Recently, lots of important and influential people have been trying to define what a marriage is. What does it mean to be married? Why do we want to do it? Why is it important?
Many people feel it’s about love, most people consider it to be a long term commitment, plenty prioritise faithfulness and monogamy, a few think it’s mainly about children and some talk about the stability it brings to society.
Of course, the Church and organisations with odd names like The Coalition for Marriage are currently using their definition based around tradition and children as the basis for their assertion that marriage must involve a man and a woman. The Government on the other hand maintain marriage is about love and commitment and that’s why it should be available to same sex couples.
Personally I think both sides are overstepping their roles by trying to define the inner workings of a marriage. Surely we all know that everyone’s marriage is different and we define it for ourselves as we go along. That’s not to say that things like love, commitment, faithfulness, children aren’t important parts of many marriages, maybe even most marriages, but they don’t have to be. Those are choices we make.
A marriage has certain legal implications. As far as I can tell they mainly relate to money, taxation, benefits and inheritance rights plus a bit about parental rights like being able to register the birth of your child without your wife being there and being able to change your name without any additional paperwork. Anything beyond that is a matter for the couple to decide for themselves.
That’s why I think we need to remove this silly distinction between a civil marriage and a civil partnership. Not because a same sex marriage would be exactly the same as my opposite sex marriage but because it would probably be completely different, just like everyone else’s marriage.