Sunday 9 November 2008

Californians are selfish?

Sooner or later we'll have to deal with this in the UK, but for now we can only look in abject amazement at what the Californian majority has done.

Personally I can't understand it. The nearest thing I can liken the passing of Proposition 8 to is an unbelievably selfish dog-in-the-manger attitude. We can be thankful for one small mercy I suppose: at least those same-sex marriages that occurred during the brief respite will not be annulled.

"Marriage is ours! You can't have it!" seems to encapsulate what the vote is saying. The majority don't want gay marriage. Fine, it's entirely up to you whether you approve or not. But don't deny it to those who do want it. Gay marriages aren't performed in church, so it's not a religious issue.

In the UK we have church marriages and we have registry office marriages. The church should consider itself privileged that signing the register as part of a church ceremony counts as a legal wedding. Those who don't wish for a church ceremony can have a civil wedding at a registry office - and they will be legally married under UK law.

The church is free to make up its own rules as to who can and can't be married in church (though in the case of the Church of England it's a bit more complicated than that, because they are the 'established church'). Those who don't like the rules can get married in a registry office.

It seems to me that what's happened in California is that the majority has voted for the church to have dominion over the secular. In a country whose constitution explicitly forbids such interference, this is a serious matter indeed.

In the general euphoria surrounding the news that the American electorate made a wise choice on November 4, the passing of Proposition 8 in California is unpleasant and embarrassing.

UPDATE, 2008-11-12: