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rick green 27th Aug 2004 22:55

Gay Marriage
So can gay people get married in the UK? Whether or not they should be allowed to is turning out to be a significant issue in the US elections this year. I think it's a scandalous diversion from issues like Iraq, the federal budget, tax breaks, etc. To make this an issue works in Bush's favor, it seems to me. Of course, I think gay folks should have equal rights across the board, including the right to marry. What do ya'll think?

Jerkass 27th Aug 2004 23:03

I see the Bush camp has embraced the brilliant Clintonesque strategy of standing for everything on this issue...Bush is against gay marriage, while Cheney (who??? where was that guy for about three years?) is for it. So there you go.

Colyngbourne 28th Aug 2004 0:28

It's so obviously a natural right, it should be validated by law as such. I have been digusted how Bush has tried to drag new amendments to the Constitution that are purely a fundamentalist Xian viewpoint of what a 'marriage' is. The rights issues for gays/lesbian/transgender people in the States need addressing. I think in the UK we are slowly but surely making progress.

Deb Zell 28th Aug 2004 3:42

Gay marriage: the last nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah
Greetings to all, I was quite pleased to become a member of this forum. Myself being an American, I am distressed by how this issue could shape my country in terms of this year's Presidential Election, and any amendments made to the U.S. Constitution in the future. There are many people here on both sides of the issue. There are those who hold, as I do, that securing gay marriage is a cause that should be embraced and championed by lovers of civil liberties. On the other side is a powerful group that discriminates on the basis of sex, and seeks to establish rules for whom can marry whom. They do not want gays to have certain rights because it is not aesthetically or religiously pleasing, and the justifications for such discrimination have once again been derived from religious sources and cultural norms (much like the justifications for slavery and segregation in the U.S. or the denial of the voting franchise to women and anyone else not rich, white, and male).
The United States is home to people like Rev. Jerry Falwell, a very conservative right wing preacher(whom, it should be noted, would have a much better chance of making it into the Oval Office than myself; scary) that has made quite a career out of teaching people to hate gays. Falwell is not unique though, nor has he been unsuccessful; the message is delivered by many religious leaders, and most notably by a preacher in Kansas who travelled with members of his congregation to the funeral of Matthew Shepard to tell all grieving that Mr. Shepard was rightly murdered, and in Hell. For those that don't know, Mr. Shepard was brutally murdered by people that hate gays. I was shocked by the reaction to it: there were people that felt the murderers hadn't done anything wrong! It held a close paralell, at least in my way of thinking, with lynchings of African Americans carried out by the Ku Klux Klan.
Forgive me, we're discussing gay marriage. It seems the last institution that the religious right in my country feels assured that it can keep from the grasp of gays, and they are not about to relinquish it. There is an outcry against gay marriage for several reasons, a few of which follow: the couple cannot produce children, the children they may have or adopt will be harassed and ostracized at school, and gays cannot fulfill the 'natural purpose requirements' that heterosexual couples can.
To the first, it should be remembered that not even all heterosexual couples can have children or seek to have them, nor do they provide loving and proper homes to the children that they do have. The traditional notion of the family is proving to be archaic, especially as more women like myself seek to be career professionals.
To the second, a fitting reply would be that children will exercise what they learn at home, and if people are so worried about ostracism then they should teach their children to be tolerant, that there is nothing to make fun of.
Lastly, there is the argument regarding the natural purposes of body parts(appendix, anyone?), so it would only be right to condemn anyone that has ever enjoyed oral sex, winked at somebody, ...or pointed a finger. :o It should be remembered that homosexuality is neither particular to culture, nor (I have heard, and please do correct me if I am wrong) species.
My apologies for the length and any glaring technical mistakes.
I am also interested in hearing what anyone else has to say.

Jerkass 28th Aug 2004 5:00

Jerry Falwell...most famous for also teaching people to hate Tinky-Winky.

And fair enough in Tinky-Winky's case...

NottyImp 28th Aug 2004 10:50

Religion sucks. There, is that serious enough for you?

Or to put it another way, you don't find secular humanists dragging people to their deaths on ropes behind trucks, do you?

Colyngbourne 28th Aug 2004 11:28

No, indeed. No-one can justify murder, just as I don't believe you can justify Fred Phelps's attempts to set up tablets in public parks advocating hatred for gays, or website with names like 'God hates fags dot com'.

This does not mean that religion sucks, however. :wink:

John Self 28th Aug 2004 11:48

Welcome aboard, Deb.

To clarify for rick, in response to his original question: no, gay people cannot get married in the UK. (Or should I say, same sex couples, since presumably some gay people are already married... ) At the minute, if they live in London, they can however have a legally meaningless 'commitment ceremony' endorsed by the local authority.

However, the government is currently processing the Civil Partnerships Bill through Parliament, which will ultimately lead to an effective form of gay marriage. The term marriage has been studiously avoided but as the law will confer the right to a legal ceremony, pension rights, housing rights, inheritance rights, next-of-kin rights for hospital visits and treatment and so on, there is really no difference. Not surprisingly, as with any socially progressive legislation, the House of Lords (our second legislative chamber in the UK, filled with unelected 'representatives' who are there by appointment or heredity) has blocked it, but it will come around again and ultimately be passed into law. The interesting thing is that the Lords did not oppose it outright, but wanted to pass an amendment which would also confer such rights on carers, which is probably not a bad idea - though the circumstances where a carer is neither a family member nor a partner, and so the amendment would be needed, must be fairly rare.

All of this is fairly remarkable when you think that just 10 years ago in the UK, the gay age of consent was five years higher than the heterosexual one. Not bad going.

As for the US perspective, I read in a poll on BBC News Online recently (which I now cannot find) that only 40% of American voters oppose any legal recognition for same sex relationships. The majority of 60% are split between those who want gay marriage and those who would only accept civil unions. Also interestingly, I believe Bush does not oppose state-by-state civil unions. Since, under the British model, civil union is not different from marriage except in the absence of the magic word - and what is a word? - what's the big deal?

rick green 29th Aug 2004 1:40

First off, if by humanist you mean atheist, Notty, well they've done more than their fair share of cruel deeds in the name of their cause. The Soviets in particular. If you ask me, religion doesn't suck, cruelty & intolerance suck. And human beings can be just as cruel & intolerant in the name of godlessness as they can in God's name.

Thanks John for the details on the UK situation. It sounds like the politicos haven't tried to make a divisive issue of this question over there. Is there a broad base of popular support for the reforms? Oh, and what's a "carer"?

Thanks Deb for laying out some of the faulty logic behind the opposition to gay marriage in the US. Welcome to Palimpsest, and make yourself at home.

NottyImp 29th Aug 2004 10:51


First off, if by humanist you mean atheist, Notty, well they've done more than their fair share of cruel deeds in the name of their cause. The Soviets in particular.
The Soviets did those acts in the name of State Communism, not atheism.


This does not mean that religion sucks, however.
You're right - I forgot to mention all the other reasons. :wink:

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