Having had a number of truly unsuccessful marriages across the ages of my serial monogamy, I might be somewhat cynical as to the actual purpose or function of marriage.
Once upon a time it gave tax breaks. I’m guessing it also helped the couple in matters legal. And, any offspring could take the single surname or family name shared by its parents, making the paperwork oh so tidy.
Beyond this, I personally couldn’t really see the point, and I still can’t see the point of marriage.
I grew up in an era when unmarried couples could be shunned and were told they were ‘living in sin’, so I suspect that explained my first marriage, and probably the subsequent feeling that I should get married to anybody I’d been in a relationship with for more than 30 seconds.
So, over the years, although I’ve just gone with the flow, I’ve always been mystified about what the true ‘magic’ of marriage is/was.
This is not to take away the feeling of importance that marriage has for other couples. It clearly is highly important, almost a spiritual experience for so many, regardless of whether their own personal marriage was a success or a failure.
Clearly there are hundreds of thousands of heterosexual couples to whom marriage is a state that defines them or adds the final icing to the love-cake or feelings they share. For some it appears to be directly connected to some kind of permission to have children.
I don’t ‘get’ this latter need, nor do I ‘get’ the god-fearing and concept of ‘sin’ that religious people bung onto those who dare share feelings yet not be married. Religion’s extremely unhealthy obsession with other people’s sex lives is another mystery to me.
However, I do feel quite strongly about equality.
Now, here’s the thing. I don’t care that people feel they need to add marriage to their relationship. As long as both parties are fully informed and capable of freely giving consent, then what’s it got to do with me if two people want to marry? Nothing. Good luck to them.
So, when a gay couple want to marry, good luck to them. How can their needs be any different to those needs of a straight couple? They aren’t. They are exactly the same.
Yet, forever, they have been cruelly denied this right. Indeed, for many years their natural love was condemned as worse than a straight couple ‘living in sin’. It was once illegal and they would be punished in law for their ‘crime’ of being in love. This has included the death penalty and still does in some backward corners of our planet.
What an awful time that must have been.
Slowly we’ve become more enlightened, and gays were ‘given’ equal rights (aren’t we the kind old straights, eh?) in aspects other than marriage.
Mainly spurred on by the controlling religions, the resistance was furious and ugly. Despite the vicious hatred from the god-botherers, eventually gay people won the right to have a ‘civil partnership’ rather than a marriage.
What an insult to them. It’s as bad as saying, “Blacks aren’t allowed to marry, that’s a Whites only thing. Blacks can have a civil partnership!”. For so cruelly long, gay couples were treated as second class, not allowed to marry, but only allowed to have civil partnerships.
We should be ashamed of this absurd discrimination.
Finally, country by country, equal marriage is being allowed. Good. About time. And maybe it’s about time to apologise for the religion sponsored centuries of cruelty, hatred and discrimination that we dealt out to gay couples during our more ignorant times.