George Takei interviewed on 18th June 2008:
As a matter of fact, we were expecting the ruling from the California Supreme Court. We didn’t know which way it was going to go, although the indication was that it was going to be favorable, so we had CNN going all the time. I just happened to be eating a sandwich and the ruling came down. Suddenly Brad fell down to his knees and I said, “What are you doing?” And he said, “George, will you marry me?” And I said, “Darn it! You beat me to it. I was going to ask you.” So that’s how it happened, the moment the word came down.
Here’s the the real problem for Churches who have declared they don’t believe in same-sex couples getting married: most people just plain don’t agree with them. The most recent poll (published today) says that 68% of Scots think churches and religious organisations ought to have the right to celebrate gay marriages if they want to.
For just lifting the ban on same-sex marriage – civil or religious – 64% say they support the change: the breakdown by gender shows women much more supportive than men and most worryingly of all for any church that’s thinking about its future:
Whilst there was a majority support amongst all age groups, people under 55 support same-sex marriage by a margin of over four-to-one (76 per cent agree as opposed to 17 per cent who disagree).
There are eleven countries in the world where same-sex couples can marry, if we include the US. The Scottish government plans to publish their report on same-sex marriage sometime this month, based on last year’s consultation. A majority of Scottish MSPS have said they support lifting the ban.
When the Westminster government lifts the ban on same-sex couples getting married, this could disestablish the Church of England. Since November 1534, by Act of Parliament the reigning monarch of England is the supreme head of the Church of England. This effectively made Henry VIII the local Pope of an English Catholic Church and let him declare that his marriage to Katherine of Aragorn was annulled.
Two years earlier in 1532 Henry VIII had appointed Thomas Cranmer Archbishop of Canterbury to help him get the previous marriage out of the way so that he could marry Anne Boleyn. For over five hundred and fifty years, with a short break during the reign of Mary I, the Church of England and the government of England have been leaning up against each other like drunks in the pub.
Almost at the last minute, the Church of England responded formally as an entity to the Westminister Government’s consultation on lifting the ban on same-sex marriage, and declared that they were against it.
While the Archbishop of York had fulminated against the the idea that same-sex couples have human rights, the response to the consultation took the line that because English mixed-sex couples apparently have the right to get married by a Church of England clergyman regardless of their own religious beliefs or lack of them, this could mean that same-sex couples could claim the same right even though the official view of the Established Episcopalian Church in England is that God does not wish same-sex couples to marry.
“The canons of the Church of England are part of the law of England and have been continuously since the reformation of Henry VIII,” said one senior figure. “Is it possible to have the law of the Church of England saying something different to the law of England? The question is how long we can sustain that. It raises the sort of problems that no one has had to address before.”
Rowan Williams will retire as Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of the year. His probable successor, John Semtamu, is much more virulently against the idea that same-sex couples can get married than Williams is. It seems the Church of England thinks it entirely possible that when the ban on same-sex couples marrying is lifted, they are as a Church going to have to stand up from that comfy seat in the pub and go buy their own drinks from now on.
Because while the Church of England and the Catholic Church and quite a few other religious entities say that marriage is about interfertility – that the only reason you can possibly allow a couple to get married is because they can and will have children together who are genetically both of theirs and that they plan to raise together – everyone else understands that marriage is not about biology.
So here I am, living with gay men who have been together for a long time. Despite gay marriage not being legal in the State of Georgia, my roommates are as legally bound to each other as is possible, having seen an attorney who specializes in aiding the GLBTQI community. They are as married as it is possible for them to be. Since there is a lot of concern over how gay marriage will affect straight people, and I am living in close proximity to gay marriage, I feel it’s important to relate my experience.
I want what I’ve witnessed day in and day out over these past few months. I want the kind of love that endures past tempers flaring, absence, poverty and sickness. To know that fighting with someone over something you are both passionate about isn’t going to kill a relationship too frail to survive it. To be with someone who values my happiness as much as I value theirs. To be with someone whose company I truly enjoy, and with whom I’m content to sit at home with, listening to music. To know that if I am ill or scared or in trouble that there is someone who will do their best to drop everything and rush to my side when I need them.
I want the kind of relationship I’ve witnessed between these men. It is their love and commitment that has restored my faith in marriage. Seeing how happy, content and committed they are every day has changed my mind and opened my heart to the thought of being vulnerable enough to let such a love back into my life.
Not if you’re the Church of England:
“Such a move would alter the intrinsic nature of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, as enshrined in human institutions throughout history.”
Why would the Church of England care if they became disestablished? It would presumably remove the Lords Clerical from the House of Lords, but what else would change? The Episcopalian Church is not an established church in Scotland, and the Church of Scotland runs itself by General Assembly and declares Jesus Christ, not a pesky mortal monarch, to be the Head of the Church. Much simpler: Jesus Christ is not going to get married to Camilla or have a wife die in a car crash in Paris.
Peter Cook doing Bishop: Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam…
PCdB: And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva…
PCdB: So tweasure your wuv.
Prince Humperdinck: Skip to the end.
PCdB: Have you the wing?
PCdB: …and do you,Pwincess Buwwercup…
Prince Humperdinck: Man and wife. Say man and wife.
PCdB: Man an’ wife. The Princess Bride, 1987 and The Wedding scene on Youtube
Nearly a year ago, the ban on same-sex couples marrying was lifted in New York state. The Huffington Post has a slideshow of photographs of a small fraction of the 827 couples who got married on the day the ban was lifted. Many of the couples are middle-aged, some elderly: couples who have been together for years and decades, only now being able to get married.
You’d have to be rootedly homophobic not to share their joy.
As predicted here, the ASA have found that campaigning against the freedom of same-sex couples to marry is not a homophobic ad campaign. Nonetheless, no one has ever come up with a reason why no same-sex couple should be allowed to marry (no matter how many children they have) that isn’t fundamentally homophobic.
While Cardinal Keith O’Brien grotesquely compares same-sex couples marrying to slavery, and former Archishop of Canterbury George Carey is bearing false witness against his neighbours, and future Archbishop of Canterbury John Sentamu says the government ought to get the Church’s permission before changing civil law and Christian Conservative MPs like Peter Bone say:
“Wouldn’t it just be very simple to write back and say: ‘Marriage is between a man and a woman so this is completely nuts’?”
the Archbishop of Canterburyhas been saying things like
“Identity politics, whether it is the politics of feminism, whether it is the politics of ethnic minorities or the politics of sexual minorities, has been a very important part of the last 10 or 20 years because before that I think there was a sense that diversity was not really welcome. And so minorities of various kinds and … women began to say ‘actually we need to say who we are in our terms not yours’ and that led to identity politics of a very strong kind and legislation that followed it.
“We are now, I think, beginning to see the pendulum swinging back and saying identity politics is all very well but we have to have some way of putting it all back together again and discovering what is good for all of us and share something of who we are with each other so as to discover more about who we are.”
What Rowan Williams means by that, it turns out, is “Don’t think that if you’re lesbian or gay, you can ever really be equal to a straight person.”
On 14th September 2008, George Takei and Brad Altman were married. Nichelle Nicholls was matron of honour, and Walter Koenig was Takei’s best man.
On 4th November 2008, by a small majority, Proposition 8 repealed same-sex marriage in California, making it the only state in the US – or the world – where same-sex couples had the freedom to marry repealed.
Another frightfully ugly aspect of this whole affair has been the willingness and eagerness of Prop 8 supporters to lie in support of their cause. Atrios calls these folks “Liars for Christ,” and the term is apt. This is a common and dismaying consequence of what James A. Morone calls “The Corrosive Politics of Virtue.” One starts by demonizing one’s opponents then, having established that they’re demons, one can justify accusing them of all manner of absurd evils. What’s a little white lie — or two, or 20 — when you’re battling demons? Truth is a luxury you can’t afford when protecting innocent babies from bloodthirsty babykillers. When you’re defending your marriage against the barbarian others out to destroy the very notion of the family then you can’t be expected to fight with one arm tied behind your back by the shackles of honesty, facts or reality.
Supporters of Proposition 8 were forced to resort to Lying for Jesus — pastors will be jailed! your church will be forced to conduct gay weddings! your organist may become even more flamboyant! — because they weren’t able to articulate any honest basis for opposing this right as an equal right. The ‘vixen and I got our marriage license on the same day that George Takei and Brad Altman got theirs. The wedding of George and Brad neither picked my pocket nor broke my leg, so what possible cause would I have had to object to it? What reason would I have to deny George and Brad the same happiness that my wife and I were permitted to enjoy? Such exclusion makes no sense unless we appeal to some imagined grave consequences such as those dreamed up by the Liars for Christ.
And here again we see that basing policy on imaginary fears and imaginary grave consequences leads to different, but very real, grave consequences. When we choose to make laws based on imaginary fears, we see our own rights reduced to mere privileges. This is what always happens when we place fear on the throne.
George Takei and Brad Altman are still married. Although the intent of Proposition 8 was to divorce them by fiat, along with all of the other same-sex couples who got married in California between 17th May and 2nd November 2008, it was rapidly agreed by the Californian courts that they couldn’t possibly allow this, bless their lawyerly hearts: divorce is supposed to happen by conscious choice, not by external majority vote.
There are 29 states in the US where same-sex marriage is banned. Not counting California, there are seven states where same-sex marriage is legal. Although the US Constitution requires each state to recognise all marriages legal in the state where they were performed, the Supreme Court has yet to hear a case about same-sex marriage, with the consequent muddle that a couple can be legally married in one state and only recognised as a cohabiting couple in another.
Scotland, England and Wales are on different schedules for lifting the ban on same-sex marriage, and the conservative Christian MPs and the Lords Clerical form a political coterie with influence in the Houses of Parliament. In whatever order the countries of the UK get it done, let’s don’t have the same muddle they have in the US.