In 1940, 470,549 couples got married. By 2009 that figure had almost halved to 266,950. This is something David Cameron is keen to rectify, hoping for a resurgence of family values. While opposition groups propose arguments to the contrary, legalisation and acceptance of same-sex marriage is potentially vital in achieving this. Rather than harm the institution, its renewed promotion as a foundation central to family life could create a more positive perception among young people. Gender is immaterial – homosexuality didn’t cause the decreased popularity of marriage; it has been caused by bad relationships and divorce.
It is a prominent argument that gay marriage allows children of same-sex parents to be “harmed”, according to the beacon of logic and tolerance, Rick Santorum, that is. This seems to overlook that even without legalised gay marriage same-sex couples are able to adopt children. Given that the presumed harm is alleged to be caused by lack of a particular gender influence on these children, this harm should also be true of children in single parent families. Imagine the outrage if an entire nation of single mothers, and fathers, if they were told they were inadequate for only representing one gender? Most people would agree that as long as parents love their children, their gender is unlikely to have a particularly damaging impact.
All the opposition arguments, however, appear to be based upon the premise that it’s everyone’s business how we conduct our family lives. It’s not. It’s no more the business of the Coalition for Marriage, than it is mine, whether two consenting adults should choose marry one another. It’s the couple’s decision and theirs alone.
Same-sex marriage would have the same effect on each of our everyday lives as vegetarianism. Those of us who aren’t vegetarians, feel very little impact at all. Gay marriage wouldn’t either, and this country’s law should reflect that. Marriage is a legal contract that binds two people, and no one outside of those two people. It might go against present UK tradition, but as time goes on traditions change, and then laws change to reflect this. Interracial marriage in the United States was illegal until 1976, but now it’s completely accepted. Gay marriage is the same kettle of fish. For those arguing that reproductive ability makes interracial and intersex marriage different, I would say they’re wrong. Having children is not the be all and end all of marriage; if it was infertile couples shouldn’t be entitled to marry either.
However, a point that is a separate issue is the wild insinuation that same-sex marriage is a stepping stone towards legalising polygamy and incest. If you’ve even considered that as a possibility, you’ve overlooked one rather vital point: polygamy and incest aren’t legal, homosexuality is. If the slippery-slope argument had ever been applicable to homosexuality, it would have been in 1967, when it was legalised. Low and behold, it’s no more legal to conduct a relationship with your sibling than it was 45 years ago.
Personally, I think legalisation of gay marriage will be the most positive change David Cameron will possibly make before 2015. Those voicing opposition are merely making an imposition into people’s personal lives. UKIP have expressed concern that the ECHR will force religious institutions, who do not wish to, to perform same-sex marriages, which seems like a protection of religious freedom. In reality, this view seems to be an avoidance tactic for a controversial issue, as not to anger the large socially conservative voter base, or the prevalent Libertarian wing of the party. Cameron has emphasised that no religious institution will be forced to perform gay marriages, and the ECHR generally shy away from making rulings which impinge upon religious freedoms. Just earlier this year, they declared that “the European Convention on Human Rights does not require member states’ governments to grant same-sex couples access to marriage”, after a ruling which involved a same-sex couple from France. The ECHR’s track-record makes their reluctance to interfere with this issue abundantly clear.
Ultimately, pinnacle of my argument is that; marriage between two consenting adults is of no concern to anyone but themselves; and churches should have the right to deny these ceremonies if they so choose. After all, would you want to get married somewhere that didn’t want you? I doubt it.