Is the same sex marriage bill shit on purpose?

Today our parliament votes and debates on the issue of same sex marriage yet again. Watching the last debate was just slightly better than having a chisel inserted under my toenails to a soundtrack of Enya, so I’m more likely to be watching this today.

The whole debate lays bare a lot of ugly prejudices still rampant in our society. Most obvious–to the point where the normally-oblivious mainstream media and many normally-oblivious politicians have noticed–is the homophobia from the opposition to the bill. They dress up their concerns in the language of protecting the institution of the family or fretting about the relationship with the church, as though a family can only be defined by a very narrow heterosexist standard and the church weren’t just an antediluvian bunch of poorly-dressed ringpieces. Indeed, the prejudice is so naked, I am surprised there are no petitions on change.org to protect our children from seeing its rude bits.

It’s so easy to spot–and argue against–the bigotry of the opposition that the more insidious nonsense coming from supporters of the bill gets overlooked. Supporters of the bill have been gleefully throwing poly people under the bus once again, setting us up as a deviant bogeyman in a common trick used in this sort of discourse.

The bill is also bad news for trans people. Sarah Brown has compiled a non-exhaustive list of some of the myriad problems that the proposed legislation might bring for trans people. At best, it does little to ameliorate the minefield trans people must negotiate in order to win recognition for their relationships. At worst, it makes things actively worse, bestowing a power of veto on a partner’s transition.

For these reasons, I cannot call what is being proposed marriage equality. It is nothing of the sort. Let us call it same sex marriage, for that is what it is.

On top of all of this, there is a growing sense that even those putting the bill forward want it to fail. An amendment was added to the bill–quite possibly a wrecking amendment–to bring in heterosexual civil partnerships. I am fairly indifferent to this amendment, much as I am to the entire law. However, it seems about as harmlessly inconsequential as same sex marriage itself. It has driven those who put the bill forward into a frenzy, actively threatening to pull the bill based on really shaky reasoning: it might cost more money, and nobody wants it anyway. The cost argument looks fairly nonsensical, as if they have just pulled a bunch of numbers out of their arses like a string of magician’s handkerchiefs. Further arguments against this come in the form of crying about how it will damage the institution of marriage. In short, it is all of the same crap which is bandied about in arguments against same sex marriage.

And this is because society has a pretty dreadful attitude to how relationships should look. It lays bare the true function of same sex marriage: as a reward for the same sex couples who have successfully managed to behave in the way society deems appropriate. These lucky few can be welcomed with open arms into what is deemed normal, as they have danced all of the correct steps and followed the designated live script. They are not like those queers, those fags and those dykes and those queens who will not conform. And so the state throws them a little bone because heterosexism is rife and they are relieved to have their prejudices relatively unchallenged.

I have said a thousand times before that I would sooner see the entire institution of marriage crumble to allow us to be truly free to define how we love. I do not believe that this law being debated will do much positive to many, but on the other hand, it is unlikely to actively increase prejudice. There are some–those privileged few who seem to control the discourse–who will claim the battle is won, and good for them. Perhaps this means the rest of us can now fight our battles without our voices drowned out, and reclaim Stonewall from its name profaned by an organisation which gladly sweeps so much of our history under the carpet. Perhaps we can fight to be treated like humans and love as we fucking well please.

So in my own way, I am rooting for this bill to go through as it will piss off some fairly obnoxious people. At the front of my mind, though, is the knowledge that it is not enough. Nowhere near enough.


9 responses to “Is the same sex marriage bill shit on purpose?

  • Martin Grouch (@Spitefuel)

    I’m only really in favour of civil partnerships as an institution that allows people to agree to legal protection for each other in a shared relationship. Basically I don’t think the number of people in the arrangement matters or their gender or sexuality.

    The issue would be really about immigration (goodness I’ve gone all UKIP!) where the rights of someone to have their partner live with them if their partner is not a citizen of the country. I’m quite sure politicians are stalling over this issue more than anything else.

    So as a serious question apart from the abolition of all borders and migration laws (if only) then what would be a workable solution to that problem for anyone on any relationship?

    Genuine question and looking for a constructive suggestion. I suspect that many Conservatives and UKIP folks aren’t opposed to gay marriage as much as they are as gay immigrants.

    • stavvers

      Well, obviously my solution is abolition of borders, but I’m fussy like that.

      And yes, I agree that there’s probably a lot of a problem with gay immigrants😦

  • mandasiefert39

    Hi, My name is Amanda. I think that if this bill is passed, then people will be able to actually go out in the world and be married like everyone else. Not that they would want a traditional wedding,I’m just sayin’.
    Hey, I adore people that are of same sex and want to be married! It works
    for famous talk show hosts, why not anyone else?? As you can tell, I am totaslly NOT prejudice of anyone or anything! I just want the world to be
    a happy place!! And NO I am NOT Mrs. Rogers!!!

  • Agrado

    Firstly, yes, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill is indeed quite literally “shit on purpose”. Marriage law is largely old, weird and messy, and for obvious reasons this Bill is deliberately trying to make as few changes as possible to achieve its sole aim of allowing same-sex marriage.

    Secondly, I am finding it hard to follow your “lgb people are throwing poly people under the bus” complaint. Sure, they are mostly not actively supporting extending marriage further to include more than two parties, but that bears no resemblance to throwing anyone under any buses.

    Lastly I think you have completely misrepresented Sarah Brown’s blog post regarding trans implications of the Bill, albeit not helped by slightly sloppy wording on her part. Her list is not of problems that will be *caused* by this Bill, but of problems that will *still exist* after it passes – i.e. they are good reasons that further reform will be required, but they are not in any way reasons to suggest that this Bill should be opposed.

    • Nick Kiddle

      The part about requiring written consent from a spouse to transition is new, and seems a bit shit to me.

      • Agrado

        No, that isn’t new. Previously you couldn’t get the Gender Recognition Certificate even if your spouse *did* agree – you had no option but to get an annulment first. Going forward, you will still have the same options you had before, but if your spouse agrees you will also have the new option of remaining married.

  • Alex

    As a straight, White woman, why do you keep saying ‘we’? I know you claim to be ‘poly’ because you think it makes you part of a fashionable ‘oppressed’ group, but in reality everyone is ‘poly’; they’re just mature enough to maintain normal relationships rather than sleeping with whoever they want. You do know this, right?

    • stavvers

      Lol I’m not straight.

      I’m assuming this comment is just obvious trolling as I’ve never said anything to imply I’m heterosexual, but it tickled me so I approved it.

  • Phil Hartup (@LevelTwoRogue)

    Honestly I don’t even know why this is coming up as an issue. I support complete equality regardless of sexuality, gay marriage, heterosexual civil partnerships, the whole lot, but it’s pretty clear Tories don’t. Trying to force this measure through an openly hostile and largely inept government seems like a bad idea long term.

    And I know that saying that is wrong, I know you’re not supposed to defer these things, I know it’s wrong to say, “Well what about the economy and what about welfare?” when there are issues of equality at stake. I get that it is my privilege as a white heterosexual male to prioritise around issues like gay marriage.

    But at the same time I think having this government create gay marriage legislation is counter productive long term. I wouldn’t trust this mob of clowns to adequately legislate on the ideal volume of squeaky noses, much less anything of real value.

    Question for me is, do people want this done now, or do they want it done right? That said though, it’s not my call, and whichever way those affected want to go, that’s fine with me.

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