Marriage (Same Sex Couples)

Memorandum submitted by Jodie Mearns (MB 50)

Marriage (same sex couples) Bill Committee

I would urge the committee to not bow to the religiously deluded from which we have heard ever increasing shrill bigotry and homophobia wrapped in a certain interpretation of religious doctrine over the last 12 months.

Just because homophobia and bigotry donned a religious garb does not alter its nature or absolve its adherents of connecting with and recognising reality and the fomenting of a hate they promote within society against an innate and harmless minority.

The fact of this traditional persecution for the last 1700 years, by their ancestors of similar dogmatic beliefs, should not prevent us to say, enough – our present day knowledge and intellect and widespread visibility of Lesbian Gay and bi-sexual people have given our population a personal knowledge of the lies and miss-information peddled by the intolerant and dogmatic and the deluded who seek to continue their persecution hidden behind a veil of religiosity.

Bad things done, by the religious zealot or the morally deluded are still bad things, and should not be given special privilege and absolution because of their claimed religiosity or claimed moral superiority – lets go on evidence, truth and justice.

Just as we have tackled misogyny and racist attitudes, often from the same stable, it is time to tackle homophobic bigotry head on, and call it for what it is, and resist with vigour the squeals of religious persecution from many of those who have been doing the persecution and denigration of our gay brothers and sisters, uncles, aunts and cousins, neighbours, work colleagues, wrapped in a religious cloak of many hues.

Are not those who wish to proscribe same-sex marriage, also discriminating against those of differing religious views and interpretations who see the institution of marriage equality for same-sex couples as a public good and fully in accord with their religion and beliefs.

By doing so, they deny religious freedom to them, by preventing them from exercising their beliefs to legally marry same sex couples.

Extending marriage to same-sex couples enhances religious freedom.

After all, no one is forced to be married to someone they choose not to. So if someone does not wish to have a same sex marriage, then all they need to do is not marry a same sex partner. It is therefore permissive not proscriptive.

The state must treat all equally, irrespective of sexual orientation.

I welcome the legislation to extend and equalise marriage law to include same-sex couples, hopefully the committee will have the courage to enable amendments to include humanist ceremonies and civil partnership for mixed sex couples too and will resist extending exemptions to sexual orientation equalities legislation, beyond religious marriage celebrants.

I also hope you will equalise the pension inequalities that persist and address the anomalies in transgender, transsexual provisions in the bill.

I have been involved in the struggle for human rights and gay and transgender rights since my teens and have been a member of Liberty, Amnesty, and a number of gay rights organisations. I am bi-sexual and have had intimate knowledge of the gay community, both men and women over the last 45 years. I was sent to Sunday school as a child and have since extensively educated myself in the beliefs and practices of many religions. I am agnostic.

February 2013

Prepared 27th February 2013