Equality Is An Issue Once Again

Lewis Shepherd

Civil Partnership

Gay marriage, civil partnerships, civil ceremonies and religious ceremonies are a few terms that you’ve probably heard being thrown around in the press and laden across the news for quite some time now. From the looks of it these terms aren’t going to be laid to rest anytime soon. That’s right the issue of gay marriage, or whatever other name you’d wish to give it, is back under the spotlight for a number of reasons.

Today sees the Marriage Bill being debated in the House of Commons, which would enable same-sex couples to marry in consenting religious institutions in England and Wales. You can probably guess why it’s been in the news for other reasons. Yes that’s right some people just flat out are not happy about it.

Firstly there was the news that senior Tory figures were trying to delay the gay marriage vote. This was because they believed it could prove deeply divisive and cause damage to the Conservative party in the run up to the 2015 election. The issue has been gaining increasing political currency and concern amongst the Tory party with a number of people threatening to resign claiming that there are more serious issues to be dealt with.

To my mind, I just have to say that if a member of the Conservative party wants to resign because of gay marriage then that’s one less bigot in power. Quite frankly they should not be in that position with their antiquated and discriminatory values. If a member of a political party resigned because they had racist ideologies then they’d most likely be chased through London by a lynch mob and publicly and politically tarred and feathered. Just look at the way Nick Griffin is treated by the general public (and when I say that I mean most people on the Internet). No one is suggesting the same treatment will fall on these defectors, but on a sliding scale of bigotry, this should cause many to re-evaluate their suitability for public office if they refuse to recognise equality in society.

Someone should really point out to these Members of Parliament that if it is not discussed now then it’ll just be back on the agenda once again come the next election. We’re not going away guys. So you can try and brush this issue under your expenses paid rug as much as you want, but the fact of the matter is it’s not going anywhere.

Now I turn my attention to the Church of England, because you cannot have an article about gay marriage without bringing them into it (for people who dislike the idea so much they don’t half harp on about it). Many may know that the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was formally confirmed as the head of the Church of England on February 4th, the day before the debate in the House of Commons. A little bit controversial and risky don’t you think?

It was rumoured that on his first day he would attack the idea of marriage equality, something that Welby’s office quickly downplayed. He instead defiantly placed his flag in the middle ground, ambiguously stating “The Government wants it. We think there are issues around the way it is going forward.” However, this hasn’t stopped the Church being hit by criticism, mainly because of its 8 page briefing note on the bill that they’ve supplied to every Member of Parliament ahead of the vote.

Now it would take too long to go through all the criticism that has been levelled surrounding this, but one thing that did stick in my mind is something that Reverend Sharon Ferguson, the head of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement said. After stating that the idea of Justin Welby attacking gay marriage was ‘absolutely horrific’ she mentioned that the Church should be trying to welcome gay and lesbian couples back into its pews.

I for one could not agree with her more. Over the years religion has belittled gay people and nearly every idiotic bigot out there with a mouth bigger than their brain has used their ‘knowledge’ of religion to exclude the LGBT community. Because of this many gay people have left the Church and don’t believe in religion. Through being unable to marry, many feel it is preventing them from displaying their love for another person.

Religion by all accounts is not as big (if that’s the right way to put it) as it once was. The fact that Jedi was recognised as a religion in the census shows us that in general the populace are less God-fearing, more force-loving individuals. So why on earth would the Church continue to persecute and isolate?

This debate is ultimately stilted as after all they are their beliefs and everyone is entitled to their own opinion, bigoted or not, with the same being true of oppositional MPs.

But just think about this, 50 years ago black people in America were made to walk on opposite sides of the street, stand up for white people on buses and suffer a whole barrage of abuse because of something they could not help: the colour of their skin. An interracial marriage in the 60s was a big deal, a very big deal. Comparing these past times to the present situation in 2013 makes you realise how shocking that was, and the thought of discrimination, racist mass marches and discriminatory political speeches happening in mainstream society today is unfathomable.

So when we do see these terms for gay marriage get banded about just think it’s not just about marriage, but equality and surely everyone deserves that in 2013? Didn’t R.E at school teach us that we are supposed to love everyone.

About Lewis Shepherd

Lewis Shepherd is a freelance journalist who has covered a wide range of subjects in his work such as: film, music, television, travel, health, relationships, LGBT affairs and student news. He currently writes for a number of websites including the Huffington Post.