It’s astonishing that New York has only just legalised gay marriage. There are some very touching pictures in the Guardian. The word is right though: marriage. And changing the law in this country does, to a very large extent lie with simply changing a few words.
I’m pleased that we have civil partnerships in Britain and I’ve been to more civil partnerships in the last 18 months than marriages. In every case, I have recently referred to those civil partnerships (fastidiously), as marriages.
I was in a pub recently (imagine) and I said that I was going to the wedding of two chap chums of mine a few weeks hence. My friend, in all seriousness, corrected me: “It’s not a wedding, Dan. It’s a civil partnership.” He received short shrift.
But technically he is absolutely correct, of course. Civil partnerships were a sound political compromise. Gay marriage would have had a hard time in Parliament. Civil partnerships passed easily but left a thread hanging.
But as is typical, the people know best. Many people easily call a civil partnership ceremony, a “wedding.” I tried for a while to say that I was going to see friends being “civilly partnered” in an attempt of celebration. I was out of tilt on that.
The civilly partnered boys and girls are happily “married” in common parlance. Everyone involved becomes a husband or a wife. Has anyone ever said at a party: “And you must meet Jo, Alex’s civil partner.” I have never heard it. Because it’s utter nonsense. It lacks elegance more than anything.
Let language lead the way. It’s time the law reflected what everyone means and says and sod the bishops (who shouldn’t be in the House of Lords anyway). When we say marriage, I don’t care whether it’s a union between men, women, one of each, or frankly any other combination of two people that’s possible. It’s about love. It’s time everyone was allowed to get married without people like me worrying about the verbiage. Not least because everyone is using the words anyway.