Equal marriage and the LGBT Humanists
By Adam Knowles, Chair of Galha LGBT Humanists
Myself and several Galha LGBT Humanists members were alongside Peter Tatchell upstairs in a packed Committee Room 9 at the Houses of Commons on Tuesday (5th) evening, as MPs below voted on equal marriage. The result was an overwhelming ‘yes’, 400 to 175 in favour. This is brilliant news, though the number voting against is significant. It’s of great concern to me that here in 2013 there remain one hundred and seventy five elected members of our Parliament that disagree with basic equality for LGBT people. That includes a majority of those that voted from the Conservative party. I don’t accept that Cameron is using this issue as an attempt to eliminate ‘nasty’ from his party’s image. If he is, on the above evidence, he’s failed. No, I prefer to accept he truly believes in the basic justice and fairness of this change. So Cameron has our full support in his determination to push this through.
The debate brought out some fierce, bigoted comments ranging from the misinformed to the crazed. A particular highlight was the claim that this is an unstoppable slippery slope toward incestuous marriage and bestiality. Sir Roger Gale, the MP for North Thanet claimed, “It is not possible to redefine marriage”. Try telling that to the Church of England, brought into existence to do exactly that. “Marriage is the union between a man and a woman – has been historically, remains so”, he said. Historically marriage has often been between a man and several women (source: the bible), and all sorts of other combinations. In South Africa, it was illegal for whites to marry blacks – then it changed. So essentially all you can say is ‘marriage has always been X, until it changed’. Marriage is a social construct, and as such, we have every right to redefine it whenever we like. We should do that based on our conscience, our concept of fairness, our reason – not ancient texts from bygone civilizations. The time for LGBT inclusion is now.
There are some important amendments brought up during the debate, particularly the inclusion of Humanist celebrants being empowered to conduct ceremonies like their religious counterparts. The proposed change has yet to clear the Houses of Lords, with its unelected squad of Church of England Bishops. So some way to go, but we’re confident that with your continued support we can get there.
I know that people have a variety of views on the institution of marriage, many wanting nothing to do with it, seeing it as a disappointing desire to conform. But Galha LGBT Humanists will continue to fight for this law to pass because, for those that are LGBT and want to get married, they have every right to be treated the same as heterosexuals in the eyes of the law.