Monday, December 19, 2005

Contracts for Coupling

Western Isles poised for showdown over council's gay marriage ban

I've chosen this absurd little story as today's link because it leads in to what may turn out to be a real headache for the UK goverment.

Today saw the first formal endorsement of a long-term gay relationship in the UK. It was in Northern Ireland. Scotland follows tomorrow and England itself on Wednesday. None other than Sir Elton John will make sure we don't forget the latter as he will undoubtably provide the day's headlines. The whole legislative machine that has finally brought all this about has been cranking away slowly for years and today simply marks the endgame of that process. Why therefore, all the hue and cry from regressive types across the land? It is hardly an unannounced revolution.

The media have naturally become obsessed with the topic and, although the technical definition of what's going on is "civil partnerships", radio, TV and newspapers are insisting on refering to them as "gay marriages". This, of course, is just aggravating the controversy by using terminology that has other associations for backward religious types.

I've never had much truck with even the idea of marriage. My bone of contention is not people choosing the two partner (and usually two parent) family unit as a base for their lifestyle, but the formalisation that binds an inter-personal relationship to both the unknown future and a social norm dictated by the state. Whilst clearly a long-needed acknowledgement of same sex couples and the rights they should be allowed to subscribe to, this new recognition has more to do with social integration, fiscal planning and the eventual supression of something that otherwise stood out like a sore thumb in the routines of big brother's robotic society.

I have never seen any problem with gay and lesbian relationships, or any same-sex activities that do not involve rape or sexual slavery. The same applies to conventional male-female relationships. The problem is the contract for coupling itself. Many long-term heterosexual partnerships go awry after the contract is signed - whether a natural consequence of the march of time or the un-natural consequence of one or other party re-interpreting the relationship to conform with their own notion of the contract itself. Thousands of indiviuals end up "trapped" in circumstances they did not forsee and only if they are lucky is it possible to escape through the nightmarish drama of official divorce. There is no reason to assume that formalised gay partnerships will not ultimately fall into the same kinds of trap.

Marriage itself went into steep social decline around the 1960s as people realised it was an un-necessary restriction on personal freedom. It didn't however prevent non-formalised relationships from prospering and indeed, raising children. Issues of love and companionship do not require state or religious intervention to survive. Marriage is a relic of religious doctrine - although it is one ritual that is to a great extent shared by many different religions. As such, it suggests human beings have a tendency toward the lesser pack as opposed to the greater collective one. Proscribing it however is wholly regressive and in the modern world it has become a tool for population control, taxation and common-denominator marketing. To be "normal", you must be the nuclear family!

In a world where the likes of Bush and Blair have corrupted the notion of wholly secular government, it should be no surprise that the newly empowered, if somewhat retarded, faith-based groups are squawking in reactionary harmony. To the civilised mind it is, to quote a certain bard: "Much Ado About Nothing". If marriage is on the increase again these days, it has more to do with celebrity, pre-nuptial agreements and the pursuit of consumer credit than anything else. The hitherto maverick nature of the gay community has helped bring it into the open over recent decades. It would be a shame if having emerged from "the closet" they are seduced by the ritual of living in another tpe of cupboard.

Also in the news, the share price of GW Pharmaceuticals, the makers of the medical cannabis product "Sativex" have risen on the news they have negotiated an export contract with a distribution comany in Spain, on top of the recent one with Canada. This distributor will in turn be supplying it to other countries throughout Europe, with the notable exception of Britain itself!


1 comment:

John Kirriemuir said...


I live on the Western Isles. My own thoughts (too long to replicate in a reply) - as a resident - on how the media has dealt with this issue are on my blog here: