Friday, 31 May 2013

A reply to Lord Geoffrey Dear on Equal Marriage

In contrast to the one sentence reply I received from Lord Stoddart, who didn't even bother to paste my name at the top of his email, I received a long reply from Lord Dear.
Lord Dear acknowledged my letter and my points, and offered his reasons for wanting to vote against the bill (which seem to be about the haste and the mammoth task of changing various other laws, ad well as the threat to marriage, which he obviously values in its current state).
I won't paste his reply here, as it was addressed to me, but I will offer here my response to him, for information, but also to keep the conversation going, and to remind people that this is not a remote paper exercise, but debating and deciding on people's very ability to be fully human!
I replied as follows:
Dear Lord Dear
I thank you for your response ... Others have not taken the time to respond, and in some cases, when they have responded, haven't offered a personal response or even used my name. So I am grateful to you for your time.
Your reply, as you will no doubt know, saddens me. The problem is that the things you're speaking of are matters of dotting i's and crossing t's, when the reality for the LGBT community is that paper exercises are playing with our lives, our futures, and the deepest facets of our lives ... Our ability to love and be loved, and to belong in society, and these are the things that make us human.
What feels rushed from your perspective comes hundreds of years too late from ours. I recognise that the complexities of the law need work, but it's a real heartbreaking sadness to hear someone say that "because there still needs to be years of paperwork done, you should continue to live as less of a citizen while we form committees and type documents." I recognise those are not your words, but that is how the message came across to me.
I also hear your fear in your comment that "we are being asked to review and alter the institution of marriage as we have understood it for centuries." However, I don't see how allowing others to share in the joy of that state is a threat to the institution. More people entering into marriage will strengthen it and revive it.
Frankly, it needs reviving, when the examples of marriage our young people see are celebrities marrying for 72 hours, practising serial monogamy, deceit, infidelity, and an unhealthy focus on a wedding day that is a performance, rather than a marriage that is hard work and a long and deep joy.
My own feeling is that if we don't revive and extend the institution of marriage to those of us in the LGBT community, the straight community will continue to devalue it until it is more commonplace than it is already to have marriages that are little more than a public spectacle, followed by bitterness, betrayal and a  quick divorce, with children being raised by one parent or at best, being raised in a warzone where both parents no longer love each other and use their children as ammunition in their battle.
Institutions have to change, in order to remain current and alive. That change is always threatening, but to delay it because the paperwork scares us, is more sure to cause the breakdown of the institution than the change we fear.
I don't assume to be so bold as to think my email will do anything to change your thinking, but I beg you to bear in mind that we are not dealing with mere paperwork and history, but peoples lives, our futures and the very things that make us human ... Belonging to community and loving.
With kind regards
Andy Marshall

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