Curiously I found myself agreeing with something former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, said today. He is quoted in the Daily Telegraph as saying:
“The state does not ‘own’ the institution of marriage. Nor does the church.
“The honourable estate of matrimony precedes both the state and the church, and neither of these institutions have the right to redefine it in such a fundamental way.”
I agree. In fact, it’s regrettable that both church and state have got away with defining the status of marriage for however many hundreds of years that they have. Let’s get both church and state out of the picture as much as possible. After all, what defines a marriage is the love between two human beings and every couple is different.
If two (or more?!?) people need the legal protections afforded by a partnership, then let them sign up to a state registry of couples - a civil partnership if you like. If a couple feel the need to have their union blessed by their church then go ahead, be my guest. If a couple want to run naked in a forest with their friends and family to prove their commitment, then that’s fine by me too.
The point is that the state has no business either allowing or prohibiting same-sex marriage. In the eyes of the state, a marriage should be nothing more than a legal contract between two people. It is of no significance what gender either participant is. If the government wishes to promote ‘marriage’ through tax incentives (which I would be against) then these should be freely available to anyone who has entered into that contract.
The rules on church marriage are for the church to decide. If they wish to allow same-sex marriage then fine, if they don’t then actually that’s fine too in my opinion.
Call me a militant secularist if you like, but when these dinosaurs start telling us that the “government does not have the right to legalise gay marriage”, he reminds me that the United Kingdom is still a theocracy with an established church and laws made by unelected bishops in the House of Lords. Forgive me, Lord Carey, but our elected representatives do have the right to remove your power over private relationships and it is you that has no right to wield such influence over the laws of the land.