The UK is slowly making its way towards allowing consensual marriage between adults, no matter who those adults happen to be. This is a good thing. Without qualifiers. It is just good. The current state of things can be simply summed up as “unjust” — or, to put it into British Political Terms, “not fair”.
But as the slow march towards equality continues, people continue to out themselves as bigots. That’s OK. Bigots are a part of life, and so long as bigots are increasingly marginalized, and bigotry continues to be less acceptable, they can serve as a barometer of our progress.
But sometimes the bigots are not inconsequential voices. Sometimes they are members of parliament; people who author, debate, and/or vote on laws. Bigoted MPs are not good. And some of them are saying things that truly piss me right the fuck off.
For instance, there was this article on the BBC, in which Defence Secretary Phil Hammond says:
There is a real sense of anger among many people who are married that any government thinks it has the ability to change the definition of an institution like marriage.
This anti-gay-marriage argument is one of the most common, and it is absolutely infuriating.
First, Hammond cannot even manage to make it for himself. He feels the need to disassociate with it, and claim it on the behalf of “many people”. So the whole thing begins with a bit of doublespeak, so that he can distance himself from the opinion when people call him out as a homophobe. Good politics, perhaps, but cowardly.
Secondly, it implies that the value that (some) people see in their marriage does not have to do with their partner, love, family, or commitment. It has to do with privilege. It states “I value my marriage because my ability to be in it makes me feel superior to other people.” Instead of a simple, straightforward dislike of people who are different, it is a belief that societal institutions that disenfranchise a segment of the population are good, right, and moral.
That, to me, is far more horrific.
Finally, I’m married. And I have never felt entirely comfortable being part of an institution which continues to enshrine inequality. I’m part of a “many people who are married” as well. Only, unlike Hammond’s “many”, mine believe that our marriages will gain meaning by being inclusive. My membership in the married club will be made all the better once the club is no longer exclusionary.
Today, the BBC published another story, of course. We can probably expect to see these every day between now and the first gay marriage in Britain. And each of them will feature Conservative politicians expressing their homophobia couched in terms that are meant to hide it.
And bravo to the Conservative politicians pushing this through despite this opposition. It can’t be easy for them.