Philobiblon: Gay marriages: the best of British

Monday, December 05, 2005

Gay marriages: the best of British

From today, gay and lesbian couples in Britain are able to enter a civil partnership that is marriage in all but name. (Although the first ceremonies won't be until December 21, due to the notice period.)

Personally, I don't entirely get why anyone would want to get married - it is an institution and who wants to live in an institution, as they say - but it is certainly an advance towards a civilised society that one form of discrimination over sexuality should be removed. And the accompanying pension, inheritance and related rights are certainly appropriate.

This advance is a sign of the essentially civilised nature of British society - the admirable near-abolition of religion from public life, combined with an embrace of eccentricity and difference observable for centuries.

It is representative of the best of British, and the reasons why I've chosen to make my life here.

On another side of the issue, an excellent piece in The Times today recommends raising the legal age for marriage to 18. It looks particularly at the problem of forced marriages in minority communities, but then broadens out:

A girl of 17 is not considered mature enough to vote, to order a pint of beer or to enter into any legally binding contract. So she finds herself in the position where she cannot buy a washing machine on the never-never, but with Daddy’s say-so she can sign the papers that commit her to a marriage intended to last for the rest of her life. How absurd is that?


Anonymous Jo said...

Personally, I don't entirely get why anyone would want to get married...

the accompanying pension, inheritance and related rights

Methinks you just answered your own question?!

Looking beyond the practical, I think there is a valid argument for wanting to stand up in front of those you love to say 'I choose this person'. That's the original concept of the union anyway.

12/05/2005 11:08:00 am  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

Fair comment. I should turn this into an extended post rather than a comment to fully address this. But broadly what I feel relates firstly to heterosexual marriage - all the old "love, honour and obey baggage.

Plus I just don't get the "lifetime" thing. How at age 20, 30 or 40, or any other age, can you know what you will want, or someone else will want, at age 60 or 70? If they were five-year renewable contracts, say, that would make a great deal more sense to me.

12/05/2005 11:19:00 am  
Anonymous Jo said...

Well, my partner and I are going to tie the [civil] knot at some point in the future - we're in our mid-20s and I know she's the one. How do you know? Dunno. Just do. It feels right and that's all there is to it. We could wait until we we're in our 60s to find out, but what's the point? Why not go for it and trust your instincts?

As for the love, honour and obey stuff - isn't the "obey" being phased out by all but the most traditional of newly-weds? (or should that be nearly-weds, given that you decide your vows before you take them?)

Anyway, maybe I'm turning into a soppy so-and-so, but I just like the idea of standing up in front of my friends and saying that I've found The One. Everything else is just decoration.

12/05/2005 11:37:00 am  
Anonymous Jo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/05/2005 11:38:00 am  

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