Submitted by Yardbroom
Some time ago I wrote a submission on BU (Barbados Underground) – A Step Too Far Or Fairness And Equality: Same Sex Partner’s Legal Rights – asking the question with reference to same sex couples, Is Marriage A Step Too Far? The subject matter generated much debate. The BBC picked up the article and it was interesting to read/hear the views of that international audience who were not only divided but had very trenchant opinions.
I revisit this subject only because in the interval between then and now the situation has completely changed. In the submission I asked a tentative question, now with the likely change in the Law in England there is a possibility of same sex marriages being permitted in the churches there.
“Some” members of the Church of England – with strong religious views – are against the proposed change in the law and have been vociferous in their opposition. If you ask how can a decision made in England impact on Barbados? I simply add the church plays a major part in the lives of many Barbadians and the Anglican Church is a long established Church here. Although an island Barbados cannot be completely insulated from the wider world, geographic position is no barrier to what we do or how we interact with others and sometimes that interaction influences our thinking.
A lobby group formed by MPs bishops and others who are against gay marriages in church have produced a leaflet:
“Keep Marriage Special” in which they assert”:
“If the only basis for marriage is the desire of the parties to get married then there is, according to the logic of this proposal, no reason not to open up marriage to more than just same-sex couples: Polygamy, polyandry and incest would all be permissible”.
This is rather strong stuff and do not believe for one moment this is an ordinary homophobic lobby group. “The Keep Marriage Special campaign, vice-presidents include the Democratic Unionist MPs Nigel Dodds and Jeffrey Donaldson and Bishop David Samuel, president of the Protestant Reformation Society. The campaign’s president is Vicount Brentford, of the Church Society.”
However, they have got even more powerful forces against them. There is the Out 4 Marriage Campaign which the home secretary – Theresa May – is backing on this issue also in that camp is deputy prime minister Nick Clegg. Prime Minister David Cameron also supports the proposed change in the Law but many conservative MPs are against it. As if to rebutt the views expressed in the Keep Marriage Special Leaflet. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is quoted as saying.:
“I’ve always been very clear on this issue: love is the same, straight or gay, so the civil institution should be the same too. All couples should be able to make that commitment to one another, regardless of who they love.”
“A running survey of MPs stated views by the Coalition for Equal Marriage suggests 245 MPs are likely to support legalising gay marriage, with 62 against and 16 neutral. The views of the remaining 327 MPs are not known.
It is sometimes very difficult to have a reasoned debate on gay issues, opposite opinions are often so entrenched with the belief that reason, religion and normality – whatever that is – is on their side, that they find it difficult to accept another point of view. Regardless of if the Law is changed in England to allow gay marriages in church or not, you can be sure this issue will not quietly fade away.
There are problems which although difficult that must be confronted if we are to have an equal and just society. In discussing issues of major change in subjects of this kind we must be conscious of the language we use, for language hardens opinions on both sides thus preventing reasonable debate sometimes personalizing the issue when there is no need to. . . . we are discussing real people.