A few years ago it was the US. These days, fierce arguments about gay marriage (or whatever you prefer to call it) are rampant in the UK as well.
I’ve already mentioned my opinion that the state should set the primary form for any official partnership, straight or gay, whether you call it a civil partnership or civil marriage, with churches having to prove theirs could be counted in as substitutes. (UKIP spokesman David Coburn has the opposite view that “[marriage] is clearly in the domain of the church and other faiths – and it is none of government’s business to meddle with it.” Fine, but if that was the case, why should the government give a fuck about whether you’re married or not except once every decade during the census?)
Of course, among the staunchest opponents of gay marriages is the top brass in the Catholic Church. We’re already well used to their strange logic, which makes them claim that allowing Quakers and Unitarians to conduct gay weddings means curbing religious freedom. Just as we’re used to their strange similes, comparing homosexuality with rain forest destruction or gay marriages with slavery. (Happily turning a blind eye to all those women in history for whom the “traditional model of family” meant little more than slaving to their husbands.)
After all, to quote a (straight) character from Richard Morgan’s The Steel Remains:
Forget the law. It isn’t going to help. They’ll cite it where it suits them, ignore it where it doesn’t. They’re clerics, Archeth. They spend their whole fucking lives selectively interpreting textual authority to advantage.
However, Cardinal O’Brien can go one further and misinterpret textual authority to advantage, stating that “We’re taking standards which are not just our own but standards from the Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations where marriage is defined as a relationship between man and woman and turning that on its head.”
Wary of trusting anything a prominent Catholic says, I looked the Declaration up on the United Nations website. What it really says (in article 16) is “Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family.”
Of course, it may be that O’Brien is too thick to be able to see the semantic difference between “marriage is a relationship between man and woman” and “men and women have the right to marry”. But I think it miles more probable that this is just another barefaced lie, told in the hope that most people would never care to check.
Which, sadly, I suppose they wouldn’t.