The Church of England continues to get its collective cassock in a twirl attempting to respond to the social changes beating down the cathedral door. The result is a dog’s breakfast of compromise and fudge that appears to please nobody. Female vicars are not allowed to be bishops but gay male priests can be if they promise to keep the Devil in their drawers, even those in a civil partnerships. God knows what they’ll say when marriage equality is introduced (and it will be). How is this to be monitored? Spy cameras in the boudoir of the bishop’s palace? Lie detectors at the altar? Early-morning electrodes for the lazy lob? The Old Testament evangelicals are spitting fire and brimstone, the traditionalists are defecting to the holier-than-thou papists and the lame liberals are tut-tutting all the way to the gay pub. The Church’s continuing self-flagellation over rumpy-bumpy between consenting males is laughable and yet the subject of girl-on-girl goings on is strangely absent from the debate. Lesbianism, it seems, doesn’t exist in Canon Law. You’d think that a church established out of political expediency would be more politically astute in these more egalitarian times. Surely they must know that few people care that much anymore?
I’ve always had a soft spot for Julian Clary. Britain has a glorious tradition of camp comedians tripping out bawdy innuendos with mincing aplomb – Larry Grayson, John Inman and Frankie Howerd to name but three – but Julian was the first to place his sexuality at the very heart of his act. Sexual ambiguity and suggestive salvos from the back of the closet are not Julian’s style. He slaps it on with a shovel, love it or hate it. The verdict from the predominately straight, middle class, middle aged audience at Norwich’s Theatre Royal was unanimous. They loved it. I’m glad to report that Blighty’s continued pre-occupation with the lewd, the rude and the crude is alive and giggling. We loved it too. Julian provided an unexpected bonus, a marriage proposal live on stage from audience member Samantha to her partner Bonny. A ‘yes’ from Bonny was rewarded with a lively ovation all round. Julian ended his glittering passage with a nod to his more thoughtful side by speak-singing “It’s not yet cool to be queer,” a moving political broadcast for those poor souls living in less tolerant parts of our rainbow world. Julian’s show does exactly what it says on the glittery tin. He may be a one-joke comic but, blimey, what a joke.
I suppose it was inevitable. First we had the ‘marriages’ swiftly followed by the ‘divorces’. I was recently catching up on Faceache and up popped an advert for civil partnership divorce on my side bar. Far be it for me to suggest that unhappy couples should stay together for the sake of the overpriced loft conversion or to save the breakup of the matching Louis Vuitton luggage set. Divorce is a fact of modern life (though I read rates are dropping as couples marry later and stay together longer). Over the last century, falling mortality rates have completely altered the concept of ‘til death us do part. In 1912, life expectancy for men was only around 52 and for women, around 55. Even though women could expect to live a little longer, some still died in child birth and second marriages for widowers were usual. Today, life expectancy has soared to 78 for men and 83 for women. Saying ‘I do’ at 23 and still feeling the love 60 years later? What are the odds? Or am I being a tad cynical?
Back to the advert. As Faceache knows everything there is to know about my vices and habits, from my inside leg measurement (barely functioning) and taste in men (breathing) to my favourite fragrance (Charlie) and my tipple of choice (meths), I assume they match their ads to my consumer profile. Is there something I’m not being told?
Typical indecisive liberal Libran, I’m all in a silly tizz. I just can’t make my mind up about the Government’s marriage equality law. Just for the record, the proposal is to legalise same sex civil marriage (a good thing) but will enshrine in the Law the notion that religious marriage is only between a man and a women (a bad thing). Presumably, this is a typically British fudge to placate the lofty preachy men who’ve got their cassocks in a twist. One minute I think I just can’t support this daft nonsense that will introduce a kind of marriage apartheid. The next minute I think that this is a step in the right direction. Maybe it won’t matter as the Government seem to be running scared of the blue-rinse brigade and getting cold feet anyway. The proposed Act has been kicked into the long grass by being dropped from this year’s Queen’s Speech which sets out the Government’s legislative agenda for the coming Parliamentary session. This smacks of political cowardice. It will be left to the Scots (as usual) to lead the equalities charge.
The law may eventually pass and, if it does, I suspect the dust will settle and people will wonder what all the fuss was about. Perhaps an amendment will then be carried to remove the discriminatory religious marriage clause and allow all those religious organisations who wish to conduct ceremonies for same sex couples to do so. Maybe then the preachy men will turn their attention to something more worthwhile like world peace and eradicating child abuse.
Interestingly, in Turkey, a Muslim majority country, religious marriage is not recognised by the State. As a secular republic, anyone wishing to marry (that’s opposite sex couples only, obviously) must do so in a State registry office. Those who are religious have their union blessed by an imam, priest, rabbi, etc.
While the debate rages on, take a look at the video of men in uniforms.
Whether we like it or not, what the President of the United States says matters and resonates across the globe. After sitting on the fence for years and dipping his toes in the water to test the electoral temperature, President Obama has finally come out in support of marriage equality. In an interview with ABC News, the President said:
“I’ve just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”
It’s a simple but powerful statement. Despite self-righteous firebrands flooding the airwaves with their messages of hell and damnation, and battalions of bigots storm-trooping shopping malls, support for marriage equality across America has been steadily rising for years. According to some recent polls, it now exceeds 50%. The President will have followed the polls very carefully. It’s an election year after all. Did President Obama nail his colours to the mast at this delicate stage of the (very) long American election cycle in a cynical attempt to garner extra liberal votes? Perhaps, but what’s said cannot be unsaid.
In Blighty, expect the Government to back-paddle furiously on the proposal to legalise civil marriage for same sex couples in the ridiculous belief that it contributed to their disastrous showing in recent local elections. Sure, this will have lost them a few votes among the (electorally insignificant) religious right and blue-rinse brigade. Let’s get real. To quote Bill Clinton’s famous line, “It’s the economy, stupid.”