Marriage (Same Sex Couples)

Memorandum submitted by Pinchus Anshelm (MB 121)

1. Summary: My name is Pinchus Anshelm, and I am writing as an interested individual. I am homosexual, in that I predominantly find love within members of my own gender. It is my belief that the current prohibition on marriage between two people of the same gender is wrong, and that the proposed exemption to be granted to the Church of England and the Church in Wales will harm the individual and society. The freedom to marry, and the freedom to not marry, should be granted to all, and Government should not interfere into the personal lives of individuals.

2. The many varied opinions on same-sex marriage draw on cultural, religious and personal beliefs. Some of those opinions invoke the notions of "gays" and "gay behaviour" and its affects upon others. It is my belief that the impediment to same-sex marriage, as is current UK law, is an over-reach of the State into the personal lives of individuals.

3. The main opposition to same-sex marriage is on religious and conscientious grounds. This religious opposition is so keenly felt by Parliamentarians that the Churches of England and Wales have been granted exceptions to the proposed Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. The Bill, in its current form, will affect every group and individual existing in the United Kingdom – apart from the Churches of England and Wales.

4. The exemption afforded to the Church by statute on religious grounds is based on the historical opposition of Christianity to people engaging in same-sex behaviour.

5. As a historically Christian country, the UK does not recognize same-sex unions in the same way as opposite-sex unions. This is as a result of, and perpetuates, the discrimination against people who, for whatever reason, are incapable of behaving in any other way than finding love in members of the same gender.

6. Religious opposition to same-sex marriage is, in my opinion, bigoted[1]: those who believe, for religious reasons, that gays should not be allowed to marry further their beliefs by seeking to prevent, legally, others' liberty to marry who they love.

7. Denying gays the possibility of marriage – be it in a registry office or a church – is a significant shift from the mere personal beliefs of those who are against same-sex marriage into active, "positive" dominion over others:

8. Those who are against allowing gays to marry wish to force their beliefs upon others through this Bill so that the Church is disallowed from marrying two people, who otherwise would wish to marry and may love each other, but are same-gendered.

9. One opposition cited by religious observers is that people may not be born gay: finding love in members of the same gender is "abnormal", "a choice", "not consummative", "unprocreant" or "ungodly". This is an argumentum ad ignorantiamthat because we are currently unable to determine, with certainty, the origins of homosexuality, those who are opposed to gays marrying choose to believe – without any evidence except for holy books or preachers or personal conviction – that loving another person of the same gender is in some way unchurchly, and therefore marriage by two people of the same gender is not deserving of recognition by either Church or State.

10. This is a false dichotomy, as legal recognition of marriage is not dependant upon the biological origins of love: marriage is always a choice, be it between two men, two women, or one man and one woman, and it is not for the State to decide what is or is not acceptable in the private affairs of individuals – unless we are to live under a theocratic regime with Scripture at its core, imposing its doctrine on every person in the UK.

11. To deny two people of the same gender marriage, based on an individual's biological origins or lack thereof, is discriminatory: it is to say that there is a class of people for whom their actions may not be biologically-determined – or are viewed by others as being "incorrectly" biologically-determined – and as such do not qualify for religious or legal recognition of a loving marriage.

12. Opposition to gays marrying, based on religious belief, is to say that those who are not religious – or indeed are religious but homosexual – are unworthy of equal respect or acceptance, and that their love is not the same as or as worthy as heterosexual marriage. This is morally wrong in my opinion and negatively affects the self-worth of individuals when such beliefs are State-sanctioned.

13. The belief that gays marrying is a reprobate behaviour is an ad hominem attack upon gays: it is to say that some people are inferior in the eye's of the believer and his or her God, and as such gay people shall not be afforded the same rights as heterosexual people who wish to marry.

14. The belief by the religious that their opinion is based on religious "truth" is a fallacious appeal to authority: it presumes that the religion is in possession of "the truth" regarding human behaviour and marriage, and as such should be given power over homosexuals to deny them marriage. This is a clear example of bigotry[1], and over-steps the boundaries of personal belief into impeding and infringing upon the private lives of homosexual individuals: legally forbidding some people, who the religious have chosen to disapprove of, to enjoy the same rights extended to others in society.

15. Forbidding gay people to do as they please, with whom they love, and forbidding the public declaration and eternal commitment that marriage is assumed to provide is a gross abuse of power by the State.

16. It is clear that two gays marrying impacts directly upon nobody else other than the two individuals who are marrying.

17. It is equally clear that forbidding two gays from marrying impacts gay couples in the starkest of ways: removing their liberty – their freedom to marry – and, ultimately, their freedom to express their love openly. This is not compatible with a free country.

18. Forbidding one section of society from committing their love in a formal ceremony of their choice is a damaging action that alters tremendously the lives of gay people, as it is an abuse of power.

19. Gays marrying is not a matter of popular opinion: saying that gays marrying is unpopular, or, perversely, that it is a "cause célèbre", and so Parliament should not waste its time on such matters, is an appeal to popularity and irrelevant.

20. It matters not what others think, feel or believe; forcing your beliefs on others is always wrong.

21. Allowing free people to profess their love for whosoever they choose in the manner of their choosing is surely the most basic freedom of a free country.

22. What is right is not open to subjectivity; what is a human's right – his liberty and freedom to love and express his love for who he so chooses and how he chooses – should not be open to religious or political volleying. The issues of love and marriage are central to many people's lives, and the correct course of action is so patently clear that it beggars belief that gays marrying is still a contentious issue and a cause of outrage.

23. The "slippery slope" argument – that allowing gays to marry will lead to all manner of unions – is absurd. This argument is an attempt to redefine the terms of debate, and charge that as soon as gays are "permitted" to marry, then all manner of hell-fire shall break loose. This argument draws on no evidence and is merely scaremongering.

24. Similarly, the argument that allowing gays to marry will lead to a breakdown in society or a demolishing of the "sanctity of marriage" is further scaremongering. There is no possible way that two people who love one another and wish to express that love publicly will bring about the downfall of the UK. This is an absurd and abusive attack on gays, because it says that gays marrying are antithetical to the British way of life and are destroying the core of the country, the children in the country and the lives of everyone else. This is harmful to gay people, without question: it attempts to define gays who, like every normal human being, wish to live with a loving partner and possibly marry if they so choose. Portraying gays as inherently evil people who – through no fault of their own except finding, for whatever reason, that they love members of the same sex – will, by virtue of them expressing their love through marriage, unwittingly be the bearers of destruction upon all mankind owing to "God's will". This is absurd and another religious scare tactic that is damaging to the mental health of gay people, damaging to the terms of debate and – as is the current situation – legally allows for the discrimination of gay people wishing to marry, or, as is proposed, allows for the continuation of discriminatory behaviour by the Church. As gay people are humans too, they have families and friends, and therefore the impact of this discrimination is not limited to the many couples who would wish to marry, but extends to society as a whole.

25. Demarcating "proper" "heterosexual marriage" from "sinful" "gay marriage" is an attempt to separate and thrust gay people into a different group because they love members of their own gender and wish to marry them.

26. This separation, whether based on religious or personal belief, has no justification in fact or morality. The discrimination is purely subjective and should not be sanctioned by law, as it creates a group of people separate from the rest of society based on no reason other than who they love. This is alarming to those on the receiving end of this separation.

27. Discriminating against people based on who they love is one of the most perverse forms of hatred imaginable. It is hard for me to think of any belief more hate-filled than deciding that equal, shared, honest, true, faithful and reciprocated love is wrong and harmful.

28. Those who argue that marriage is the "foundation" of society and wish to sanction marriage as "heterosexual-only" do so from a perspective of bigotry[1]. Since, according to those who hold such beliefs, marriage is the "bedrock" of society, then it follows that if marriage is to be demarcated based on sexuality, then any other area of life can, too, be separated into "hetero-only" and "homo-only" groupings. Seeking to divide society in this way is not good for anyone nor society as a whole. This is a flimsy argument but I state it merely to show the preposterousness of those who wish to demarcate society based on sexuality.

29. Demanding that gays are not allowed to marry is divisive: it divides people based on their sexuality.

30. Insisting that gays are "different" from "straights", as would be the case with the divisiveness of demarcating marriage based on sexuality, is not based on fact. There are no differences in mental, emotional or social wellbeing arising solely from being attracted to members of the same sex.

31. There is no proof that gay people are abnormal or dysfunctional human beings.

32. God does not provide any peer-reviewed statistics.

33. Demanding that gays are forbidden from marrying leads to a sense of disenfranchisement from those who are forbidden from expressing their love in the same manner as every other person in the UK.

34. Giving special exemption to the Church to continue to deny gays the ability to marry perpetuates this discrimination, segregation and disenfranchisement far beyond the members of the Church: it sends a bold statement that treating gays as separate, unequal and inferior people is acceptable so long as one is doing so in the name of God as embodied by the Churches of England and Wales.

35. The exemption afforded to the Church is an acceptance by the State of the bigotry[1] towards gay people's wishes to marry their loved ones: this exemption reinforces, rather than removes, obstacles in the way of gay people's lives to live their life unfettered and free from interference by outside forces.

36. In order to be free, one should not be denied the ability to perform actions or behaviours that do not harm or interfere with others against their will. Legally denying marriage to some people based on their sexuality is a clear violation of the freedom of individuals to live their lives as they choose, peacefully, lovingly and happily, with or without a voluntary marriage.

37. Allowing the Church to interfere with the lives of those members who wish to marry should not be codified by law as this is an over-reach by the State into the private lives of Christian individuals.

38. The Church should be free to marry or not marry whosoever it chooses.

39. Those who do not wish to perform marriages should be able to not do so – so long as we are prepared to accept the disallowance of marriages for any reason, be it skin colour, gender, age, nationality, or any trait. To single out sexuality is to reinforce the notion that people who love members of their own gender are especially wrong, and that the State has approved the Church's singular discrimination against gay people.

40. This moral judgement against allowing gays to marry is itself wrong: denying gays the ability to marry because of a set of personal beliefs has no basis in any form of ethics equatable with justice.

41. Any objection to gays marrying based on concern for children is not based in fact: indeed, a recent study by Cambridge University has found no disadvantage to adopted children in families of same-sex parents[2].

42. The only cause for concern regarding adoptees of same-sex parents is potential bullying by others who disapprove of same-sex relationships or same-sex adoption[3].

43. Arguments that allowing same-sex marriage will deny teachers' freedom to denounce those who marry someone of the same gender are very concerning to me. How can it be acceptable in state schools to permit the teaching of a denouncement of one section of society, based on a teacher's personal beliefs? Are we to permit the criticism of gay people's ungodly marriage simply based on their sexuality? If we are to cultivate contempt for other individuals, potentially promoting bullying and long-term mental health issues that arise from bullying in school, the workplace and society[4], and deny others' humanity as an equal and good person, then by all means permit the criticism of gays marrying. It is not something I could ever support and I find it disgusting.

44. The argument that Civil Partnerships are a suitable commitment for gay couples and as such "redefining marriage" is unwarranted is not fulfilled: forbidding gays from marrying is intended to promote Biblical law, personal dislike or procreative endorsement, but comes at the expense of denying one section of society freedom to behave as all of the rest of society. This is unabashed discrimination and is principally wrong.

45. The argument that permitting gays to marry will "redefine" marriage misses the point: while contending that marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman, the purpose of which is to promote healthy relationships and conceive children, the argument goes that same-sex couples must be excluded. This is sheer nonsense: it makes no sense. Excluding loving couples from an institution intended to affirm love is madness – doubly so when the reason for exclusion is to protect others from proscribed love.

46. The only reasons for exclusive marriage between heterosexual couples are religion, tradition or personal belief. While all views are clearly permissible to hold, a view is no longer a view when it transforms into laws and practices. Legally forbidding marriage based on religious, traditional or personal views prevents the opposing actions from happening. That is a clear violation of the personal lives and beliefs of others.

March 2013

References

[1] bigoted: adjective. "Having or revealing an obstinate belief in the superiority of one’s own opinions and a prejudiced intolerance of the opinions of others";  "bigoted". Oxford Dictionaries. April 2010. Oxford Dictionaries. April 2010. Oxford University Press. 08 March 2013 http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/bigoted

[2]http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/ive-got-two-dads-and-they-adopted-me

"Research into adoptive families headed by same-sex couples paints a positive picture of relationships and wellbeing in these new families. The study, which was carried out by Cambridge University, suggests that adoptive families with gay fathers might be faring particularly well. In-depth research into the experiences of adoptive families headed by same-sex couples suggests that children adopted by gay or lesbian couples are just as likely to thrive as those adopted by heterosexual couples."

[3]http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/ive-got-two-dads-and-they-adopted-me

"Responses from the same-sex parents, adopted children themselves and the children’s teachers indicates that these issues do not appear to be a significant problem – although the researchers, and some parents themselves, acknowledge that problems of bullying could become a problem as the children become teenagers."

[4]http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/LGBhealth/Pages/Mentalhealth.aspx

"Studies show that lesbian, gay and bisexual people show higher levels of anxiety, depression and suicidal feelings than heterosexuals. Poor levels of mental health among gay and bisexual people have often been linked to experiences of homophobic discrimination and bullying."

Prepared 13th March 2013