Like many people I never thought I wanted to get married.
And then one day I did.
And now I am. And I bloody love it. I don't know that it's possible to describe in what way it is different to not being married. I know that today wouldn't really pan out any differently for Mrs G and myself if we weren't married. It's one of those undefinable things. I love my wife and I love being married to her.
I recently saw someone online arguing that they were against the idea of same-sex marriage because they felt it would belittle what marriage meant in some way. I don't know in what way because I simply can't begin to get my head around it at all. I cannot imagine a way in which the love I have for my wife - and, more pertinently, the love I have for our marriage - could be affected by other people getting married.
As an argument it puts me in mind of the way shallow teenagers sometimes talk about music. Y'know... they love a particular band. They say a particular song is their favourite song. And then the band becomes huge. And everyone likes their song. And the shallow teenager decides they don't like the song anymore.
The chord structure hasn't changed. The lyrics are the same. The melody is the same. All the ingredients of a song that your brain reacts to are the same. But what the shallow teenager really liked was feeling special. Feeling part of a small and select group.
That's what straight people objecting to gay marriage remind me of. Sulky teenagers, grunting and shrugging that marriage won't be special if we let everyone do it. As I said before, I can't imagine a way in which that could make my marriage less special. I really can't.
As I was at a computer when that thought drifted through my mind, I tweeted it. I don't think it's a particularly challenging thought. If anything I thought it was so obvious it didn't really need saying. But having put it into 140 characters I pressed send all the same.
I got a few pats on the back, a couple of people called me a poof and that was pretty much as I was expecting. But a few people also got in touch to tell me they simply couldn't understand what I was saying. I think some of these people were thinking, "But a band is less cool when everyone else likes them... so what's that got to do with gay marriage?" But I don't know for sure. Still, when 5 or 6 people had expressed their confusion, I decided that maybe 140 characters wasn't the best medium for that particular thought and so laid it out - not unlike the start of this blogpost - using twitlonger. Problem solved. No room for confusion.
Or maybe not. Here, someone calling themselves Funky_Dung chipped in with an argument that I'm still trying to unravel. Here's some of the to and fro...(Where more than 1 tweet was sent, I've photoshopped them together to make it an easier read) Now there were probably enough warning signs there already that this wasn't going to be a sensible discussion. The whole "serious views about the core of human society" is a clue. But I didn't take it all in and was actually concerned that someone thought I was being prejudiced with my silly, wanting the same rule of law for all. So I replied.
No insults. Just an explanation of what I think. But Funky had me bang to rights!
Which is interesting. (Or not. Feel free to stop reading any time you like, I appreciate this isn't for everyone.) If I read this right, Funky D is a gay person who is opposed to gay marriage and he thinks it is prejudiced of me to say I think straight people who are opposed to it remind me of a shallow teenagers' shifting musical allegiance.
For the record, I think gay people who are opposed to equal rights for same-sex marriage are silly too. But of course it would have been nonsensical to include them in that first tweet because they don't remind me of the shallow teenagers for an obvious reason. I don't think it's possible for a gay person to be against gay marriage because it would make their straight marriage less special. Something I tried to explain to my new friend, Funky:But he wasn't finished.
Of course, I think it's important for men and women to enjoy stable relationships too. Not necessarily for evolutionary reasons... but they're nice and important and stuff. But we're back to square one for me... I don't understand how a same-sex couple being happily married would make a male-female couple any less stable. I just don't. And stating that male-female relationships are important doesn't explain why someone thinks same-sex marriage shouldn't be allowed. Or, as I put it at the time:And this is where I start to find this kind of discussion frustrating. Because to me this conversation is civil and has an obvious route to take. To keep it civil and flowing all Funky has to do is explain the detrimental effects that he believes same-sex marriage would have. But instead of explaining in what way same-sex marriage would be detrimental... he just repeats that it would be:
Hmmm. When did he say it? Am I the only person who inferred it here? I mean, I thought that was an argument for straight marriage and against gay marriage and it seemed to hinge on the importance of stability for straight relationships and silly old me put two and two together and assumed he was saying that marriage helped to provide that desired stability. If he wasn't, I have absolutely no idea what point he was making.
And it went on in this vein for ages. With Funky restating that my initial tweet was anti-straight because it only belittled straight people and also that I was anti-gay because I have insisted that he must agree with me because he's gay (I didn't). And every time I asked him to explain in what way gay marriage would be detrimental to society his argument seemed to boil down to, "because it would be detrimental to society." And when I asked him to explain why he thought I was being anti-this or anti-that his argument seemed to be, that I should just know.
Here are some highlights:
How many times did I ask him to explain his point of view? To give me an example? (Answer: at least 4. How many times did he do so? None that I'm aware of.)
Of course, I have to imagine them because he refuses to explain what any of them are. What divides in particular is he addressing? What kind of wedge will be driven into them? What damage to society will be done? He won't explain and instead just urges me to imagine something that I simply cannot imagine. I've tried to imagine something of that ilk. I've genuinely failed.
And finally, my favourite tweet of the lot...
For the record. My beard is ginger. My hair isn't.
This all happened yesterday. Today two people have tried to tell me that Funky is right. But I've cut those exchanges shorter because, well, because they were entering the same circular it's-not-fair-to-allow-same-sex-marriage-because-some-people-think-it's-not-fair-to-allow-it-and-who's-going-to-think-about-them? logic. (You can read one of them on Storify here.)
So... please don't pile in on twitter and send any angry tweets their way. I'm not trying to raise a mob. But I am interested in the debate. And I feel frustrated when people refuse to properly engage in one.
To be clear, I don't think it's got anything to do with religion. (And nor does Funky). If a particular faith wants to be against same-sex marriage then that's up to them. But my marriage has nothing to do with God and I don't think the State should have either. There's no point in allowing for marriages that are not informed by faith if you're going to restrict access to them based on faith.
Someone also said, "a civil partnership is exactly the same legally so why is anyone bothered about whether it's called a marriage or a civil partnership?"
Well exactly. Why is anyone bothered by it being called a marriage? Isn't that where we started?
My apologies if this is somehow too painfully right on for you to read. Normal service will no doubt be resumed shortly.