This weekend I will attend the wedding of two very close friends – in a bar.
Recently the brother of another friend got married in Las Vegas and made his parents and sibling watch via web link from the UK.
Another friend, who got married a few years ago, was half of a daring couple – not because they were of different races, but because he is absurdly taller than her.
Marriage and the (sometimes) loving relationships behind them now come in all forms. Unless you’re gay.
That’s just one step too far behind the bar-wed, web broadcast, mixed height pairings that took centuries to attain acceptability.
President Barack Obama’s public support for same-sex marriage on Wednesday, the first president to offer such a backing, isn’t new and isn’t particularly compelling. He wrote in support of it many years ago, then “evolved” to think civil unions would be enough, and now has evolved back to accepting it, after his vice president, Joe Biden, and other cabinet colleagues gave a more convincing performances.
Britain’s PM, David Cameron, has let his position evolve as well – he supported same-sex marriage enough to propose bringing forward legislation on the subject, only for it to be noticeably absent from the Queen’s speech on Wednesday laying out her government’s programme for the coming session of parliament.
Canadians are privileged to already have the right to marriage equality, after courts at provincial level and later the Supreme Court, ruled it was unconstitutional to prevent two people from marrying simply because of their sexuality. A healthy minority still object, as is their right.
But for any province to block same-sex marriage, they would have to openly state that the constitution applies to everyone and everything “except in this one case”.
And that’s why the blocking of equal rights for certain people should concern everyone else.
Were I able to find a significant other, I would strenuously object to being prevented from marrying them simply because of who they were, just as anyone would object to being excluded from a drinking fountain because of the colour of their skin.
You can quote religious texts until the sacred cows or priests come home, but you lose a bit of your moral high ground when your allegedly loving deity loves everyone “except THEM”.
And if protecting children and providing them with a loving mom and dad is so important, why are there millions of orphaned children in the world? Ah, that’s right, because you want fruit of your own loins, not someone else’s. You want every child to have a mom and dad – “except THEM”.
Obama can largely get away with supporting same-sex marriage because he has no power to enact it, may not be re-elected come November, and faces a reality where 30 states have made marriage equality effectively illegal.
Hours before Obama spoke, North Carolina voted in a referendum to block not only same sex marriage, but to dictate that the only kind of legitimate relationship was the marriage of a man and a woman.
Amendment 1 states: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.”
In their rush to ban same-sex marriage, they have made cohabiting couples and all those other variations on relationships invalid in the eyes of the state constitution, potentially risking many other basic rights, such as making medical decisions in an emergency for a partner.
Equality used to be for everyone, then the homosexuals became the exception, then heterosexual but unmarried couples. Who next?
Don’t pretend to be in favour of equality when you believe in blocking or removing that equality for people you have never met and don’t like. And don’t claim you’re protecting the sanctity of something that is so special you only let a select special few take part.
The United States has a grand theory of what’s called “American exceptionalism”. On same-sex marriage there and around the globe there are the accepted, and the exceptions. Cross your fingers you never become an exception to those who rule.