I've always been open about the fact that I unexpectedly fell into supporting marriage equality. Labour pissed me off. There I was happily being all radically queer in my early twenties and along they came and instituted civil partnerships. At the time I found the idea of marriage to be cold and dreary, yet Labour had some how managed to make formalised same sex relationships seem even more so! I wasn't going to put up with that.
And that was how I went from someone who couldn't even conceive of marriage as being part of his future to being someone who devoted way too much of 2010 to bugging people about getting the right to get married. I've obviously mellowed in my old age.
Sometimes I get so caught up in monitoring the arguments, spreading news and insulting Labour that I forget about what I really want. I was thinking about that on the way to work the other day. Personally, I don't really feel the need for Government affirmation of my relationship to my beloved Jim. I am, and this may surprise you Dear Constant Reader, an old romantic when it comes to the concept of marriage. To me it is more important that Jim and I believe we are married. Even though I'm certainly not Christian any longer and I've, with reluctance, left my pagan ways behind me, I'd love a sweet little ceremony somewhere with family and friends. But it doesn't need to be led by any official figure.
In fact, and this is where I get controversial, I find the concept of the Government and institutions giving married partners benefits above and beyond what single and unmarried couples get a bit disturbing. I want the Government out of relationships entirely. People should be free to associate, contract with and love whomever they wish (or to not do any of those things). Marriage should be something people and organisations sort out themselves for whatever purpose they want it for. They can be married in their own eyes, in the eyes of others or in the eyes of their God(s).
I've dealt with this before, and explained why I still fight for equal marriage. But I do always feel very two-faced. It helps that anti-equality activists often use arguments against romance to defend their policies. They often believe marriage between one man and one woman is a "social good" and this is why it alone deserves Government backing. This keeps me on the straight and narrow and reminds me that the fight for equal marriage is one that's pushes back against such an authoritarian understanding of Government. I do not want a Government that decides to reward one group over another. Government should be there only to arbitrate disputes, defend property and persons against attack and support those who really can't support themselves. It is not there to socially engineer a utopia and especially not one particular version of utopia.
I'm in too deep to hold myself aloft from what a younger version of me might have considered a petty skirmish. When marriage equality becomes reality I may well shed tears and I will most certainly, Jim willing, head down to our local registry office to formalise our relationship. It shall be a happy day, I have no doubt.
But I shan't stop there. I'll still be writing letters and bugging people for many years to come in the hopes of one day getting a little closer to the dream of a country where people get to love how they wish and no one feels the need to get involved in their relationship.
If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist