I can’t get worked up over this one. We gays now have civil partnerships, so I can see no reason why we’d want to ape heterosexual marriage. Civil partnerships give gay couples all the rights they would have if they were married.
You can’t get away from the fact that marriage was originally a religious formality for a monogamous relationship between a man and a woman, mainly for the propagation of children but also to contain sex within this exclusive relationship.
Now some gays are pressing for gay marriage, arguing that civil partnerships are a second rate option and don’t offer equality. They also say civil partnerships should be available to heterosexual couples. I’m quite happy with that last idea, and have no objection to gay marriage as such, but can see certain religious organizations would have strong objections.
If a gay couple wish to commit themselves to a monogamous relationship, then soon they will be able to have a civil marriage in a registry office in the UK, or in a religious place of worship which allows gay marriages.
They can also now adopt children, so aping heterosexual marriage even further. What they cannot provide, within the relationship, are role models from both genders. This will obviously disadvantage the child, as with single parent families, unless a role model of the opposite gender to the same-sex adopted parents can be found and given regular access outside the couples’ relationship. It could, of course, be the biological father or mother if this person is not one of the gay couple.
Few of the gay couples I know are in or have been in a monogamous relationship, but they have been in loving, emotional relationships (often with no or very little sex between the partners) for decades. They have looked after each other in sickness and in health, till death parted them in most cases. This also applies to my own 21 year relationship. We shared an active social life, had a strong emotional attachment and love for each other, traveled the world together, shared a bed and cuddled a lot, but virtually no sex between us. This was quite common among our friends, though not all shared a bed, some had separate bedrooms. So do some heterosexual married couples.
I therefore would have opted for civil partnership rather than gay marriage had these options been available to us. We had no desire to adopt children, our pet cats were our ‘children’. We were not able to be monogamous since there was virtually no sex between us, we being sexually incompatible. However we did promise, and kept it, not to ever get emotionally involved with a sexual partner outside our relationship.
So I see civil partnerships as different from marriage. The former is to put the relationship on a legal footing so rights of inheritance, to visit the partner if hospitalized in intensive care, the right to the shared home if one partner dies, to register the death and organize or help organize the funeral are all protected.
Marriage, on the other hand, is a solemn promise to an exclusive, monogamous relationship for life usually with the intention of raising children in a nuclear family. None of my gay friends or couples would have wanted this or would have related to it, but some would have related to the civil partnership option. My partner and I certainly would have wanted one.
So I’ve no strong objection to gay marriage and wouldn’t oppose it, but neither will I campaign for it.