In which I am genuinely confused by the gay marriage debate

Yesterday British MPs voted in favour of allowing gay marriage in the UK. Yay! At least a moderate yay! I’m not gay and so aren’t really planning to do any gay marrying, so it’s not a massive YAY! like it would be for the really properly important stuff that actually affects me. But some people are gay and some of those people want to get married so it’s definitely a yay! for them.

What I am a bit confused about is why anyone who isn’t wanting to have a gay marriage themselves would care enough to actively oppose the idea? This is the absolute definition of an issue that really doesn’t affect anyone else. Objecting morally to gay marriage isn’t the same as objecting morally to stealing. Someone choosing to steal adversely affects the person they steal from. Two people choosing to get married doesn’t adversely affect anyone, unless you’re in love with one of the getting-married people, but then your problem is really that they love someone else – the marrying someone else is simply the cherry on top of the icing on top of your cake of heartachey-pain.

I was absolutely certain that gay marriage didn’t affect me, apart from in a broad “it would probably be good to live in as fair and equal society as possible” sort of a way. But then it was pointed out to me that it does affect me. My husband drew my attention to the issue, and a man on Radio 4 drew his attention to the issue. You can rely on Radio 4 for drawing your attention to things, for example, in this case, it drew my attention to the fact that EngineerBoy has become prematurely middle aged and started listening to Radio 4.

Anyway, I digress. In this instance Radio 4 drew our attention to the fact that some of the objections to gay marriage are predicated around the notion that a marriage between a man and a woman exists, in substantial part, for the purposes of making and raising babies. There’s two issues there – we’ll deal with the one that isn’t just all about Me first.

It’s not just straight people who want to raise children. I know. Who knew? Some gay people like the idea of doing their child-raising within a marriage. Clearly, there are some additional challenges for a same-sex couple in the area of actual baby-making. However, we live in a society where there are children who can’t be cared for by their biological parents and need loving adoptive carers. If you feel that parenting is something best done by married people (for the record I don’t personally feel that particularly, but some other people do), then gay marriage is a big positive for lots of potential adoptive children. Yay again!

And now onto the bit that is mainly about Me – the idea that marriage is substantially about raising children causes me some concern. I’m married. I appear, by the “raising children” standard, to be doing it wrong. I’ve never really wanted kids (a characteristic I mused on at much greater length here). Neither has EngineerBoy. This is just one of the very good reasons that it’s fortunate we married each other, rather than lumbering two other poor unfortunates who might have been of more baby-friendly mindsets. The implication seems to be that I’m not doing marriage properly. It would appear that quite inadvertantly, and despite having married someone of the opposite sex, I have made a union that some people would equate with a same-sex marriage. So Yay! indeed for MPs voting in favour of gay marriage – it turns out it does affect me after all.

Or to put it more concisely – people loving each other is nice. People wanting to celebrate that love with their friends and family is nice. People wanting their community to recognise their commitment to each other is nice. People wanting to love and raise children is nice. None of those things are compulsory. None of those things follow automatically from the one before. Everyone having the option is good, and giving everyone the option doesn’t really make the tiniest bit of difference to anybody else.

Farewell then. See you all back here next week?

UPDATE: I’ve just had a query over on fb about my use of the term gay marriage rather than equal marriage, suggesting that equal marriage is a preferable term. I’d broadly agree with that. I’ve used “gay marriage” as a term in this post because that’s the common term used in a lot of media and because that tends to be the term that opponents of equal marriage use, and it’s really the thought process leading to opposition that I’m musing on in my own mind today rather than the actual issue of equal marriage itself. Hope no offence is caused by my choice of terminology.