Good morning world, how nice to see you all washed and ready for action this chilly March morning.
What will you do with yourselves today? Perhaps a visit to a garden centre or a pub lunch, maybe a drive in the countryside. Or if you live in Mountain View California, you'll probably spend all day re-reading my blog back catalogue as you try and work out what adverts to send my way (thanks Google).
Of course some will be attending church, (don't laugh, some people do still go to church) and if any are going to church in Scotland this morning I guess they will be getting a sermon on the sanctity of marriage. In fact I imagine that in many catholic churches the pronouncements of Cardinal Keith O'Brien on 'gay or same sex marriage' will be the topic du jour.
I suppose I better declare an interest in that I am hoping that during the forthcoming consultation period on gay marriages in the UK, that celebrants such as myself will be granted the power to perform legally recognised ceremonies. The reason this is important to me is that next year I have been asked to celebrate a wedding for two very special people (not same sex) - and I can tell you now that it will be the wedding of the year! I'm already searching for a trained budgie to sit on my shoulder throughout the event, to accessorise my ringmasters costume.
In my eyes, marriage is about the commitment of one person to another, and not just because it is union in which that commitment is legally recognised by the state. I do, however, think equality is important.
Presently in the UK, a legally recognised marriage can take place in a civil ceremony at a registrars office or in a religious establishment overseen by a minister of that church. You can also get married in certain other buildings that have been approved by the local authority. No matter the location or the style of the wedding, the thing that makes the marriage legal is the signing of the register.
As I mentioned, here in the UK we are about to commence a period of consultation as to whether gay marriage should be legally recognised and there have already been many voices raised in protest. Some say that gay couples have the right to a civil partnership and this gives them legal rights on a par with marriage so why muddy the waters?
But why can't two people who love each other simply get married?
Let me tell you what the Cardinal says about gay marriage, or as he calls it a "grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right".
He goes on to say... "Same-sex marriage would eliminate entirely in law the basic idea of a mother and a father for every child. It would create a society which deliberately chooses to deprive a child of either a mother or a father."
I'm a little confused, which is easy for me as Catholics always confuse me. We have not even cut the cake and the Cardinal is worrying about children!
Of course, the Catholic church believes that the purpose of marriage is to bring more potential converts into the world and it has been a success in so many places...look at those countries in Africa where Catholicism is the main religion, no shortage of children there. Just a shortage of food to give them, medical aid, and parents who have died through contracting HIV. A success story to be really proud of - let's have a big cheer for the Pope.
The Cardinal also stated that by legalising gay marriage, the UK government would "shame the United Kingdom in the eyes of the world".
Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Iceland, Mexico, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and the USA have legally recognised same sex marriage to some extent. I don't see any shame in joining that list do you? And we will not be alone, many other countries are moving towards legally recognising the concept of two people being able to make a commitment to each other, not just a man and a woman.
I don't have any objections to two men or two women getting married, I don't feel that it in anyway undermines the institution of marriage. Mrs B and I married in church more through tradition than religion and I think we are probably part of a great majority who uses the church in that way. Did that make our commitment any less valid? It might do in the eyes of the church but the eyes of the state are closed to such issues.
As a Humanist I don't think the church, any church, should own marriage and I think that if a state wishes to recognise the commitment of one human being to another, a commitment in exclusion to all others, then the world will not stop turning nor will the churches fall.
Religion is a part of our society, I don't think that will ever change. My opinion is that the church should not be given a right to run society, it should be there to support those who sign up to its rules - so all the gay catholics will have to be satisfied with....hang on, is there such a thing as a gay catholic?
The fear that recognising same sex marriage may marginalise even further those groups who are against it is no reason to stand still - if the church doesn't want to evolve that is their choice, but the rest of us are fed up with the 12th century and want to live in the 21st.
A happy marriage is one based on mutual respect, love, and the ability to work together - Mrs B and I are very happily married and I know this for sure because she told me just the other day.
My marriage to Mrs B has been a success because of Mrs B, I can take no credit at all. I have just honoured and obeyed her for almost 28 years and having lived through all of that joy I would like to see everyone suffer as I have. (It's a joke dear, let me fetch you another cup of tea to your bedside and toast you a crumpet).
One third of marriages between 1995 and 2010 ended in divorce so the same sex team hasn't been making a great success of things, so why not let someone else have a go? They can't be any worse at being married than us hetero's!