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Home > Culture and Society

Civil Partnerships: A Little Half-Arsed

24 December 2005

This week the Queen Mother of Gay, Elton John, was legally united with his long-term partner David Furnish in the country's first celebrity civil partnership. What this essentially means is that if one day David decides Elton needs taking down a peg or two and pulls a Rebekah Wade on him, Elton will be entitled to the same legal protection afforded to other, less perverted humans. Also, if the couple adopt children and then split up, someone's going to be paying maintenance. Plus, a whole bunch of stuff about benefits, tax, inheritance, tenancy and so on. All good stuff which means that, although they may still be an abomination in the eyes of God, in the eyes of the law at least, homosexuals have finally been recognised as pretty much the same as everyone else. Splendid. We obviously all deserve an enormous pat on the back.

More significant than Elton and David's union this week was that of the Reverend Christopher Wardale and retired academic Malcolm McCourt. Not only did Wardale and McCourt enjoy a civil union in Newcastle, but they also chose to defy church stricture by following it up with an in-church blessing, which was performed by former bishop of Durham, David Jenkins. Formal church blessings for homosexual couples are not sanctioned by the Anglican church for the simple reason that God won't stand for it, so naturally, under the circumstances, certain ecclesiastical bigwigs have been getting rather annoyed. The current Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, has even been grumbling about taking disciplinary action against the rebel vicar.

What makes Wardale and McCourt's defiance all the more delicious - and Wright all the angrier - is that before entering into a civil partnership, any member of the clergy must reassure their diocesan bishop that they will under no account be using their own clerical member for anything other than the passing of holy water. Wardale refused to give any such assurance. Good for him.

The general consensus on the whole civil partnership issue is that as a nation, we've all done very well. Homosexuality is still illegal in more than 75 countries, whereas we in Britain are so open-minded that we've decided to accord them fundamental legal rights the rest of us have been enjoying for ages. Although this may be true, the fact is, we're still a long way from the enlightened egalitarian utopia we seem to be mistaking ourselves for, and part of what's holding us back is the church's refusal to accept, sanction and bless homosexual marriages. What on earth is it with religious people and homosexuality anyway? How is it that they can preach love, tolerance and understanding on the one hand and dismiss a whole section of humanity as an abomination with the other? It's an extraordinarily primitive perspective. God must be furious. Indeed, when the first ceremonies in Belfast on Monday were disrupted by religious protestors holding out signs bearing slogans such as 'Sodomy is Sin', God must have been spinning in his grave.

Don't get us wrong, the Civil Partnership Act is a whacking great step in exactly the right direction, but until we can get our religions to evolve a little, and turn their back on all that primitive Levitical abomination bullshit, we're still living in the dark ages. Therefore, what we at TFT propose is that church leaders simply grow up and accept that homosexuality is not a sin - they managed it for shellfish-eaters and beard-clippers, they can do it for the gays - and that they allow homosexuals to be married in church, in the eyes of God, for better or for worse, till death do they part. It's perfectly simple, and it's what Jesus would have wanted. And frankly speaking, if the church refuse to play ball, then they can go to hell.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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