Gay Marriage Rights

30 Mar

Here in the UK, Civil partnerships were introduced in 2005, giving gay couples similar legal rights to married heterosexual couples, with such rights including burial rights of loved ones, access to pensions and insurance, decisions on health, and home ownership. Prior to 2005, a female or male couple, in a committed relationship, could not automatically pass on their possessions to their partner, and such possessions and benefits would not automatically become the property of their partner after death. Quite often, possessions and benefits would be conferred to the family of the deceased partner. Attempts for the surviving partner to claim possession would have to be resolved through the courts, with little protection or prospect of a positive outcome for the partner. The law was always in favour of the family, and therefore, it was discriminatory and unjust, in practice.

Today, it has become apparent that “gay marriage” is not just concerned with matters of equality, ownership of the deceased partner’s possessions, and benefit in pension rights. It is also about the equal right to marry the person one loves, where that marriage can take place, and whether such a joining of two individuals can in fact even be called a marriage. Christians and other religious communities, such as Muslims, would have it that the sanctity of marriage is and should be reserved for the joining of a man and women. But is this also an unjust discrimination? And what of the right of same sex couples having the right to marry in a place of worship? This is the new equality debate that is being contested on both sides at the moment.

In the UK, the laws that came into force in 2005 to make things more equal still prohibit same sex couples from “marrying” and doing so in a place of worship. Instead the marriage between same sex couples was/ is called a “civil partnership” and can only take place in a non-religious venue and vows cannot contain any religious quotations and references. For Gay Christians, however, this is not complete equality and support for complete equality has slowly been gathering momentum. Gay Christians have argued that their religion guides all aspects of their lives, and so, should not be excluded from something considered as important as their official joining to the person they love, in celebration of their faith and commitment. Others in the gay community, who may not be religious, argue that anyone should be able to call their joining a marriage and also be permitted to marry in any venue, religious or otherwise. The latter, for the non-religious, would represent complete equality under the State and in the eyes of the law.

That this has become a key issue in the debate between religiosity and marginalization of Christianity, has given rise to the Christian Church to assert ownership of the accord of marriage as an integral component of Christianity itself. This is despite marriage only being drawn into and claimed by the Christian church since the Middle Ages, presumably with the purpose of the Church claiming its ownership to assert the importance of the presence of religion in people’s lives’ and also to maintain position of power within society (See: Marriage Etymology: Wikipedia).

If religion has any claim to the sanctity of the joining of a man and women in a place of worship, it cannot be in claiming ownership of the term “marriage”. Otherwise it would have been decreed and recorded as such in the foundations of religious texts and cultural practices. Equally, same sex couples have no claim to the right of a joining in a place of worship, unless it can be established that their religion accepts their joining as being as natural as and equal to that of a man and a women. As appears to be the case, the question of same sex equality; in the eyes of religion still remains to be established, as much as it does when considering whether the State has any right to intervene in such matters.

Author: Jason Schumann

Tags: Cultural Analysis, Debating Culture,Gay Rights, Church, Gay Marriage, Gay Equality, Gay Christians, Christianity, Civil partnerships, Same sex marriage, Politics, Religion and Sexuality,

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