David Cameron has said that he is in favour of gay marriage because he’s a tremendous supporter of the institution of marriage. I’ve just heard an argument, from an evo, that gay marriage will clearly undermine the institution of marriage and that it’s not right that an ancient cultural concept should be changed overnight. Leaving the latter aside (it’s very dodgy ground – marriage is not that ancient, and it’s been evolving all the time: women, for example, are no longer their husbands’ chattels), I can’t really see how marriage could be undermined by allowing two sincere, loving people to recognise formally their union.
Everyone has focused on the points of view of two groups of people: gay and straight. There is a third, a group to which I belong, and whose point of view should also be taken into account.
I’m bisexual. I could, under the status quo, marry the man I loved with full pomp and church ceremony. To be a little absurd, I could marry – in a church – a man I didn’t love, but who needed a visa or a title (if I had one) or a fortune (if I had one), or who was the hapless father of my child. But I couldn’t marry the woman I loved. I could be ‘civilly partnered’, giving me the legal benefits of marriage. It’s not the same – and yet I’m the same person. Does it really matter whether my partner is male or female?
(A version of this appeared in the Grauniad’s letters.)