Ive seen the news from Thanet Life, confirmed on the TDC website re. Cllr Jack Cohen joining the "other" Independent Group. I'm going to hold fire a while until Ive digested the Full Council agenda for next week.
Yesterday, I made my first proper comment on gay marriage and spent most of the post tackling the outer issues such as why the case in favour not being made. In fairness I didn't really make the case either, so here's my two cents...
The motion coming before Council next week is:
“Council therefore agrees to submit the following response to the consultation.
“That Thanet District Council:
a) supports the removal of the ban on same-sex couples being able to have a marriage through a civil ceremony;
b) supports the proposal to allow transsexual people to change their legal gender without having to legally end their existing marriage or civil partnership."
My answer, "Yes, but". I don't think the above is a full enough response from TDC against a consultation document which is around 22 pages long and which sets out 16 questions (though perhaps half of them are ones for personal responses). Bearing in mind all the argument that has stemmed from this document, the above isn't really good enough, though as I argued yesterday it's not the motion that matters as much as the reaction to it. Yes, its a KCC issue but it's before TDC next Thursday. Not much can be done about it now so let's roll with it.
For me, gay marriage is about commitment. When you talk about marriage you are talking about a lifelong commitment to each other above that of a civil partnership. As far as I'm concerned, as long as the two people whether gay, straight or whatever, make this commitment genuinely, there shouldnt really be a barrier to it. Yes, divorce happens too, but the commitment is for it to last even if it unfortunately does not. Its a key institution in our society and we should should be encouraging it.
As we've seen in the debate on the blogs, there aren't too many differences between civil partnerships and marriages. I get the point about a man and woman making a married couple, but is it too much to ask that a man and a man be allowed to make the same commitment to each other on equal terms? Whether they really are the same thing depends on the person comparing but I'm not persuaded by the argument that it has to be a man and a woman.
The Church is understandably concerned about this and as Nigel Farage pointed out once you take that first step its hard to slow it down and avoid the Church being shoved further than they wanted to. This is a big sticking point here and this is why its absolutely essential that in any response to this consultation its made clear that religious organisations should be in no way compelled to conduct civil or religious marriages and that legislation resulting from this must be very clear that its a choice.
We've kinda been here before with gay adoption. In that instance the Catholic adoption agencies were forced to cut ties from the Church in order to remain within the law. As I felt at the time and still now, those agencies should have been exempt on the basis that they provided such a service that it wasn't fair to force them.
I don't think its right for the State to dictate to the Church on a matter such as this and on this I differ from those on the Left who feel that this consultation isn't going far enough and that the Church should open up to gay religious marriage. I see Peter Tatchell has spoken of this and I cannot agree. It's for the Church to decide for itself when it is ready to accept gay marriage. The Church performs a key role in society and should be treated fairly with this bearing in mind its own internal pressures.
Going back to the motion itself, to sum up, its too short a response to be meaningful as representing the views of 56 Councillors and again, the case in favour has not yet been made by those in favour. The debate has only been happening on the blogs and has been led by the Conservatives. You can argue the toss about whether this debate should happen at all but the motion's there and that's that.
So there we go, that's my view and as this is the second post in a little over 24 hours on that topic, dont expect much more. Perhaps a mention next week but about all folks.