Sheela-na-Gig aka Jeanne Rathbone

Gay marriage should be legal.

Posted in Gay marriage should be legal, Gay weddings by sheelanagigcomedienne on March 22, 2012

I have been conducting weddings ceremonies for gay couples  for 16 years.  I had the privilege of conducting the first gay wedding ceremony in City Hall in 2002 which was then called Ken’s sitting room. It was at the top of the building with wonderful views of Tower Bridge and the river. This was the pilot scheme prior to the introduction of Civil partnerships BUT I still call them weddings.  They had to pay £85 for the registration  and Humanist celebrants were allowed to conduct a ceremony and a champagne toast was permissable. It was a bargain and straight couples were complaining of inequality! Photos outside often included ice cream, that super backdrop of Tower bridge and the river and requests by passerers-by to be allowed the privilege of a photo with the newly wedded couple! 

A wedding is when two people who love each other to the exclusion of others  want to make a commitment  publicly in a ceremony witnessed by family and friends. This may or may not include a legal registration of their commitment to each other.

Of course, when Civil Partnerships became law under Labour it was a typical British fudge. Many countries/states  have made gay marriage legal. Here opposition comes mainly from the Church/religions. They try to claim that marriage is by definition the union of a man and a woman. The definition of marriage as a lifelong union changed when divorce was introduced into the legal definition of marriage. The Church has no authority over legal marriage regardless of their own prejudices.  There is a also a conservative attitude to keeping the status quo lead by Coalition For Marriage

Those who refuse to accept this and the impending change in the law for equality and humanity are mostly homophobic reactionary bigots and I agree with Rev Giles– rent-a-trendy-vicar– Fraser on this. I have to admit that a divorced friend of mine also has such a reactionary view- maybe it is because she is an ex-Catholic.

When I am arranging a wedding ceremony with a couple I always ask WHY they are getting married apart from the obvious that they love each  other and want to make a public commitment witnessed by family and friends. For one couple it was because one was an American whose parents had recently died, for another couple it was because they wanted to move up north to take care of an elderly mother of one of them. For another couple, who didn’t have witnesses because of hostility from their families,  it was for their need to have a ceremony  conducted by someone who understood and empathised with them and wanted me to be witness to their joint mortgage papers! I still wonder why I have not been asked to take JOINT MORTGAGE CEREMONIES. It is, after all, a big commitment.  I see a registry office wedding as a simple legal process NOT a wedding ceremony.

I am now conducting weddings for couples who have been together for decades and are grandparents. The last one was for Sally and Steve on Brighton beach. They are doing it for sensible,  practical reasons  –  next-of-kin, pension rights, inheritance tax etc. This should equally apply to gay couples. I conducted a delightful, colourful wedding ceremony for a lesbian couple in the garden of the Estorick Gallery who had been legally married in South Africa but wanted a wedding ceremony witnessed by family and friends in the UK.  However my sister and her partner in Britain have been given the second class treatment and been merely ‘civilled’.

I am taking a funeral for the partner of a gay man next week who is in his sixties and who fortunately had a ‘civil partnership’. Let’s  do the right thing and treat their love and commitment as equal to and deserving of our respect as that of any heterosexual couple by designating it a marriage.

There is nothing precious or special about the love and commitment of heterosexual couples compared to gay people. Lets celebrate sexual love and families in their various forms whether through step families, adoption or childless. Three cheers for love and marriage.

 

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