Monday, March 31, 2014

#Marriage and #Equality

This weekend saw the first official marriages between same-sex couples in the UK. It's been a long time coming, but it is a great day to be able to say "Equality in the UK!"

Sadly, there are still those who fight the change. In the run up to the official day, a poll has suggested that '1 in 5 Britons would refuse to attend, if invited to a "gay wedding"'. Their reason? because 'Marriage can only be between a Man and Woman - a Husband and Wife', and so going to a "gay wedding" would be deeply offensive to them. 

I can't I imagine a gay couple randomly inviting complete strangers to their 'special day', so that means 1 fifth of people would rather lose a friend or a family member, rather than change their definition of 'marriage'. Which to me is both really sad - and utterly strange, because we change the definition of words all the time: even the word 'Gay' itself...!

Even more importation, the 20th Century has seen huge changes in the way that we understand the meaning of 'Family', 'Wife', 'Husband' and 'Partner':

'Family' no longer simply means 'blood-ties' - nor does it mean only 'Dad, Mum, and their shared biological offspring'. In this age were most people will be married more than once, and have kids from several previous marriages, 'family' has become a much more flexible term - and one which each 'family' is free to define as they see fit.

Even more interesting: a woman would never now been seen as the simple 'Property' of her family, able to be 'given away' by her Father to another man in exchange for a 'Bride price' (the original meaning of 'Dowry'). And very few modern women would ever agree that being a 'Wife' means having no individual rites of her own to manage her money, inherit or vote - or that her only value as a woman is in her fertility, and that if she proves unable to bear her Husband useful offspring then he should be able to be cast off with impunity (as he would a barren mare).

Likewise 'Husband' itself no longer means 'Master of the house', nor does it mean having the unalienable right to own and manage his wife and children in the same way one would 'husband' your flocks, domestic animals and property (just as 'Husbandry' is still used in farming today).

Even those who demand that 'Marriage can only be between a Man and a woman' have conveniently forgotten that the original meaning included 'forsaking ALL others' - and that the bond was was for life...

With so much that has changed in how we think about marriage, gender and equality - surely one more little tweak shouldn't be that big a deal!?

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