I’m going to a party tonight.
Friends of ours in Limerick are having a party tonight. A young couple, just about to buy their own house. They are successful in their careers, are active in helping to make Limerick a better place. My wife and I are lucky to be friends with them. We were delighted when they came back from holiday recently and announced they were engaged. There’s not much to be cheerful about these days, but two fantastic people looking to commit their lives to each other is surely something to be celebrated.
Except they can’t.
Two people in love, people of integrity, intelligence and a deep-rooted commitment to making their communities better. Two people in love looking to get married.
Except they can’t.
They can’t because we as a society seem to believe because they are of the same gender, they are less equal than heterosexual couples and can’t get married.
I’m a bit ashamed that I live in a society where some couples are less equal than me and my wife. And it’s about time we changed that.
I’ve read a lot of arguments on why we should continue to discriminate against gay couples. I know that some religious people have a difficulty with gay marriage, but I would respectfully suggest that religious beliefs, even when they are in a majority, are not a licence to discriminate against our fellow citizens.
There are two other arguments that I wanted to touch on however, and they both centre around children.
The first is that marriage is primarily about children, therefore gay people shouldn’t be allowed to get married. This argument pushes my buttons a bit because I am in a marriage where we cannot have children, and I would be extremely upset if anyone insinuated that my marriage was in any way less valid than my friends’ just because we don’t have kids. The love I have for my wife and my commitment to my marriage is no less strong because we can’t have kids, and I think it’s faintly ridiculous to view marriage purely in terms of reproduction.
The second is that kids suffer if they don’t have a mummy and a daddy. It’s true that kids can be cruel to each other some times. And some kids, no doubt picking up on the intolerance of their parents, may tease kids whose circumstances are that little bit different to their own. I remember being about six or seven and having stones thrown at me on the way home from school with the words “Proddy” followed by epithets that seven year-olds probably shouldn’t have been using. But the concept that we might stop members of the Church of Ireland, like my parents, from getting married because of the possible reaction from some County Limerick yokels is surely ridiculous. And it’s a cheap trick to use children as an argument to promote intolerance.
It’s no longer conscionable that we continue to discriminate against gay couples. The restriction of marriage to heterosexual couples is an embarrassing anachronism. I hope that my friends, and gay couples around the country, do not have to wait for too much longer before they are allowed to get married.