoting over gay/trans/furry weddings or getting pegged or whatever.

    And you’re welcome.

    Arnald – You’re fucking hilarious!

    So are you, but not intentionally.

  36. “You’re comparing apples with Marlboros. Gay marriage wasn’t ever “banned”. ”

    Irrelevant to the point. Should it be legal for two men to marry? If it’s not legal then that’s equivalent to a ban.

    “I feel like this is a noble endeavour, and a damn sight more productive than emoting over gay/trans/furry weddings or getting pegged or whatever.”

    And how do gay or trans people getting married or existing have any effect on your endeavour whatsoever?

  37. Matthew – Should it be legal for two men to marry?

    Should it be legal for a brother and sister to marry? Or two brothers? Or five unrelated adults?

    And how do gay or trans people getting married or existing have any effect on your endeavour whatsoever?

    It’s not me I’m worried about.

    You keep saying “Having children and marriage are not related any more”.

    Well, there’s a clue as to why we have catastrophic below-replacement birthrates.

    It can’t go on like this forever, so of course it won’t. The only question is what replaces “this”.

    Ever more tenuous and novel definitions of “marriage”, as if it were a Blue Peter badge, are a dead end. Much as it might please people to tinker with social norms and bask in the warm fuzzies of their own imagined progressiveness, all that matters is whether they’re pro- or contra-survival at a societal level. The proof is in the Pampers.

  38. > If it’s not legal then that’s equivalent to a ban.

    No it’s not. There is a world of difference between banning something that was previously allowed and something continuing to not be allowed.

    > And how do gay or trans people getting married or existing have any effect on your endeavour whatsoever?

    He doesn’t know yet, and neither do you. We’ll find out shortly.

    I find these claims that gay marriage can have no possible downside odd. Can anyone name a single other political policy that has no conceivable downside? Life is about trade-offs. I’d have a lot more respect for the gay marriage campaigners if they were to make the frankly uncontroversial claim that it’ll probably have some downsides but they think it’s worth it (which is my position). Their insistence that this alone of all policies and societal changes ever enacted in the history of humanity will be the magical perfect utopian one does not inspire confidence in me that they have a fucking clue what they’re doing.

  39. Not for the first time, I have to say that Squander Two’s blog post is spot on. Thanks for writing that, and also for reposting it as I missed it the first time round.

    I do hate your talent sometimes though. 🙂

  40. There’s always someone to offend, just look at the attack on Trudeau in Canada this week for what the author referred to as ‘subtle racism’. When asked about violence against women some of the causes he mentioned (in general terms not aimed at one specific group) can be seen as part of the stereotype of certain groups.
    On that basis he was apparently being racist, or maybe the person making the fuss was being an over sensitive twat trying to drum up some publicity.

  41. “I’m thinking about this in the broader sense of how we can ensure Western civilisation is still a thing come the next century. Marriage used to be the core institution in our society’s survival strategy. That – and not carriage rides and cakes and confetti – is what it’s for.”

    Depends what you mean by western civilisation. If you mean neoliberalism – broadly separation of church and state, freedom of speech, human rights, free markets, democracy – has it ever been stronger? Think of all the countries that weren’t like that even 40 years ago – all of Eastern Europe, Spain, Ireland, South Korea. And those that have moved in the right direction like China, India and Russia. Cuba’s getting there since they put Fidel in a home. OK, the Middle East isn’t getting much better.

    The biggest threat to Western Civilisation is old commies like Corbyn who would like to roll back all the improvements made to the world over the past few decades.

  42. The Stigler,

    “Gay marriage” is classic Iron Rule of Campaigning Organisations, that even when they’ve done the job, they don’t go away. They just keep chasing weirder and weirder bogeymen. “We don’t have equal marriage rights” “uh yeah, you do” “it’s not called marriage”. I mean, seriously, who the fuck cares what it’s called?

    People who don’t want ‘gay marriage’ to be called marriage, obv.

  43. I’m not clear why gayfolk want to get married. I mean, if they really want to for personal reasons, fine, but I get the impression (from… er… well, that article for one) that many want to do so to make a point to random bystanders/daily mail readers/the Archbishops.

    Which isn’t what my vicar told me it was about when I got we’d.

  44. You’re thinking of this from the wrong perspective. The modern perspective, which is a solipsistic quest to be haaapppyyy. Marriage isn’t about being happy, that’s just a lucky and by no means guaranteed perk.

    I’m thinking about this in the broader sense of how we can ensure Western civilisation is still a thing come the next century. Marriage used to be the core institution in our society’s survival strategy. That – and not carriage rides and cakes and confetti – is what it’s for.

    We seem to have forgotten that, and gotten marriage confused with weddings. More the fool us.

    Looking at the long-term trend here, the end is nigh:

    http://beta.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/marriagecohabitationandcivilpartnerships/bulletins/marriagesinenglandandwalesprovisional/2014-06-11#marriage-rates

  45. It is sad that commenters like MatthewL and Arnald fall into the logical fallacy of the gay marriage argument.

    Marriage was designed specifically to be between a man and a woman in order to legitimise children born from that union and thus all its ancillary effects ( primarily property inheritance)- It became formalised in the 12th Century European Church’s ceremonial for the common folk as it drove to take control of civil as well as clerical power.

    There is no better description of marriage than that to be found in the Anglican Prayer Book.

    Marriage is not a fundamental human right, it is an institution that has a specific purpose.

    Because two people of the same sex cannot ( at the moment, heaven only knows what some mad scientist will come up with next) both be the biological parents of a child, then there is no point in their being married. Instead they must undertake a legal, civil approach to legitimising the child. By the same token, if a chap marries a woman with children he does not automatically become their father, he has to legally adopt them.

    The fact that the infertile, aged, whatever will not be able to produce children from a marriage is actually irrelevant. The important point is that they fulfil the criterion and if by some miracle they did, then the children would be legitimate.

    It is not for the opponents of gay marriage to make the argument. We have an unequivocal statement as to what mariage involves. It is for the pro-gm side to make the logical argument and so far all we get is “if you wove someone you must be allowed to marry them.”

    I’m sorry but it is just sentimental claptrap. Allowing GM like we have means (with my Benthamite hat on ) that we have broken the seal. We now have no argument against ANY sort of marriage, whether it be underage, polygamous or incestuous. I would even suggest inter-species, but divining consent from another member of the animal kingdom is fraught with difficulty.

    One last point, I suppose that in the same way that I closed my eyes for a few minutes and the Anglican Church has run away and left me, where this campaign suddenly came from has left me bewildered. I used to know lots of gay men, mostly through my late wife, in the 90s- It was made very clear to me by the more activist members, that being gay meant that you were not subject to the bourgeois morals and norms to which the “breeders” had to conform. Marriage, the family, all these institutions could rot because being gay meant that one was outside these restraints. Even if one was in a “stable” relationship, one could still cruise, often as a couple.
    What did I miss ? Which particular ball did I take my eye off ?

  46. Marriage was designed

    By whom?

    We now have no argument against ANY sort of marriage, whether it be underage, polygamous or incestuous.

    Nonsense, different arguments can reasonably apply in different circumstances. Or do you think that (for example) because adults can agree to legally binding contracts with each other than any contract between an adult and a child must necessarily be binding in any circumstances?

  47. What did I miss ? Which particular ball did I take my eye off ?

    That gay men don’t all have the same opinion? Like heterosexual men don’t, and heterosexual women don’t?

  48. > different arguments can reasonably apply in different circumstances.

    Depends on the argument. The gay marriage lobby have absolutely insisted on making their argument about equal human rights. Which leaves no scope whatsoever to deny anyone else.

  49. Dear sweet Jesus above. This blog is the last place I expected Platonism to rear its apparently undead head. I thought it had been buried centuries ago. But to read some of the preceding comments you’d think there were some ideal of marriage out there, beyond the celestial spheres, to which our dull, sub-lunary institutions must conform. What utter tosh.

    What makes the kerfuffle so amusing is that, at its heart, it’s really nothing more than a question of equality under the law. The state, in its wisdom, has decided that it will recognise a relationship between two persons and, as a result of that recognition, grant certain legal privileges, such as tax breaks, rights of survivorship, and so on. Whether the state should be involved in such matters is another argument for another day. The fact here and now is that it has.

    From that the question follows, should the same state recognition that is granted to heterosexual couples be granted to homosexual couples?

    Yes, an equal legal recognition was granted to homosexual couples with the introduction of civil partnerships. And yes, to answer an early question, apart from some very minor exceptions noted up-thread, the introduction of gay “marriage” was no more than a name change.

    So what, exactly, is the problem?

    Will changing the name of civil partnerships to “marriage” have any consequences for straight couples or British society or Western civilisation? I’d say that’s about as likely as Richard Murphy understanding monetary policy.

    +1 to Matthew L for some yeoman-like heavy lifting up-thread.

  50. Bloke no Longer in Austria

    By whom ?

    Well Emperor Justinian gave us the codified template that we in Europe use.

    The age of legal consent ( or any other come to think of it) is an arbitrary construct wasn’t it Jerry-Lee Lewis that was banned from performing in the UK because he had a 13 year old wife ?
    We speficially ban incest and polygamy, well I say that’s discrimantory, why can’t brothers or sisters marry each other ?

    As to views not being shared by all, I suppose we need to ask a prominent campaigner ike Mr Tatchell hiow is opinion has “evolved” down the years.

  51. SQ2,

    different arguments can reasonably apply in different circumstances.

    Depends on the argument. The gay marriage lobby have absolutely insisted on making their argument about equal human rights. Which leaves no scope whatsoever to deny anyone else.

    They insisted on equal rights for homosexual adult couples as heterosexual adult couples – they didn’t insist on equal rights for couples or tuples of adults comprising blood relatives and/or children and/or animals. It’s you and complainers about gay marriage who are insisting on that. Which is ironic – and odd.

  52. It’s you and complainers about gay marriage who are insisting on that. Which is ironic – and odd.

    No it isn’t- Marriage is being extended to groups for whom it was not designed ( again read the Prayer Book for the definition). So, by a degree of fairness it should be extended to everyone regardless of their status, because not to do so is discriminatory. Homosexuals are being treated in this matter as a special case.

  53. In the UK, heterosexual adults did not and do not have the right to marry children, blood relatives, animals, or have more than two people in a marriage. So it does not follow from the gay marriage campaign for homosexuals to have the same rights to marry that heterosexual adults have vis a vis each other that all adults must therefore have the right to marry children, blood relatives, animals or have more than two in a marriage.

    Your insistence that it does necessarily follow harms your own cause.

    (Of course I assume you don’t have a secret cause to marry your twin chihuahuas.)

  54. Squirrels actually.

    But nor did Homosexuals. But now they have that right.
    Your argument, ukl is completely circular.

  55. Tomorrow I shall enter into a contract to buy a house.

    Except, I am actually going to be selling a wardrobe.

    Potato, potahto.

  56. S2 -You have an excellent way with words.

    Anon – Think of all the countries that weren’t like that even 40 years ago – all of Eastern Europe, Spain, Ireland, South Korea. And those that have moved in the right direction like China, India and Russia.

    Yes. There’s a lot of reasons to be cheerful.

    And some reasons to be concerned. England could survive Corbyism. England won’t be England if we run out of English people because we couldn’t be arsed having enough little ones of our own and decided it was easier to hand over our country to Bulgarians or Syrians or Aussie backpackers or God-knows-what.

    I’m not a doom and gloom merchant, but demographics are destiny, so we should keep calm and get shagging*. For England and St. George!

    *Immigrants may participate in the shagging, but only if they’re female and fit. No fatties or Germans, please.

    The Stigler – I’ve never had a great attention span. I assume Khan Noonien Singh crushed his enemies, buried Kirk alive, then took his crew out for a celebratory dinner at a Space Nandos?

  57. If we are going to discuss reproductive ability as an issue where does that leave incest, could 2 brothers be married (or 2 sisters).

    Let’s focus on one of the other areas mentioned above…polygamy (between consenting adults for convenience). This is a purely legal, moral construct to deny rights so why if gay marriage is allowed why can’t any combination of consenting adults be allowed.
    Personally I think the fuss over what it’s called is pointless, same legal rights is the real issue. As for the religious institution then that’s shouldn’t be anything to do with the state anyway.

  58. @Bloke in Austria

    Marriage is being extended to groups for whom it was not designed ( again read the Prayer Book for the definition).

    Sorry, but at what point the Prayer Book become normative?

  59. It’s more a case of when it ceased to be normative.

    Ah, that would be about the time when England moved from being a theocratic state, like modern-day Iran, to a constitutional monarchy with a nod to democracy, would it?

  60. UKL:
    “By whom?”
    Tradition, which when a living tradition (like marriage), is a transmission of accumulated of benefits to the next (and future) generations. Society as Burke said*, is a contract between the dead, the living and the unborn.
    * Reflections on the Revolution in France

  61. @Bloke in Austria –

    when Anglicanism ceased to be a State religion.
    Has that happened yet ?

    Yes, it pretty much has. Only the corpse hasn’t had the common decency to lie down yet.

  62. To cut thro all the verbiage–it doesn’t matter what sodomy gets up to so long as it only includes volunteers. But it does matter that followers of said practice are now tools of –pun intended–and useful idiots for–the scum of the left . To disrupt society in general. Undermining the boo-jwarr family has long been the dream of socialist scum. When every leftist and left supporter in the world is smashed down into the gutter as they deserve then the entire gay marriage issue will fade into history. Sans the evil of socialism who cares what they get up to?. Marry the fucking squirrel if it makes you happy. But if you are trying today to advance the cause of socialist malice by doing so or are willing to be a stooge for that same cause for whatever reason, that is another story. Until the left is smashed (which it will have to be because if socialism triumphs none of us have a future worth pissing on) then fuck every leftist on Earth and the gay marriage they rode in on.

  63. UKL:

    “So it does not follow from the gay marriage campaign for homosexuals to have the same rights to marry that heterosexual adults have vis a vis each other that all adults must therefore have the right to marry children, blood relatives, animals or have more than two in a marriage.”

    But why in principle should I not now be able to ‘marry’ my dog? (Zoophiliacs may be a laughable minority now; but they feel they are oppressed. And so…) Once the traditional principle that ‘marriage’ is only between a man and a woman is violated, then what are the boundaries? Please delineate — exactly — what would be permitted and what would be forbidden. Why should ‘the law’ forbid me from ‘marrying’ my dog or pig? Will Alison Saunders (DPP) urge my pet pig to claim it was raped, even though we were ‘married’? Absurd, yes, probably. But too many liberals — like you, UKL — have a societal death wish. You seek to dilute marriage. Yet you welcome Muslim immigrants – with their ghastly authoritarianism — while encouraging the decay of our basic institutions like marriage. We can only accommodate Muslim ”migrants’ if our society believes in its own fundamental institutions. If we don’t, we will be colonised by Islam. And then gays will be flung blindfold from high buildings. You can either get behind western institutions (broadly) or accept Islam.

  64. UKL:’
    ‘Yeah – not “designed”, was my point, as if one person created it.’

    Just shorthand, perhaps? Even evolutionists talk teleologically.

  65. These appeals to history are fascinating. I’m idly wondering if they include support to return the legal age of marriage to 12 and the legalisation of acts of violence committed by husbands against their wives such as rape, physical assaults and locking them up. Traditional benefits eh lads?!?!?!?!!!! AMIRITE?!?!??! High five.

  66. Theophrastus,

    But why in principle should I not now be able to ‘marry’ my dog?

    Can your dog freely and meaningfully consent to marriage? That seems a reasonable starting point. But I don’t think it can.

    Whatever happens, I’m sure you make a lovely couple.

  67. Even if he’d wanted to marry a man and woman he couldn’t have done so. He’d bought a mail order ordination from America and the chances of that being recognised in Northern Ireland is less than zero.

    My immediate reaction when I saw the subheading:

    “Northern Ireland is the only place in the UK where same-sex couples cannot marry. Until that shocking inequality is rectified, we should withold our votes ”

    was to think that we could get rid of same-sex marriage in the rest of the UK, which would get rid of the equality (as he demands) but I don’t suppose that he would be in favour of that either – so much for arguments for equality.

    My second thought was that refusing to vote is a pretty stupid protest in a democracy, surely the whole point is that you do vote – even though that doesn’t guarantee that you will get your own way.

    My third thought was that “withhold” has two hs in it, not one. But this is the Guardian after all.

  68. “And yes, gay couples can have children even without marriage – by … sperm donation”

    How does that work for two men.

    And no diagrams please.

  69. Matthew L – “Even for you that’s ignorant.”

    Thank you. I work hard at it.

    But the fact remains that out of the some 30 million Gay Americans, only 70,000 have bothered to get married. Slightly higher in the Netherlands where they have had it for longer. Maybe almost 5% of their Gays have married – if you take a low ball approximation for the number of Gays.

    Marriage is irrelevant to the Gay community. They don’t want it and are not interested in it. A small number of Gay activists, now that is another matter. They are interested in it. But only to bully the rest of us.

    Matthew L – “Or, because gay marriage doesn’t hurt anybody, why not just allow it?”

    Gay marriage does hurt people. It hurts their children. And it makes a mockery out of everyone else’s marriage.

    Matthew L – “Irrelevant to the point. Should it be legal for two men to marry? If it’s not legal then that’s equivalent to a ban.”

    It is completely legal now, and has been for generations, for two men to put on a tux, or a white dress, invite some of their friends together, get someone to make a silly speech and exchange rings. You are not asking for permission to throw a party. You are demanding the rest of us pretend what you are doing has some validity – at the cost of our careers. Just as Brendan Eich.

    Matthew L – “Gay couples don’t abuse children at a higher rate than straight couples. Lesbian couples abuse children at a considerably lower rate than straight couples, so by your logic only they should be allowed to foster.”

    Yes they do actually. Gay and lesbian couples have worse outcomes than normal families generally. But the data is poor because gay marriage is so new. However it is as poor for me as it is for you. I would have more confidence you had a case if people on your side didn’t keep trying to jail anyone who says otherwise.

  70. But the fact remains that out of the some 30 million Gay Americans…
    A better estimate is ~10M

    And it makes a mockery out of everyone else’s marriage.
    I really don’t see that. Cheating spouses, a serial marriage and divorce pattern, or abandonment makes a mockery of my marriage (to the extent I give a rat’s ass about what other people do, or let it affect my view of my marriage, which is cannot be reliably distinguished from zero). I don’t see that the fact of two men or two women calling themselves “married” affects my marriage at all, let alone ‘makes a mockery of it.’

    You are demanding the rest of us pretend what you are doing has some validity
    But it does… not least in the area of pensions, spousal testimony, direction of emergency care, rights on intestacy, and so on. You don’t have to like it – just like you don’t have to like any of the choices other people make – but you don’t get to claim that they are precluded from those choices, simply because they don’t suit your tastes or preferences.

  71. But it does… not least in the area of pensions, spousal testimony, direction of emergency care, rights on intestacy, and so on.

    As I wrote here:

    “As soon as the issue of homosexual marriage came on the radar, the government should have ceased all use of the word “marriage” and refused to deal with any complaint where that word appears. They should have substituted the term “marriage” with “recognised partnership” and thrown the definition of marriage back into the realm of private social affairs where it belongs. The state doesn’t define what constitutes a date. It should not try to define what constitutes a marriage.

    The tax and inheritance discrimination issue could have, and should have, been dealt with by a cold, leaden, impersonal clause in the tax code that states any two adults may register a partnership for this purpose instead of the government deciding what does and doesn’t constitute a marriage and dishing out favours accordingly. If a man and a woman can get tax breaks, and two men can get tax breaks, why not two siblings? Or two friends? Are sexual relations now the defining criteria of whether two people can enjoy the same financial benefits other couples enjoy? It appears so.”

    I know quite a few people who, like me, are all for gay couples having equal rights but rather uncomfortable with the manner in which “marriage” is being defined by the courts.

  72. Bloke in Austria said

    “It was made very clear to me by the more activist members, …Marriage, the family, all these institutions could rot because being gay meant that one was outside these restraints.”

    SMBS squawked

    “A small number of Gay activists, now that is another matter. They are interested in it. But only to bully the rest of us.”

    Now I like gay activists not being into marriage but I like gay activists who want to get married as well, but which is better? There’s only one way to find out….

    There’ll be a rise in gay-on-gay violence, that’s for sure.

  73. dcardno – “A better estimate is ~10M”

    If you like. 70,000 out of 10 million then. So about 1-1.5%.

    “I really don’t see that. Cheating spouses, a serial marriage and divorce pattern, or abandonment makes a mockery of my marriage”

    Well that is true too. But turning marriage into a scene from Priscilla Queen of the Desert is not going to help.

    “But it does… ”

    Not as marriage it doesn’t. Two men and a poodle do not a marriage make. You can try to force everyone to pretend it does – or worse you can debase the institution until it does. But it doesn’t.

    “but you don’t get to claim that they are precluded from those choices, simply because they don’t suit your tastes or preferences.”

    It is not a question of what I like or prefer. It is a simple fact. They are not precluded actually. They have the same right to marry that everyone else does. They prefer not to do so. They want an extra right – not just the right to marry someone of the opposite sex, but to force everyone else to celebrate their pantomime with someone of the same sex.

  74. UKL,

    The whole point of Darwinism is that something can be designed without a designer.

    PST,

    > Will changing the name of civil partnerships to “marriage” have any consequences for straight couples or British society or Western civilisation? I’d say that’s about as likely as Richard Murphy understanding monetary policy.

    This is the argument from incredulity. The interesting thing about the argument from incredulity when applied to social engineering is that, historically, it has been spectacularly wrong. I can’t recommend the McArdle piece highly enough. (I actually emailed her and she says their archive will go back up soon, so that’s nice.)

    A very common response to this is essentially to mock this as ridiculous. “Why on earth would it make any difference to me whether gay people are getting married? Why would that change my behavior as a heterosexual”

    To which social conservatives reply that institutions have a number of complex ways in which they fulfill their roles, and one of the very important ways in which the institution of marriage perpetuates itself is by creating a romantic vision of oneself in marriage that is intrinsically tied into expressing one’s masculinity or femininity in relation to a person of the opposite sex; stepping into an explicitly gendered role. This may not be true of every single marriage, and indeed undoubtedly it is untrue in some cases. But it is true of the culture-wide institution. By changing the explicitly gendered nature of marriage we might be accidentally cutting away something that turns out to be a crucial underpinning.

    To which, again, the other side replies “That’s ridiculous! I would never change my willingness to get married based on whether or not gay people were getting married!”

    Now, economists hear this sort of argument all the time. “That’s ridiculous! I would never start working fewer hours because my taxes went up!” This ignores the fact that you may not be the marginal case. The marginal case may be some consultant who just can’t justify sacrificing valuable leisure for a new project when he’s only making 60 cents on the dollar. The result will nonetheless be the same: less economic activity. Similarly, you–highly educated, firmly socialised, upper middle class you–may not be the marginal marriage candidate; it may be some high school dropout in Tuscaloosa. That doesn’t mean that the institution of marriage won’t be weakened in America just the same.

    This should not be taken as an endorsement of the idea that gay marriage will weaken the current institution. I can tell a plausible story where it does; I can tell a plausible story where it doesn’t. I have no idea which one is true. That is why I have no opinion on gay marriage, and am not planning to develop one. Marriage is a big institution; too big for me to feel I have a successful handle on it.

    However, I am bothered by this specific argument, which I have heard over and over from the people I know who favor gay marriage laws. I mean, literally over and over; when they get into arguments, they just repeat it, again and again. “I will get married even if marriage is expanded to include gay people; I cannot imagine anyone up and deciding not to get married because gay people are getting married; therefore, the whole idea is ridiculous and bigoted.”

    They may well be right. Nonetheless, libertarians should know better. The limits of your imagination are not the limits of reality. Every government programme that libertarians have argued against has been defended at its inception with exactly this argument.

  75. The whole point of Darwinism is that something can be designed without a designer.

    This is an argument about what “design” means and I don’t understand it that way. YMMV.

  76. S2

    Nah. Not buying it.

    “…stepping into an explicitly gendered role. This may not be true of every single marriage, and indeed undoubtedly it is untrue in some cases.”

    “…we might be accidentally cutting away something..”

    “This should not be taken as an endorsement of the idea that gay marriage will weaken the current institution”

    “They may well be right.”

    The problem I have with institutions perpetuating the creation of “a romantic vision of oneself in marriage that is intrinsically tied into expressing one’s masculinity or femininity in relation to a person of the opposite sex” is that the institution is merely a construct based on some bastardised text somewhere.

    I wasn’t being a ‘romantic’ when I got married. It was simply an expression of commitment. We could have danced naked on the beach and stood in a fire as a symbol of a cleansing catharsis and to emerge reawakened as two souls entwined under a full moon.

    With or without the opposite sex.

    I certainly didn’t entertain the idea that my marriage was helping conserve the integrity of western civilisation. It’s just bollocks.

    The old mystics in all parts of the world certainly believed in the union of “male” and “female” as an alchemic bond that made the sum greater than the parts, but that’s on a different plain altogether. I doubt there would be many people walking down the aisle of their local town church eagerly anticipating their role in the creation of a resonant vibration that enhances the balance of energies which takes human consciousness closer to the ultimate god-head.

    There is no deep revelation in the institution of marriage in western civilisation. It’s a legal convenience and equivalent of the couple spitting in their palms and shaking on it. For most people it’s the only time they set foot in a church.

    There is no reason whatsoever that gays should not be able to have the same ceremonies and be named married by some man/woman who has read some paragraphs out loud from a section of a book.

  77. Squander Two: I agree with you in principle, but given that in 20 plus years of arguing about it nobody has come up with an even slightly convincing example of a meaningful downside, I think we can say “close enough”.

  78. Squander Two – “…we might be accidentally cutting away something that turns out to be a crucial underpinning.” That sounds very much like “the precautionary principle” applied to social arrangements. In general, I find the PP to be nonsense on stilts, as I do here.

    SMFS – “Two men and a poodle do not a marriage make.” and no one is arguing that they do, are they?
    ” They want an extra right… to force everyone else to celebrate their pantomime with someone of the same sex.” I’m not sure what you see “everyone else” being forced to do. I “celebrate” (ie, attend or take part in the ceremony) the marriage of friends, or these days, friends’ children. I generally ignore the marriages of people whom I don’t know – you might try the same approach.

  79. @S2

    And are you making an argument from authority?

    Look, it’s all very simple. First there were civil partnerships. Civil partnerships granted same-sex couples all the state-based rights and privileges that it granted to heterosexual couples.

    Do we disagree on this point?

    Probably not. So – what is same-sex “marriage” other than a re-branding of civil partnerships? How is it substantially different?

    In addition, how – in concrete terms – does the state granting the same legal rights and privileges that accrue to heterosexual couples to same-sex couples undermine society?

  80. Marriage rates were in decline in the UK well before the ‘gay marriage lobby’ made any headway (Denmark was first modern state to recognise same sex unions, in 1989 – Wikipedia). Of those born in 1930, 90% of men and 94% of women had married by age 40. In contrast, of those born in 1970, 63% of men and 71% of women had married by the same age. The greatest decline in the proportions who have ever married were for men and women in their late teens and twenties. Of those born in 1930, 51% of men and 74% of women were married by the age of 25, compared with only 5% of men and 11% of women born in 1987 (the most recent birth cohort to reach age 25 in marriage data). (ONS). And SMFS tells us there is an insignificant number of gays who want to marry.

    So istm, if the sky is falling in because of declining marriage rates, the gays aren’t to blame – we ought to be panicking about something else.

  81. Arnald – “is that the institution is merely a construct based on some bastardised text somewhere.”

    I don’t think that is true but if it is, so what? What we have works. Other people either do not have it or it does not work in the same way. Their outcomes are vastly worse than ours. Whatever the origin, the gate is there and it is probably necessary, so we should not meddle with it.

    “We could have danced naked on the beach and stood in a fire as a symbol of a cleansing catharsis and to emerge reawakened as two souls entwined under a full moon.”

    You could have. But for whatever reason, marriage actually does matter. Couples and children have better outcomes when the parents have a genuine marriage. You may have felt no different, but the statistical outcome, averaged over many children, is significantly different.

    “There is no deep revelation in the institution of marriage in western civilisation. It’s a legal convenience and equivalent of the couple spitting in their palms and shaking on it.”

    It isn’t. Actually. The Hajnal line is one of the major markers of Western civilisation. Everyone on the right side of it has had little trouble with industrialisation. Everyone on the wrong side of it is still working at it.

    Matthew L – “but given that in 20 plus years of arguing about it nobody has come up with an even slightly convincing example of a meaningful downside, I think we can say “close enough”.”

    Well that is not true. Lots of people have. Your lot have not managed to get them all fired. But they have responded in abusive and unscientific ways. Which suggests they know these claims are true.

    dcardno – “and no one is arguing that they do, are they?”

    Well yes they are.

    “I “celebrate” (ie, attend or take part in the ceremony) the marriage of friends, or these days, friends’ children. I generally ignore the marriages of people whom I don’t know – you might try the same approach.”

    Sure but that is the point. The activists do not intend to let anyone simply ignore other people’s marriages. They will travel to remote corners of the country in order to destroy other people’s businesses. They will search through the records of other people’s political donations in order to destroy careers. They will hound out anyone who merely holds a different opinion on this subject. It is impossible not to quietly hold your own opinion. Either you will accept their deviancy or you will be destroyed.

    That is the point. This is not really about gay marriage. Which is, as I have said, of no interest to gay people. It is about destroying lives to further a political agenda.

  82. @SMFS

    This is not really about gay marriage. Which is, as I have said, of no interest to gay people. It is about destroying lives to further a political agenda.

    How wonderful, nay, glorious, it must be to be you.

    In previous centuries it was considered the prerogative of God to whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid.

    Yet here you are declaring the motives of those who campaign for gay “marriage”. Are you claiming divinity now? Do you have some special insight not available to the rest of us?

  83. I’ve carefully considered various arguments, religious and conservative, against allowing same-sex marriage. What they have in common is that they all make a much better case for disallowing divorce.

    One suspects that their proponents have studied philosophy at the University of Woolloomoolloo.

  84. Philip Scott, if you lie down with dogs you must expect to get fleas. S2’s description is accurate even if you personally don’t want to exact retribution, your “side” does.

  85. What Ed Snack said. Let’s not forget Brendan Eich: hounded from his job for having expressed the “wrong” opinion on this subject.

    I know it’s not original to note the intolerance and propensity for ad-hom attacks of the SJWs (as our very own SJW illustrates just a few comments above this one). But still…

    I use a piece of software called Notepad++ a lot in my work: a marvellous thing, and free, in the sense of free beer. A few months ago some SJWs tried to start a boycott of it, because the developer had included in the code some jokes of which they didn’t approve. Not using the software themselves was not enough, apparently: everyone had to join together to rob the developer of his (no doubt beloved) project.

    The pointless malignity of this approach to life leaves me speechless, to be honest.

  86. This has some relevance to Squander Two’s blog post:

    Letter from Birmingham Jail (ext)

    By Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., 16 April 1963

    “First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”

    Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

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