Dear Cardinal O’Brien,
I hear you have called on the Scottish government to hold a referendum on proposals to lift the ban on same-sex couples marrying, and you claim that a referendum would be justified because of intense public interest in the issue:
“The Scottish Government’s consultation on redefining marriage had three times more respondents than the consultation on the constitution, demonstrating clearly that far more people are concerned about fundamental matters of morality at the present time. Clearly, if it is sensible to hold a referendum on independence, it is crucial we have one on marriage. It is the only way the country can move forward on this issue. Let all those who have a view on this subject place their trust in the Scottish people and let Scotland decide.”
I suspect that what you have in mind is piggy-backing on the independence referendum in 2014 (or the EU membership referendum, which the Tories and UKIP are playing with) so that as well as asking “Do you think Scotland should be independent?” or whatever form of question we are to be asked, a second question on a separate slip is presented that I expect you would like to say:
“Marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman”
Who could disagree with that? I agree that marriage should continue to be defined in that way – it’s simply that I, along with a majority of the people in Scotland, think that marriage should also be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a man, and between a woman and a woman.
How students at a Minneapolis-St Paul Catholic high school reacted to a presentation against same-sex marriage only a couple of months ago:
“The first three-quarters of the presentation were really good,” said [Matt Bliss, senior student at DeLaSalle High School]. “They talked about what is marriage and how marriage helps us as a society. Then it started going downhill when they started talking about single parents and adopted kids. They didn’t directly say it, but they implied that kids who are adopted or live with single parents are less than kids with two parents of the opposite sex. They implied that a ‘normal’ family is the best family.”
“When they finally got to gay marriage, [students] were really upset,” said Bliss. “You could look around the room and feel the anger. My friend who is a lesbian started crying, and people were crying in the bathroom.”
Bliss was one of several students who stood up to argue with the representatives from the archdiocese. One girl held up a sign that said, “I love my moms.”
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. Continue reading
A Straight Person’s Guide to Gay Etiquette, by The Plaid Adder, Chapter 3: Fraught With Peril – Coming Out At Close Range
The hate-the-sin, love-the-sinner thing works fine if you are a televangelist broadcasting your purported tolerance into the black void of TV Land, but your child is not just some fool with a checkbook and a guilty conscience. S/he will doubt very much that you can love him/her and at the same time be revolted by something that is part of everything s/he is and does. This “sin” is not something like axe-murdering, which happens only once in a while during moments of extreme stress. This is something your child lives every day, and more importantly it’s something that your child sees (if s/he is lucky) as a beautiful and life-transfiguring thing. Sexuality and identity are so closely wrapped up together for gay and lesbian people that if you hate the sin, you are hating the sinner. If your child believes part #1 of that sentence, s/he will look upon part #2 skeptically at best.
From Her.meneutics, the Christianity Today blog for women, Halee Gray Scott, guest blogger, wants you to know that she’s a nice person and wants legal inequality for same-sex couples for the very nicest reasons: “I Am Not Charles Worley: The Plea of a Christian Who Opposes Gay Marriage”:
If anybody ever had angel eyes, it was my baby cousin Brian. His eyes were the color of the Arizona desert sky at high noon, but it wasn’t the color that made them so angelic—it was the way they shimmered when he laughed. Brian had such a sanguine personality it seemed his little body couldn’t contain his joy—his deep belly laughs bubbled over at the smallest provocation. His mother would say she thought it was her job to protect that smile straight through to his adulthood, but I doubt she could’ve predicted what would happen to him.
Brian was always a social misfit. At age 15, he’d rather have his nose buried in some science-fiction novel than play sports. Continue reading
I was having tapas yesterday with a gay and religious friend – he and his partner said vows together in church many years ago – and he said, perhaps thinking about the Archbishop of York’s comments – that he thought this whole “equal marriage” campaign was a mistake – it was just provocative, and there was no need for it.
John Sentamu said:
“Up to now, the only reason I have been given for a desire to redefine marriage to embrace same-sex relationships is that it meets an emotional need of some same-sex couples (only some, as I have forcefully been led to believe some reject the concept of marriage altogether).
“In brightest day, in blackest night, No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil’s might, Beware my power… Green Lantern’s light!“
In July 1940, Alan Scott put on green tights, a red top, a purple cape with green lining, and a green glowy ring, and fought crime. (Origin story: “The Lantern… I’m still holding on to it! What a queer light! Funny, I suddenly feel dizzy… going to faint…”) He was the first Green Lantern, and some people might wonder how he wasn’t outed as gay sooner. Nearly seventy-two years later, Alan Scott finally gets to kiss his boyfriend for the first time.
We’re all supposed to be celebrating the sixty-year reign of Elizabeth II this weekend. Continue reading
Barack Obama will be a two-term President.
How do you know?
Because he came out in support of same-sex marriage two days ago.
Yes, well. Let me explain.
Barack Obama and David Cameron have little in common. But they are politically on the same page. Continue reading
Years ago, I was asked to speak to an English group about the Scottish victory in repealing Section 28. The Labour government in the UK Parliament wanted rid of that monument to Tory homophobia, and they’d been frustrated once already by the House of Lords.
I spoke about the campaign funded by Brian Souter, hosted by the Daily Record, and fuelled by Archbishop Thomas Winning: and how it had been defeated by a simple majority of MSPs and a host of people suddenly turned activist by the billboards Souter paid for all over Scotland, to tell our families and neighbours and co-workers what hateful disgusting people we were. Brian Souter spent a million and he lost.
One of the things I remember from that meeting was a voice at the back from this stoutly-leftwing group of trade unionists and activists, saying angrily that Labour are the enemy. This was 2004, and I was not that keen on Labour myself at the time, but with regard to Section 28, that was foolish talk: we wanted Section 28 repealed in England and Wales, so did Labour, let’s take our allies where we can get them. There are some groups so vile they do not deserve to share a platform with civilised people, but none of the Parliamentary parties of the UK deserve to be categorised in that way.
Lifting the ban on marriage for same-sex couples is one of those obvious next steps on the road to equality. Continue reading
A conventional argument against lifting the ban on same-sex couples marrying can be expressed as follows:
What marriage primarily is, and what it has always been, is a mechanism to enable the procreation and the rearing of children in a safe, stable, and balanced environment. This is, by definition, a public rather than a private relationship, and it is something that creates a public good. It is for this reason, and essentially only for this reason, that the State recognises marriage as an institution.
Discussions about what’s fair for adults miss the point. From the point of view of the State, marriage has always been viewed as an essentially child-centred institution.
There’s a famous joke about an Orcadian in a Texas bar who sees a sign on the wall advertising “Best Scotch Whiskey Made In England” and tells the bartender “Six words, four mistakes.”
That’s how I feel about the ninety-five words I just quoted: almost too many mistakes to know where to start.
In A Wrinkle in Time, when Meg goes back to Camazotz to rescue Charles Wallace:
“Nonsense,” Charles Wallace said. “You have nothing that it doesn’t have.”
“You’re lying,” she replied, and she felt only anger toward this boy who was not Charles Wallace at all. No, it was not anger, it was loathing; it was hatred, sheer and unadulterated, and as she became lost in hatred she also began to be lost in IT…
With the last vestige of consciousness she jerked her mind and body. Hate was nothing that IT didn’t have. IT knew all about hate…
Suddenly she knew.
That was what she had that IT did not have…
She could stand there and she could love Charles Wallace.
I love AWIT in the way you do love childhood books that you read (as I did) when you were just the right age for them. Reading it as an adult I can see its flaws, but I was just the right age to identify completely with Meg, who wore specs, got teased for being ugly and weird at school, was far too bright for her teachers, and walked into hell to confront evil and save her baby brother.
One of the worst things about Camazotz is that they are doing it all for your own good. Everyone is happy in Camazotz. They’ll get into your mind and try to control you, try to wipe out the essential you that makes you not fit into their world, but they’re nice, kindly people: you’ll be much happier when you stop fighting them. Continue reading