Marriage froth

I have to confess i don’t get it. I really don’t.

Both the froth by those who would like the title of “married” in place of “civil partnership” – and the froth from those on t’other side who would rather same sex couples didn’t end up acquiring this title.

Maybe its cause i am mostly a practical girl when it comes to legal stuff.

In terms of what you get with “marriage”, the HO consultation document finally answers the big question i’d been asking for a long time: which is…what difference does it REALLY make? Answer: not a lot. A few changes to the grounds for divorce: at present,screwing around is not a ground for breaking a civil partnership.

Some minor technical stuff around pensions and details listed and whether or not you can get hymns sung at the ceremony. But that is about that. Oh…and the m-word…which maybe counts for something, maybe doesn’t.

Yes: i get that those things matter to some folk…but the underlying thrust seems to be one of sentiment rather than anything else.

The change that won’t happen

Because the underlying sacrament of marriage…the religious version of same will remain barred to same sex couples unless and until the various churches shift their position on the matter. Which is as it should be.

No: not that churches should not contemplate same sex marriage. But that in respect of the spiritual soul dimension of same, that must be an internal matter for each faith to decide upon. As now.

In the sense that if you accept the right of various groups of people to assert the existence of some divinity and to follow rules communicated exclusively to them and interpreted through their official interpreters, its nonsense for the state to insert itself into that conversation.

Thus, for those who REALLY care about the core of marriage – those who are in same sex relationships and who would like that relationship sanctified by their personal religion – nothing changes.

Faith – wot faith?

Any more than it does for the vast majority of peeps who are in marriages that are, already, not recognised by faith groups. The only difference, i guess, being that most churches are happy to condone the hypocrisy of opposite-sex couples spending a month or two pretending that they have “found the faith” and marrying them in church – only to watch them return to their agnostic ways a week later.

That difference between church and state already throws up some anomalies. I was married once, in a ceremony that combined civil and religious aspects. I am now well divorced as far as the state is concerned: not divorced in the eyes of the church, leading to all manner of shennanigans with the local priesthood for whom my non-married relationship of the last few years was spiritually – if not legally – adulterous.

Absent an annulment – a seriously conflictual process – i may never marry again in church. I may not like that: but that is the essence of (my) church dogma on the matter.

Church opposes mote, ignores beam

Which brings me round to what on earth the church itself is frothing about. Because basically, the state already endorses a position in which couples are encouraged to live together in what is clearly, taking the strict church view, a sinful union.

And to be honest, it is THIS hypocrisy that i find most irritating. It is very clear, from most church services, just what church marriage is viewed as being: “a gift of God in creation” and “a holy mystery in which man and woman become one flesh”. Without the religious input, as far as churches are concerned, marriage does not happen.

Which i guess brings me down to a logical conclusion on all this froth. I don’t think same sex couples really gain much by being permitted access to state marriage…but since the change makes next to no difference to those involved, neither individuals nor state, i see no reason why the Coalition should not say “We do”.

Unsavoury cant

On t’other hand, there is something very unsavoury about the church view. State marriage is already NOT recognised by the various churches: state marriage is already a sanctioning of a sinful relationship; and therefore, for consistency, churches (plural) should be as opposed to civil marriage as they are to same-sex civil marriage.

The fact that they aren’t…the fact that somehow or other the same-sex variant is regarded as putting the kibosh on morality, period, and ushering in the end of days makes a mockery of their claim to be equal opps in their sharp-intake-of-breathery.

State marriage is not sanctioned by canon law. Period. Getting so het up about same sex state marriage while not doing ditto about opposite civil marriage stinks of hypocrisy and, having meandered my way through the arguments here, i have to end with the conclusionthat none of this does the churches’ reputation any good whatsoever.

“Aut omnia aut nihil” – all or none – seems pretty apposite here: and maybe time for a little bit of consistent thinking back at the various Bishop’s Palaces up and down the UK.

jane xx


4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    debz maher said,

    to be perfectly honest i have no major desire to be ‘married’ again but as a civil partnership is not available to me and my partner being of opposite genders ( hehehe) i will have to knuckle down and give in if i want those ‘rights’. i have dutifully filled in the govt opinony thing but any changes will be way to late even if they do what i would like! i cannot speak for the faith side of things but in all honesty a registry office ‘marriage’ should be available to everyone as should a civil partnership. both are after all simply a legal document detailing what happens if someone either buggers off or dies!! so what difference does gender make in either case!!

    • 2

      Sean Dunlevy said,

      It’s true – we married so that whatever happens to me, Debz is clearly the beneficiary. It also gives her the right to confirm DNR and other serious medical situations where I cannot answer to myself.
      I loathe all of that ‘love, honour and obey’ rubbish – it’s an equal partnership… well, more or less, rarely she will insist on something and I will follow her because it is obviously something she feels strongly about… and her judgement is far, far better than mine.

  2. 3

    Apart from preferring the French and Netherlands systems where the churches are not authorized to carry out official (legally valid) marriages at all – being restricted to what are effectively blessings of real marriages carried out elsewhere – I have found this whole kerfuffle a wonderful opportunity to give the CofE, Catholics and to an extent Islam a jolly good kicking. What fun!

  3. 4

    Caroline. said,

    The bit where it does matter is that stupidly you are in a happy relationship the government, well actually the fool blair’s government, made sure it was difficult and expensive to get a GRS if you remained married with all it’s legal positives with pensions and inheritance…

    I am in a same sex marriage, just the sort of thing the sky fairy believers do not want to happen!

    Everyone should have equal access to legal provisions which come with marriage, with or without the intervention of religious fanatics. Everyone should be able to have a civil legal cover for their relationship if they want it.

    Anyone who still believes in a common law marriage in the eyes of the law is living in cloud cuckoo land and may find themselves in strange legal trouble should one of a couple die, I have seen the misery and it would make a good horror story…

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