The enduring debate on same-sex marriage equality is just another reason why Pride events remain relevant, and yet more proof that we aren’t as liberated as we think we are. Yes, we’re able to stroll through the streets of central Manchester hand-in-hand (mostly) without concern, express our sexuality through how we dress, and even demonstrate affection for our loved ones in public spaces without fear of recrimination, but can we celebrate our love for that person in front of a jubilant throng of family and friends in church?
No, we can’t. We are restricted to a civil partnership, witnessed by a registrar and two other people, which seems a soul-sappingly joyless concept. Even the term “civil partnership” feels lacking - a contractually-obliged event overseen by an administrator. Despite this, civil partnerships have been a resounding success since launching in the United Kingdom in 2005, with over 100,000 gay, bisexual, and lesbian citizens entering into one.
The Church thinks that, in some bizarre way, we represent a threat to the establishment of marriage, and I’m sure that the other 90% of the population are thrilled about that lack of confidence in their heterosexuality. That old chestnut about the difference between a straight person and a gay one being a substantial amount of alcohol wasn’t based on factual research, but maybe the General Synod fails to realise that?
It’s straight people who are frequently sabotaging the convention of marriage. Celebrities like Bob Geldof’s daughter Peaches (okay, so I’m being liberal with the word ‘celebrity’) who married a musician in 2008 for all of six months, or Kim Kardashian, whose ill-fated nuptials seemed to exist solely to generate media revenue. Cynical, moi? Divorce rates during the recession also continue to rise.
The Church and State have always kept a discreet distance from each other’s affairs, yet David Cameron announced earlier this year that he is committed to bringing in equal marriage reform within the next ten years, which is perhaps the only decent thing his Government will have achieved whilst in office. This will mean that we will be able to have our unions blessed in a religious venue; however it will not mean that those venues are compelled to support gay marriage.
The Church of England is missing a trick. With less and less of the faithful actually attending on a regular basis, maybe this would be the best sort of PR for a religion whose original ethos and ideology got lost a long time ago in a smog of hatred, homophobia, misogyny, and misplaced “family values”?
As that warm post-Olympics glow begins to wane, I can’t help but look back on Great Britain’s triumphant fortnight of sport, the new-found hospitality of Londoners, most of whom were profoundly against the event when it was first announced, the gushing praise from all corners of the media, and think that what the world needs now is a lot more love, not less.