For many years I was single-minded in raising the profile of marriage equality. I never had the luxury of stopping and reviewing the wider implications to my world view as there just weren't that many people interested in getting past the "But why do we need it?" argument.
Now the campaign has moved beyond me and better campaigners are heading the charge. I no longer need to spend time writing to people, getting media attention on the issue or arguing with opponents. I now have the time to sit back, watch what happens and finally see the wood for the trees.
And I am concerned.
I've always been someone with sympathy for "unconventional people" (an awful phrase and I apologise for using it but you know what I'm saying). I believe, fundamentally, that our society needs constant reinvention and improvement and unconventional people and their lifestyles are, in my opinion, the people pushing the boundaries of our existence. And I despise bullying of others just because they are different. Basically, I oppose conservative social attitudes with a passion.
I suppose, given how conservative an institution marriage is, that I shouldn't be surprised that conservatism is rearing its ugly head in the marriage equality campaigns. I like to think it's just "situational conservatism" used as a pragmatic way of winning the argument. But when have I ever liked pragmatism? I couldn't support those who misled Parliament about opposing marriage *cough* Chris Bryant *cough* during the civil partnership debates, and I won't support those opposing other people's way of lives, just to advance marriage equality, now.
It's enough to make me concerned that naysayers like Mark Simpson and Julie Bindel may have a point. Are we at risk of losing something special as we gain something conventional?
I think it is a great risk, but I also think their views ignore the dilemmas of others and are, in their own way, deeply conservative. Conservative in that it favours preserving the status quo over reforming it. And the others they ignore include the troubles transgender people face under our current separate systems. So whilst I think there is a danger, I also think that in not pushing for marriage equality we risk harming others. And that will not stand.
I've always been clear marriage, as it currently exists, isn't what I want in my vision of the perfect future. But I believe it is important to fight for marriage equality now to even out some of the cruel and perverse consequences of our current systems (especially on transgendered people, I've always been clear it is their predicament that is my number one issue with how things are). But that doesn't mean I will stop defending polyamorous relationships nor that I won't be less than honest that I find some arguments in favour of legalising incest compelling. It might make my position open to easy attack by authoritarian haters but that is another risk I am willing to take to avoid being a hypocrite.
I refuse to compromise on my belief that everyone has the right to live their own lives, free from the oppressive conformity of society. And marriage equality is just one step in a greater battle and, indeed, just the start of the slippery slope. There's nothing wrong with progress when it's done to strengthen our liberty.
If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist