The blog of Monty Moncrieff
London Friend Chief Executive
4th February 2013: Equal Marriage Bingo!
Roll up ladies and gentleman, it’s eyes down for a full House (of Commons) as we play Equal Marriage Bingo!
The rules are simple – you just listen to the debate as Parliament gets its first vote on the issues on Tuesday 5th February, and you cross off on your bingo card every cliché and straw man argument raised in opposition of equality. What could be any simpler? “It will open the door to marriages of three or more people” Tick! “What next? Marry our pets?” Tick! “It will destroy the moral fabric of society” Bingo! (Although some wag quipped on Twitter this weekend that gay men would never do anything to destroy a good piece of fabric…)
I’m not going to make it easy for you though. Some retorts have become so widespread that you’ll need to notch them up a few times before you fill your card. So that’s at least three marry your brother/sister/aunt/uncle comments we need before you can win, I’m afraid.
Expect a few hypocritical references to the moral codes laid down by the Bible. I imagine Leviticus will be a quick gain. You can claim a bonus if the person quoting it has never had a prawn sandwich or let their hair become unkempt (that would rule Boris out then). I don’t wish to sound glib, and I can understand the potential ethical quandary if you really believe your faith opposes homosexuality and requires you to shun LGB people, but this hasn’t seemed to be a problem for religions like the Quakers or the Reform Jews, or even many ordinary members of the main faiths.
Of course to win the star prize you need to have been able to cross off trans people from your bingo card. It’s a special instant win if they’re even mentioned in the debate. If that mention is factually correct then it’s ding-ding-ding jackpot, baby!
I’m being flippant, of course, and I’m mindful of the fact that I’m emotionally robust enough to do so. I haven’t always been so confident in my identity and I’m acutely aware that many of the thousands of LGB & T people London Friend supports every year still experience difficulties reconciling their feelings about their sexual orientation or gender identity. It chills me to hear some of the comments used in the debate, dismissing the significance of our relationships and wilfully seeking to treat LGB & T people less favourably.
The belittling of same-sex relationships
It’s all over the place as we turn in the news or pick up the papers, the latest headline as person after person speaks out against equal marriage. Except of course it’s being wrongly touted everywhere as “gay marriage”, a description that only serves to set it apart instead of equal to simply “marriage” (and let’s just not push our luck by trying to have any bisexual recognition in there, it will only blow people’s minds). Day after day we have the message that this Holy Grail of relationships, this sacred building block of society, this treasured and special institution just ought never to be ours. Is it any wonder that sometimes the dismissing of our relationships for spurious reasons gets a bit too much to bear?
Time and again our service users talk to us about their struggles to feel more comfortable in their identities as LGB or T people. We hear of people becoming distanced from their families, being ostracised at work (or feeling they can’t be open at all), feeling unable to negotiate their relationships and sadly finding they’re gradually drinking more, or overdoing it on the party scene as a means of some temporary escape. I see a parallel between this poor self-esteem and the arguments being put in the equal marriage debate. I find it saddening that in a tolerant society public servants are permitted to belittle us with such contempt in our parliament and in public discourse.
Thankfully it seems we will win the fight for our same-sex relationships to be viewed equally. I hope too that a genuine remedy will be found for those trans people in civil partnerships needing to change their relationship status to gain legal gender recognition, and to recompense those who previously divorced to do so. There are some ugly words still to hear, but here’s hoping the outcome can be a step towards ensuring the emotional well-being of future generations of LGB & T people need not be sullied by the same slurs.
And don't forget there's still time to tell your MP what you think about equal marriage!