Among the two years of Coalition government that Britain has been subjected to there has been little to smile about. There is no need to list the ‘omnishambles’ here, even those who have better things to do with their time than check the tweetings of the political geekery are well versed in just how inept and backward this government’s policies are. Then, all of a sudden, there appeared a ray of hope, a reason to celebrate, perhaps this Cameron fella ain’t so bad after all – he wants to introduce Equal Marriage.
I read with despair the comments of those supportive of Equal Marriage and I wanted to shout: ‘Can you not see the mind-forged manacles of institutionalism that Marriage (in any form) brings?!’. The Gay Liberation Front, nurtured on the campus at LSE in the early 70s was very clear in its view, condemning on page 2 in The Gay Manifesto the ‘archaic and irrational teaching [that] support the family and marriage as the only permitted conditions for sex.’ The Gay Liberation Front’s key theme was anti-assimilation. Gay people were equal, sure, but they were different as well, and as such should play no role in conforming to the ‘archaic’ institutions and cultural practises that made up Britain’s history. It was this direct, ‘in-yer-face’ attitude which makes the GLF so important to Gay history in Britain. The concept of Marriage could play no part in their ‘aim at the abolition of the family.’ (p.9)
I for one oppose marriage. I agree with the GLF when they stated that ‘we will not be freed so long as each succeeding generation is brought up in the same old sexist way in the patriarchal family.’ It would have been hypocritical of me, I believed, to oppose marriage, but be in favour of Equal Marriage.
I then looked to see who also opposed Equal Marriage. I could find nobody that shared my opinion on the fundamentally unjust nature of marriage. Instead it was a collection of knee-jerk Tory MPs (the dusty and offensive Peter Bones of this world) and irrelevant Church Minsters, whose quest to preserve ‘traditional family values’ was little more than thinly veiled homophobia and ignorance. These people seem to advocate human rights, as long as this doesn’t stretch to sexuality equality. And I was not prepared to enter this unholy coalition.
It then dawned on me that my argument was flawed. Basically, I was being an academic elitist, pontificating from the comforts of a university on how ‘blinkered’ everyone was apart from me. (I once heard this described as ‘intellectual masturbation’).
So if gay couples wish to show their love to one another and society at large by entering the traditional institution of marriage then there is absolutely no argument, certainly morally, why this shouldn’t be allowed to happen. Sign me up as a convert. Just don’t expect any Queer Radicals to be heading up the aisle any time soon.
By Dan Harrison, former BULS Chair