Marriage is when two people make a legally binding vow to love, honour, and cherish each other lifelong: making each other into their closest next of kin.
Know that the haters are just trying to silence us because of bigotry. Huge waste of their time and a sad state to be in. We are actually doing things to help others. That’s a good use of time and a happy place to be. So ignore them when you can, mock them when you want a laugh and report them to the police or FBI whenever you see a credible threat and most importantly, keep doing good things. (Ask Surly Amy – How To Deal With Hate)
On Sunday afternoon over a post-gym coffee and a pastry in the new I ♥ Cafe in Leith Walk, I read a kind but muddled (and in places factually incorrect) article about marriage.
The Gay Agenda
2. Buy yellow mangos – they’re in season! – from Najak
3. Coffee and pastry
4. Undermine the unique importance of marriage in the world
Kevin McKenna writes:
My beloved church is not enjoying its finest hour as it steps up its opposition to the SNP government’s plans to permit same-sex marriages. The church, led by Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien, as wise and gentle as senior clergy come, believes that the unique importance of marriage in the world will be damaged and undermined if the gift is extended to two people of the same sex.
The church has no option other than to express this belief. The sacrament of marriage is at the core of every Christian belief and reflects the sacred relationship between Jesus, their saviour, and His church. It is a relationship that is the font of all life and, as such, is validated and renewed when the parents’ physical love may lead to the gift of children. To express opposition to same-sex marriage plans by upholding this sacred belief is not homophobic.
The “wise and gentle” Cardinal O’Brien is lavishing thousands on a campaign against equal civil rights for all; the “wise and gentle” Cardinal for whom marriage is slavery, love is grotesque, and honouring commitment is madness.
Kevin McKenna argues that to hold the belief that God is homophobic is not itself homophobic.
The argument that the Catholic Church has no choice but to hold the belief that for two people who are not interfertile together to make a vow to love, honour, and cherish each other lifelong, will “damage and undermine” the marriage of interfertile couples and Christianity itself because
(a) only interfertile couples can reflect “the sacred relationship” between Jesus Christ and the Christian Church and
(b) only when a married couple are interfertile can they have a relationship which is “validated and renewed” and
(c) apparently (a) + (b) are “the core” of every Christian belief.
It doesn’t make sense and (especially c) it doesn’t fit anywhere with what Jesus actually said was the core of his message in the gospels. But, I’m not Catholic, and it doesn’t have to make sense: it’s religion.
And it is homophobic. Though a common religious justification for opposing same-sex marriage is either that
(a) God hates gay people so I have no choice but to oppose equality and respect for the people God hates or
(b) God hates sterile marriages so I have no choice but to oppose marriage for couples who obviously can’t have children – even though mixed-sex sterile marriages are OK and yet marriage for same-sex couples with children isn’t;
and in either case, adherents often argue that this isn’t homophobic, it’s “just religion”. But people invent the religion they want to believe in: if you believe that God is homophobic, you probably are too.
Kevin McKenna apostrophises those who oppose Cardinal O’Brien’s ugly homophobic rants as “hysterical and shrill” and claims that this means being an “orthodox Christian” (which he defines, see above, as a necessarily a homophobic Christian) is “anathema to the secular humanists who hold sway”. He is right that not one of the main political parties in Scotland now wants to be seen as a homophobic political party. He is wrong to argue that there is a binary choice between homophobic Christianity and secular humanism: the Reverend Jane Clarke, Christian minister of the MCC, writes to the homophobic Christians:
I ask them to respect my right to practise my belief. I don’t wish to raise £100,000 to defend marriage, but perhaps I can raise 100,000 prayers to extend it.
After the delay to announce if the Scottish Government would support equal marriage last Tuesday, Stewart McDonald writes:
Keep calm and carry on: Equal marriage will happen in Scotland – of that I am confident. Like many people across Scotland and on the twitter-sphere I was disappointed that The Scottish government wasn’t able to make an announcement on Tuesday (17 July) that it would be pressing ahead with a same-sex marriage bill. However it’s important that we look at the bigger picture here and remember who the real enemy is.
Since the announcement of setting up a sub-committee to look at issues surrounding freedom of speech and religious conscience I have been utterly depressed at the amount of partisan bickering between, particularly but not exclusively, Labour and Scottish National Party (SNP) tweeters.
Same-sex couples currently have the option of entering into a civil partnership. But this is still distinct from marriage, and a heterosexual couple can choose a civil or religious ceremony. I can officiate at the wedding of a mixed-sex couple, but not a same-sex couple. The law requires that I discriminate against the gay and lesbian members of my faith community. I can baptise them and I can bury them, but I can’t be the celebrant at their weddings. This does not sit comfortably with my religious beliefs that all people are created in the image of God and included in God’s love. A Christian marriage is both a covenant and a contract. It is a holy pledge, made in the presence of God and witnessed by the church community. In witnessing it, the church commits to pray for and support the couple. The church plays a role in enabling the couple to celebrate their union before God. A marriage celebrated by a faith community rises above the legal requirements and contracts. The church should be free to do this for same-sex couples.
The Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, Rev Dr Iain Campbell, has urged the Scottish government to “leave marriage alone” but demanded
“There has been much discussion on both sides of the argument in recent weeks, but the responses to the consultation are a primary matter of public interest. Why have they not been released? The Scottish Government went to the people of Scotland, now it’s time we heard the result. Marriage is not some sort of political football to be kicked around for the sake of political correctness.”
Cardinal Keith “wise and gentle” O’Brien, who wanted the Scottish Government to institute the principle that the majority in Scotland should vote in referendum on whether a minority group can have the same civil and human rights as the majority, was told that wasn’t going to happen:
The First Minister said Tuesday’s Scottish Cabinet meeting had not dismissed the plan for a public vote out of hand but had concluded it was “not appropriate” after careful consideration. He reiterated he was personally in favour of the move but emails leaked to the BBC last night suggested he may further delay its introduction until Westminster agrees to change the Equality Act.
The correspondence with the Home Office show Scottish ministers think the latter legislation may have to be amended to ensure clergymen are not taken to court if they refuse to marry gay couples.
But Westminster sources suggested the emails were leaked as a delaying tactic and to appease the church. Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Scotland’s Catholic leader, said yesterday the implications of gay marriage are as important as any constitutional matter and should be voted on by the public.
One of the things Kevin McKenna got factually wrong:
The church points out that only a few hundred same-sex couples sought to have their unions and their human rights protected by a civil partnership. This, they say, proves that there is hardly an overwhelming popular desire for that, let alone a marriage ceremony.
Between 20th December 2005 and 30th June 2011 (the latest date for which I could find official figures) 3539 couples registered a civil partnership in Scotland. And every poll anyone has asked the LGBT community in Scotland – the community for whom equal marriage will make an actual difference, not just one of principle – says that there is an overwhelming popular desire for full equality: for couples to have the choice of marriage or civil partnership: to be married. This aside from the small but significant legal differences between marriage and civil partnership. A few hundreds have registered civil partnerships every year since, aside from 2006 when there were 1047 civil partnership ceremonies.
Kevin McKenna goes on to argue:
The debate over same-sex marriage has divided this country and it has been unpleasant to behold. The SNP have blundered badly by making the issue a political imperative. They know it and they are lying if they tell you otherwise. There was simply no appetite in Scotland for same-sex marriage; the government would not have stood or fallen on the issue and nor would it have increased the human rights of gay people, all of whom are guaranteed under same-sex legislation.
It’s odd; while McKenna can see that his “wise and gentle” Church is being vicious and hateful towards gay people, asking “How can it provide spiritual and pastoral leadership to the many thousands of its gay members while using words such as “grotesque” and “disordered” to describe their sexuality?” and conceding that:
The government has already ring-fenced the church’s right not to conduct these ceremonies. And as non-church weddings are not considered to be the real thing by the church then, effectively, Christian marriage is not being undermined
still he argues that it’s the SNP who have “blundered badly”, not his Church: that although a majority of Scots agree that same-sex couples should have the right to marry (including, if McKenna’s honest, he himself) it’s somehow the Scottish government’s fault that his Church has been so viciously cruel to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
For the SNP to stand up for civil and human rights for all was no “blunder”: it was a cross-party political imperative. Human rights matter.
For the Catholic Church to position themselves as leaders of a movement for inequality and discrimination, for hatred and abuse, demanding LGBT Catholics abase themselves and agree with the “gentle wisdom” of Cardinal O’Brien that for them to make a vow to love, honour, and cherish is “grotesque”: is that a blunder?
Only if you think as Kevin McKenna claims he does that Catholics such as himself believe that
the church must always be on the side of the poor and the alienated; those who have had their hearts broken or those who are unjustly treated
Because the Catholic Church in Scotland isn’t.
And we can all see that.
Petition to support equal marriage in England and Wales: We the people petition the Government to amend the current marriage laws so that marriage is legal irrepesctive of the gender of the couple. At the moment a Gay couple may enter into a civil partnership which grants them all the same rights as a married Heterosexual couple but they cannot be married, this is pointless discrimination rooted in age old bigotry.