C4M – Ten Reasons – Number Seven

Here’s Reason Number Seven from the Coalition for Marriage’s “Ten Reasons” leaflet.

Myth 7
Gay Marriage Simpsons Style!Gay couples want to marry

Polling shows that only a minority of gay people (39 per cent) believe gay marriage is a priority. And according to the Government only 3 per cent of gay people would enter a same-sex marriage.

A number of gay celebrities and journalists are themselves opposed to gay marriage. Latest official data shows that only 0.7 per cent of households are headed by a same-sex couple. Not all of them want, or will enter, a same-sex marriage. So, why is such a monumental change being imposed throughout society?

This is an interesting one. Certainly, the fact that Christopher Biggins does or doesn’t want to get married (or even bring in gender-neutral marriage) is not a deciding factor, but if even a majority of those for whom this is meant to benefit do not want it, why are we pressing ahead with it?

87 Comments on “C4M – Ten Reasons – Number Seven

  1. It’s a justice issue. A majority voting on the civil rights of minorities is surely distasteful at the best of times.One has to laugh at the ‘Christian’ Institute roping in Biggins, Everett (who was misrepresented, but I digress) etc as Popes of Homosexuality, Peter Tatchell presumably taking a temporary leave from the role. Why is one Biggins worth more than all of Stonewall, which by its nature represents the common gay man in the street (or park! ;-)) ?

    • Oh, but Ryan, aren’t you being a little disingenuous there? Stonewall were always against gay marriage until they were bullied into acquiescence by gay activists. One of the reasons was the cost of it (their estimate was £5 billion, unless anyone missed this on my previous posts) set against the number of people who would actually take it up (hardly any). If we presented this ‘equality issue’ to the public in a different way, I wonder how many would actually support it.

      I suggest something like:

      Do you want us (the government) to spend five billion quid of your money on something which hardly anybody actually wants, and which will make absolutely no difference to them in real terms, and which will ensure that (real) marriage is diluted even further, and that children will be indoctrincated with potentially life-threatening sexual practices and consciencious objectors will be criminalised. Do you also want the Church of England to have to choose between throwing in the towel or being disestablished, with the inevitable consequences for the monarchy, which in turn will affect the Royal Peculiars (no more royal weddings in Westminster Abbey, St Pauls etc will probably have to be sold), and innumerable other consequences.

      It may surprise you but many gay people don’t actually want this either.

      • Bullied by gay activists? Stonewall are gay activists, so how does that work? If you’re claiming that at one point there was less support for gay marriage among the gay community then there might be currently, then you might be right. But of course disagreeing about the merits of gay marriage in no way means that gay people object to the rights of other people to be allowed same sex marriage if they so wish. Can I ask what your source on the amount of gay people who do or do not want things is? Hope you can cite something better than the Daily Heil or the ‘Christian’ Institute ;-)

        Care to elaborate on these ”life-threatening sexual practices”? I recall the time when, in the context of you having a pop at Peter for his daring to criticise Lisa Nolland and ex-gay conference, that two men and one woman double anal penetration was one of the ”horrors of the gay lifestyle”’ (!). Sorry to break it to you, but men penetrating women is straight sex.

        I was at school long (ish! ;-)) before Section 28 was repealed. You might be shocked (given that you appear to know nothing about non-gay ‘normal’ male sexuality) to know that, circa 16 or so, we all knew about (albeit, in some cases, in the abstract) what anal and oral sex involved.

        Marriage equality is, believe it or not, not a secret attempt to convince kids of the joys of fisting.

        • NB I see you’re claiming that allowing gay marriage would make no difference, whilst also claiming that it would lead to (Save The Children!!) kids being indoctrinated into dodgy sexual practices and the criminalisation of conscientious objectors (Teh Gays Are Just Like Nazis!) .

          Which is it?

          • A falsified contradiction by omission. Jill means that gay marriage will make no difference to…the current legal rights of gay couples. While, she also claims that it would make a difference to the lives of others.

            BTW, care to respond to pro-gay marriage Policy Exchange’s evidence in its White Paper, ‘What’s in a name?’:

            Page 20 – 21.
            ‘While we are particularly careful not to throw around hackneyed stereotypes about gay people, society does need to be concerned about rising levels of HIV/AIDS in the UK. One in ten gay men in London is HIV positive and one in 20 nationwide is living with HIV. In 2010, 3,000 gay and bisexual men were diagnosed with HIV – the highest figure to date. Gay men accounted for 45% of the new HIV diagnoses in 2010.43 The number of new cases amongst gay men increased by some 70% between 2001 and 2010.’

            ‘At the same time, research by the gay networking company Jake found increased levels of unsafe sex and promiscuity. The survey, of 1,500 of its members, found that “nearly three-quarters of those surveyed said they had had up to five sexual partners in the previous month, with a third of those over 40 having six or more in the past six months… As many as 72.8% have unsafe sex and 48.1% said they’d had unprotected sex with strangers.” Only half of those surveyed had been for an HIV test in the previous year.’

            ‘Although there are many examples of successful, monogamous relationships in gay life, many parts of the gay scene are still dominated by heavy drinking, drug abuse and short-term relationships – both of which can be detrimental to longterm physical and mental health. Websites such as Gaydar and phone apps such as Grindr offer the kind of on-demand sex that is still seen as a key part of the gay scene in 2012. However, the kind of short-term behaviour and levels of risktaking that sociologists have identified with unmarried young males still forms a far bigger part of gay life than it does of heterosexual life.

            • i) Gay people having the right to marry members of the same-sex, which they don’t currently, would demonstrably change the legal rights of gay people irrespective of how many choose to partake in said rights. I myself have zero interest in marrying anyone; I’m glad the right exists however. I’m not sure a logic fan yourself will benefit from leaping, Sir Galahad-style, to defend Jill’s nonsense (similarly, liberal-me found Alan’s ‘debating’ style quite as contrary to sensible discussion as you!)

              ii) I’m curious why you’d think that I’d think that a White Paper by a pro-gay organisation – any gay organisation? – is somehow speaking ex cathedra for my time and ergo I’m obliged to defend it. But:

              1 in ten gay men in London are HIV positive? And? Compassion for the sick is a Christian duty, a significant minority of gay men in a particular place having a disease tells us what of use about all those non-HIV positive men in places other than London exactly?

              To be of use, your paper would have to provide comparable rates of heterosexual casual sex etc and also offer and argument on why the numbers for teh gays are not only bad but in a sense unacceptable. ‘Far bigger’ does not equal ‘so big as to make it reasonable to characterise homosexuality per se as involving HIV, drugs, random buggery etc etc”

              Dan Savage has noted that the greater frequency of sexual encounters is a positive of gay life, as has Stephen Fry, as has Edmund White. So I’m not sure where you’re going with this. In terms of my own points on the subject, I’d maintain that Jill is indeed madly prone to a straight=good, gay=bad false dichotomy. She defended the Jan Moir Stephen Gately article, presumably because she herself also thinks being gay leads to pulmonary oedema. I’d maintain that any reliable data on the rates of heavy drinking, sexual partners, drug taking etc etc in the straight world would serve to negate such a dichotomy. And of course one can cite the Sullivan line that the general hedonism in the gay world is a reason why they need the civilising option of marriage.

              • i) Chivalrous intervention aside (discretion is indeed the better part of valour), if the proposed right was merely a liberty-right, i.e. a freedom from hindrance, like free speech. you’d be right. In fact, marriage is a claim-right imposing a duty of recognition as equivalent on others.

                Given that marriage is an institution, those participating must not contradict its shared social and inter-generational meaning. They would have to be capable of demonstrating that their relationship is constituted in a manner that does not contradict beneficial biological kinship.

                ii) Considering your response, let me say that care to respond is not the debting equivalent of issuing a papal bull (unfortunate that the casual use of word has gained a pejorative meaning,isn’t it?)

                What’s ironic is that after suggesting you have no reason to defend the paper, you finally cite the Sullivan line, which is one of the paper’s conclusion, that marriage will be a commitment device (page 13)

                ‘Structural commitment is commitment based on external factors, such as marriage vows, moral commitment is commitment based on a value system and personal commitment is commitment based on the personal satisfaction and pleasure gained from the relationship.’

                So, the claim is that marriage engenders commitment through the public exchange of vows.

                My goal wasn’t to support the paper’s statistics (which, as you say, should be presented with comparative heterosexual figures), although we could investigate and Peter would have a field day. What I am questioning is the ground upon which society should believe that access to marriage will impose a regime of fidelity and lifelong commitment on gay relationships when civil partnership has clearly not done so, Do we really believe that the relative significance of marriage compared to civil partnership will make the difference?, Why should marriage be pressed into the service of curbing the behaviour of any minority, or individual? Is marriage really about applying social control?.

                  • So, we agree, as I stated that marriage is *not* a commitment device. Tell gay marriage advocates like the Policy Exchange to abandon this flimsy argument.

                    Heterosexual relationships are not, by their very constitution, supplanting the primacy of the beneficial biological kinship that the institution of marriage is geared towards extending.

                    Heterosexual marriage does not attempt to confer primary biological rights upon a partner by an ever unwarranted presumption as genderless marriage does and thereby allowing a child’s extended paternal blood relations to be marginalised.

                    Very different really. See HFEA 2008.

                    • Well, yes and no, People who marry are still more likely to be committed to one another than those who don’t, but it can be over-stated – largely by marriage advocates wanting to justify tax breaks.
                      The other stuff isn’t in the least important other than to people like you – as an adopted person biological kinship is meaningless to me in any case. And that argument is over – as same sex couples can and do adopt, and have children via IVF, married or otherwise. Yesterday’s argument – as this will be when it passes into law. In a couple of years time it just won’t be an issue , in the way civil partnerships aren’t now.

                    • Mike,

                      Can I be absolutely clear on this. You want to change the law so it is no longer assumed that the child born to a woman who is married is also the biological child of her husband. You want to change that assumption in the law? You think it’s irrelevant?

                    • I think Tom hit the nail on the head in an earlier post. It’s clear that the right of every child born within a same-sex marriage to know *both* of its biological parents will be automatically subordinated to the parental ‘rights’ of the spouses.

                      Within current marriage laws, the child has a normative right to know and enjoy the love of both biological parents. We accept that an infertile couple should have access to assisted reproduction, once parental rights have been relinquished in gamete donation. However, the proposed changes do not accommodate the result of an unfortunate medical condition, such as sterility.

                      Instead, this is an effort to constitute a marriage by law in a way that *normatively* overrules a child’s lifelong right to know its biological origins by *automatically* assigning parental rights to someone who is not related by blood. This will occur in every same-sex marriage. This is morally reprehensible.

                      Every person, including Mike, has a lifelong right to know its biological parents, especially if they decline anonymity. At least, Mike knew of his birth mother, only to express a greater affinity towards his adoptive parents. I can’t believe that any Christian would support a law designed to rob a child of that lifelong right. The parental track record of one’s own birth parents shouldn’t figure into it.

                    • Out all day, my public library blocks this website (bloody conservatives ;-)) ; disappointed that you’ve not responded to my post beginning ‘you were making a distinction’ David!

                    • You’re in Glasgow and you blame “Conservatives” for the library services? Glasgow? Conservatives? Glasgow? What is this socialist delusional fantasy you are living in?

                    • Ha! Indeed, the library closures south of the border suggest that, in a genuine Tory government, there would ultimately be no libraries at all, ‘normal’ (i.e.: well-off) people buying everything on Amazon, and the lower orders being unimportant. Good point! ;-)

                    • I’m a unionist. This blog’s union flag and quotes from HM the Queen is something I can give a hearty ‘amen’! to :)

                    • I was out at the company Christmas party last night. You know, when I don’t respond in a timely fashion, it’s because I do have a rich and vibrant life outside of this blog…No, guys, really…I do…Why won’t anyone believe that? (sigh)

                      BTW, I’m equally disappointed that you haven’t posted your legally resilient genderless definition of consummation?

                    • Cool. I see Dan alluded to taking Terry up the aisle (so to speak ;-))again this week – I’m looking forward to hearing more details of that!

                    • Yes, Married-in-Canada-and-boyfriends-in-America, they will soon become Married in Canada-married-in-Washington,Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, DC-and-boyfriends-in-the-rest-of-America.

                    • lol. Hmm, am I not on record as regarding consummation as patriachal, phallocentric blarney? Following phallocentric logic one could note that the same sex-union male, as both penetrator and penetratee, is on a superior level to the poor lesbians, who can only penetrate via fists and strap-ons. But of course privleging male sexual responses is hardly consistent with an objective understanding of sexuality; consummation derives from and was sustained by women-as-property, prove-she’s-a-virgin etc dogma that we have mostly, and happily, left behind. Do you see no problem with the shining legal principle of consummation when, in today’s world, the bride and groom will both have ”consummated” relationships with all sorts of people prior to the wedding day?

                    • Ryan, I recently saw on Sky Arts a documentary about white English guys dating ladyboys in Thailand. Those interviewed declared themselves completely heterosexual – not gay (though they had been given reason to wonder so by their English friends and family). The Thai mothers and aunties were quite interested to know if sex had taken place, which they seemed to think clinched, cemented, even ‘consummated’ the relationship. Then I read on line that though they have a lot of cosmetic surgery only 20% of ladyboys go for the full chop. This means that 80% of ladyboys are not post-operative keep their working “wedding gear” as we used to call it in the army – and it seems they often use it on these apparently 100% heterosexual men. It is naive to think anal sex is necessarily gay sex – or indeed that in the case of men and women it always goes in one direction. It seems this is where the ladyboy scores – she, a chick-with-a-dick, offers the best of both worlds in the heterosexual man’s imagination. And, we are counselled not to think for one minute that any echt-gay man would consider having sex with a ladyboy; in his imagination she is classed as a woman so not in the least arousing, dick or no dick.

                    • Consummation is a standard part of all binding agreements. It is especially important when the aw questions whether it was intention of both parties to view the commonly-held expectations as binding. Was there duress, or was it merely a hasty response to a casual attraction? The law sets a minimum standard of mutual behaviour that demonstrates that both parties freely intended for the marriage to be treated as a binding commitment.

                      Before the 1857 Marriage Act was passed, consent to marry could be exchanged in private, rather than through an official ceremony. If the validity of the marriage was called into question by either partner, the inaugural act of coitus between a husband and wife serves as demonstrable proof between honourable spouses of their intention with vows to form a binding, exclusive biological kinship as a basis for a new offshoot of family. Courts can also examine pledges made in pre-marital correspondence between the parties.

                      Sexual intercourse consummates the intentions of the parties to marriage. It is the demonstration of good faith in sexual exclusivity.

                      Although we now have formulaic vows of marriage exchanged before witnesses, the intention of either party for a lifelong sexual commitment can still be disputed. Any other kind of consensual sexual act does not connote (when considered with the exchange of solemn vows) an openness to build a unit of family, since the potential for family is not involved in other acts.

                      There’s nothing patriarchal about it.

                      Finally, on the basis of prior sexual activity, you avoid scrutinizing the validity of vows without a consensual a potential to build a family. (Please don’t resort to another converse accident, like childless couples. We’ve been there before). Yet, you question the validity of consummation: the inaugural act of sexual union that legally demonstrates a mutual acceptance of the potential for biological kinship. Your approach is selective, at best.

                    • The fact that consummation is part of other legal agreements is consistent with women-as-property patriarchy; much of the discourse around marriage, such as dowries, is indeed consistent with the language of commodity. This is not a good thing.

                      Consummation is not sex as the artificially elaborate language of ‘sexual intercourse’ suggests. As the great Dan Savage has pointed out, oral sex and anal sex are still sex – the clue’s in the title! That the most useful, societal, element of marriage dates from only 1857 supports the point that marriage has indeed often involved and changed for the better; it is not a two millenia golden chain. As for “It is the demonstration of good faith in sexual exclusivity.” – if the vast majority of penis-in-vagina sex acts do not lead to sexual exclusivity, then it’s not much of a symbol is it? Much like your claim that a condom-clad penis (i.e. one that is being artifically closed to the gift of new life) in a vagina functions as a fine symbol of an act wanting societal privleging due to its procreational nature. I do not concede the weight you are given to heterosexist symbolism and, even if I did, most modern expressions of the acts in question show that they are not even internally consistent as symbols anyway.

                      Do men vow to honour and obey women? (yes, I know they women aren’t obliged to honour and obey their husbands; I’m emphasising the common patriachal expressions of marriage which follow naturally from antiquated and often sexist laws) . Feminists would say that the fact women are required to capitulate to a patriachal agreement is part of the problem; analogous to the way one has to ‘consent’ to the state to gain its protections.

                    • Talking of being selective, here’s my fine point on freedom of conscience which you keep ducking ;-)

                      ” Do conservative Christians working for regular schools get to teach that all extramarital sex is wrong? Do they condemn masturbation in secular schools? No. Doesn’t that suggest that the notion that conservative Christians have a freedom being threatened by teh gays is somewhat spurious? And, of course, haven’t Catholic schools been teaching Catholic sexual doctrine for decades? Have they been forced to sell kids on the joys of divorce, or heterosexual fornication, or masturbation? The sexual revolution is forty years old. Has it impacted on schools – meaning that those poor persecuted conservative Christians have long been used to having to accept other values – or are we really to believe that it’s had no impact but now, because of the acceptance of gay people, will have a disastrous, liberty-curbing one?”

                    • I’ve identified where the restrictions on religious freedom may occur. The issue is not what they might have to teach is wrong (e.g. your own examples of extramarital sex, masturbation), but what they might have to teach, or promote as *equally* valid. In this case, it’s same-sex marriage.

                      As you saw from the Out in School title, there is a clear attempt to frame unfavourable rhetorical comparisons between biblical/societal opposition to same-sex relationships and support for slavery. Oh, but describe it as a class discussion, just to escape censure.

                      if the censorship of LGBT titles under Section 28 legislation at the library demonstrated persecution to you, you shouldn’t consider our views on this legislation of enforced equivalence as any less serious.

                    • So when you agree on any mutual commitment in another context, do you also view any act in fulfillment any inaugural act of good faith, as an element of chattel patriarchy? Of course not. It’s just another feeble attempt to discredit my argument. What I don’t understand is why you see any value in marriage as an institution.

                      The fact that oral and anal sex include the word sex doesn’t explain why either should have the same potential for impact on society as heterosexual intercourse. Why should it be marriage and why should it engender the same support if it lack that potential?

                      ‘As for “It is the demonstration of good faith in sexual exclusivity.” – if the vast majority of penis-in-vagina sex acts do not lead to sexual exclusivity, then it’s not much of a symbol is it?’

                      Another selective approach. I mentioned that it is ‘the *inaugural* act’, not perpetual proof. The remedy for non-consummation is to return both partners to their state before the marriage took place, i.e. annulment. The remedy for unfaithfulness in a valid marriage is divorce.

                      You then resort to the old chestnut of thwarted procreation as undeserving of the privilege of marriage. A registrar’s role is only concerned with how the marriage, the pairing of partners, is constituted at the time of marriage, rather than the ensuing choices that individuals make afterwards. Those decision cannot be the basis for making laws for registering a marriage.

                      Your final argument is a flimsy attempt to discredit current marriage laws by suggesting that since the vow of obedience was a part of it, it cannot escape that legacy. It has, as you well know. It’s quite desperate to present your argument as feminist, when it isn’t. In fact, it’s just a decoy, since there is no part of the current law that enforces a woman’s submission to a man, not any more than any past ideas about dominant and submissive roles in a gay relationship are universal and enforced today.

                      You’re left with trying to make a claim-right (like citizenship: a duty imposed on the State for recognition) into a universal unconditional liberty-right and trying to jettison any part of marriage that would make it meaningless to gay couples.

                      You don’t actually want gays to get married, you want to subordinate any and every part of marriage for any and every casual gay activity imaginable. And guess what? That form of anarchy is only okay to you until, one day, your own favoured group becomes its target. Then anarchy is the enemy when it suits. That approach is quite lame.

                    • No, I am on record on saying that marriage is societally useful and moreover that free will taken vows are the closest thing to other, useful, binding forms of commitments (e.g. one signs a contract of e.g. employment. One signs a register at marriage after public vows. These things are useful and meaningful. Private sex acts taking place on the wedding night? Less so)

                      “The fact that oral and anal sex include the word sex doesn’t explain why either should have the same potential for impact on social welfare for children as heterosexual intercourse. Why should it be marriage and why should it engender the same support if it lack that potential?”

                      Impact on social welfare for children? That being what, precisely? If there is no more penis-in-vagina sex there won’t be any more children, of course, but that’s equally true (except that birth control methods aren’t 100% effective of course) of most penis-in-vagina sex acts, which tend to be recreational. And of course a couple who had kids but who, for whatever reason, abstained from penis-in-vagina sex (I know of more than a few women who regard receiving oral, being necessary to their orgasm, as the real deal!) are hardly in any way negatively impacting on the social welfare of children.

                      “It’s quite desperate to present your argument as feminist, when it isn’t. In fact, it’s just a decoy, since there is no part of the current law that enforces a woman’s submission to a man”

                      Rape in marriage was legal until 1994 i.e. very recently. Pointing out the comparatively non-patriachal nature of modern marriage is, again, support for the commonsensical point that it has evolved. Are you really confident that feminists would not in fact have problems with the ideological underpinnings of the concept of consummation, which is self-evidently phallocentric?

                      Again, even if I conceded that marriage necessarily gets its meaning and societal usefulness from its similarities to other forms of contracts (can I ask what you *do* regard as ‘perpetual proof’?), publicly taken vows and signing of registries already have that place. I disagree that consummation is, in 2012, a necessary concept. The vast majority of acts of ‘consummation’ – given that most women do not become pregnant on their wedding night – doesn’t properly meet the Church’s understanding of the term anyway.

                    • The difference is that a signed register is not proof that both partners intended what is necessary for a marriage to be legally valid at the outset. On another thread, I gave you the example of a couple who meet abroad, take vows and sign a marriage register. They fool around with each other after the wedding, but one partner consistently withholds intercourse for over a year. Your response says you think that’s a valid marriage because of the free will taken vows and the remedy is divorce. The law says that it bears no resemblance to a genuine marriage and is open to annulment.

                      The impact on society of heterosexual intercourse is its direct potential for having children as a direct outcome. It justifies the privileges that cater to those who commit to building permanent kinship in the institution of marriage and have the constituted potential to impact society beneficially in this way. Equally, any pairing which by constitution alone has no such potential should not gain such privileges (I guess I’ll have to mention that I’ve already addressed the elderly-infertility argument on several occasions, so please don’t go down that road).

                      BTW, Merry Christmas!

                    • Vows are a more useful proof than consummation; a couple, used to having sex, may well ‘consummate’ their marriage on their wedding night. If someone made vows in bad faith would the solution be annulment or marriage? Doubtless you might regard a significant moral difference between the two (although I’m not an RC either) but in practice we have defective marital unions that warrant dissolution. Bad , unsound marriages can be entered into despite ‘consummation’; at the very least, a public vow, analogous to appearing before a court of law, has a self-evident moral import meaning that those exchanging vows are (perhaps ideally, but I’d say more often than not) aware of the gravity of the union being entered into and its responsibilites. Wedding night sex, the latest installment (in most cases) of penis-in-vagina sex, is less useful as societal symbol/fulfillment of legal contract.

                      Having children is not a direct outcome of the vast majority of heterosexual recreational sex. You can argue that the male/female unit is by far the best union for the raising of children, but then that remains true irrespective of the variety of sex that occurs in the marriage and the start date to “consummation”. If you regard ‘proper’ (i.e. wedding night) consummation as being uniquely privleged then does this not owe much to its context i.e. after/arising from vows and signatures? Does this understanding not differ rather from the strict historical understanding of consummation, and indeed point towards the importance I’m giving to vows and signatures?

                      Merry Christmas to you too! Hope Peter gives us a Doctor Who christmas special blog post. There is afterall, as Oscar Wilde probably didn’t say, more to life than religion and bumming ;-)

                    • If we were discussing a different impediment, such as fraud, or mental incapacity, I think that you would accept that holding a wronged partner to a legal obligation for, at least, two years (under divorce law) when the other has demonstrated no intention of fulfilling one of the basic expectations of marriage is unfair.

                      The legal understanding is that while a couple will engage in a variety of sexual activities, sexual intercourse is a just expectation of the other partner. What should happen, if the absence of intercourse reveals either permanent incurable impotence, or that one partner never intended anything more by their vows than a bit of sexually exclusive fondling? Apart from the cause of adultery, the normal wait for a divorce by mutual consent is two years. Divorce is not the remedy.

                      The key difference between divorce and annulment is not spiritual, but juridical. As you may be aware, an annulment could be granted immediately. Also, especially if it occurs shortly after the wedding, an annulment attempts, where possible, to return each partner’s belongings brought to the marriage. In a divorce, the combined assets would be divided equally.

                      ‘Bad, unsound marriages can be entered into despite ‘consummation’; I agree. However, those marriages are not invalidly contracted. A bad, unsound marriage does not necessarily mean that one or both partners were incapable of intending to live up to the expectations of marriage. Their joint assets should be divided fairly. One party may even be entitled to spousal support, Failed valid marriages are remedied by divorce, rather than annulment.

                    • Fiddlesticks has just posted that you are a Catholic. If that is so are you a priest or in a religious order, if you don’t mind saying? I had already wondered if you were a lawyer, if you remember – you do seem to have a very legally-logically trained mind of perhaps a Jesuit or a Domincan. Or are you just a Vatican plant from Opus Dei, David:-)

                    • Don’t mean to burst his bubble, but I’m not a capital ‘C’ catholic. Nevertheless, I do believe that there is a catholic faith.

                      The Vatican plant on every religious blog in the world would be an interesting twist to the usual conspiracy theories, though. Just imagine an on-line army of multi-blog commenters sworn to uphold the moral hegemony of the Illuminati. Dan Brown would have a field day!

                    • Perhaps his next novel. Here’s a suggestion for a beginning. (It’s panto time, so no apologies.)

                    • ‘People who marry are still more likely to be committed to one another than those who don’t’. To take the step of marriage normally entails a high level of existing commitment. Access to marriage will not, by itself, engender that level of commitment in anyone. For instance, reaching 18 does not make young couples more committed to each other.

                      Irrelevance to you is your simplistic way of saying you have no answer. So what if biological kinship is meaningless to you? That doesn’t make it unimportant to those for the many who don’t want the priority of blood-related parents and extended family undermined. If any of these ‘marriages’ end quickly, you will force a biological mother to grant equal control of the child’s future to an ex-partner who could have no blood relationship to the child, on the basis on nothing more than a presumption through marriage. Not even signed consent.

                      Arguing your side of this debate as a foregone conclusion (some Liberals said the same of the House of Lords Reform Bill 2012 and the Women Bishop’s Measure) is proven to be a false assumption. I thought you’d know better.

                    • I’d be interested in just how (naturally, as opposed to tactically) popular you think your marital vocabulary of consummation and kinship is, David. Updating marriage law to reflect the realities of most modern relationships (vows are societally useful, antiquated phallocentric blarney is, arguably, not) , in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing.

                    • Just as with the abortion debate, there are several levels of engagement. On blogs like this and Thinking Anglicans, the contributors are accustomed to and engage in robust intellectual arguments.

                      In the context of daily life, people are less discerning. For instance, they won’t see a connection between their kids’ anti-heroes of rap music spitting rhymes about fawning, sexually submissive female ghetto stereotypes and misogynistic gang culture. They won’t see an immediate connection between homophobic ragga music and violent attacks on gays.

                      If recent events are anything to go by, they will take issue when local authorities arrogantly demote, or terminate competent housing officers, teachers and marriage registrars for respectively posting an unsupportive comment on Facebook, for refusing to treat the subject of genderless marriage as morally neutral, or for opting out of civil registration ceremonies for homosexuals.

                      They will take issue when you disqualify a caring elderly couple from fostering because they hold to what you consider ‘antiquated phallocentric blarney’.

                      They will take issue when you initially claim that religious concerns should be dispelled by limiting the scope of proposals to civil marriage, only to permit a religious opt-in after the consultation is over.

                      The surveys show that the public already see through Cameron’s ploy of using genderless marriage as an important liberal concession to keep the Coalition intact, a vulgar attempt at modernisation, and a countermeasure against the public perception of Tories as inflexible and dogmatic.

                    • I’m a big hip-hop fan, and there’s reason why Seamus Heaney bigged up Eminem. Rap is one of the world’s most popular forms of music. Nas and Jay-Z are on the President’s iPod. As such, if you have some actual evidence on rap being uncritically accepted and leading to gang violence then I’d love to see it (I’m sure a logic fan like yourself will note that people self-servingly invoking rap or whatever to seek to mitigate their free will decisions is no kind of ‘evidence’. Listening to songs about being a blood, say, is cathartic, not a halfway house to buying the first flight to Comptom and buying a glock en route) I’m reminded of the garbage press blaming video games (the world’s most popular entertainment form) or movies, or comic books, or (disgracefully) Asperger’s for school shootings.

                      Most people see through ‘Christian’ Institute style alarmism. Would you be surprised to hear that I’m hardly atypical in being against locking up or dismissing people for comments they post on Facebook? This country used to have the death penalty for homosexuality. That’s persecution. As is what resulted from Section 28. Do conservative Christians working for regular schools get to teach that all extramarital sex is wrong? Do they condemn masturbation in secular schools? No. Doesn’t that suggest that the notion that conservative Christians have a freedom being threatened by teh gays is somewhat spurious? And, of course, haven’t Catholic schools been teaching Catholic sexual doctrine for decades? Have they been forced to sell kids on the joys of divorce, or heterosexual fornication, or masturbation? The sexual revolution is forty years old. Has it impacted on schools – meaning that those poor persecuted conservative Christians have long been used to having to accept other values – or are we really to believe that it’s had no impact but now, because of the acceptance of gay people, will have a disastrous, liberty-curbing one?

                      Teachers who espouse creationism in science classes are breaking the law. Does that make certain castes of fundamentalists ‘persecuted’?

                      And again, I disagree that refusal to be beholden to antiquated legal principles represents a lowest common denominator. Free will taken vows, observed publically, are superior to antiquated patriachal symbolism.

                    • I didn’t specify what type of connection, and I certainly didn’t imply a strict causal connection, so, I’m not sure what purpose your boiler-plate polemic against censorship serves.

                      Given your comments, I just find it unfortunate that poor Buju Banton was vilified by gays for his homophobic music, as if it caused hate crimes. In contrast, the Elvis of rap attributes his lyrics to his Slim Shady persona, duets with Elton John at the Grammy Awards and it all disappears.

                      I welcome your refreshing tolerance towards those who post a disagreement with genderless marriage in their own time on social media. Pity it didn’t prevent a liberal witch-hunt.

                      As an concrete example, the ‘Out in School’ literature for schools that is endorsed by the PSHE Association simply introduces an RE discussion of literalist bible interpretation by making unfavourable comparisons of homosexual prohibitions with slavery,


                      An evangelical Christian teaching S&RE at the school might have reservations, when the head insists on a similar approach to discussing marriage in a way that insinuates a comparison between earlier opposition to gay marriage and slavery. So, your hyperbole destroys the quality of your argument.

                      Finally, perhaps, you should turn the question on yourself and ask whether the ordinary people will ever connects with phrases like ‘phallocentric’ and ‘antiquted ptriarchal symbolism’

                    • i) you were making a distinction between elevated discourse such as one finds here and at Thinking Anglicans (no Anglican Downstream? ;) ) and those who do not acknowledge or are unaware of particular connections. Disagreeing that particular connections exist and explaining why is something quite different, hence the hip-hop digression. Eminem, personally, is pro-gay marriage, which is surely what counts. After all, one of the biggest stories of the musical year was Frank Ocean (whose Channel Orange is surely the album of the year) coming out. Frank Ocean is a member of the supposedly violently homophobic OFWGKTA.

                      ii) If I was a free speech purist then I would not be at home among the anti-gay marriage conservative Christian team. The ‘Christian’ Institute (succesfully, albeit temporarily) stopped the work of an HIV carers group by invoking Section 28. I myself, circa the repeal of Section 28, was warned from the pulpit that it will lead to ”anal buggery’ being taught in school. Also here in Glasgow (my nearest city – I’m sure there are similar examples all over the country) Jerry Springer the Opera and a Sexuality and Faith exhibition at GOMA were picketed by conservative Christians. Section 28 demonstrably lead to LGBT titles not being stocked in public libraries in a manner that amounts to censorship. This country has a long history of the gay minority being persecuted by conservative Christians. There is no such context of anti-Christian persecution. As such the C4M’s supposed interest in merely protecting freedom of liberty and conscience is very hard to take seriously. Conservative organisations oppose clergy making a free will decision to offer same-sex ceremonies. Gay people are, believe it or not, not trying to ban Christianity or expressions thereof.

                      iii) I suspect you’re (hopefully unintentionally) emphasising my hyperbole to avoid addressing my actual points. As the saying goes, you answered everything but my question ;-). Let me reiterate them:

                      ” Do conservative Christians working for regular schools get to teach that all extramarital sex is wrong? Do they condemn masturbation in secular schools? No. Doesn’t that suggest that the notion that conservative Christians have a freedom being threatened by teh gays is somewhat spurious? And, of course, haven’t Catholic schools been teaching Catholic sexual doctrine for decades? Have they been forced to sell kids on the joys of divorce, or heterosexual fornication, or masturbation? The sexual revolution is forty years old. Has it impacted on schools – meaning that those poor persecuted conservative Christians have long been used to having to accept other values – or are we really to believe that it’s had no impact but now, because of the acceptance of gay people, will have a disastrous, liberty-curbing one?”

                      You post a link of material that a conservative Christian would find objectionable. I’m not denying that of course teachers might take issue with the curriculum party line. But atheism is not, to the conservative Christian, ”morally neutral” either. Neither is Judaism, or Islam, or abortion, or gambling, or masturbation, or extra-marital sex etc etc. Why is it only in the area of anti-gay sentiment where it’s assumed that teachers have a right to espouse whatever their conscience dictates?

                      My language is albeit necessarily academic haracterisation of particular legalese. Your average person on the street having zero interest in such legalese, but a keen, instinctive regard for Commitment, Romance etc is not an argument against bringing marriage law in accord with on-the-ground reality (yes, of course there might be particular legal concepts that the layperson doesn’t understand or value which are of great societal value; I disagree, for reasons elaborated-on elsewhere, that consummation et al are in that category)

                    • It does matter to some people Mike. My partner discovered he had four half-brothers and sisters on Genes Reunited. We went to New Zealand to meet them and had a brilliant time. I, on the other hand, have loads of relatives but I only keep up with one or two. I believe it may be an evolutionary drive to make families as many creatures do.

                      I have a friend whose mother conceived all four sons by different IVF fathers, her own husband being impotent. My friend is very pleased NOT to be related to his mother’s husband but furious with Baroness Warnock who allowed a window when men could donate sperm anonymously. It was at that time he was conceived so he has no hope of finding his birth father…and he very much wants to. I suppose all that this shows is that the biological connection is stronger for some people (and in some traditional cultures) than for others. However I believe for Christians this drive is supposed to be entirely dismissed : “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple”.

                    • Tom:

                      As far as I’m aware, men are still allowed to donate sperm anonymously. The key difference is that donors are now required to provide a modicum of personal information for the child to know something of its genetic origin.

                      Notably, the assessment criteria for those applying for IVF treatment changed in HFEA 2008 from a recognition of ‘the need for a father’ to less stringent ‘need for supportive parenting’. This has also had an impact.

                      Additionally, a donor can re-register and provide a means of contact to be made available. The child is allowed at 18 to request it. Although, it would be obvious in the case of same-sex couples, there is no legal obligation for any couple using assisted reproduction to tell the child how it was conceived.

                      Even when informed, the child has no statutory right before 18 to discover the origin of its biological identity. The couple’s purpose for having the child trumps the child’s right to know how and by whom it was conceived. So much for the best interests of the child.

                      In contrast, it is proposed that a person, who is not related to a child by blood, should by marriage, automatically gain the same rights as the birth mother, However short the marriage, the new Shared Parenting Bill will enforce their ‘right’ to involvement in the child’s life.

                      BTW, the backdrop to that quote from Luke 14 is the theme at the end of Luke 13: the cost of discipleship. Loyalty to Christ should far supersede our loyalty to either family, or personal ambitions that contradict our renewed moral segregation. A segregation that demonstrates the esteem that we place on the generous gift of salvation. The resulting conflict with worldly relatives is described in this way ‘a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ (Matt. 10:36) It certainly does not make the avoidance of all family relations a mandatory part of discipleship.

                    • Would you agree that the Luke quotes do point to potential family/faith conflicts, in a way not obviously consistent with the Family Values heterosexism that some are prone to conflate with Christianity per se? Orthodox Christianity deserves (much more than, but you know what I mean!) respect. Family Values alarmism does not. or at least not to the same degree.

                    • As far as I’m aware, ‘Family Values’ political ideas focus on the expression of human sexuality within a framework of responsible biological kinship as beneficial to society.

                      That said, as with any political movement, it has been hi-jacked by some right-wing movements as a key differentiator to defeat their opponents, only to find that they themselves have far from exemplary family lives anyway.

                      The conflict generated by our conscientious commitment to follow Christ will prompt a rejection of subservience to family priorities. Equally in pursuit of eternal life, the call to hate even your own self-advancing ambitions challenges the narcissism of misappropriating marriage equivalence to gain equality of esteem and particularly riding roughshod over the rights of biological fathers, when it’s at the expense of a child’s entitlement to know and love a father who does not opt for anonymity.

                    • That’s exactly the point, Ryan. It is no use holding a flat fundamentalist view of the ‘plain’ meaning of the text of the sayings of Jesus if you then have to explain away the lectio difficilior that doesn’t suit your Thatcherite view of the self-centred nuclear family as being in some way ideally Christian. Jesus’s words are taken very seriously in the Catholic Church’s strictest religious orders like the Carthusians and the Cistercians; family connections weren’t entirely banned but were severely limited to a visit from them no more than once a year. On the other hand the crazier branches of Christianity disconnected all relations with the family left behind once you joined them. Then it was called brainwashing and the distraught family often tried to kidnap their ‘children’ back and get them deprogrammed.

                    • Who are these people who hold ‘a flat fundamentalist view of the ‘plain’ meaning of the text’? Who are these people who have a ‘Thatcherite view of the self-centred nuclear family as being in some way ideally Christian’? Who are these people? I hear about them all the time, but I’ve never met any of them.

                    • Really? I used to go to an evangelical church, and I met oodles. One is reminded of the fabulous (and Very Reverend) Kelvin’s (www.thurible.net) point that a sign saying ”Family Service” usually says nothing useful about the style of a service but does communicate ”Pooves Not Welcome” which is, sometimes, helpful to know.

                    • It seems a real pity that none of them post on this website. They’re never going to be able to learn from you just how wrong and unChristian they are …

                    • Yes, but one could posit evangelical feminism as a perfect storm of irrationality, Fiddle Sticks, but me and Tom still talk to you ;-)

                    • What’s an evangelical feminist? Anyway, aren’t we getting off topic? Sheppie is a Catholic, and none of this gets Tom out of explaining how when our Lord said that you must choose the family of Christ over natural family ties he could be interpreted as meaning us to understand that men could marry men, or that infertile couples could have children by surrogate mothers, or that two women could put their names on a child’s birth certifcate etc. (which is what Sheppie was arguing against).

                    • “none of this gets Tom……..when our Lord said…”

                      So you are setting my agenda for me FS? Thank you, it’ll save me thinking for myself. Why should I think that remote figure Jesus had anything to say about anything off the pages of the New Testament narrative? Over to you.

                    • “What’s an evangelical feminist?”

                      The worst of all possible worlds? ;-) Actually, the fact that conservatives have largely capitulated to feminism is one reason why its hard to take their Standing Firm rhetoric seriously. Is the ‘normal’ stereotypical straight man disgusted by gay sex? Of course! Does it keep him up nights? No. Compare and contrast from a world where we’re told that feminism isn’t about man-hating whilst Julie Bindel writes columns entitled ”Why I Hate Men’ in a national newspaper; more girls than boys go to University but the pressing issue is apparently to get more women doing engineering degrees, not worrying about the undeperformance of boys in schools; men are compared to rapists and child abusers for liking images of attractive women, whereas ”Boys Are Stupid” merchandise is merely jolly good fun; male sexuality is demonised at every turn, whereas Ann Summers and ”mummy porn” like Fifty Shades of Grey is proudly displayed in the high street etc etc. If any of the ‘conservatives’ want to address the conservatives of heterosexual men then addressing the above concerns, and dialing down the preoccupation with bumming, might be a good place to start.

                    • No, it isn’t. It’s wrong. How can we ensure that every child’s right to know its biological father is never supplanted by de jure parental rights?

              • Ryan, did you hear Dan Savage’s wonderful paean of praise and thanks to all the righteous straight people without whom the recent victories for equal marriage in the States could not have happened?

                • Yes Tom – made me well up! Dan’s very good also on noting just how far LGBT rights have come in a short space of time. As they say in Angels in America: the world only spins forward :).

                  Dan’s point about gun control this week was excellent and impassioned too. Contrast with those conservative Christians who blame school shootings on gay marriage and video games; I’d have thought the proof texting fundamentalist fans could, if consistent, have hurled some Save the Children sentiments the NRA’s way.

                  • I heard it too. We this side of the Atlantic just cannot get the idolisation of the 2nd Amendment that goes on, not only in the GOP but also amongst some Democrats. Be interesting to see if there are any studies linking levels of religiosity with levels of NRA support. Meanwhile on another favourite blog of mine, Reasonable Doubts, there is an interview with Ed Brayton discussing his new book about the violence and intimidation many secular activists face when defending the separation of church and state. A good antidote to the notions of victimisation put out by our own “Christian” Institute.


              • I think it comes from me mentioning that evangelicals tend to be fond of citing ad hom, straw man and Godwin’s ‘law’ but not proper fallacies. Although I’m disappointed that David hasn’t been using Latin ;-)

                Talking of fallacies, Jill said:

                “If we presented this ‘equality issue’ to the public in a different way, I wonder how many would actually support it.” Argumentum ad populum? ;-)

                If marriage equality is a justice issue, superceeding the right of a majority to vote on the rights of a minority, then her point is irrelevant. It is amusing the way in which Jill appears, solipsisticaly, to think normal means ”people like her”.

        • >”Bullied by gay activists? Stonewall are gay activists, so how does that work? ”

          It works by ‘gay activists’ bullying other ‘gay activists’. I don’t see how that is hard to understand.

          Try this report in the Indy only a couple of years ago, reporting a ‘split’ in Stonewall.


          And that’s without getting into the transender wars.

          Civil wars always happen when movements demonise their opponents; they usually turn on themselves. There’s been doozie going on between the militant atheist lot for a couple of years now; it seems to be about feminists, self-publicists, and people not wanting to be told what to do. Google “slimepit”.

          • Bullying is (among other things) the abuse of a power base (the powerless ‘bullying’ the powerful is in reality usually satire) One sub-set of gay activists successfully lobbying another set of gay activists is not bullying. That said, will check out links.

      • https://www.peter-ould.net/2012/01/30/sobering-reading-on-changing-attitudes-blog/

        “Ms Nolland is also an enthusiastic advocate of the spurious slippery slope argument: tolerate homosexuality and we will be engulfed by all manner of perversions and we will drown in vile pornography. She distributed several ‘information’ sheets including a list of the most popular acts advertised and depicted on the internet such as ‘double anal’ in which ‘a woman is penetrated anally by two men at the same time’, ‘multiple men ejaculating onto a woman’s face’, ‘a penis thrust so far down a woman’s throat that she gags’ etc etc.”


        jillfromharrow Peter Ould • 9 months ago

        “The same-sex attracted strugglers already mentioned are as disgusted as the rest of us with the material presented at the conferences. This is the kind of life they want to escape. These materials are there to warn the uninformed of the horrors of the gay lifestyle ”

        Multiple men ejaculating on women is called bukkake. As with the fetished Sailor Moon-style schoolgirls and ‘tentacle porn’ it is a) Japanese and b) heterosexual. Men penetrating women is self-evidently heterosexual . As for ‘a penis thrust so far down a woman’s throat that she gags’ . ”Going balls deep” and men ”face f*******” women are horrors of the (men+woman=heterosexual) “straight lifestyle”.

        etc. Perhaps if you concede the above, self-evident truth we can work on your apparent belief that its only teh gays who take drugs ;-).

  2. I’m not sure this is much of an argument. Even if most gay people don’t think it’s a priority, that’s not the same as saying they don’t want it. On the other hand, the fact that support for gay marriage is relatively weak is perhaps an argument against the claim that people want it: even if lots of people want it, they don’t want it that much.

    But on the whole I wouldn’t rely on ‘popularity’ either way. Enough people want it to raise it as a proposal. Let’s argue about whether it’s a good proposal or not.

      • I am always dubious when celebrity gays are coaxed for their anti-gay opinions, Biggins or Everett and the semi-in-the-closet people of yesteryear like John Inman and Larry Grayson – who must have inspired “how very dare you”. Has anyone thought to ask Ian McKellen? Oh yes, Andrew Marr did yesterday on BBC TV 1 the AM programme and he got a rather sensible and considered answer, not in the least bit apologetic. The poll in the Mail on Sunday says 60% support Cameron’s plans and from this we can imply that they accept his argument that his is something he will do because it is something which should be done. The editorial says: “The Mail on Sunday’s Survation poll on attitudes towards same-sex marriage shows a clear majority in favour of something that would have been greeted with widespread shock and dislike as recently as 25 years ago. The Prime Minister will be interested to see how little difference the issue makes to support for his party.” “Demand” from gays – if you can really measure it – has perhaps been superseded – the great British public want to do the right thing by their gay children, brothers and sisters.

        • Indeed. The opinions of so many Uncle Toms tells us very little about the views of your average LGBT individual (although there is any irony in Jill-types deigning to listen to the supposedly representative views of a gay person). Sir Ian is currently starring, yet again, in a blockbuster movie and (as one of the nation’s sweethearts) will be apparently doing a voice in the Christmas special of the much-loved Doctor Who. Compare and contrast with Biggins, who is only in the Daily Heil *because* he’s willing to condemn gay marriage! One wonders just how far down the ‘celebrity’ lists (c, d – z?) the Heil would have been willing to go in order to find a supposed representative LGBT spokesperson for their bigoted ideology. Is Danny la Rue still around? ;-)

          Note also that, as with feminism, individuals not wanting to support (financially etc) a cause doesn’t mean that they disagree with the cause’s aim. Many take it for granted. Not every gay person is a member of Stonewall, say, but it’s reasonable to assume that most gay people are glad indeed to now live in a world where they can’t be fired for their sexual orientation.

            • Sorry. I’d maintain its an apt analogy, and obviously there’s a substantial precedent of using the term to refer to other groups, but your blog, your rules – apologies for any offence caused, and I will of course abstain from using the term identified in future.

              • Offensive or not, I’m not convinced it is an apt analogy, Ryan. I think Biggs is just reflecting a shift in self-perception in the gay community. I think in the past there was more of a tendency to see gay relationships as separate, almost a protest, to the confining relationships of family. Now there’s a move towards seeing gay couples as the basis of a family unit ‘like every other couple’ (the phrase you hear a lot now). I’m guessing that Biggs is just being honest when he says he doesn’t identify with the ‘husband’ label – not trying to say what he thinks heterosexuals want to hear.

                • Not sure you can go as far as that FS, – I still think Ryan has a point though maybe Biggins is the acceptable face of a gay man for some people though probably not quite the poster-boy for changing self-perception of the gay community. Be that as it may, I was impressed by the comment from Matt Damon who is straight but has come out for equal marriage. He never felt the need to deny gay rumours about himself – his shoulders were broad enough and in any case he does not see anything wrong with being gay.


                  • I think you’re confusing two issues – whether people are embarassed about being gay and self-perception. In fact, you could argue it the other way – that the married with a couple of kids is the face that the gay community have had to present to the rest of society in order to be accepted. ‘It’s ok, we’re just like you – no need to worry’. The video of the gay couple who were trying to create a family with similar eye colour and features was an extreme example. It reminded me of that book ‘The Bluest Eyes’ about a black girl who wished she had blue eyes because that was her idea of beauty. Until recently, Peter Tatchell was complaining that Stonewall was the only group that could influence gvt because of its conservative values (like monogamy and gay marriage).

                    I wonder what the real face of the gay community is? I’m genuinely wondering, as I don’t know. I’m guessing that there isn’t one and that gay people have many different values and relationships, but I really don’t know.

                    • I don’t know how many gay people with kids you actually know – perhaps you can tell us? I DO know a guy who intends to father kids and I can tell you that he wants to do it because he wants kids of his own and loves children (he is a splendid uncle to his niece and nephew), simple as that – and not for any rather dubious blanket reasons culled from the internet for extreme or special cases to prove a generalisation about what makes people tick.

                      Then you get into angst over “the real face of the gay community” – as if there were one anymore than “the real face of Anglican community” is just another meaningless generalisation, so of course you don’t know. Perhaps you should take a tip from Keats and try to live a bit with Negative Capability “that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason” when answers to life’s puzzles aren’t immediately yielded up to you. Perhaps I am not the only one who is confused…….

                    • That was rather my point, Tom – that there isn’t a ‘face of the gay community’, but individuals. The phrase was yours, remember? That was why I said it *could* be argued that way (if you’re going to insist on looking for ulterior motives behind how people present themselves) – not that that was the only reason gay couples adopt children! As it happens, I do have gay friends who want children for different reasons – some because they feel that there are too many children with no-one to care for them – some are quite against artificial insemination for that reason. I also have friends in very happy same-sex relationships who don’t feel the need for children and are doing other things in the community. Christopher Biggs is an individual as well, and as capable of free thought and entitled to his opinion as anybody else. That’s why it was quite patronising for Ryan to refer to him as an ‘Uncle Tom’ or for you to suggest that he was presenting the ‘acceptable face of a gay man’ or acting as a ‘poster boy’.

                      I do wish you would actually read what I write and not take offence so easily. Just because I don’t bring in personal experience (it being personal to myself and other people) doesn’t mean that I don’t have any. It’s safer to refer to views that people have chosen to make public.

                    • It appears that I have misunderstood you, FS. If I have misread you then I unreservedly apologise. I really don’t want to get into jejune arguments of the “he said she said” kind again, especially as this is supposed to be the season of peace and goodwill :-)

                      Can I just say as far as celeb gays such as Biggins are concerned, they absolutely have a right to an opinion and a right to air it. But I don’t see how celeb status makes an opinion necessarily carry more wait just because someone like Biggins says it, just as in academia initial qualification is no guarantee of subsequent performance. I am sure you would agree that the argument itself should be weighed, not just because someone famous says it. That was what I was trying to say about Sir Ian – I find his arguments usually have gravitas – and he doesn’t appear to be fearful of upsetting his very large straight fanbase by speaking out what he considers to be right. That was why I also admire Matt Damon’s refusal to rush into denying the gay rumours. Are they connected? Well I think it is not a confusion to see a link.

                      My further point about Biggins being the acceptable face of gay men was not about what the gay community thinks at all but what people like Sir John Major say. He once told my friend that “we” – his PA and himself – “love Larry Grayson”. My friend said that not every gay person would want to be loved for being a stage-gay anymore than the average Irishman wants to be loved because they are thought of as like stage-Irishmen like Terry Wogan.

                    • I suppose it did look a little like I was suggesting gay couples grabbed a few children to blend into the crowd. I guess I was a little offended that you thought I could say something that offensive! :-) No hard feelings.

                      What I was trying to get at was really the question of whether the gay community (whatever that is!) have had to present themselves in a certain way in order to gain acceptance, and whether they should have to do that. It’s always nice to have that moment of ‘you feel the same way as me’, but me accepting you shouldn’t be all about me and how I feel. But, as you’ve suggested, that’s a very complex debate.

                    • It’s important I think FS to note that individuals within the gay community debating whether or not it’s advisable/commendable to take a particular action in no way equates to thinking that it shouldn’t be allowed. Attitude and the like cater (in part) to people with zero interest in getting married – it’s reasonable to assume that most of their readers would still of course the right of others to partake in marriage equality.

                    • I just brought up the idea of changing perceptions/presentation of gay couples as an interesting thing to consider, rather than to defend C4M. I only meant it as a point of discussion, but it doesn’t seem to have been taken that way. You’ve got to feel sorry for poor old Biggins. He was just giving his opinion (quite near the beginning of the debate when quite a lot of gay couples were unsure). It wasn’t as if he was up on stage at the Conservative fringe event with Widdecombe and Cary!

                      Incidentally, Tom, Daniel Radcliffe didn’t rush to deny rumours he was gay either. Eventually he let on that he had a girlfriend, but said it was very flattering when a guy found you attractive. He was a little surprised, but didn’t take it as an insult. I also find it flattering rather than offensive when a girl finds me attractive (not that I’ve had that many propositions, but it can happen) ;-). I’m glad however, I never played the ‘sliding scale’ game when I was younger as I think it can be quite annoying for those struggling to come to terms with their sexuality for whom the whole thing isn’t just a cool trend or phase.

  3. Tangentially, great piece in the Telegraph today that reminds me of what this blog does so well

    Stereotypical liberals (like me!) do not read the Telegraph. Stereotypical conservatives (such as one might find at the Torygraph!) are liable to come out uncritically for side of God and gay-demonisation. Yet Chivers looks at the actual claim being made, the evidence offered, and goes where logic and analysis takes him. As he should.

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