I’ve been following the debate about civil unions across the pond with interest and bemusement. America was founded on the noble principle that all men are born equal (although, at the time this sentiment didn’t extend to slaves or women). The States is not called the Land of the Free for nothing. Last month New York State legalised same sex marriage, the most populous state ever to have done so. New York has now joined a small select group that includes Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia. Because it’s New York, New York where Lady Liberty shines her torch the event has been widely reported across the globe. It’s even hit the media here in Turkey.
I assume I’m correct in thinking that a same sex union registered in New York has no legal standing in those states that do not recognise such relationships or have positively banned them. So it’s okay to be a child African bride, a forced Pakistani bride or a polygamous Arab but it’s not okay for two consenting adult Americans to decide who their significant other should be. What a strange situation. There will always be people who object to same sex relationships on moral or religious grounds. They are entitled to their views but are not entitled to force them on others. The wish of some to form a romantic bond with a member of the same sex is a personal issue. The legal recognition of it does not lead to anarchy and Armageddon.
What of my homeland? Civil partnerships were introduced in United Kingdom in 2004 which give same-sex couples rights and responsibilities identical to civil marriage. New Labour may well have put the country in hock for the next century but they did deliver a radical and comprehensive equal rights agenda. This was truly historic and I believe history will judge it so. About time too. I had become thoroughly fed up with a society that expected me to pay all my dues in return for second class citizenship and semi-rights. Liam and I married in 2008.
What of my fosterland? Homosexuality is not mentioned in the Turkish legal code and so gay people live in a kind of legal limbo neither protected nor persecuted, officially anyway. The Turkish Government has made it abundantly clear that it has no intention of introducing equal rights for lesbian and gay Turks. I have to add, our obvious union has never received a bad vibe from the Turks around us. If anything the reverse has been true. As non-Moslem heathens we’re Hell-bound anyway so it matters little what we do.
America is not perfect, no country is, but it is a beacon of freedom and hope for people from less blessed lands. Some people are gay. It’s just the way it is.