Jim Wells has suggested that if the DUP relax their long held and absolute opposition to civil equal marriage, he and others will walk away from that party.
We’ve all suspected for some time that this party has tensions over some social issues, and this is one of them, dressed up as a matter of conscience.
Conscience’ is not just one thought, one way of thinking. Conscience extends to people like me saying that in all ‘conscience’, we can’t allow a few people using every ploy they can dream up to prevent equal civil marriage being introduced.
No heterosexually married person has yet explained to me how such an equality measure would affect their marriage. Now that equal civil marriage has been introduced throughout the rest of these islands, including the very conservative Outer Hebrides, I haven’t heard one couple say that it affected their marriage.
That makes me question whether this is just sheer prejudice?
When legislating, context, the time in which we live and how that affects us, is everything. If we ignored the contextual setting in which we now live, we would be frozen in history, maybe transported back to a tiny corner of the Middle East 3000 or more years ago when the Book of Leviticus was written. If anyone wishes to follow Leviticus to the letter, read it and try to explain to yourself how awful it is to modern eyes, even to modern ethics. Context!
Here’s what the US Supreme Court said on June 26th 2015 when it found in favour of civil equal marriage. I’ll let you be the judge of what it says about marriage:
‘No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfilment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.’
Was it not for the good, secure and stable ordering of society that marriage was instituted? Sometimes people choose not to have children, but more and more same sex couples are choosing to settle down and have families of their own. For the children of those families, is it not an affirmation of the family unit and their intentions for them to have security, that their parents have the option to marry?
I’m not arguing that children raised outside marriage do not have the same security. However couples should have the option to marry.
Lastly, I always ask the question, ‘what if your child turned out to be gay?’ I never get a straight answer. In such circumstances, reality hits home, dilemmas arise, self questioning starts and continues with assessing how far your love extends.
Will it for instance extend to accepting your son or daughter’s spouse into your home and your life as you would with a heterosexual son or daughter? Will your love be equal?
These are questions for Jim Wells to answer.
As we know each other, I’m happy to discuss these matters with him personally.
Colin Flinn, Belfast BT5